A Talk With Thomas Goldhttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
A Talk With Sam Feldthttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Joey: What’s up, Sam?
Sam: I’m good. As you might expect, a bit more quiet than usual, but on the other hand, also quite busy. I launched my record label, Heartfeldt Records, a few months ago. I’m also busy with the complete relaunch of Fangage, an artists platform that I started a couple of years ago.
Joey: How do you feel about the current circumstances?
Sam: It’s two-sided. On the one hand, mentally and physically, I feel a lot better. On the other hand, I miss my hobby of DJing and performing. The rush and energy you get from the crowd are addicting. So yeah, I definitely missed that, but I’m not depressed or anything.
Joey: I think one of the significant advantages that you have is your multiple sources of income.
Sam: I see many DJs around me that are focused 90% on touring, and when that falls away, it’s pretty hard to fill. I’m quite lucky that I’ve invested in multiple income streams like real estate and my other jobs. My music is also a bit more radio-friendly, so I don’t rely on only club tracks like some artists. Obviously, 80% of my revenue from touring is gone, so it’s not the best year ever, but I’m not lying awake in the middle of the night.
Joey: The way I see it, you approach an artist’s career more like a business.
Sam: I think the bigger guys are doing it. If you look at guys like Tiesto or Calvin Harris, they all have a brand. They realize they’re a business, and that’s what keeps them relevant. Investing in content and your brand helps you during these tough times when you can’t tour.
Joey: I’ve got some artist career and entrepreneur related questions that I’d like to ask you. The first one is, how did a failure in life help you to become successful as an artist?
Sam: Oh wow, it was years of failures. Before Sam Feldt, I had several different artist names, begged people to play in clubs, and spammed all the labels with my music. I was also making music that I thought I should make, and ripping off other popular people because I thought that was going to make me famous. These were all mistakes: begging for shows instead of building a profile, spamming labels instead of finding the right person, and ripping off other people instead of finding my own sound. However, seeing that they didn’t work taught me the path to success. So yeah, I think failures are inevitable. They are a stepping stone for growth.
Joey: What’s the most valuable investment you’ve done?
Sam: The time I invested in my DJing and producing career, rather than giving up and finding a job. It didn’t pay off for over four years. I felt like I was investing in the wrong thing. In the end, my biggest business and success right now is the business that came out of that investment. It sounds super cliche, but success is always around the corner, and sometimes it takes a little longer. It’s a matter of persistence and feeding and growing that business. Whatever you’re building, it will happen. But sometimes it takes too long to happen. And then you give up.
Consistency is another big thing. I see so many great producers that are either too perfectionist or not releasing enough music to break through and keep fans satisfied. They might release three tracks in a month and then no tracks for half a year. You should have a consistent schedule and sound that people recognize. I’m not saying you can’t be creative or think outside the box, but I think it’s essential that fans recognize your style. Otherwise, what are they fans off? If you switch genres, the people who love the first record will hate the second one. Create an alias if you want to make different stuff. Or at least make sure you have a consistent sound throughout all your tracks.
Joey: What tip would you give an artist that is on the verge of breaking through?
Sam: Guard your sounds. When I started Sam Feldt, I had a very distinct tropical sound, and now it’s evolved into a dance-pop sound, which is great because I like the music. When you have success, it can be very attractive to keep making the same music. Success can get in the way of creativity. Also, don’t change your studio setting too much. If you always produce in your bedroom and then start producing in a spaceship studio after your big paycheck, you might not be inspired.
Joey: Which advice should artists ignore?
Sam: One thing that I’ve now realized with COVID is you don’t have to play every show. Your manager or booking agent will push you towards making a lot of money. I would ignore that because if you’re consistent with your music and brand, you will increase your fanbase, which will reassure you that you will keep having shows. You can have confidence in the fact that you have a profile that is bookable.
Joey: Is there anything you believe will always remain in the industry, no matter the circumstances?
Sam: Yeah. I was with Spinnin’ for five years, and their slogan was, “it all starts with good music.” No matter the scenario, if it’s live streaming or shows, 20 or 30 years from now, people are still going to want to listen to good music and celebrate it.
A Talk With Stuart Knight (Toolroom Records)https://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I had a chance to talk with the head of Toolroom records, Stuart Knight. Here’s a paraphrased version of our conversation where we discuss how to get signed as an unknown artist, the evolution of labels, and the impact of COVID.
Joey: How are you, Stuart?
Stuart: Very busy! I’m coming off a virtual music conference and making a lot of progress at the label. Toolroom is the main record label that I’m in charge of, but I also help look after our sublabels like Toolroom Trax and Zerothree. We’re always trying to find new music, so it’s been quite productive during this time as everyone’s at home and in the studio
Joey: Are you noticing that artists are becoming more productive during quarantine?
Stuart: Yeah, when there isn’t a live performance side, the creation and the production side really comes to the front. We’re about to release a T2 album, which is a collaboration between 32 different artists who are randomly chosen to collaborate by pulling a name from a hat. So we’re definitely seeing artists being more productive.
Joey: So your release schedule is stacked up until December?
Stuart: I talked to Matt, our label manager, and he’s got a tentative release schedule to the end of the year, which is great. This means we can also spend more time marketing our records, as it’s hard at the moment without the live side.
