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Advice on the career in music Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 23rd November 2010
Here for the gear

Advice on the career in music

This might be somewhat of a broad question, but I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on where I can head toward.

I'm 25, from Korea, studying in US right now, graduating from a college with a Sound Recording degree in December. I'm planning on moving to Seattle as it seems to be one of the best places to get into music; not too big, but still a good-sized city. (and I love the city) Throughout this year, I have been thinking about what to do after graduation, and realized that there isn't much I could do right out of the college to make income as a sound engineer, since many of those positions start from internships without pay. After thinking of other options possible, being a DJ came to my mind. It was something that I always wanted to do, but never really looked into. I contacted local DJs for lessons, and started going through various online forums and websites, absorbing everything I read. (It's quite amazing how much information is available on these forums/blogs)

In the long run, I want to be a producer, writing/producing Pop/Electronic/Jazz music. But it seems quite hard to make a living out of it right out of the college, as it takes a bit of time to be able to make a living as a producer. (Also, I have no connection with any professionals) I don't mean to say I could instantly make steady income from DJing either, but at least I can start from small gigs from friends, and I feel that I would be able to make some income if I devote my time into it. Also, as I get some reputation as a good DJ, I'm thinking it would be easier to make connections with people in the music industry and start introducing my music to them.

I have a year in Seattle, (my visa expires one year after graduation) my current goal is to be able to make enough monthly income for living in Seattle, while acquiring certain level of reputation as a DJ, and be able to get a start in my career either as a producer or touring DJ, hopefully in near future. When I go back to Korea, I could continue my efforts there, even though there would be less opportunities for me there.

So, My question is;

Am I on the right track? Is there possibly a better path to get to producing music? (while being able to make an income)

For some info on what I have now, I have,

Pro Tools 9 (upgrading from 8) with Mbox2
virtual synths and plug-ins (including NI Massive, Addictive Drums, Waves Gold)
Genelec 1029A studio monitors
Desktop that I run my DAW on (i7 920)
midi keyboard (axiom 61)
Traktor with Kontrol S4

I have work experience as,
studio engineer (mainly in school)
live sound engineer
intern for an independent record label in Seattle

I was not sure who I could ask this question to, as I have no mentor in this area of music, and thought there might be someone here that could help me.

Thank you so much for reading this long post, and I would really appreciate your advice.
Old 23rd November 2010
Deleted User
Pro djing is not something you can achieve in 1 year... being average is easy, but being good requires a lot of effort and concentration. Practicing, listening to a lot of music, to other djs, analyze how the crowd behaves... Everyone wants to be a dj these days so the competition is hard.

Besides the skill you need contacts, a lot. That means partying every weekend to know people. Then maybe you'll know some promotor that is just starting. Those will let you start the night when the club is empty for free. Your name will start being seen on the flyers around town.... when your name is known enough that you can attract people to a club, then you will get paid. The formula is simple: the more people you can attract, the more they will drink, the more you will get paid for each gig.

That means, a lot of contacts and a lot of promotion (flyers, online sessions, newsletter, website, social networks, etc). If you don't love djing, edm, and the party night life... all that will be a real pita because it takes a lot of time and effort.

The other way around is in fact much "easier". You produce some edm, and if some label like it, you'll be djing in no time. Labels do that to promote their artists and music. If more people like it, you'll start travelling... then maybe become the next deadmau5. But that also takes time.

Producing edm, even if it's not the culprit of artistic expression, is not as easy as it sounds. Even less if you want to win real money from it. If you have never produced/composed anything don't expect fast results... it's also a labor of constant effort.

You say you're coming from an engineering background, and that will give some knowledge on the production aspect of edm creation... but there's a lot more to be learned. Some piano lessons would be nice, some music theory too. Also there are synths, sampling, etc. Listening closely to a lot of edm is also important.

I think, if you really love EDM and want to get into that world, don't put yourself any time constraint like 1 year because it takes time. Start producing right now and don't give up! As simple as that. You may be forced to do other jobs until you get it... but hey that's the artist life. Live cheap, and have faith one day you'll get paid to do what you love.

Also I don't think that it's a problem that go back to korea and learn to produce from there. Nowadays you can be in Denmark and have a world hit (like trentemoller did).
Old 23rd November 2010
Lives for gear
Barfunkel's Avatar

DJ'ing is a lot harder than it looks like, especially if you want to make a living out of it. You need a huge and GOOD record collection for starters, which is not something you can get overnight. It's expensive, even if you're buying files and you need tons of information about artists, releases, labels, everything and it takes time to find that information. If you just buy the 20 latest hits online and expect to be paid from playing them, you're way wrong. When people pay to see the DJ, they expect something special, something they can't just listen to at their homes. You need rarities, promos as well as a nice collection of the basic tracks.

