Why do people listen to music?
Why are you listening to that song RIGHT NOW.
Really think about it for a minute?
There are many ways to look at it, but for us music producers and DJ’s there is only one reason that really matters.
That song, right now, is feeding you emotions.
Assuming you aren’t streaming randomly or on the radio, whatever you PICKED to listen to out of your playlist is because you wanted the emotions and mood of THAT SONG.
Now you may be saying….
“ohh fuck I read this blog because he gives real world tips, and doesn’t live in fantasy land, why is he talking about emotions” !
It's because every single day people's lives are controlled by emotions, marketers use emotions to push their ideas, movies use emotions to “ take you there” and music NEEDS to have an emotional impact to “ work”. Period
Not only does your music need to have emotions, ideally you TIE it to other emotions. This is the secret sauce so to speak. But more on this tie in later.
Let me give you a quick example of what I mean.
There are songs in your life that will bring you back to a moment, a place, an event. Everyone has them but most don’t realize it.
There may be the pop punk song that reminds you of your first girlfriend.
There may be the song that showcases the mood of your first year of college
There will even be songs for sad times, people passing on.
While no one cares about the details of my personal life, one such song for me ( and maybe you ) is Arty - Zara…..Above and Beyond - Sun and Moon…. these both remind me of ( props if you know ahead of time who I am going to say)
The late Zyzz, love him or hate him the point remains that those songs will most likely forever be linked to his passing ( for me)
Forever mirin ...we 're all gonna make it brahs….
Anyways, back to reality and my point.
Every generation has their own music, for their OWN needs and emotions.
( oddly enough, most people get STUCK on music they found age like 15-25) I’ve noticed it is VERY RARE that people’s musical taste change. 95% of my non dance music friends, still LOVE the music from their high school and early college days.
I’ve even tried to figure this out, one could assume it’s because for some people those are the best years of their lives, and they want to relive the “ good years” .
My dad for example still LOVES music from “ hair metal bands” , he will only listen to this genre for the rest of his life.
This may not seem important, but it shows the LIFE LONG emotional impact music has on people. Not to mention it shows how people tend to use music to “ relive” past events in their lives, or even the best periods.
So yea, as you can tell I feel music is not only awesome to work on, fun as fuck and a cool gig but I TRULY think music can change people's mood and emotions. Hell I KNOW it can.
You may not be a doctor saving lives directly, but how many times have you read comments on big artists songs that the song “ saved them” from doing god knows what, music has power, you just need to know how to control it.
Let me say that again, your music has power to change the LIVES of people. If not for long, at least for the 3.5+ mins they listen to your tune, you need to remember this.
So by now your saying, cool...I get it...I need to make emotional songs.
I don’t even use vocals Nyonyxx !
I am fucking sad...I can’t produce DANCE music that’s sad?
Why does this even matter, most music ( edm) isn’t emotional !?!
You need to realize that emotions aren’t directly pushed thru via topline lyrics.
( I could write a super “ sad sounding” song, but then have happy pump up vocals...the song would still be “ sad” , therefor the vocals aren’t controlling the tone”
This isn’t going to be a music theory post on how to construct sad or happy melodies, what I am going to give you are REAL concepts you can use TODAY to take your tracks emotions to another level.
I understand a lot of you reading this will think emotions aren’t that important, but everything from the car you buy, the $250 Oakley Sunglasses on your face, to how you interact with the world is based on EMOTIONS.
What do you think drugs give you….emotions, a new mood, feelings. Nuff Said
Let’s jump to this
The Insane Power of Emotions. 3 Ways to Tell Your Musical Story and Hook New Fans
#1 You have YOUR STORY to tell. Tell your tale
This may be the single most important factor in all of this and sadly 90% of people will massively over look it. I know I did for a number of years.
The problem a lot of people run into is a form of writer's block, or just getting stuck when producing. I feel a LOT of this comes from trying to make a track that you're currently NOT in that zone.
Even worse, is making a track in a genre you DON’T like. Lucky for me, I love all genres, pop music and beyond. Truly I think it all has it’s time and place. However, if you only like say...chill out tracks, but suddenly Hardstyle tracks are blowing up...don’t make the jump just because it’s the “cool thing” to do.
I’m not coming at it from a sell out point of view ( when people change genres) but more of your music will fucking suck point of view if you're trying to “ fake” the emotions and vibe of that track.
I was recently in the studio with a upcoming pop singer working on some tracks for her new album. ( this was 100% pop album, but as I said I love all genres truly)
Anyways, I was going over some stuff I had lined up, she was doing her thing but nothing was “ clicking”. The best way I can describe it is sometimes you will approach a girl and you guys are fucking best friends in 5 mins, everything flows easy.
Sometimes you approach a girl and 5 mins into it there is still awkwardness, no flow, no emotions.