Joey: How do you deal with marketing tracks as a label given that nothing can be played or promoted live?
Stuart: The lack of live shows has an impact. In addition to shifting towards livestreams, we’re also focusing on album projects which are more stream friendly for Spotify, not just the dancefloor.
Joey: I have some questions from the Artist Coaching community that I’d love to ask you. The first one is if an artist sends you an instrumental track that you like, would you help find a vocalist?
Stuart: Yeah, of course. The strength of Toolroom is our A&R department’s ability to take a record and make it the best it can be. If it’s a great instrumental which needs improvement through a vocal, we’ve got the connections and experience in the industry to hook those things up and develop the song. That’s really what a label should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, we’d like for people to try and put their own vocals on, but of course we’d help if the track has potential.
Joey: Does the same process apply to mixing and mastering? For example, if the song has potential, but somehow just doesn’t sound right.
Stuart: Yeah, we put a lot of trust and value on mixing and mastering. Andy, our engineer, is very skilled at what he does and knows the sound we’re looking for. It’s the role of a record label to really polish the product and make it the best possible. We’re also making sure that the artist is happy with the product as well.
Joey: The million-dollar question: how do you get signed as an unknown artist?
Stuart: Talent, determination, and perseverance. Determination shows that you are going to keep improving, and perseverance shows that you won’t take ‘no’ for an answer (be polite!).
Artists should also try to build levels of communication. Big record labels always have their eye on the market. You’ll be surprised how many labels are monitoring what’s going on under the surface. It’s a small world, and that’s the beauty of it. If you can make the right connections and keep that level of communication up, your voice starts to become louder, and it’s easier for people to listen to your music, and then ultimately sign you. There isn’t one particular thing that’s going to get you signed; it’s a combination of four or five different things that you constantly have to be working on.
Joey: What are some other things that big labels look out for?
Stuart: We very much see an artist and a project as almost a business within its own right. This means your social media, branding, production, etc. has to be on point. Especially for bigger labels, they are looking for people who are organized and have their shit together.
Gone are the days of plucking someone from obscurity and turning them into a star. Big labels amplify what an artist has already started. A great record is good, to begin with, but you need more for a label to be really confident and put their team and resources behind you.
Joey: Do you think it’s a smart strategy for an artist to start releasing music themselves to get the ball rolling and possibly gather support from other DJs and smaller labels?
Stuart: Totally. Again, labels with a good A&R will notice. We monitor the bowels of the industry. It definitely takes a lot more hard work and dedication to self-release, but if you have consistency, solid artwork, and socials, we can see if you’re ready to join a bigger organization.
Joey: In the last couple of years, we’ve started to see labels creating “homes” for certain artists. Now, if you’re trying to play at a festival, you have to be part of a label family to get placed on a stage. Do you think it’s important to be a part of one label or releasing on different ones?
Stuart: Most organizations are looking for a level of loyalty for the investment they make; however, balancing between a couple of different labels can also benefit all sides. It comes down to communication. If you openly and honestly communicate with your label and say that a release on another imprint may bring a new fanbase and sales, they will understand.
Joey: Here’s a hard but honest question: do you think Toolroom will still exist in 10 years?
Stuart: Yeah, of course, I do. There are loads of more things that we want to do and achieve. As to what shape a record label is in 10 years, I couldn’t tell you, and to be honest with you, I think that’s the excitement of why I want to do it for over 10 years. If I knew, I would probably be bored because the industry would be too predictable. We’ll have to adapt to situations. Obviously, labels will still be about music, but I think it may be more of a lifestyle thing where you buy into a record label.
A Talk With Jay Hardwayhttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I had a chance to talk with the internationally recognized DJ/producer Jay Hardway. Here’s a paraphrased version of our conversation where we discuss the impact of COVID, evolving artist careers, and how the music industry is changing.
Joey: How are you doing?
Jay: Good! Not touring, so I’m good physically since I’m sleeping better and having a healthier schedule. Mentally is a whole other story.
Joey: It’s an interesting time, especially for the level of artist that you are. From one day to the next, you almost lost 100% of your income. The biggest artists are the ones struggling the most with no touring schedule. What have you noticed around you?
Jay: At first, I think there was maybe a denial mechanism: people didn’t want to believe that their whole life was basically turned upside down. People were doing live streams but soon realized that they couldn’t do it every day or week. So yeah, that’s where we’re at right now. I’ve noticed some guys are not panicking, but a bit stressed about their future. I’ve saved some money so I can take some more time to think.
Joey: And what have you noticed with other industry players like booking agencies or managers?
Jay: They still work on keeping in touch with artists and helping understand how laws are changing with regards to the virus in other countries, but they have less to do.
Joey: How is it being home and spending more time with friends and family?
Jay: It’s good to be in the same time zone with everyone. If I was in China and it’s 2 pm, I had no idea what time it was in Holland. I now feel more connected to home. I’m also noticing how much energy I have left at the end of the day. I used to be chronically tired on tour. My whole private life has changed. On the other hand, staying at home still impacts me mentally.
Joey: Do you have a plan for the upcoming months?
Jay: I’m still going to release music regularly. I’m kind of winging it and trying to figure things out right now. I may have gotten too comfortable with my music last year, so I now have the opportunity to explore different directions.
Joey: Are you comfortable adapting to change?
