[ This post is for the producers that have huge dreams and want to make them happen. If music is just a hobby for you ( totally cool) this post will be over kill, even seem crazy. For the dreamers and the hustlers, this post is for you. Seriously, if you don’t utterly love music production this is going to seem batshit]
The number 1 killer of a music producer's dream?
Someday I will be found.
Someday my music will be perfect ( when I’m done with school, or when I work less, or when I have a girl friend , insert whatever road block your currently telling yourself)
Someday I will have more time
Someday I will have……
You get the gist, someday my friends will kill you.
Everyone’s waiting for “their” moment. The moment they finally have time for this, the day they can finally work on that production, the day the big label FINALLY takes them ( or hell even reply's) everyone is waiting for someone to CHANGE THEIR LIFE.
The key here my friends, the big fucking slap in the face that hit me was this..
No one is ever going to “put you on”.
Someday is never going to come.
Someone is never going to “make you”.
“We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars( or EDM in our case). But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
The music industry my friends is one of the HARDEST industries to make it. I assume it’s up there with most of the other “arts” as well.
For shits and giggles, let’s go over a uber short reason why.
( this post is for people that want live via music, hence the business info. Again, if you have no desire to move your music from hobby to career then there is NO reason for you to read this)
Most basic starting point for any business venture?
-See if there is a demand for what you want to offer/sell/produce
-If there is a demand, figure out how to fill that demand
Obv, this is massively simplified, but this is a production blog not how to make a living on the interwebz blog.
So how does your music fit in demand wise.
Is there a demand for music
Is there a demand for your music?
Pretty much, not at all.
I don’t want to come off as mean, but this is the sad truth of the music industry, there are MILLIONS of producers that are all fighting for the same piece of cookie, the cookie is only so big, only so many people need new music and usually people don’t spend hours and hours trying to find new music.
That's the curse of the internet, anyone and everyone can be a DJ/ Producer in a short time, blast the web with their tracks and cause a SHIT load of noise in the process. While this creates some AMAZING artists that break out of the clutter, its utterly hard to do so.
Most popular "cool" careers have this same issue, millions of people all shooting for the same end goal. Not to mention there are almost no barriers to entry in modern music.
Picture this , let’s hammer this point home
Say you love making tacos, LOVE TACOS. So you open a taco cart in your home town. However, your town currently has hundreds of taco carts, with new taco carts opening every single day, there are so many carts and so many tacos, it’s hard to stand out. ( fuck now I’m hungry)
The “ big brand” taco carts stand out as they have the reach and brand, but for the little guy, it’s near impossible to get your name out there.
This is like the music industry, while there IS demand for music, there is too much music floating around. Way the fuck to much. ( not to mention people don’t buy music like back in the day, but that’s another story)
So, if you were trying to make a living, would you start that taco cart? HELL NO, unless you loved tacos ( and in our case music).
(Again, this post is for people that want to produce for a living and work in the industry, if you're just a hobbyist, this is going to be overkill for you. )
Now the reason I gave you all this backstory was simple, I want you to realize the IMPORTANCE of these excuses below, and how they will utterly destroy your chance at music glory in the long run.
If I just told you these, and didn’t give you the WHY it would seem stupid, now next time you have one of these excuses remember the tacos....fuck the bullshit and take action today.
Let’s get started
What is the number one reason you won’t “make it” to your dreams of being a producer/ dj?
Lack of Marketing and brand
Not so much
While the above are ISSUES you must overcome, there is only ONE WAY to overcome these issues.
Free Time, free time my friends ( time you have free every day to produce/ work on building your artist name etc) is what in the end allow you to make it or not ( along with some luck, not going to even lie).
If you only produce 2-3 hours a week? You will never learn the skill set to produce at a high level( Most likely), let alone learn to market yourself, make connections and the sea of other tasks you WILL have to master to build up your name in this industry.
People send me tracks and ask for feedback all the time, I tend to ask
“How many hours a week do you produce?”
“Uhh..like 2 hours a week for a year ! Why aren’t my tracks great yet?“
Simply put, you haven’t put in the time. No matter how many videos, tips, tricks and presets you have, the main “ ear training” happens over time, not weeks, months, but YEARS of daily practice. ( not to mention, it takes years to build your name up as well)
This isn’t just in music, look at the pro’s in anything, do they put in 3 hours a week? Not a fucking chance.
This isn't me pointing a finger and judging people, this was ME when I started, I had some crazy believe that I was "rare" and there wasn't millions of people with my dream. I figured labels would LOVE to help me on my path, as soon as I had "ok" music. Not only that, I utterly didn't realize how much I had to learn to even have "ok" music. I thought my little 5 hours a week would allow me to "make it" in a few years. Maybe I was the crazy one, and most people don't think this way. But I just want to hammer this point out that I am NOT judging you if this is how you currently think.