In a producer/ vocalist relationship you REALLY need to have that cool, fun easy going vibe to make the BEST track you can. One thing I hear ALL the time from vocalists is a lot of producers are WAY to up tight. ( but that's another story)
After a bit I asked her about it, long story short her BF cheated on her the night before, the song we were working on was positive, up lifting and dancey etc. However her mood was 100% the opposite of all of those.
She wanted to leave but I kindly asked her to stay a bit to see if we could lay down a “ no pressure” song about how she REALLY FELT.
What we ended up with was a super emotional song that I feel will have MASSIVE impact due to the rawness and emotions.
Although this song was emotional due to the sad emotions and message she wanted to TRULY convey in that moment, obv it doesn’t HAVE to be this way. There are ton’s of emotions and stories to tell.
So you may be saying, well how the fuck does this help me, while I sit in my room at 2am working on this fucking bassline that sounds like shit because I can’t mix the damn kick and sub/ bass together…
It helps you because beyond the sound design issues, beyond the compression, beyond the latest and greatest presets you got into music FOR A REASON.
You may not have realized it, but most likely you got in music to tell a story.
It doesn’t matter if your track is about raging all night
It doesn’t matter if your track is about that 3 am walk down the beach with the girl you just met
It doesn’t matter if your song is about your first GF, who broke your heart when she cheated on you with the Manager of the Pita Pit ( if you get this reference , leave a comment, I will massively LOL)
All that matters in the end is that you
Tell A STORY
TELL YOUR STORY
Lyrics aside, picture your story in your head and make a track to go with it.
Remember that epic night out at the club you had last month? Convey THOSE emotions into a song my friend.
Listen, I know this is VERY VERY artsy and out there, if you read my blog you know I am NOT one of those people, the farthest thing from it.
But from a music standpoint, I feel stories and emotions are the ONLY way to get your tracks heard.
Not to mention it is a GREAT way to tell the “ world” how you really feel without using words, because for some people like myself music speaks louder than words ( yes cheesy I know).
In the world of the latest presets, the loudest master, the sickest drum hit the story is often lost. Don't let that happen to you, tell your tale.
#2 Your “story” makes no fucking sense, KEEP IT SIMPLE.
One of the biggest lessons I ever learned from one of my mentors was that you must keep your song simple.
95% of new producers over producer their songs. I did for MANY years as well.
Let me flash back many years ago...
I used to listen to pro tunes and go...
“ omg, they are so BASIC” I am going to make music WAY MORE complicated than that. People will love my tunes because they are uber complicated !
You can see this behavior in producers all the time, stacking layer after layer after layer. Ever wonder why your song sounds " bad at mastered volume" it's because you left NO SPACE in your mix. Again this was me for a long time.
One day it will smack you in the face though, the reason why pro tunes are so catchy and hooky is because they are SIMPLE.
Imagine say a big room track, and instead of one or 2 main synth layers it has 8? Or even a trap tune that instead of the one main lead synth, has 6 main sounds playing at once?
Sounds basic right, like no shit?
However when you are new you can’t hear that those sounds are just ONE or a few well made presets, you think the reason they sound so big and thick is because it’s a bunch of layers.
Let me say this again, the synths are designed epic, so they sound huge in THAT MIX, often times it isn't huge based on stacking a ton of shit in the same range.
It's based on a few well made killer presets.
A simple example of this comes in the sub / bass range. I used to STACK sounds down here.
I’d have a long release subby kick drum.
I’d have a short release kick drum
I’d have a dedicate sub bass ( usually stacking osc’s)
I’d have 1 or 2 bass lines, that also had sub content.
In the end I would have like 4 sounds playing LONG sustained sub bass content, this simply does not lead to a clean sound what so ever. Again I thought more was better.
Not to get off track, but IMO stick with
-Short release kick drum + single osc’s sub bass line, bass line with most of the sub content removed
-Long release kick drum with sub content, no sub bassline etc etc
Long story short, usually ONE sustained sub layer is BETTER then having 4 or 5 stacked like I used to do. Hell, one OSC in a sub bass patch is usually ideal as well.
Back on track, as you can see less can be WAY MORE. The same will apply to nearly every single part of your song. Those popular sounds and tracks you love may not be as complicated as you think.
( it truly does take awhile to be able to hear this though).
So back to painting your story, use the LEAST AMOUNT of sounds humanly possible to clearly tell your listener what you want to tell them. Having a ton of fluff and filler sounds that mud up the main message is never a good thing.
Remember, you have less than 20 seconds to hook a new listener, if they aren’t CAUGHT nearly instantly by your songs message, they are moving on to the next track, never to return.