Jay: Throughout my career, I realized how to adapt and not stress when something unexpected happens. I remember playing in Vegas for the first time, and I had 10 minutes between my dinner and my set. I didn’t have time to stress or whatever; I just walked straight into the DJ booth. That taught me a lot.
Joey: Were you always comfortable on stage?
Jay: I learned DJing at small bars. Technically, I was fine, but I’m not a born entertainer, so I was insecure about the way I performed. I’ve now learned to enjoy it and bring the right energy to my sets. I also know that the scene has gotten more commercial, where the performance is more important than the music.
Nowadays, there are some big DJ’s that can survive by just playing their own music and have their fanbase. You normally fight for that freedom at the beginning of your career, but you soon understand what works best. The industry is changing. I still feel that I’m still at a point where I need to prove myself in some countries.
Joey: Do you think artists are willing to change?
Jay: Well, that’s the question, should artists be adapting right now? The music industry used to be only about labels and big studios. Then, the electronic music came up, and people with a computer could make something that would get super popular. I think we’ve reached the peak with Martin Garrix, and now it feels like we’re back to square one. To stand out among all the electronic musicians, you need connections with a label, playlists, or radio station. We need to bring back that feeling of independence and having success with self-releases.
Joey: How is the dance industry evolving?
Jay: I don’t think there’s exclusivity in music anymore. Maybe that’s what we’ve lost in the last couple of years. Having a new track and promoting it to specific DJs has become less special. People now focus on who has the best production or biggest name on the poster. It’s not necessarily bad because the industry has become more commercial, and people can make more money, but there are definitely some downsides. The industry should be more about the music.
A Talk With Dannichttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Joey: Dannic, how are you?
Dannic: Good! I’m currently in the studio preparing an EP and some new stuff for Miami. It’s been two years since I last played Ultra Music Festival, so I’m excited to showcase new music.
Joey: How do you prepare for such a big event like Ultra?
Dannic: We planned for a new Dannic sound in March. We realized that after four years, it was time to rebrand a bit and refresh the Dannic style. It’s hard for people to get to know the new updated sound with just one single, so we decided to do a three-track EP.
Joey: What’s the process like to get a show at Ultra? Do they approach you?
Dannic: That’s an interesting question. Nowadays, it’s especially harder to get booked for bigger festivals, mainly because artists or labels now usually host the stages or “islands.” For instance, Martin Garrix has his own label STMPD. Whenever they have a stage hosted at a festival, it’s obvious that he’s going to invite all his friends from STMPD instead of me. This happened to me at Tomorrowland. They had less EDM stages, so my only option was to play at the Nervo stage since it was the most fitting. I had to reach out to Nervo myself and ask if they had any spots left.
To be super honest, it’s getting harder and harder if you’re not locked or releasing on a particular label. For Ultra, Revealed is hosting a stage because it’s their ten year anniversary, and since I used to be on Revealed, they invited me to play. It’s not that Ultra booked me – of course, they had to approve my name – but I still needed a strong network.
Joey: I think that’s a crucial topic to discuss because the new kids on the block might believe that things happen for you automatically since you’ve already had so much success.
Dannic: Back in the days, when I was more popular and was playing the main stages, it didn’t affect me. Now I have to work hard and prove that I’m worth it. It’s more a political and strategic game nowadays then it’s about the music or the branding.
Of course, I did very well, and I’m very blessed with my career thus far. But it’s not like I can lean back, relax, and stop working. I think there’s still a gigantic gap between the top 15 DJ’s in the world, and the rest. In certain areas, I’m a ticket seller, but not like Steve Aoki or Hardwell. That gap is getting bigger and bigger.
When we started in 2011-2013, the EDM bubble was really big. I always tell people the door has closed, and I’m right behind the door. For instance, after Hardwell played our collaboration at Ultra, my bookings and brand blew up. It was crazy and all eyes were on me. Nowadays, if I do a collaboration with, for instance, Garrix, everyone’s like, yeah, cool. It’s not that important anymore. You have to work harder and do better.
Joey: What have you done as an artist to deal with these changes in the industry?
Dannic: We’re continually evolving and rebranding. These days marketing is more important than ever, primarily because of social media. People are used to fast and accessible content – they want it to be easily digestible. For example, on your Instagram stories, you have to make sure that there’s a good balance between promoting your stuff but also showing your personality.
Joey: People are tired of seeing stage photos with fireworks and lasers. They know you’re a DJ and want to build a deeper connection with you. At the same time, you have to consider that everything is also a matter of seconds when you’re creating content.
Dannic: I have more than 500K followers on Instagram, but if I post something, the reach isn’t even 10%. Also, funny enough, the top comment every time I post something with a track is like, “what’s the track title?” Meanwhile, that track has been out for maybe six weeks, and I’ve posted about it almost every day. It just gives you an example of how important it is to keep informing people without being too pushy.
Joey: What’s the most important thing you focus on as an artist?
Dannic: I’m continually trying to keep my music fresh and exciting. The hardest part is finally finding your sound but trying to evolve within that sound. My goal is not to have amazing streams on Spotify, because I’m a club DJ. For me, it’s essential that I have DJ support and that my tracks go well in the charts of the DJs rather than the number of views on YouTube.
Joey: How many days do you spend working on music every week?