Now when I tell people this, they almost always ( I think 100% of the time, can’t remember it never happening) will tell me one of these 3 excuses. (no judgement...I’ve told myself 100’s of them 1,000’s of times !)
You most likely have told these to yourself as well
In the end, these excuses, along with someday and someone will destroy you.
Don’t let these 3 Excuses destroy your dreams of being an EDM Producer.
[ Note, these are mainly issues I have or used to run into. I also hear these OFTEN, daily, from clients and artists so if you think I am calling you out TRUST me I am not as I was right there with you. Also, PLEASE DO NOT take any advice I give as the ONLY way to go about something. I am mainly just trying to help some people push forward with their life ! In the end I am just a dude that loves production and loves to help others on their journey. ]
Excuse Number 1 : I have ton’s of huge goals !
One of the most popular reasons are people have a TON of big dreams. They want to be, a sports player, a lawyer and a professional producer, all at the same time.
In our society, in order to make it to a high level in any industry you need to crush THAT SKILL SET and that skill set alone( I am talking elite levels here) .
I don’t want to be the slayer of dreams, but IMO, if you're going to law school ( and doing so at an elite level), working a job 25 hours a week on the side you’re pretty much out of time. [ I am using law school as I know the time it takes at high levels, but you could insert any high level profession or skill set].
So, yes if you want music as a hobby, crush your elite school, work your side job and do music in your free time ! Most people will do this and be happy, I’m not trying to make you change your life plans, I just want you to realize its very very very hard to have it all.
Most producers I know of that “made it” worked a odd job and spent as much time as humanly possible producing. Deadmau5 for example ( from what I’ve read) worked in the music industry ( making music for paid clients that “ didn’t want to spend fucking 25k to use WHOOP there it is for their advertising ) for years before he stormed onto the scene. He got paid to do what he loved and grow his skill set.
Wolfgang Gartner once said in his interview something along the lines of ( No GF, No Friends, No life...he only focused on production when he was new to the game) yes this would be uber extreme for most( even me), but none the less interesting to note.
In this situation you need to ask yourself. What will make you HAPPIEST in 10- 20- 40 years? It’s hard to answer and ever changing, but it’s something to consider.
If without a doubt, the ONLY way you will be happy is producing or working in the industry for a living, then you know what path you should follow.
If you like producing, but want a secure and safer future ( and decent pay) then keep going down your high level job path, just realize there isn’t much chance you will wake up one day age 35 and your music will suddenly have taken off if you're only putting in 2-3 hours a week.
Now I know what you're saying...well I WANT to follow my dreams, I WANT to be a music producer/ work in the industry / sound design or even just be a DJ, BUT… BUT.
“The risk of failure man, I can’t take it”
I understand you, I truly do. Burning the boats and giving your all to your passion is scary as fuck.
What could happen? You could end up broke ? Alone? On the Streets? Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that but you get my gist.
The risk of failure is HIGH( even if you hustle 50+ hours a week, failure is possible), but what’s the alternative? Years of “ safety” at job you hate, working for a company you don’t like talking to coworkers whose values don’t align with yours?
If every single day of your life you think " someday" I won't be here, "someday" I will make it. You need to make fucking sure your taking action that can TRULY change the outcome of your life.
In the end just ask yourself what you truly truly want, also make certain you are entering the industry for the right reasons.
Thinking you will “ get rich and fuck bitches” isn’t going to pull you through all the bullshit. If making bank is the main reason you are here, I HIGHLY suggest you pick an industry that doesn’t have as much competition.
A lot of guys get into production for the lifestyle, but if you are mainly here for the lifestyle you’d be better off starting your own company ( in an industry that has low competition and high demand) then getting the “cool” lifestyle via the resources you acquired.
[ Side note: The above may not be 100% clear to all. I am NOT telling you what way to go, I don’t know that answer. I am not telling you to quit your job or any of that madness, I am simply saying that if you truly want to “ someday” make it in this industry and follow your dreams, your best bet is to HIGHLY focus on that goal for 5+ years and see what happens. Yes, this means you’d still have some sort of job, just maybe not a 60+ hour week job that destroys all your free time, playing soccer 15 hours a week and hitting the clubs Thursday-Saturday, you get the gist. ]
“I want you to back yourself into a corner. Give yourself no choice but to succeed. Let the consequences of failure become so dire and so unthinkable that you’ll have no choice but to do whatever it takes to succeed.”
― Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street
Excuse Number 2 : I’m waiting for the “right time”
The right time and someday are best friends, they will 100% fuck you 7 days a week if you let them.
I’d think stupid shit
“I’ll work on THAT project when I am more awake, tomorrow”
“I’ll “get serious” when I am done with school”
“I’ll go out less when I have a girlfriend, then I will have more free time to work on projects !”
“I need to wait till I learn this skill set, this new production tip”
No matter WHAT happened, I’d always bullshit around that I was on the right path while procrastinating doing shit I SHOULD be doing.
In the realm of production, this can be the end all be all.
Say you get stuck at a road block, your mixes aren’t improving, no one is checking out your music, your parents/ girl friend whatever are telling you to “ stop wasting time” .
Your mind will think, this ISN’T the right time to learn this. Just wait awhile, another day, 6 months a year, THEN you will learn it.
You keep putting off learning that new skill, you keep putting off pushing promos, you keep putting off marketing your tracks.
You know WHAT to do, but aren’t taking action because it “ isn’t the right time”
There will never, ever be a right time. The stars don’t magically one day align. Sorry
The problem is you may LEGIT have these reasons, it may truly be the “wrong time” to start this or do that. However, I’ve found that the right time rarely comes, and if you truly truly want something you go for it regardless of timing.
The thing is my friends, your brain will TRICK YOU. Your brain will outsmart you ( it does/ tires to do it to me everyday of my life)
Your brain will give you 100 reasons why you shouldn’t do something, some of them may be legit, but the trick is it will tell you that everything will be ok, someday…
It will lie to you, give you visions of your “future life” the future life where you hustle and grind your way to the top.
But not today, no not today buddy, today, let’s watch Netflix for 4 hours.
Your brain likes to tell you all your dreams will work out, it likes to pretend everything will be ok, one day you will magically wake up and everything will be perfect.
All of life get’s filtered through this fantasy of a “better day”, a day off in the distant future where ALL your dreams will finally come true.
As a producer you can picture “that day” the fans, the girls, the money, the fame, whatever the hell you envision, you can picture THAT DAY when it all finally happens.
Except, for 99.9% of people that day will remain a fantasy, it will remain a someday, a tomorrow, a day in the distant future where everything will be better.
Maybe you’ll get lucky, maybe you will randomly, 1 in a million reach your dreams without hard work and hustle. For the rest of us, let’s make our own luck one day at a time.
Fuck tomorrow, Fuck someday, Take action today. Other wise you will wake up and wonder what the hell happened to the last 5 years of your life.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Excuse Number 3 : My dreams are impossible
There is a turning point in every artists life, the one day the reality of the situation smacks them in the face. The, ohh fuck this is a lot harder then I realized day.
When I started out in this industry, I knew I’d have to climb a mountain, I climbed and climbed and climbed, got my name out there, made some connections and moved forward. Made tons, hundreds of bad tracks, horrible mixes and bullshit Youtube videos.
I was on my path, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel...or so I thought.
One day, after climbing for years I got to the top of the mountain….only to realize that I hadn’t even climbed the hill, I had made it almost NOWHERE on my entire journey. It was like I walked up an ant hill, only to find Everest on the other side.
That was the day I realized, holy shit this industry is fucking huge….omg there are millions of producers all with the same goal as me.
When you are starting out you are blind to the millions of tracks uploaded to Soundcloud every week( yes for real), you are blind to the millions of “edm” producers, you are blind to what you REALLY need in order to gain traction and support from big labels and big artists.
A lot of this just has to do with the fact for a few years you will THINK your productions are pro level, top notch ( they won’t be) , you think you’ve made it in terms of productions.
For me, and almost everyone I’ve met, there are the stages of production when you TRULY think your tracks are pro level, you can’t hear the difference yet between your tracks and theirs, this is the stage most people hit and never push past.
You wonder why your “amazing” tracks don’t get support, only to ( if you stick in it) 3 years later realize how BAD your "amazing" tracks where. Again, I am not pointing fingers, this was 100% me and 1,000’s of clients I’ve talked to about it as well. ( This is also why most huge labels fucking hate demo's, because the demos are NO WHERE near label quality).
This is the nature of the beast, once you push past THIS stage, you get to the next stage, which IMO can be the most depressing.
The ok , my music IS pro level now, or at least 95% of the way there and I STILL don’t have support from big labels or DJ’s WTF is up.
This is the stage most producers bail and become a lifetime hatter of the industry. The day you realize that good music, great music is the NORM and the starting point of everything.
