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The Life of a Music Producer/Mentor. A True Story.

THE TRUTH ABOUT MAKING MUSIC AND THE TIME IT TAKES



Over the course of the last 10 years I have given thousands of people free and paid content on how to enhance their production skills and I have also tried to guide them to a place where they can confidently make their own music without too much assistance on a basic to intermediate level.


I have produced hundreds of videos ranging from mixing techniques to playing chords, all the way up to arranging full length tracks in the House music genres that splinter off into Disco, Techno and Deep House Lofi etc.

But during this time I have also been pushing my own music and releasing those track on several established record labels both on vinyl and Mp3. This I feel is something that one should do if they have the ability to release music at a professional level. It is the gift of giving back to the community in which you have taken something from.



Sadly in this game many people tend to just take all of the time and do not make the effort to put out what they have to offer for free in order to keep the ball rolling and encourage the next set of producers that are to come along in the future. Who knows, you could be inspiring the next Calvin Harris or Jeff Mills.


Having said that, there are many legendary producers and modern day producers who also give their knowledge in tutorials and who also provide sample packs via sites like loop-masters which enables new players to the game who are at the very start of learning music production, so this is what I feel many producers should do more of.


In today's modern world there are hundreds of you tube tutors and many are so called producers who do not release music but only work on tutorials and try to convince you of a sure fire way to a successful career will be through watching a few videos and then imitating your current favourite tracks that are flying high in the charts.


Yes you can learn some quick and easy tips on how to recreate that sound by your favourite producer but that is their sound and if you want to make it in this game you have to develop your own technique made up of lots of other peoples styles.



Trying to sound like the top ten on Beat Port will not stand you in good stead for a future career. By the time you have mastered that style it will have become passe and things would have already moved forward a hundred paces. Yes we all have to start somewhere and I myself have been guilty of producing tracks that directly copy other artists. It is a good way to learn but you must remember to try and put your own stamp on the track and continue to shape your sound whilst taking inspiration from others.


So what I have always tried to do mostly with my tutorials is to give a generic overview of dance music as a whole so that the viewer can gain an insight into the basics and the more in depth stuff to be able to mold them all together and come up with a variety of techniques.


I have produced videos where I teach the styles of French House for example which come under the Disco house banner that I produce under myself but this is to show the sounds that are used rather than trying to replicate a Daft Punk track for example.


IF YOU ARE NOT IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL MAYBE LEAVE NOW

But even after 30 years of making music and over 23 years of releasing records on a whole host of record labels I still have so much to learn and so much to improve on with my own music. The truth is we never stop learning and we can never know everything about one style of music. I have focused the last decade on mainly Disco House, but yet I can still only do so much regarding that style, whereas other producers I know can only do their technique and I can not do what they do and vice versa sometimes. This is the point I am making regarding honing your skills and creating your own style based on the many different influences of other peoples work.



I never say in my tutorials that you can be the best producer if you just sign up to my course. I never put out videos trying to offer you a magic set of rules to follow in order to get to the top. Those charlatans that do those videos are only praying on inexperienced newcomers to the game and dont actually learn very much outside of using the software itself. I am only here to give you my set of keys with the genre styles I am good at that will unlock a variety of skills and techniques that you can work through in order to push yourself better for your own journey. The truth is there is no magic course or secret code to producing records at the highest level. Most of the big name DJ producers who are in the charts have a team of engineers and co producers anyway so when you sit and wonder how did they obtain that sound? The answer is because they have a highly trained mix engineer in a full recording studio tweaking the faders. Success is not an overnight thing. (Trust me I know through experience) I myself produced a hit record in the UK charts back in 1999 in my bedroom without a mixing desk or professional speakers. I simply used a windows 98 PC and the Cakewalk software using a bunch of samples. The result was not an over night success as most people assumed. Yes it took less than an hour to produce a full demo, but it was actually 6 whole years of frustration and hard work in order to finally crack the big time.


The endless amount of hours I slaved over making demo after demo, year after year all through the 1990's finally came to fruition by the last year of the decade. This resulted in a top ten UK chart single selling almost 200k copies on vinyl, cd and cassette. It sold all over the world and still makes royalties today, but this took 6 years and alot of rejections from labels until that point. But I never gave up and that is the key. This is the official video for my hit single in 1999.





Since then I have produced lots more records and albums in various genres. I never reached the top ten charts again in the pop music genres, (Except for a remix which reached number 6 on the B-Side of the single by pop group Atomic Kitten in the year 2000) but I have had two other number one singles in dance music sales charts since then, and several top 40 digital stores hits.


Below is the official UK club charts from November 1999 when I was at the top of both charts.