Dannic: I would say two, which is not enough. However, while I’m on tour, I’m usually the most creative. At the beginning of my career, when I just started getting more bookings, I would get stressed about finishing tracks. At first, you have six or seven tracks lined up already for release, but then you start to play more shows and become less productive. I noticed that my creative flow was completely gone when I forced myself.
Joey: In my opinion, you can’t force yourself to be creative, but you can put yourself in specific environments where you can get inspiration. For example, I liked watching Tomorrowland after movies or artist documentaries to get my creative juices flowing. The important thing is for artists to discover what triggers them into being more productive.
Do you feel like the last couple of years was a process for you as well when it comes down to personal development?
Dannic: Yeah, it’s an ongoing process. The hardest part of doing this is balancing social and work. I’ve been doing this for seven years, so that’s seven years of having to skip weekends, birthday parties, and visiting friends. When I was younger, I wanted to do everything since my ultimate dream was coming true. Now, I see my parents getting older, and I have less time to spend with everyone, so I now have to prioritize certain events over others—for example, my mother’s birthday over a big festival.
In terms of structure, I usually take Mondays off as my “DJ weekend.” It’s essential to take a break since 24/7 I’m dealing with time zones, different managers, emails, and phone calls. When I’m in the studio, I usually switch off my phone. I also just bought a whiteboard so that I wouldn’t get distracted by my phone. Another important thing is that I don’t work more than eight hours in the studio day. There’s only so much you can do on an individual level every day.
Joey: What’s the most important thing that you learned over the years?
Dannic: Make choices on your intuition but also seek help when you can. One of my bad habits is that I want to do everything. The most important thing is knowing when you need to let go and trusting people in this industry. Having amazing people around you is a significant part of your success.
Joey: How many people are on your team?
Dannic: Around 12. There are people on my management team, helping with social media, booking agencies, publishing companies, etc. I do want to say that even if you have a big team, in the end, it comes down to you. No one will be more passionate about your career than yourself.
Joey: Thank you so much for all the great advice. It’s very rare for artists in your position to be so open and honest.
A Talk With Jewelz & Sparkshttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I had a chance to talk with German DJ/producer duo Jewelz and Sparks. Here’s a paraphrased version of our conversation where we discuss label deals, key career advice, and new music projects.
Joey: How did Jewelz and Sparks start?
Jewelz and Sparks: We were both attending the same school and were involved in the dance business, like releasing on similar labels such as Spinnin’ and Ministry of Sound. We just started exchanging knowledge, and one day decided to start a collaboration. Our first track, Toxic Rush, was signed to Fede le Grand’s Flamingo Records and became popular; Fede was playing it in every set.
Joey: Why do you think the track was so successful?
Jewelz and Sparks: The record was stripped down to its essence. At the time, it was 2012, so Swedish House Mafia and Avicii were so big, and a lot of people were making this progressive melodic sound. We wanted to tone it down again. It was just very refreshing because DJ sets were full of these progressive anthems, and a lot of DJ’s played our tracks in between.
Joey: Where did you guys take it from the success of your first track?
Jewelz and Sparks: It was a long trial and error from there because we had no master plan. The booking agency became key in the end. They heard the song, signed us, and that was the start of international touring. Our first shows were already outside Germany, so Belgium, Czech Republic, and even Asia like Singapore. Within the first five shows, we were already playing at ridiculous top 30 DJ mag clubs. The music side was a bit different. At the same time, we reached out to other labels like Revealed and Spinnin, but we often got turned down.
Joey: How many of your tracks were turned down?
Jewelz and Sparks: It’s more that our tracks were released on second or third choice labels. For example, we had a track titled MYNC, which was released on CR2 Records. It wasn’t our first choice, but it turned out pretty good. It was quite easy to sign the tracks. Maybe not always to the favorite label, but there was so much interest at the time. Obviously, it’s much harder since there are so many producers now.
Another challenge is that you have to guess what labels are looking for; their preferences are always changing. For example, Revealed or Spinnin’ stands for a particular sound. You have no idea what they’re looking for. Sometimes we thought we had a perfect Spinnin release, and they would say no. We thought, “what the fuck? How is that possible?” But in the end, you’re in control, so you can make your own decision like releasing the track for free and sending other genres to labels.
The same also applies to collaborations. At first, we thought we should approach artists with tracks that sound like their style. You have no idea. We had a folder with music that we presented to Hardwell, and it was always the last option. Now we send everything, and let people choose.
The thing is, it’s tough to see the bigger picture. When you send it to someone else, they’re listening to it for the first time and have a different perspective. Another important tip is to listen to your production with someone else in the room. It’s weird, but whenever there’s someone else listening to it, I hear different details.
Joey: If you look back at your career, what would be something you would change?
Jewelz and Sparks: One word: patience. At the start, we always wanted a deal and tracks to be released right away. This would lead to a lot of complications in release schedules; for example, we would have two releases in a month, and then not have another track until three months later. We didn’t know better. We also recommend setting everything up “in-house,” meaning take your friends and close surroundings into your circle instead of approaching big companies. For example, our manager is from our high school. It’s just better to work with people on a personal level and have them come up with you from the very beginning.
Joey: How are you managing Corona?