Doing all that takes so much time and money that you should consider yourself lucky if you're breaking even after playing for a few years. Most DJ's lose money (especially if you collect vinyl), it's just a hobby to them.
Old 23rd November 2010
Gear Maniac
peachboy's Avatar

If you're serious about being a producer then the first thing you need to be doing right now is to start producing tracks. EDM is great doorway into other production work. If you work at your EDM productions, and aim high, then it's not hard to get radioplay (especially in this internet age), and if you do good, then it should be fairly easy for you to get chart successes in some of the smaller EDM charts (and beyond). If you can do this, then you're effectively now a professional music producer. All you would need to do then is to use your discography as a foundation to secure more work, and aim for a phat publishing deal, demonstrate some of your pop backing tracks, jazz tracks etc etc. The internet is an invaluable tool in selling youself - so a small course in Digital PR (very cheap) would be of great assistance.
Old 23rd November 2010
the best advice i ever got was when i told a music teacher that i wanted a career in music. He asked, "Is there any way i can talk you out of it?". i was NOT expecting that(in 1982!). i thought for a moment and said, "no, not really".

he said, "well in that case, let's get started immediately."

edit: i guess what i'm trying to say is to keep your focus on the present - always be doing something toward your goal - and the future will take care of itself. sounds like you're doing that.
Old 23rd November 2010
Gear Maniac

I agree, make EDM now it will pay off in the future. perhaps spend your year in the US meeting people and collaborating. Build lasting relationships, learn production skills. Get a bunch of tracks finished.

Then go back to South Korea. Use the finished tracks to get work. I think there is actually more work in the Korean music industry right now but you have to be making very commercial music to fit in based on my experience.
Old 23rd November 2010
Lives for gear
Tarkovsky's Avatar

You need to make ****-tonnes of contacts. I recommend throwing huge house parties, with tonnes of drugs, in the trendybutcheap end of town. That's how I've made the few I have. Also just be nice to people, always give people your time if you can. Even if things/connections seem small, give them your time and work at them. One thing usually leads to another and work often pays off more than you think it might.
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear
Schwarzwald's Avatar
Whoaaa, yeah man.
Skip DJing (sorry to all the DJ's)

If you want to be an engineer for pop music, START ENGINEERING POP MUSIC. Lol, thats crazy that'd you'd go be a DJ. Thats like majoring in education, then going to work in a library to some how build up your reputation as a teacher.

Making a living off of music, especially EDM/Pop Music is EASY. Period. Especially if you're good. Although, depends HOW much money you want. My expenses, including food, rent, household items, cellphone bill, utilities, all that stock ish is only $500 a month. It's nothing to charge $500 for a day, or even sell a few instrumentals for 1-200 bucks . Then all those church recordings, people renting out your P.A./Guitar amps, etc etc.

Of course, if you haven't been building up your hardware already, that might be a big MEH. You should get a day job while you're here, find a cheap studio apartment, and get to work. Buy gear...and gear...and gear. Not the BS stuff. I.E. you don't need a Macbeth. However some motorized faders'll make the clients butt happy.

Also PARTY ALOT. If you have the right personality for it, it's CHILDS PLAY. Go out on the weekend, see who the leaders of the scene are, hit up the gay clubs. HAVE FUN!

Also, do things (and IDK if this applies to you) in random places. I set up and do little Dubstep shows infront of libraries, Dairy Queens, A WHOLLEEEE LOT in random places at school. Got me tons of other artists numbers, as well as college kids around.

It's all about getting out there.
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear
Teknobeam's Avatar

Originally Posted by sktsage View Post
This might be somewhat of a broad question, but I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on where I can head toward.

I'm 25, from Korea, studying in US right now, graduating from a college with a Sound Recording degree in December. I'm planning on moving to Seattle as it seems to be one of the best places to get into music; not too big, but still a good-sized city.
The biggest thing you have going for you at the moment is your age. But beyond that, stop trying to map your future in advance. that rarely works out as planned. I'm not saying that someone aiming for a law degree at your age doesn't become a successful attorney, but the music industry is kind of different from that. Nobody here can give you a blueprint for any kind of success. You have to do all of that yourself. You have to jump in with both feet and with desire and intent, see where it takes you. Graduating with a degree in "sound recording" is kind of like an electrical, or mechanical engineer graduating from university. It's just the beginning, and a huge journey of learning and experience ahead.
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear

I think it's unrealistic to expect DJ'ing to pay your bills in the short term. Get a day job that offers a living wage; ideally, it would be something in the industry, but take what you can get. Like the other poster said, it doesn't really follow that you would be a DJ in order to later move into producing. Some guys do, though.

As far as actual deejaying goes, the greatest skill is song selection. Second, is knowing how to read a crowd. 3rd, is having a following. If you can tell a promoter you can get 200 people to show up wherever you're spinning, you'll get a job somewhere. Twitter and Facebook are your best friends. Post your music up there.

Remixes of popular songs can get your noticed; just ask Dangermouse. And find a way to standout, if possible. Seattle has a very large Asian community (including Korean) and they are very cliquish. Use this to your advantage. Asian nights are very big up there.