Most will assume, great music is the end all be all, it’s when I will “make it”. When the reality is, you need this level of music to even ENTER the arena. ( Remember the ant hill and Everest )
Prior to this level you're pushing, learning, getting better and better tunes, then one day SMACK you make the one.
The track that will finally “make it” , break you as an artist, fuck yea fans and labels here I come.
Only...it doesn’t happen.
You send to labels, no reply ( except some small label you’ve never heard of that has no marketing power)
You release and sell no copies, 0, zip, nadda...you figured at least 100 right? Great song? Hell I might even make the Beatport top 100 !
This is the day you realize ,ohh shit there is a lot of great music out there. I am fucked.
This is the day you get to the top of the “ make good music end goal mountain” only to see the, ohh shit there is the giant peak of building a world wide brand and name, the real mountain you must climb.
Only most people don’t climb.
They wait for their music to climb for them when it rarely does.
It’s not hard to see why, you don’t want to look at the reality of the situation, how it REALLY works, you want to think that great music alone is all you need.
Everyone is in this for the music right?
Labels just want good music ?!
This just isn’t how it works, big labels want big brands ( or for you to pay them, yes you can PAY to be on certain labels, I am not naming names, but I’ve ghost produced a song ( for a ghost producer, ironically) that the artist then PAID to be released on a certain label. You may be saying OMG WTF its bullshit...but now a days labels are really just marketing engines for music. You don't NEED a label to release, but labels can introduce YOU to tons of new fans. It was only a matter of time before labels ( due to lack of sales) started to sell this marketing power. )
I’m not saying the entire industry is about profits, I’m not saying the entire industry is fucked, I personally think it’s fair, it rewards those that hustle and build themselves on their own, and will destroy anyone that doesn’t understand how the machine turns.
I was lucky, I came from a marketing background ( a music marketing background) long before I touched a synth, I knew what I was in for. If you come from a purely art background, or a music only background it can be a huge fucking wake up call, a wake up call most people never recover from.
So, back to the excuse, are your dreams impossible?
No, not at all, you can truly do almost anything you want. The reason why you MUST keep the above in mind however is that when you do hit these stages you don’t freak out…
You will realize you music isn’t “ amazing” yet, even though you thought it was for the last year or so.
You will realize it takes more than great music to make it
You will realize 5 hours a week will never allow you to reach your full potential
In the end, and this may sound a bit weird to some of you, remember that the music industry IS A BUSINESS.
Labels want to make money (sell units)
Clubs want to make money ( sell tickets and booze)
Bookers/ Promoters / Agents / Managers are yes in it because they like music( one would assume), but in the end they want to make a living.
People PAY money to play at some festivals
People PAY money to be on some labels
Ton’s of producers have ghost producers, hell famous “ghost producers” now have ghost producers, I know this first hand.
In the end knowing this doesn't even matter if your 100% in this for YOURSELF and the art.
Make the music you love.
Fuck all the marketing/ branding.
However, if you truly want to reach as many people as humanly possible and make a lifelong career out of music, you must today understand how this machine is turning inside and out.
Without this knowledge you may forever wonder why your “great music” doesn’t make it.
So after reading this, your dreams may seem impossible…
Nyonyxx...why the fuck did you just make me depressed man ?
I realize the above will most likely make some people angry, even bitter. I understand you as a few years back I would have read this and ripped the author ( aka me) apart. Terms like sell out come to mind. However, after living behind the scenes in this industry for a number of years, I truly think ANYONE can make it as long as they know wtf they are up against.
The REASON why I am spelling this all out is simple, you will hit these stages if you keep pushing and I just want you to realize you’re not alone, we’ve all been there and are currently right there with you.
I also want you to realize what you're up against, if I just tell you “ the music industry is hard” it doesn’t really hit home, I want you to truly feel this battle , I want you to be ready for the climb up the mountain.
When you're ready to climb this peak, to shut the fuck up and get to work, make sure you follow a system, a game plan to take you from A-Z.
Everyone has big dreams, most people won’t do what it takes to reach them...will you?
“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.”
In the end, tackle something today. Just start
Everyone starts SOMETHING at some point in their lives.
The problem is most people will give up…
When I am on my deathbed and look back at my life, failure won’t kill me...not trying will.
[ PS : Change of topic, if you follow my blog you may have noticed I have been MIA a few months. Have been traveling( for music work), working with clients directly on ghost/pop songs among many other things! If you need any mastering/mixing work done, I am still here for you , just hit me up ! Also, have a shit ton of back logged blogs that will be coming up soon. Sorry to leave you guys hanging.]
PPS: New Producers : Check out my Free eBook Here.