Jewelz and Sparks: Our primary market was Asia and China, so we knew pretty early about the disease, but that also meant we were pretty early to stop shows. I’m not stressed out so much because I think there’s always solutions. As long as we still have some money left, that’s okay. But it’s a bigger problem for people who do parties and events; it’s really stressful since the costs are high.
It’s also interesting from a psychological perspective. It’s hard to switch from a pure touring life to staying at home. We see some positive health effects from this period of getting better sleep and having a healthy schedule.
Joey: Are you working on something special while touring has stopped?
Jewelz and Sparks: We picked up our radio show again! So we’re prioritizing that, and also working on a lot of club records and pop tracks. One of our creative goals is to create listener-friendly Jewelz and Sparks music that’s not just festival tracks. Streaming music has also obviously gotten very big.
Joey: How many hours a week do you spend right now in the studio?
Jewelz and Sparks: At least four or six days. We enjoy it because we’re used to traveling and jet lag.
Joey: Well, it’s great to hear that you guys are doing well during these times, and I think it’s inspiring for a lot of starving artists to hear about your story.
Jewelz and Sparks: Thanks for the invite! Everyone can get in touch with us on our social media. Also, producers can send demos to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can now continue supporting new talent on our radio show, and we’re always listening to new music.
A Talk With Eddie Thoneickhttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
I had a chance to talk with german DJ/producer Eddie Thoneick along with his Instagram live audience. Here’s a paraphrased version of our conversation where we discuss success, mental health, and the best resources for your artist career. Watch the full video here!
Eddie: So glad we’re able to chat given these circumstances! For everybody who doesn’t know you, can you give us a quick introduction?
Joey: I’ve been a DJ and music producer for over ten years. I started at the bottom DJing at weddings and later built a career in music by working with artists like Hardwell and releasing on labels such as Revealed, Spinnin, Toolroom, and more. Eventually, at the height of my career in 2014, I ended up burning out. I just felt unhappy with my current lifestyle as a DJ and artist. After that, I started educating myself, and now I run a business called Artist Coaching, which helps other artists maintain stability both mentally and in their careers.
Eddie: We need to have these conversations and educate our audience on how not to make the same mistakes.
Joey: I think what also makes it difficult is that people often don’t understand how an international DJ can face these challenges. To them, you’re living your best life on social media. Why would you be unhappy?
Joey: It’s personal; every artist has their manual, and they need to figure out how their manual works. When you can understand yourself, you’ll be more prepared to make decisions like signing a label deal or touring. I say this because, for most of my career, I was just listening to other people. I was distracted by the money and never really took the time to reflect on my decisions. You can’t expect other people to know when you’re unhappy; in the end, you’re the one responsible, in my opinion.
Eddie: If you had one tip for new artists, what would that be?
Joey: Learn to say no. This sounds really easy, but when you’re an aspiring artist, and you’ve been working for like five years to get at a certain level, and suddenly your dreams come true, it’s hard to say no to specific deals or opportunities.
Trust your gut; your gut never lies. For example, if a record label deal is financially nice, but something feels off, you have to trust what’s best for you. Sometimes, it’s too late, and those deals backfire.
Patience is really important, and one of the biggest challenges I see with up and coming artists. They don’t want to wait for five years without any payment or any results. But in the end, that’s the thing that’s necessary to come at that level of success. It can sometimes be even ten years until you can be professional and find success.
Eddie: I think it depends on your niche. Sometimes an artist you’ve never heard of goes viral, and three months later, they’re touring the globe.
Joey: There are so many elements to success that it’s difficult for you to know how long it takes. I mean, most of the people don’t have the opportunity to work as musicians full time and earn money with it. They have nine to five jobs and make music as a passion in the evenings and on the weekends. I think this is the right thing to do – the last thing you want is to have financial stress. Keep a side job to at least cover your monthly costs until you’re confident that your work is paying off. Financial stress is going to kill your creativity in the end, so you don’t want to get in a position where the money is going to put you in a bad situation.
I can imagine that the music industry sounds like hell if you listen to stories like this. And it’s not. If you’re a talented person who loves to be an artist performing on stage, it’s the best job on the planet. But just be aware that there is so much more to the job and 60 minutes on stage.
Eddie: If there was one book you would recommend, what would it be?
The War of Art. It’s about creativity and all the blocks that you create for yourself.
Eddie: What about podcasts?
Joey: When I first started this new project, I listened to a lot of Gary Vee, which is really like a marketing podcast. I also listen to Artificial intelligence by Lex Friedman and the Joe Rogan podcast.
Eddie: How do you structure your day? Do you have any routines?
No. And that’s the way I like it. My schedule is more weekly than daily. I work from Mondays to Thursdays, and Friday to Sunday is with my family.
Eddie: I really need structure in my life, so I use the high-performance planner and plan everything daily.
Someone in the comment section said: I’m 33 years now and have been working for almost ten years to reach success in the industry. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Eddie: My initial thoughts are that they probably have to restructure. It seems like they’re very passionate, but perhaps they should try approaching their career from a different perspective.
Joey: I wonder if they’ve reached nothing. You always reach something; it’s a matter of perspective. If you compare yourself to people who are making millions, that will only make you unhappy. Stop comparing yourself to other people. I would also say to get out of your comfort zone and start looking at things differently.
Eddie: Another question from the comments asks: How do I get a mentor when I don’t have money?
