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[Tips found below] Here at Monsoon Season we focus on the rising talents in the dance music industry. That means we encounter artists and individuals that cover the whole spectrum of experience and knowledge. Some being on one end with little to no experience and contrarily, some on the opposing side with more knowledge and know-how abilities. That is typically normal in ALL industries. What is not normal is sharing these tips freely. This Season, we plan to change that.
We thought it would be a fun, helpful, and ultimately educational series to start giving out our own tips, tricks, and stuff in between for those individuals who need the extra nudge.
We will ask industry professionals, music artists, members of the media what it takes to make it, get noticed, and be taken seriously in this cutthroat industry.
Considering we are in an unprecedented time across the world. We have succumbed to lock-downs, quarantines, and restrictions. This leaves many of us at home, left to our own devices, and to some, lost and feeling helpless. Well, let’s focus our time on something productive… YOU! You are the only one who is going to be able to make this change into a better, more respected and knowledgeable member of the music industry.
Artist: Tito Burrito [Trap music producer]
Topic: Sound Design
One of the biggest problems I’ve faced over the years is finding the right sounds to use. Sometimes you will find yourself with a project that’s missing one thing to be finished. Maybe your percussion sounds a little off, maybe your basses need some work, maybe you have no idea what to do next. The best tip I have to remedy this is to focus on Song Structure, Sound Design, and Music Theory. Every song you listen to utilizes these three things, and as should you. Don’t try and rush the process but break each part down and the project should come together naturally. Song Structure is based on the genre and tempo you’re working with. Looking at similar tracks can help you find elements of a song that might be useful to implement in your project. Sound Design is based on the individual sounds used and how they work together. Don’t be afraid to experiment and combine different sounds together to get what you’re looking for. Music Theory is based on the key and atmosphere the track provides. Creating basic chord progressions can go a long way and allows you to progressively change the track over time to provide variance to keep your audience engaged. There is no right or wrong way to use these three factors, but by incorporating them your song should start to sound fuller and near competition.
Mentor: Jack White (CEO of Brainsick Records)
Topic: Career Development
One of the biggest things I’ve seen help anyone who trying to build their brand in the music industry is simply networking. Reaching out to artists you would like to connect or work with right now or even down the road. I know personally as a label owner this has been a key factor in the success of brainsick, just creating a baseline with whoever to establish that relationship. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy either, just a simple how are you, this is what I do, hope you have a good day. Something as simple as that and growing your network goes miles in the music industry.
Mentor: Cole McNab (Artist Manager from Later Tonight)
Topic: Career Development
Don’t be afraid to invest in your career/ brand, you have to spend money to make money! Although at first you won’t really see any of the money back from streaming royalties, it’ll pay off in the long run if you have quality music and a good brand. Spend money on AD’s, marketing your songs, cover arts, promotion videos and any other form of promotion. Consider your alias as a company, for example, you’re not going to start a clothing business and expect people to find your website without promotion. Also, re-invest the money you make from merchandise and shows back into your brand. If you have quality music and a good brand, paid promotion and good content will help you grow much quicker!
Artist: GAIRN [Dubstep Producer]
Choose what time of the day works best for your creative flow and productivity. Everyone’s brain works differently some are better in the morning while others thrive best at night. Make sure to have different types of studio sessions throughout your work week. For instance set a day for focusing on only sound design, while the next you focus on mix downs and mastering, and also a day just to create drum beats.
Don’t forget to also have a day focused towards reading or watching production tutorials. Learning helpful tips can be easily done on an average 15-30 minutes a day. Make sure your workspace is organized. This will greatly hurt your productivity and puts you in an uncomfortable perspective for your writing process. During your production process make sure you are both using monitor speakers and headphones. This will allow you to have a full spectrum idea of what you’re working on. For the longest time I didn’t have the right speakers or rarely used headphones while producing and to say the least you can definitely tell it was hurting my growth in music production. It’s not about how expensive your equipment is it’s having the right equipment in order for you to utilize your full potential. For instance I just have KRK3s and I’m pretty sure I got those right under 300 bucks . Again don’t worry about having the flashiest/expensive equipment, have the RIGHT equipment.
Drums: When creating drums I normally start out with a basic idea at first very basic patterns and then go back towards the end of my project and rearrange the drums to add fills, breaks, or more complexity. Also remember to compress everything to your drum channel and use proper side chaining so all of your sounds properly let the drums stand out in the track. Don’t be afraid to use saturator on your drum channel to make it have more punch. Be careful and not overuse your audio effects, sometimes it can be counter productive to what your trying to do.
