Welcome to Your EDM School, a feature that dives into the world of electronic dance music production. In partnership with Point Blank Music School, Your EDM School is returning weekly, with a variety of installments that will include guest posts from artists offering inside tips, detailed looks into the minds and tools of producers, and tricks of the trade for all you aspiring producers at home.
Hear from your favorite artists and learn about their worlds when they leave the decks and hit the studio. Your EDM and Point Blank’s weekly series is educational for music students and informative for fans.
Chris Barlow is one half of Terravita and one of the producers of the Safe In Sound Festival. He was also one third of the electro act Hot Pink Delorean. He has over 10 years under his belt as an artist and 15 years under his belt as an event producer and promoter.
Terravita’s Top 5 Tips To Making It As a Bass Producer
1. Make sure you really want to be a musician. As a fan the only side of the business you see is the artist on stage performing, or in a recap video backstage having fun, or maybe you have been lucky enough to party backstage with an artist. Those times are the fun times. Who wouldn’t want it? What you are missing is the amount of time that artists have to spend on flights, or in a hotel, or in a car to get to every show. Now imagine having to do it over and over again, with little to no sleep in those hotels before having to go to the next show. This isn’t even touching on the amount of time the artist has spent preparing for the show, making music and doing press, interview and photoshoots. Make sure you are ready to be away from your boyfriend or girlfriend, your family and your friends most of the time. A normal life does not exist for artists and you work ALL OF THE TIME.
2. Learn as much as you can. So you have decided the life of an artist is for you and all of the travel, time away from home and constant working is worth the reward? Great. Now it is time to learn as much as you can. If a school like Icon Collective is not an option for you, then start watching tutorial videos and reading books on production. Treat it like it is school. Wake up every day at 8 am and work on your craft and learn until 8 or 9 pm every night. Be ready to do this for at least 2 years.
3. Don’t jump the gun. Ok, so you have learned everything you can, and practiced for thousands of hours. This does not mean your music is perfect, or the best, or that it is ready to be released. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start out is that they run around showing everyone the first tracks that they make. Don’t do it. You will make loads of music. Once your music sounds as good as the successful artists that you look up to, then you can show it to people. This means every aspect of the music. The songwriting, the sound design, the mixdown and the mastering. If you are not 100% sure your music holds up when you play it next to your favorite artists, then you are not ready. Go back to step 2 and learn more and practice more. It is better to not show people the music and keep working on it so that it is amazing when you finally show them. I know it is tempting to show off your hard work to your friends (if you have any left after spending a few years in your studio haha), but just wait. Definitely do not send your music out to labels or established artists, please wait until it is ready. You may only get one chance for them to hear it and you want them to like it.
4. Be a brand. So you have finally made some music that you are happy with and it is competitive. That is awesome. Congrats! Having good music is only part of the battle now though. Now you need to come up with a brand and image. What is the name of your act? What does it look like? What do you do on stage? Is it live? Do you DJ? Is there a costume or theatrics? What is your voice online on social media? Music is nothing without marketing and these days you need a strong brand that sticks out and engages fans to market it, so they want to hear your music and come to your shows. Again, do not rush this. Getting it right makes or breaks you as an artist.
5. Get yourself out there. So you have figured out your brand and your music is awesome. Time to get yourself out there! Make your social media pages, and make sure they look professional and start posting. Sending your music to labels and putting out some free tracks is a great way to start, but we all know how hard it is to get noticed that way. A better way to start is by getting involved with your local scene. Start going to your local shows and contacting your local promoters. If your music is good and you have a solid brand, and you support local promoter’s shows, you should not have a problem getting on board some of the shows. Do not have an ego. Do not be afraid to play first. Do not be afraid to play for free at first. If you get in with your promoters locally, and continue to work hard you will eventually be in a position where you are playing your music right before established headliners. Then you are able to get your music and your brand right into their hands directly. Don’t get frustrated. It will not happen overnight. The bonus to getting involved with your local scene is that you will have plenty to post on your social media and build it organically from the people around you getting behind you from your local scene. Don’t underestimate the power of your hometown following.
The important theme here is that becoming a successful artist does not happen overnight. It is not easy. Just like anything with a high reward, it is difficult. There are many people trying for the same position. Just like becoming a pro athlete or a doctor, or a lawyer, it requires years and years of hard work and sacrifice. In the end it is very rewarding and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. If you think the path is hard now, when we came up there was no social media to help get your message out there. To release music you had to get signed to a label that will pay to press it to vinyl and advertise it in magazines. Also, now you are trying to become an artist in a scene where electronic music is the biggest it has ever been and actually commercially viable. While there are many hurdles to jump through these days, the hurdles are not nearly as high if you are willing to put in the time it takes to make it. Good luck!
For more expert tips, visit Point Blank, the award-winning music production and DJ school with classes in London, Los Angeles and online. Six-time ranked ‘Best DJ & Production School’ by DJ Mag, Point Blank offers ground-breaking courses taught by expert instructors including songwriters, producers and Grammy award winners. Former students include: Claude VonStroke, Nicole Moudaber, Gareth Wyn, AlunaGeorge and more. Head to their site for production tips, tutorials or to sample an online course for free.
Image via Nate Vogel