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great resource. The great thing is you can listen to people discuss topics like mental health and the music industry for long periods, and I’m sure some parts will resonate with your life.
The Power Of Mindset | A Talk With Kid Massivehttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity. Watch the full video here.
Joey: Let’s start with a brief introduction. For everyone who doesn’t know who you are, where did it all begin for you?
Benjamin: My name is Kid Massive. I’ve been a DJ for 25 years and a producer for 20 years. I’ve toured the world and released on many of the biggest independent labels, in addition to Sony, Warner, and Universal. Right now, I’m currently focused on helping new talent with my own two labels, Get Down Recordings and Get Down Black. I also run The Mindset Sessions, a podcast and teaching platform which helps young creatives understand their choices using my experiences and knowledge of cognitive-behavioral therapies, psychology, and spirituality.
Joey: Why do you think it’s important for artists to have the right mindset and work on their mental health?
Benjamin: For me, being creative is incredibly personal. It’s a journey of expression and how you feel. The more you know about yourself, the stronger your identity will become. We all start something because we love it, but then people start making decisions for us. So the more self-aware you can become, the more in line you can grow with your gigs, management, and all aspects of your career.
Joey: What I think is interesting about the whole mindset game is that it can change your life once you’ve once you are in control. When I started my career, I started trusting other people and completely neglected my opinion, which caused me to end up in some sort of burnout. For example, mental health can be really important for your music releases. Many artists struggle with releasing their music due to insecurities or fear. If you can control your mind, your life can be much easier. I also think that having this control triggers your creativity.
Benjamin: Absolutely, it’s about connecting to yourself and understanding what’s actually important. Do you get value in a booking or record deal? Be honest with yourself. You should be okay with the fact that you don’t release music for two months or three months or five months, because it’s a decision you’ve made.
I’ve worked with a lot of the big labels, and in 2020, you have just an excellent opportunity of releasing a record as they do. If you have the right connections, if you have the right distribution network, you can publish a track yourself. I can control whenever I want to release it. There’s no deadline, and there’s no stress about having to put out a new record.
Joey: It’s just crazy to see how many people in this industry don’t know these things. And it’s not like it’s that hard to know, right? Like, there’s a million books and podcasts written about it. You don’t have to go to a psychologist to understand these issues.
Balance is key. Recently, I’ve mainly been focusing on balancing my life. For example, I like food, meat, I don’t smoke or do drugs, but I occasionally drink. But I know that working out is healthy, eating vegan is healthy, and drinking moderately is healthy. What I mean is that you can still enjoy life and take care of yourself at the same time. How do you think that translates to being an artist?
Benjamin: It has to do with the balance of experience. You need to accept that you’re just like everyone else. Maybe you’re the king of the world during an hour-long DJ set, but when you’re done, you’re just like everyone else. People have this massive crash because they believe that they’re someone they’re not. The numbers, the facts, and figures have proven that they’re successful, but success can be taken away quickly. And when things get taken away, artists struggle and change their identity.
People start to think they should sound more like Hardwell or Don Diablo and change their sound just for a label. It might be a short term success. But when you take it to the long term, it can really redirect you from your own path. Your fans start to think, ‘Who is this guy?, are you a tech house, bass house, EDM producer? What are you?”
Joey: Knowing that you’ve been working on the mental side of things for the last couple of years, how would you advise someone who doesn’t know anything about what we’ve talked about?
Benjamin: Asking “why?” really helps. Like if you get that number one song, how does that make you feel? Why do you think that way? Why is it essential for me to act differently to become successful? There are lots of things that happen in our lives that we don’t pay attention to.
Once you become self-aware, then you can think about how you can do things differently. When you challenge your brain, your brain increases, it grows, it’s like a muscle. The more you use it, the bigger it gets. This also helps with your productions.
I do a lot of work with Loopmasters, and in 2018, I was the number one selling producer on the platform. I made psytrance, trap, tropical house. jazzy hip hop. I did everything else other than what I usually do. And as a producer, that means my knowledge and creativity just expanded.
Many producers have a sample base and structure to make a track super quick, but the creativity is gone because it’s just a habit. You’ve evolved as a producer where you are at the level where you just can do it with your eyes closed, but there’s no goal anymore. There’s no challenge anymore. And that’s what I was missing as well. I stopped challenging myself in the studio eventually. And that’s boring.
People need to reignite the ‘fun’ in their productions. Think about what inspires you to make music. For many, it’s not the technical aspect, but it’s the creative part. For me, now I want to make Latin house, soul house, disco remixes. It still fits my style, but it’s something different, challenging, and fun.
Joey: Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and experience!
A Talk With Farah Syed [Beatport]https://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Let’s take a few steps back. Tell us a bit more about yourself and which company you currently work for.
I’ve been working at Beatport for almost two years now at their Berlin office. I’ve had different roles at Beatport: I originally started in label management, then in marketing, and now I’m the partnerships manager. As the partnerships manager, I’m mainly dealing with outside relationships, working with brands, charity organizations, collectives focusing on diversity, and business development. Many of those partnerships encompass other departments, so I like having the freedom to work with the editorial team, the artist relations team, label management, and articles for Beatportal.
How did you end up in the music industry, and eventually Beatport?