Bass design: When you’re making bass layers be sure to have a sub behind your bass arrangement for bass sounds. Whether your using midi sounds or samples make sure to keep it interesting. I’m guilty of this, I catch myself making a lot of cool arrangements but redundant patterns and it seems there’s something missing. Use a reference track in a separate channel to help influence any ideas or something to spark a creative flow in order to get you creating catchy stuff. This is where underlying textures of sounds like. Sweeps , risers, any FX that would be used as a proper garnish with the rest of your track. Mix down /mastering For doing proper mix downs be sure to use solo mode and go between channels to fine tune everything and make sure all the sounds are working together instead of against each other. Also listen to all the channels don’t just stay in solo mode make sure everything is in the right place. Again back to a reference track: be sure to go back n forth between your track and the reference track in order to make sure that everything is EQed in the right place . Other ears : never be afraid to reach out to a friend , other artists to see what their opinion is on your work. Online or in person mentorships definitely cover the best ground in order to get your production going . Accept that your going to make bad tracks. But learn from the past and grow from your old mistakes. I’m still in the learning boat and just on year 2 of production. Most importantly remember the one reason why you produce music . Because you have fun. If you down enjoy the journey on a daily basis you’ll never appreciate the high points in your career. Embrace and trust the process. Accept the fact that you will make bad tracks and you will face rejection. Stay working and keep cranking out music and before you know it a few of your tunes will be accepted by labels. Just keep shooting and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eliminate pointless distractions from life and have fun by grinding to what you love doing: Expressing yourself through music. Let’s make 2021 your year. –GAIRN
Artist: Shroud [Dubstep Producer]
Topic: Track Development
What works best for me is starting with my bass notations. Those are always the foundations of my songs. If I find something that sounds cool and flows well, I work off of that. Then I bring in the vocals and drums. After that, it’s time for the synth and FX. Once I’m at this point, I feel it’s important to listen to the track on multiple speakers, then I can make any adjustments needed before I move on to leveling and mastering. And of course, the last move in the process is spamming all of you with my new song.
Mentor: Alan [Founder of Black Lotus Audio]
Topic: Marketing, Project Development, Sound Design
1) I’m a big fan of building automated systems that free up my time to go do the big tasks that can’t be automated (making music or sounds for example). An example of an automated system we use would be the funnel I built to grow our mailing list. Here’s the quick breakdown: We offer free packs on our website, and when someone downloads one of these packs, their email is captured via ToneDen and automatically added to our mailing list via Zapier. Once they’re added to our list, email automation is triggered that sends the new subscriber a welcome email that contains some information about our company and mission as well as links to all of our most popular content. This whole system helps us find people who are looking for free packs and convert them into fans and, ultimately, paying customers. This system is super simple but has basically put a large chunk of our marketing on auto-pilot, and I think anyone trying to run a serious project would be wise to integrate a similar funnel into their marketing. This could be done with free sample packs, remix stems, or basically any other digitally shareable content. Just be creative, offer some value for joining the list, and get growing!
2) Watch your analytics! Almost every social media site has some sort of analytics (integrated or 3rd party) and you NEED to pay attention to the data! Why? Because by watching things like views, reach, click-through rates, etc. you can figure out what content is working and what content just isn’t. Then you can adjust your approach and get better and better results! It sounds simple, but I see SO MANY people disregard their analytics and keep doing the same things over and over that just aren’t working! So, watch the analytics, adjust, and always be testing out new ways to expand your reach online!
3) Standing out online In today’s world, making meaningful connections online is actually pretty hard, thanks in part to the fact that EVERYONE is trying to connect with each other. So how do you stand out? Well, one trick I have is to use Zapier to track mentions of “Black Lotus Audio” on all of the major social media platforms. So, every time someone uses our name I get an email that contains a summary of the conversation as well as a link. Then, depending on the context, I can hop into the conversation and thank people for sharing our stuff, clear up customer complaints/problems, and otherwise CONNECT with fans and customers in a way that most people just don’t do! So how could YOU use this? Setup the triggers (Zapier allows you to do this for FREE) and when someone shares your music on YouTube or Reddit, you get an email. Then, you can jump into the conversation and thank the person for sharing, and share their post (be sure to tag them so they get some attention too) on your socials! It’s these kinds of interactions that will help earn you long-term fans. How many times have you heard the “OMG I shared “X artist”’s songs and they reposted my post to all of their followers!!”? Well, with Zapier you can be that artist!