Let me hammer this point home, people will ONLY LISTEN to 20 seconds of your track before judging it's potential worth. It MUST MAKE SENSE in those 20 seconds. If it's hyper complicated and only sounds good " after a few listens" that's a MASSIVE problem.
Always catch your listener and KEEP THEM FOREVER, one fan at time.
If you're new to producing, I PROMISE YOU in 5 years you will hear how “ simple” most of the pro tracks are.
Don’t make the song complicated thinking more people will respect your “ mad skills” no one will be able to even hear your skills under a compressed wall of 15 synths playing at once.
Out of all the genres DANCE MUSIC needs to be the most simple by default, as people MUST be able to dance to it without ever hearing the song !
If people can’t instantly dance to your track ( assuming your going for club music) then that is a HUGE PROBLEM.
Keep it simple. Kill it
#3 Stack Emotions for Killer 1-2 Punch
So, by now you realize how important telling YOUR STORY is, along with making your story as clear as it can be ( through flawless sound design ) , however there are ways to BOOST your songs message through video and images.
Now, I know you're saying NO SHIT you need to have nice photos ( and videos...if you could)
You don’t have nice photos?
You can’t afford to make a music video?
Not a problem, if you have NO fans ( or almost no fan base) adding the best fucking music video in the world won’t help because NO ONE will see it.
So how do you add your music to content then?
Find someone that is telling a story via their OWN CHANNEL ( social media pages etc) and if your music aligns with their story, BAM they get great music and you get more coverage ( and more emotional stimulus)
Let me break this down
Music can convey MASSIVE emotions on its own , however if you can align your music to the same message and vibe, then you will double up on the emotional stimulus.
Quick simple example, there is currently a HUGE Youtube fitness guy that gets over 200k views PER VIDEO with near daily uploads.
Recently, almost every fucking video this dude complains about having NO MUSIC to use in his videos. He constantly has to use the stock youtube music, and doesn’t like it.
Needless to say, if your music and vibe would MATCH the hardcore/ kill the gym vibe this guys video have and your music was SOLID, you’d have a hell of a good shot of getting him to include it in his videos.
The dude gets BETTER MUSIC suited for his videos vibe, people stop complaining about him using the SAME music on every video over and over again.
You then get THAT EMOTIONAL vibe bolted to your music, people will tie this guys work outs to your tune, they will then most def want to listen to YOUR TRACK when working out because it will remind them of this guys videos that pump them up and inspire them.
Not to mention you are getting 200k views on YOUR SONG for fucking free.
So recap, you would get
200k views on your song
You song now has an emotional attachment to working out/ lifting
People buy your song to rock in the gym because it pumps them up and reminds them about the dudes videos.
I know this seems utterly fucking pointless, but when you are growing your fan base ANY FREE exposure is awesome ! When that free exposure can also tie an emotional message to your song EVEN BETTER.
Basically, any time you can connect a visual experience to your track you will be able to hook the listener MUCH EASIER.
( Hell, just look at most youtube videos that DON’T list the artist and track...what do people in the comments say? What's the name of the tune?.....obv, it’s Darude - Sandstorm...but still you get my gist)
In the end, not only do you get free views...you get EXTRA emotional ammo to gain new fans !
Remember though, the message MUST ALIGN, please don’t spam these people if your song clearly isn’t a match.
Right??...........Yep ! haha ( someone will get this joke)
( This is just ONE example, I can name 10 examples in the fitness industry alone and this is just one industry)
In the end guys it’s fairly simple.
Emotions will help you sell music
Emotions will help you GAIN new fans
Emotions will help you share your story with the world.
IMO, all artists in the world got into their art form of choice because they had something they wanted to say.
You may not know today what you want to say, but keep at it anyways as someday your message will be clear !
As I wrap this post up a song comes over my headphones ( un planned for srs) it is Oceanlab feat. Gareth Emery – On A Good Day (Metropolis).
I think that’s circa 2010 trance right there, however that song for me brings back a FLOOD of emotions.
Heading out at 3 am for a fall drive under a full moon with a girl by my side. I remember dropping the top on the car and looking over at her while her hair blows in the breeze...
The music triggered those forgotten memories, music has that power.
This image will be in my head until the day I die, largely forgotten until this song plays again and the memory comes back.
This my friends is the utter power of music, it can truly take you back to a place you once loved…
Not only can it take you back, but it can move you forward, making a simple night better, and making an epic night unforgettable.
For me, music has the power to change lives. Your songs can directly influence the thoughts , emotions and actions of people.
One reason I continue to write blogs is I hope* they influence people to take action and remain positive in light of the beast that is the music industry.
So the question is.
Will you throw it all on the line to tell YOUR STORY?
If you’ve read this far...I think you’ve already answered that question.
I’ll see you out there
keep killin it
PS: Need a Track Mastered ?
Want to hear what all the hype is about?