Ultimate Music Industry Tips

We recently attended an industry meet-up where some of the most respected producers, DJs and remixers in the game gave their views on where the industry is at in 2014, and how new producers should approach their careers.  The industry changes so quickly these days that we always need some up-to-date information from the key players.  So what did we learn?

Be Original

This is always relevant, but more so than ever in 2014.  Artwork, from Magnetic Man, put it succinctly when he pointed out that there's really no point in copying Disclosure, for example.  For one thing, Disclosure already exist, so unless you're even better at catchy, chart-busting deep house than they are, why would anyone be interested in a sub-standard copy?  The other thing is that if a Disclosure tune comes out today, it will have been with the big DJs three months ago; the label probably signed it nine to twelve months ago; the boys probably wrote it eighteen months ago.  Copy it now and you're a year and a half behind the times before you've even started!  And let's not forget that now everyone has a laptop and a copy of Fruityloops, the big labels WILL be flooded with copycat acts.  So stand out from the crowd by looking forwards, doing your own thing and writing something more original.

Perseverance Is Key

 

Eats Everything talked about how he was a DJ for over fifteen years before he ever made it big.  But it ultimately helped him out, because when he finally started getting booked for some bigger shows, his ability to rock three decks and draw on an encyclopaedic knowledge of dance music really turned some heads.  One day, a BBC rep saw him perform, and seeing how good he was on stage, booked him for an Essential mix.  He wasn't so well known at the time, but that mix propelled him into the stratosphere.

Similarly, Erol Alkan was a DJ and promoter for well over a decade before he started getting recognition for what he did.  But it meant that he had honed his craft and built up a network of contacts so that when he finally got recognised, he was ready to take full advantage.  In both cases, these guys carried on long past the point that others would have given up - but when an opportunity came, they seized it with both hands.

Get A Manager.  Or, Don't....

The panel were split on this issue.  Erol Alkan proudly pointed out that he has never had a manager, and doesn't think it's necessary.  Eats Everything and Artwork, on the other hand, placed great importance on the fact that they both have managers they've known since their teens, people they can trust, people who were there before they made any money and will still be there if it starts to go wrong.  The main factor is that a manager is there to make smart decisions for you.  If you're a 'typical artist' - who hates trying to sell themselves and couldn't make a smart business decision if their life depended on it - then the chances are that a manager would really benefit your career.  But if you're sharp and pretty much on the ball, then a manager might not do much more than grab 20% of your cash for telling you to do something you were about to do anyway.

How to find a manager?  Artwork pointed out that while there are a lot of management companies out there, many of the most successful manager/artist partnerships come as a result of two good mates who want to work together, but one of them can't write tunes - or doesn't have a head for business.  Their friendship and history together means they can trust each other, work together easily, and pull the other person up when they're out of line.  A big management agency can't say the same - and you never know if you're priority number one, or if they've just signed Carl Craig and forgotten that you even exist.

Get A Live Set

 

Although the electronic music scene is very different from the traditional guitar and pop scenes, some aspects are very familiar.  People love to see live sets, they love the unexpected, and they love coming together to watch a band.  So Magnetic Man got a couple of laptops and some synths, hired a van, and hit the road.  Artwork told the story of how they went up and down the country playing to 200 or 300 people.  Then they progressed to bigger clubs, then small festivals, then larger festivals - and they still hadn't even put out a record.  Eventually, labels started to take notice, and they were offered a deal to release their first album.  All off the back of their live set.

Find Your Own Path

One of the clearest points to come out of the evening was that there is no single way of making it into the music industry - or even into music production.  Everyone was producing tunes at home and honing their craft - but Eats Everything was a local DJ playing raves and taking the classic option of sending demos out to labels.  Artwork ran a shop, and started up a record label to release tunes by himself and his mates.  Erol Alkan started as a DJ, then progressed on to running a club night booking international acts, and was DJing all over the world before people started to ask him for remixes and original tunes.

The only thing that they all had in common was that whatever they did, they made sure they did it extremely well.  Artwork's label signed up Skream, Benga, Mala, Coki and Loefah.  Erol Alkan's club night was written about in the national newspapers as the best club in the country, despite being on a Monday night.  Eats Everything was as good a DJ as anyone in the scene - as evidenced by that first Essential Mix.

The over-riding point that everyone emphasised, however, was that good music trumps everything else. If you've written a banger that has everyone begging for a copy, you'll do well from it – while on the flipside, if you send out everything you ever write from day one, you'll turn people off with all the average tunes that inevitably result while you're still learning. So make sure you just focus on writing the best tunes you can, produced as well as you can, and then just keep hustling!

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