4) Finishing projects; “Real artists ship” – Steve Jobs Finishing tracks is tough, but if you want to make it in the music industry you NEED to get tracks out!
Here are some quick tricks for finishing tracks:
• Use templates to work quicker (this includes saving frequently used presets, effects racks, etc.)
• Use references to take the guesswork out of mixdowns and mastering
• Know the difference between finishing a track and making it perfect – The ideal “perfect” version of our track that exists in our heads is simply not a reality! So, don’t get hung up on trying to make something that’s not possible. Finish your tracks to the best of your ability, learn from your mistakes, and move on!
• Know when to outsource tasks. Whether it’s mastering, mixing, or sound design, we all have strengths and weaknesses! So if you find you’re experiencing a hang-up at the same point on multiple projects or songs, the call may be to outsource that specific part to someone else. And that’s totally okay! Do what it takes to get the work DONE! P.S. Remember, these tips are not rules, so don’t feel like you HAVE to create stuff a certain way. If you’re a perfectionist, that’s okay! But just realize and accept that about yourself and adjust how your project operates accordingly. Maybe you release less music but each track is better, THAT IS A STRATEGY! But more often than not it’s an excuse driven by our fears of rejection, not being good enough, etc., so be sure to pay attention and know the difference!
5) Making Snares That POP When making big, in-your-face dubstep snares, one technique I like to use is what I call the “Blown Out Clap Method”. Basically, if I find a snare that has a good transient and body but a wimpy tail, I’ll layer on the tail of a clap sample that has been drenched in reverb and is closer to being an impact than a clap. Simply layer this clap over the tail of the snare and adjust the start of the clap so you don’t get any of the transients in the sound and, voila! You’ve got an awesome snare!
Bonus: ABCD’s to Remember
Approach: Whether it is a cold email or a planned means of reaching out, your approach is imperative and detrimental if not taken seriously. Recall the idea of ‘love at first sight’? Well, it’s a bit like that. How do you want to be perceived and or conceptualized by the person you are trying to get the attention of? Makes more sense now, right?
So instead of acting like a Billy-bad a** and Mr./Mrs. Ego, take the time to be a professional and approach someone as a person of the working class (as they truly are). “Yes mam, No sir. Hello, To Whom It May Concern…”, these are all valid and respectable keywords to use in this business setting.
Behavior: Being a good musician is more than just having the intelligence and know-its to dominate a dance floor and or studio. It is being a role model, leader, and example for the next generation of artists and aspiring musicians. Yes, we all have had our run-ins/paradigms with egotistical celebrities (on and off the television), but surely please, leave it on television. Art is meant to be enjoyed and shared, not feared in any way.
What we mean is be a good sport, on and off the dance floor. Be the change you want to see in the industry (for the better).
Yes, it can be hard delegating through all the fans, meet and greets, notifications, and such, but guess what… you chose this lifestyle/career choice, they’re just supporting you. Be decent, be kind, and behave!
Creativity: Creativity is best described as your intelligence having fun. (I’ve seen it on bumper stickers). There is absolutely no reasonable explanation and or reason why you need to be doing the same thing as ‘Joe Blow and Jane Lame’. Unless you are a tribute band, and I’m just not seeing it happen right now.
Your creativity is your utmost valuable asset in the art and music industry. Wholeheartedly, it is your meal ticket and what separates you from the rest of the herd. So keep this in mind the next time you want to ‘be just like‘ or ‘sound just like‘ anyone. It won’t work being a second-best version of anyone, at any rate.
Development: Do not be afraid to expand into new territories, new markets, and new audiences. This means literally showing your stuff to other people outside your bubble, norm, and even industry.
For example, let’s say you make a nasty, well-put-together, and polished death metal remix on an established artist. Show it to someone from the rock industry to amaze them at what sort of cohesive and fusion-esque things can be made. Truly inspire someone. Develop your brand into new areas and people. Whether the genre is socially hip, break that norm and show the world some beautifully made (crazy) s**t.
Another example, let’s say your cover art isn’t selling. Just no one is buying it (pandemic, or not). Try redirecting your audience and finding a new means of sales. Try making cover art for a country music artist, pop singer, and or other varied genres amongst hundreds you can pick from. Market yourself to new people and ideas.
Lastly, development is all about growth. Some people may have anxiety, reservations, and other ungodly excuses as to why they won’t, can’t, choose not to flourish. Every scary step WILL and NEEDS to come with embarrassment, failure, and reflection. Without those components, you simply just will hit dead ends and merely not learn anything.
Always. Be. Consistent. Daily
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