Importance of networking in the music business

There are countless of articles on the internet about this topic and we all know how important networking is. No matter how knowledgable we are on the facts, things such as making personal introductions, initiating conversations, referrals etc.. are of extreme importance.

Every once in a while you see a talented artist with a big potential and you think of his music “wow this is really good for a bedroom producer”.  Somehow, many of them never leave the commodity of their own room, or maybe manage to present their work to a very limited local market.

Social media as a promotion tool

Approximately two decades ago situation was different – providing good songs was enough. However, the music scene has changed. Visibility is very important and social networks are among the most precious tools.  Facebook is quite interesting  medium and you can find out a lot about people by just reading the feed, also there is a possibility to see how some artist promotes his work.

The more you think about it, the more it is fascinating to see DJs trying to promote themselves just by posting their stuff over and over through the same social networks.

Today’s technology enabled Dj mixes to be recorded by using software, and with zero technical knowledge about mixing the songs together. There are more and more dj sets uploaded on the internet with the description indication: “I am not a dj, but here is my dj mix, so enjoy”.

So, what are you as a DJ actually doing by posting your mixes on Facebook?

It is different if you are already established producer with a solid base of followers – in this case your content will actually reach the people interested in what you do. However, starting as a bedroom producer with a vision to make your way throughout the scene, you better be creative in all aspects of your work and especially the promotion side of it. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are countless posts on the net regarding the topic, but it is never enough to explore the ways you can promote your work.

What I have found especially important is to always be prepared to promote your music – you will get the most unbelievable information in the weirdest situations. This is something most of the people don’t do, but on the other hand offers huge potential. Having your stuff handy and ready provides you the power to present your work in the right time and to the right people.

Production of you own tracks

Back in the days, works from a producer and a DJ were more divided, but around the year 2000 things started to change rapidly. Just by owning an average computer you could make your own music. Having your own production is a huge potential and gives you a chance to actually leave something behind. If you are smart enough to collaborate with other artists, this is one of the best ways to network with like-minded people. Successful releases will bring you to the point where other artist will play your music and this is probably the best appreciation of your talent you can get.

Making events as a promoter

We have all been there, and this is what I would say the second best thing next to having you own releases. Networking possibilities while being a dj and a promotor are on the top of the list. There is no better example than Sven Vaeth who happens to be one of the most popular Djs on the planet. During his over 30 years long career, Sven was next to DJ-ing, the owner of some of the most popular clubs in Germany. Frankfurt’s Clubs Omen and Cocoon together with labels and agencies gathered around those projects exposed Sven to the world and enabled the cult status. The role of a promotor opens doors to the every aspects of the music scene, from the artist to the club owners, labels, agencies and much more..

In general, promotion and visibility is becoming more an more important, but the tools you have are more accessible than before. Artist as a one man band can handle almost everything what is enough to kick start the career, from the bedroom to the stage. It is a constant work and your job is to experiment, learn and in the end enjoy in the music you make. If this seems to much, you can just continue playing gigs in your city and post mixes on Facebook.

networking

The Phenomenon called Jeff Mills

Derrick May once described Jeff Mills: “He is always one step ahead and two on the left” – and that is probably true. Mills is one of the best examples how a musician can be on the top for years, but at the same time staying true to a vision, opposite to following the trends. When it comes to Dj-ing, not even changing the sound much within decades. If we know how important character of a sound is in electronic music, how can someone evolve without changing that core element?  The way Mills is approaching music has enabled him exactly what Derrick May said when describing his colleague’s inventiveness. Electronic music is relatively young and still an evolving thing, however some artists recognised potential of this art form and the way that it can be developed.

Taking electronic music into the cinema

Mills’ very well established presence in the typical forms of DJing and producing have not limited him to explore and connect electronic music to other forms of art; More like an alter ego that is opening different doors to creativity.

Two years ago, French director Jacqueline Caux made a documentary about Jeff Mills,  “Man From Tomorrow”.  The 45-minute film was set to premiere at the Louvre in Paris, and screenings where set for New York, and then Berlin, where both the director and Mills were attending. As I reside in Berlin it was quite a treat to attend the screening and to see Mills outside of the party context. It was more than obvious that people expected something different, or did not expect anything but still found themselves surprised after the screening. After the film ended, everyone still just remained seated, waiting for something… Reaction came couple of moments later as it seems exploration of Mills’ music and conceptual ideas demanded some thinking time. This is exactly what should be expected when an artist like Mills is involved. Jeff Mills consistently pushes the boundaries of Electronic Music we know today and probably tomorrow. What happens to be more and more interesting is taking electronic music away from the club. In the below video Detroit techno legend and Axis label boss, Jeff Mills, explains his processes and intentions in taking electronic music into the cinema with Cinemix.