This is my 12th year in the industry now. Before Beatport, I lived in Los Angeles, where I worked for five years at WME, a talent agency, and focused on brand partnerships. This was also when electronic music was rising in the US around 2008-2009, and it was amazing to work in those teams and see that explode. We worked on Avicii’s Ralph Lauren deal and some other projects like Swedish House Mafia. After that, I got into artist management, but I missed being on the business side of things. I wanted to move away from LA and get creatively inspired again. I eventually moved to Berlin and got connected to Beatport. The rest is history!
Going back to your job at WME, why do big brands invest in artists?
Brands want to do something innovative and connect with their key audience in a more meaningful way. For example, 7UP knew that electronic music was booming, so they did a deal with Martin Garrix. They also knew that electronic music would be more attractive to their younger demographic, which consumes their drink.
What could be the value for the artist – is it just money?
For a lot of the artists, you get a massive paycheck for only a couple of days of production work. So you can make a good amount of money for two days of work, which would typically take five or six months. Sometimes brands pay for full tours, like Virgin Mobile and Lady Gaga. But also, it’s kind of cool if Nike or Red Bull wants to work with you. It means your fan base probably will grow, you’ll get a whole new audience; it’s also kind of flattering.
You mentioned living in LA, and later Berlin. One of the questions I get from artists is that they feel the need to move to places like LA or Berlin to get more involved in the industry. Is that valuable?
I think it’s smart to move somewhere where there’s a key scene from a business perspective. I’m not an artist, but I’ve worked with artists from different locations and would say it’s great to live in places like Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, New York, where it’s pumping in the veins of the city. In that way, you become part of a community, and your network and ties become stronger. If you’re somewhere like Hawaii, you could definitely get your music heard, and I’m sure you can focus and stay productive, but then the networking side of things maybe get lost. If you’re producing, I think you can be anywhere in the world, but I think it’s also essential to live in a thriving place because you’re really plugged in. People end up building collectives, communities, labels – networking is a big part of your career. Human connections provide a lot more opportunities.
What was the main thing you learned from your time at an artist agency and as a manager?
Artists are always overthinking their music, and they can be tough on themselves when the music is really good.
How did you deal with that?
I think it has to do with trust. A lot of artists overthink their music even though it’s already finished. As a manager, we can pitch the song to labels now, and the artist needs to trust us.
It’s about having a relationship with the client and telling them that the music is good enough.
What would you need as a manager to make an artist bigger?
I would say releases under your belt, and maybe a secret stash to show that there’s something to work with. The manager should know what you sound like and what you’re capable of. Having a pipeline of gigs or a booking agent also helps a manager because they have something to work with then.
You mentioned the importance of having releases under your belt. I often see that artists are ashamed of their previous releases, which leads them to delete their earlier tracks. I always tell them not to do that since it’s kind of like a resume. It tells something about where you came from and where you’re going. Do you agree?
Yeah, I think you should never be ashamed of where you came from. I think it’s fair to be proud of what you’ve made because it probably got you to where you are now. It helps you evolve as an artist.
We met each other on the same panel in Munich about mental health. How do you think that mental health has affected the music industry in the last couple of years?
I think it’s amazing that people have talked more openly about the topic, and there’s less stigma. Unfortunately, people have had to pass away for this to happen, but there are some conversations you could have never had ten years ago, and now we can. Instead of a DJ being on the front of DJ Mag, the main topic is now about mental health. As a platform like Beatport, we must make this a global point to discuss.
In addition to mental health, I think it’s also Beatport’s responsibility to educate people on other priorities like diversity and sustainability. With Beatportal, we can also highlight more of these topics; recently, we’ve been highlighting female and LGBTQ artists. It’s essential for us also to portray diversity and mental health in everything we do even on the store with things like feature charts, content, and editorials.
Switching gears, how do you think that Beatport has been affected by the rise in streaming services?
We recently introduced Beatport-Link, which is a subscription service and allows direct access to our entire catalog. For someone like me who’s wanting to learn how to DJ, it’s cool that I can get any track at my fingertips. We’ve also had some fantastic charity live streams recently with artists from around the world. Beatport is still thriving!
Thank you again for taking the time to tell us more about your work at Beatport and your experiences in the industry!
Talk with Fabian Mazurhttps://artistcoaching.nl/wp-content/themes/crocal/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg150150Artist CoachingArtist Coachinghttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9d27f980f709f89931e3df9fc853257e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Joey: Let’s start from the beginning. How did it all begin for you?
Fabian: My mom and dad were jazz musicians, so I kind of had music in my blood. I didn’t start messing around with music until I was like 16 or 17. It just escalated from there. I started releasing music on Trap Nation and Elysian Records – basically, all the YouTube and SoundCloud labels because that was where trap music was back then.
Joey: How did you get in contact with him?
Fabian: I think I must have sent thousands of emails out to labels. I did the old spam thing. Eventually, it worked out.
Joey: Do you put out much music, or are you specific with what you release?
Fabian: I used to be the quantity over quality guy. I was putting out more than one song every month for the first few years of my career. Now I’m way more nitpicky. I will probably release a song every few months now.
Joey: Yeah, it’s interesting because many producers will release a lot of music when they’re starting. Once the attention is there, they kind of start slowing down. Did you notice any difference when you started releasing your music on that bigger label?