My advice is to keep your living expenses as low as possible by getting a cheap car or even take the bus, live with as many roommates as you can tolerate and eat your meals at home, etc.

spend all your spare time learning how to produce music, with a good portion of that LISTENING to music: old and new. Outside of actually musicianship, I think having a large knowledge of various genres of music (but especially the ones you prefer) is maybe the most important part of producing. Heck, you can produce without playing an instrument; just ask Rick Rubin.

Read music blogs, go to clubs, intern at a studio, network with other musicians, etc.

use a condom.
Old 27th June 2011
Gear Maniac
Dudley's Avatar

and buy a minimoog.

The superior sound inspired a whole era of music, and it's unlikely your tracks will succeed without Mini Bass 001.
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear

Oh, and make sure you spend a lot of time on here talking smack about other people to feel good about yourself. This is especially helpful when you don't have anything interesting to talk about. You can still be a part of something. See above.
Old 27th June 2011
Gear Nut

Teach keyboards.

Teaching music of any type is one of the areas where money can still be easily made.
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear
Gringo Starr's Avatar

I know the guy who managed Dr. Dre, Eve, and now Lady Gaga. He comes into my work place. I saw him last week and asked him a few questions about the biz. Luckily he's a cool guy and gave me some good answers. He told me that one of the most important things he tells everyone thats trying to get into the biz, or even people who already are in it, is to thoroughly read the book "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Donald S. Passman. He said that's a mandatory read for anyone who is even thinking about a living in the biz. He said that he knows a lot of people in the industry who will make their employees read that book. I ordered the book on amazon for under 20 dollars. Just got it today. This might not be specifically the answer to your post but I'd say that would be a good place to start. Oh and make sure you get the 7th edition. Its the latest one.
Old 27th June 2011
Gear Maniac
Dudley's Avatar

Originally Posted by Gringo Starr View Post
I know the guy who managed Dr. Dre, Eve, and now Lady Gaga. He comes into my work place.
Cool, did he super-size?

Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear
Gringo Starr's Avatar

Originally Posted by Dudley View Post
Cool, did he super-size?

Man that went right over my head.

I bet his bank account is super-size though. To bad mine isn't.
Old 27th June 2011
Gear Head
Multiplier's Avatar

I think one of the most important things to remember is: it will take ages. If you persevere enough, you can make it. but don't expect it to happen in a year. most top producers/DJs (nowadays the difference is becoming smaller and smaller) produced for years and years and years before they started to "make it".

and THE most important thing to remember is: enjoy the journey. if you dont enjoy the process of producing/networking/partying/whatever. pick an easier job. and heck, if the enjoy the journey, and still dont get awesome, who cares, you still had fun eh
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear
sftd's Avatar

I would like to add that DJing in this day and age with Ableton etc. is actually incredibly easy if you are intimately familiar with your tools.

And yes, it's very much so "cheating".

I've never DJ'd in my life, only wrote songs, and last week I was asked to DJ an art gallery event. So I accepted it despite having no clue as to how I was going to pull it off. I spent aprox. 2 hours creating an Ableton project template that worked for me the way I wanted, did some further dedicated mapping for the APC40, and within three hours was successfully not only transitioning tracks properly but going above and beyond that into light on the fly controlerism mashup work.

Moreover, I am a total talentless moron.

Being that I am a total talentless moron, from zero experience to DJing at a club acceptable level in 3 hours is what I would define as easy.

I now understand why I hear people who DJ with vinyl cursing the software kids. It's so easy it's disgusting.
Old 27th June 2011
Lives for gear

I was helping with load out after a Haujobb show and asked a similar question of one of my idols D Meyer...

He told me that based on my shirt (I think it was coil or DI6) that I had good taste and would be ground up, spit out, and ignored if I tried to make music. On the other hand they just put out another album so... I would say that if you are willing to forgo stability, self esteem. If you are willing to expose yourself to ridicule and indifference - because you need to create and get a rush out of performing then do it. If you need to ask - the risks out-way the benefits, and even if you "make it" whatever inner deamons are pushing you to put yourself out there will never be satisfied. In this day and age you have more of a chance making it big and living the dream in any other field...
Old 26th July 2011
Gear Head

Career in music is a good idea whether you want to become a music producer,composer or singer.But one should have creative mind and so that he can make an awesome music.But there is problem since mostly people are choosing music as their career
Old 26th July 2011
Forum Idiot
pukozade's Avatar

wait till everyone treats u like a mug only then are u ready. mug u not me
Old 25th August 2011
Gear Head

It is little difficult to be a DJ, then to be a normally a singer. You can upload your music to different sites like music and all Kind of stuff. You can also take the help of social networking sites. Ask your friends and family to promote you. You ac can also take the help of online sites, they helps from production to promotions. And most important thing is that they will work for you in your limited budget.
Old 25th August 2011
Lives for gear
enossified's Avatar
If you want to be a producer, why bother with DJing. Look for gigs as a live sound engineer, roadie, working for a pro audio dealer, etc. to augment your income if you don't want a non-music related day job so you can intern. Do you play any instruments? Get some playing gigs, too.

Then network your ass off, be in the clubs any time you aren't working.
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