I started producing music almost a decade ago. I knew nothing about it; I just knew that I enjoyed putting sounds together. I had no idea about music theory, let alone what I needed to be a successful musician. In fact, most of my first two years was spent producing exclusively with stock sounds in A minor and C major because I was scared of the black keys.
Suffice it to say, I wasn’t particularly good. At the time, I didn’t need to be; I was making music for myself. If that’s where you are, well, enjoy it. Most people create things as a hobby – it’s a pleasant-enough distraction from the world and, albeit expensive, it’s something that one can enjoy every day.
For those of you, however, who would like to turn music production into a career, these rules are for you. They’ve helped me through the years and I hope they’ll do the same for you.
Rule 1: Love what you do.
It’s a simple rule, yet something many take for granted. Loving what you do is vital to the success of your career for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of the following: rejection.
As any creative will tell you, rejection is endless. Worse still is that when you’re a drop in the ocean, you’re in a void; even rejection is too much effort. More often than not, silence will be your only answer. If you look at any record label, odds are they have a demo page or an email to send your demos to, all with variations of the phrase, “Please note that we receive a large number of demos and cannot respond to all of them. If you have not heard from us in two weeks, consider your demo rejected.”
When you love what you do, you persevere. You stick with it. Creating is not for the faint of heart and the fact that you’re still kicking means you’re lionhearted.
When you love what you do, the rejection doesn’t sting. The silence doesn’t hurt; instead, it drives you onward. Every track you make is better than the one before, and every idea you put together gives you that sweet hit of dopamine your brain craves.
Love what you do and you’ll never be dissatisfied with your work; you’ll constantly be improving. However, it wouldn’t make much sense if you just kept stumbling in the void, shouting out and hearing only silence, would it?
A lot of people get into the game without really getting into the game. I’ve spent ten years as a producer; I’ve had a few releases on a label; I’ve made mixes, mashups bootlegs, and much more content than I ever dreamed of making in the past decade.
However, I’ve only just gotten into the game. I say that because only now do I know what I want to accomplish with MADARASI. It’s something I’ve neglected to consider over the past few years and that’s impacted my overall creativity and ideology.
People tend to think that the creative world is chaos, but it isn’t. It’s chaotic, yes; however, the creative world – creativity – is organised chaos. Much like everything else, you need to know what you want and work towards it.
That brings us to rule two.
Rule 2: Know what you want.
Create a goal for your music. It can be anything you’d like to accomplish. Aim high, aim low, aim at what works. Take some time to think about what you want to accomplish with your music. Perhaps you want to make it on a particular label. Maybe you’d like to play at Tomorrowland someday. Maybe you just want to do enough to make music your full-time profession.
Once you have that idea, you break it down into parts. For example, I want to make music my full-time profession, so I’m treating my music like a business.
Let’s break it down:
- As an unknown creator, I have no brand awareness. I need to let the world know I exist, so I get on social media.
- Now that I’m on social media, I need to tailor my content to fit the medium I’m on. I need to create value that gets me recognised, and that, to me, means making more than music. Blog content, artist spotlights, reviews, mixes, etc.
- I need to network and involve myself in the industry. Reach out to other creators, labels, distributors, and venues in my area.
These are examples lifted straight from my planning. I aim to go into a lot more detail in the long run, but the simple conclusion is this: Once you have your individual parts, accomplishing them is easier. It’s still a long, arduous process, but when you love what you do and you know what you want, it’s all about the journey to the destination, and the journey is half the fun.
To conclude: Rule 1: Love what you do. There’s a lot of people doing what you do and it can get rough. One of the best ways to cope is to truly enjoy what you do and focus on the joy of creation. Rule 2: Know what you want. Understanding your road map to your goal makes it easier to achieve. It’ll still be a process, but that’s where the fun is.
To all you creators, I wish you luck.