Eternal battle between underground and commercial music

Eternal battle between underground and commercial music makes us wonder: What actually is a good song? 

It seems like this kind of question doesn’t have a direct answer as taste is not something easy to define. Also, it depends if we are talking with someone who is deeply involved in music, or just passively consuming the radio. For the purpose of this article, let’s divide music into commercial and underground. Can mainstream, commercial music be good in quality?

Commercial stuff is made to be commercial, it is made to generate cash. Thus, the so called artist is missing the creative part – starting from the scratch. You can’t start from the beginning if the idea is already there. What you are doing is actually jumping on the wagon hoping it will take you along with the already running choo-choo train. So, how much  creativity is needed to follow previously defined guidelines for beat, melody and lyrics – all of that being already well tried out, no surprises there.

There are trends in the underground music also, however far less and the consumers are different; more demanding. Very often they search for a particular sound, style or a track. DJs and producers have much more room to experiment and be creative when it comes to underground styles. Some of them have progressed with their work (or just one song) to a such extent that they inspired a whole new genre of music.

However, things are not so simple as they seem. What about the music that initiated as underground and then crossed heavily into the commercial side? In approximately two decades Rap music became the most listened musical genre in the world.

Are we always able to differentiate underground from commercial?

In the video below, Matthew Dear and Carl Craig are sharing their vision and discussing electronic music scene, producers, equipment… It is one of the most inspiring conversations on this topic I have listened to lately, with tons of interesting insights such as: how the lack of equipment can stimulate creative process,  why Ricardo Villalobos is among the top producers in the genre, the way EDM is made today and much more..

Useful tips for DJs and producers – getting your projects done

In the following article I will share couple of ideas that I find very useful when managing your projects and dealing with tight schedule.

Lack of time or motivation

Lack of time or motivation can be a problem when facing deadlines or just trying to finish the project. Dj-producer who is basically a one-man band needs to master a range of skills to survive in today’s music business. There is a difference if you are a full time producer, or having music as a second job or a hobby, but in the end of the day you want to enjoy the songs you’ve made. If they are just a bunch of loops and unfinished compositions, it’s not likely your time and effort will be compensated. One of the most important things for me is that your equipment, or whatever you use, is as accessible as possible. Music is a creative thing and you want to merge your ideas with the projects you are making. It is nice to have a studio but if you need to travel 45 min. to get there, it can be a turnoff in the days when you’re exhausted from everyday schedule. This is something I see in Berlin quite often. Here in the city (and this is a great thing btw) authorities offered unused buildings to be converted and used by artists. You can see the whole blocks filled with studios, they are usually on the city outskirts demanding 45 minutes commuting from the centre. This means an hour and a half of traveling daily if you want to make music. Do you have that time? Luckily nowadays , as the technology evolved, a very basic software can help you sketch some ideas and save it for later. When the time allows it will be more suitable to develop your songs and arrangements in the studio. This bring us to the tip from the beginning of the text: make your tools as accessible as possible.

Creativity always beats technology, save your ideas-they are the real stuff here.

Creative block

Another thing that many artists face from time to time a creative block. If you don’t know how to handle this it can even damage your career. There are tons of advices on the internet on how to deal with this problem but I find the following solution quite effective. It is perfectly normal that you can’t flash ideas 24/7. However, electronic music scene is quite competitive environment and it is not a good idea to let everything on a side for some time hoping to continue God knows when. Especially if the music is not your income, this “having a little break” can eventually transform into “I don’t have time for this anymore”.

Normally, ideas will come sooner or later, important thing is to use your time and energy for different types of work in the meantime. Being a DJ/producer demands not just creative work but also a shitload of activities like promoting, networking etc.. You don’t need a high level of creativity to network with other artists or promote your already finished projects. Moreover, a feedback you receive or a new connection to other artist can open wide range of possibilities. If this doesn’t seem motivating, its time to ask your self: am I here for the right reasons?

Ableton