Fabian: Of course, I did. It kickstarted my career. I didn’t earn much money doing it back then. The money was coming from DJ gigs. But basically, it helped spark my production career.
Joey: Did you notice any new gigs coming in after releasing on Trap Nation?
Fabian: A little bit, but not that much. We don’t really have an EDM scene in Copenhagen. The only gigs that were coming in were a few shows in Germany and offers in Asia, Russia, and Eastern Europe, but it was very minimal.
Joey: Is it better now?
Fabian: Not really to be honest. It’s funny because my touring career never really took off. 30-40 shows a year was probably the most I’d ever played. My touring career never really went crazy. Right now, I’m good with not touring at all. I spend all the time in the studio, which I love, but eventually, I would like to start traveling.
Joey: I think it’s good to think about it. I think most artists go into the touring mode directly without even thinking that they are probably a better music producer. It’s two different things, you know?
Fabian: Exactly. I’m kind of okay with just being in the studio.
Joey: I started digging online, and I think the way you market yourself on Instagram and Youtube is excellent. How do you manage to upload all those videos, and especially the vlogs? I know from experience that it takes a shitload of time.
Fabian: To be honest, it was kind of a priority because I didn’t have a social life. I stayed in the studio, editing videos and making music for 10 to 12 hours every day except Sundays. In the future, I do want to do content regularly, but not that much. I admire people that can put out weekly content on YouTube. That takes a lot of work and much effort. I remember the vlogs would take me anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of work to edit.
Joey: Where did you learn how to edit your videos?
Fabian: YouTube University, man, haha. I learned everything on Youtube. Music production, video production, vocal recording… everything!
That’s my thing about music school. If you didn’t go to music school, and you would just produce for a year, I bet you would have learned more than just playing with your daw. Music theory is important. I mean, it can teach you a lot of things. It’s just a whole different way of working.
Joey: Let’s dive into the whole sample thing. How did you end up there?
Fabian: I did sample packs for this Australian company called Zenheiser (not the headphone company). And then, when Splice launched, they heard the sample pack, and they approached me and asked if I wanted to do like a signature Fabian Mazur sounds sample pack. Bear in mind this was like the early days of Splice, so there weren’t many trap EDM sounding packs back then. A few months later, my manager told me they want me to start my own label on Splice. Two years later, I think I’ve done 18 or 19 sample packs by now. I would say it’s almost a full-time job just making samples.
Joey: How does that work?
Fabian: There are multiple different ways of doing it. Sometimes I layer stuff until you can’t even notice the original sample. So I would layer say, seven snares – the low end from one, mid-range from another, and make new snare out of it. Some packs are different. I had the concept of doing a jungle sample pack, so I looked at the cheapest flights from Copenhagen to a big jungle. I went to Thailand and recorded all the local people, the forest, the birds, everything.
Joey: On average, how much time would it take you to create a pack like that?
Fabian: Usually, my sample packs take me about one to two months – and that’s like four to six hours a day.
Joey: Don’t you go crazy?
Fabian: I just did a sample pack called wubs, which is coming out in a couple of months. It’s basically only bass sound design. No drums, no nothing. I was going crazy, just like making serum presets and tweaking wobbles for many hours every day. That was pretty sickening.
Joey: How do you get paid for that? Like, how does that work?
Fabian: I can talk about it a little bit. I get a percentage fee of the samples used from Splice credits. Basically, I sell many thousand samples a month that amounts up to a certain amount of dollars, which I get paid out every month.
Joey: I can imagine that that gives you a different way of income as well, aside from your gigs and your music.
Fabian: Very much. If it weren’t for the Splice thing, I wouldn’t be able to make a living making music. I’m super grateful that I have that.
Joey: Yeah, I think that’s funny. So many starting artists don’t see how hard it is to make a living from music. From the outside, it might look perfect and easy, but from the inside, you have to make quite some money to actually make a living from it.
Fabian: Many people write to me like, “Hey, dude, I’ve been making music for eight months in fruity loops. How do I make money from my music?” You’re not just going to be able to make a living off your music from day one. It’s a prolonged process. And I think many people don’t realize a lot of us have been struggling for like five to 10 years until we made an income that we could make a living from.
Joey: True. I still remember the first time I had this ten day tour in America, and I made like zero money. I think it’s a great thing that right now we’re in an age where it’s straightforward to make an extra buck on music; for example, the samples, streaming, or YouTube. It’s just something extra.
Fabian: Exactly. And that’s one of the main points that I want to stress. When people ask me how to make a living within the music industry, you need to have different revenue incomes. You need to have money coming from different places. I have shows, royalties, Splice samples, and Youtube. I would encourage everyone to look at their career objectively and try to analyze where they can make money from. To be honest, not a lot of producers or music artists make all their income from like one specific stream.
Joey: What’s in it for Fabian Mazur in the future?
Fabian: So that’s a big question for me right now because I’m so I used to be in the trap/EDM space. Right now, I’m trying to bridge slowly into a more electronic urban type of space. I think that’s the space I want to be in eventually. But it’s a slow build. You can’t just release an EDM song one day, and then the next day you publish like a guitar vocal type song. I’m trying to go into a more organic sounding space and away from all the trap EDM stuff.
Joey: Sounds cool! Thanks for taking the time to do this, man. I appreciate you sharing your story!