How I Produced A Hit Disco House Track in 2019


My most recent being the number 14 chart hit in the Traxsource sales disco chart called "A Disco in Detroit" You can watch the video on how I made that hit here below. Whilst this track was made 20 years after I did my first hit, this shows that my determination never left me and although it took me longer to produce, it was again years of learning and a combination of tracks all pulled together to create my own sound. However I wasnt striving for another hit record as such. This happened through the tune being catchy and having a classic riff intertwined into the fabric.





Pictures of my actual bedroom studio circa 1996 in the days before I upgraded to a PC with wave audio facility. Up until then it was all about syncing and sampling through Midi only, which took hours and yet in retrospect was far more interesting then digital software ever could be. But the time saved these days through the use of software editing is far greater.


Blood Sweat & Beats

(LOTS & LOTS OF BEATS)


Pictures of my actual bedroom studio circa 1996 in the days before I upgraded to a PC with wave audio facility. Up until then it was all about syncing and sampling through Midi only, which took hours and yet in retrospect was far more interesting then digital software ever could be. But the time saved these days through the use of software editing is far greater.



My beloved Akai S900 Sampler



My Juno 6 which I paid £150 for and my TR-707 which I paid around £100 for

(unthinkable prices in today's market)



My Atari 520 ST Computer & Monitor with the Roland D-5 Synth as my Midi controller

(Would you believe I actually threw the Atari into a skip even though it was fully working as I had entered the PC world with windows 98)


I began producing music properly in 1993 using a Fostex four track recorder and a Casio SK-5 sampler. This then progressed onto an Atari ST with a floppy disc copy of Cuebase 1.0. I then had an Akai S-900 sampler and a Juno 6 Synth, Roland D5, with a Roland TR-707 drum machine all going through the cheap 6 channel desk I had.


This was a set up that changed regularly through trades and swaps etc. Long before Ebay you had to go to your local store and trade it in, or use the pink pages which was a local newspaper that you bought and sold stuff on. Kind of like Gumtree or Craigs list in todays digital worlds.


NEVER GIVE UP NO MATTER WHAT.

(TAKE SMALL STEPS EACH DAY)


The point here is that it will take you years of slaving over beats and making many mistakes. you will buy equipment and hardly use it. You will try a style of music and change over time. I have produced everything from Trance to Hip Hop, so never limit yourself to one style. Always check out other ways of doing things and then bring it all together.



Your advantage today is that you can learn almost any technique on the internet these days via watching videos, but you still have to put that into practice and blend those skills into your own productions which is your unique style that you have to curate and mould to make it your own.


So whilst learning how to EQ a kick drum is one thing. Putting it into your own track with a bass line and some pads is another thing altogether which you have to learn alone. So hard work is the only way you will gain this. But it is a very satisfying thing when it does come together after 50 short demos you only come out with one or maybe two sketches that will form into full tracks. The rest will just sit on the hard drive unfinished.


How many tracks are there in the world today unfinished? I dread to think, but I imagine the number is in the millions, even the most successful producers have countless unreleased and unfinished tracks sitting there gathering digital dust.


As the old saying goes it takes hundreds of attempts before you create a masterpiece. Beethoven, Mozart and Bach all composed thousands of compositions in their lifetime but only a handful ever made it to publication and global success.


So the whole point of this post is to get you to realise that patience and persistence is the key to bettering your skills. Small steps each day will count towards a greater result. Even when you feel like you can not face the screen, you must try and give a least 20 minutes towards something. Even if it is a little loop or getting a very basic beat down, you must keep on with it.


If you like reading and bettering yourself then try reading the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. This book helps me so much by taking little consistent steps each day towards whatever goal I am aiming for in my music at that particular time.


20 minutes of something is better than 20 minutes of nothing. So to bring this post to a close, remember these points below and keep going. Enjoy your music production whatever your style. It will take you years and years but the time will pass anyway so just keep going. Why give up on a hobby you enjoy because of age or life taking different turns? I have been distracted and have turned against my music many times and bailed out for months on end. But always I have been pulled back into the game through pure enjoyment.


You can not keep away from something that is in your blood no matter what the thing is. So if you are in your mid 40's or older and still enjoy producing but people around you tell you to grow up. Or you are telling yourself that you are too old. Just remind them and yourself that many Classical and Jazz artists play until they drop in their 80's and 90's. The age stigma is no longer relevant in today's digital world.


If you want to check out my courses or contact me to discuss anything musical then please search the variety of Ableton related music production courses delivered by me on this website in the courses section. My mentoring program is available above also by clicking the book now section for a free 30 minute consultation with me to chat about your aspirations.

Finally you can subscribe to my You Tube channel for more techniques and tips within the Dance music production world.



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