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PRODUCTION MENTORING FROM A DANCE MUSIC INDUSTRY VETERAN
The Dance Music Industry is a Harsh Place
Top Ten Reasons Why and How You Can Mitigate Disaster

I've been in the industry for 30 years, had my ups and downs, and still get together with old dance music friends to gossip and joke about the industry. It's in my blood. But it's horrid place too. A place you need to learn to survive in. Here are some of my thoughts.

1. YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL

The dance music industry is a vast pool, that everybody's trying to swim in. How many wannabe producers are out there: 10,000 in your country? 100,000 on your continent? A million worldwide? Focus on yourself, your own vibe, making music and meeting contacts. Drop any "I'm the shit" or "I'm going to be the next X" patter because I'm guessing you're not at that stage yet.
2. YOU ARE KRILL

If you ain't fast, you're food. The game has been going on way longer than you and has unfortunately created a whole subset of dodgy actors looking to bring you down, rip you off, trade on your hard work or sneer at you for fun. Be prepared to swim with the whales and sharks and learn how to avoid them on your upward journey. Nice people are nice people. Gravitate towards the good people in the industry. You'll have more fun and they're more likely to help. And, remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
3. PICK THE RIGHT TARGET

To be a producer worthy of accolades would be great, but you won't get near it if your main focus is fame / riches / clicks. Hone your skills first, stay honest to your sound, have fun playing your music and meeting new people. Success is not the goal of producing, it's the by-product of making good music. And you'll enjoy it more after not expecting it to happen. Money and fame aren't the goals here, buster. Making good music is.
4. DO YOU REALLY WANNA BE AVICII?

This is the perfect example of how commerce coupled with naivity can literally kill you and your career. The poor sod was chewed up and spat out, even after trying to bow out of the scene. It just goes to show, that the dark side of the business is something you need to be prepared for. And that a good life/work balance is vital. The gigs will still be there in 20 years time (they are for me). You don't have to write all the tracks, play all the parties, right now.
5. YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST TRACK

The average media consumer has the attention span of a gnat. Even though you could be writing great timeless shit, it now has a shelf-life. Once you learn how to write decent tracks at a reasonable speed, you should work to a strict calendar to get them done and out in the marketplace on a regular basis. That way you'll have money coming in constantly. If you let it slide for six months, a year, you will slip out of people's consciousness. And it's harder to get those fans back. Someone new will replace you.
6. PREPARE FOR YOUR OWN FAILURE

For every single artist that makes it there are 100,000 crushed, broken dreams and defeated souls. It's good to dream, in fact it's the one thing that keeps some of us going, but there are no guarantees and it's best to be prepared for failures along the way. A good way to mitigate feelings of rejection is to write down a list, in big letters, of five other reasons why you make music (other than fame and fortune). Tape it up in your studio. It'll keep you down to earth and be your buffer zone when you feel dejected.
7. THE CHIPS ARE STACKED AGAINST YOU

The sheer number of players in the industry has increased greatly with the current surge of popularity with Dance Music, technological advances, cheap kit and the huge industry behind it - but we don't care about that. Back in the late 90s, when I started, I didn't know who else was making dance music. I just got on with it. There are probably now ten thousand times as many people. But the same principle still applies. It's all about finding your sound and sharpening it to go into battle.
8. YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK

Ah the old adage: put the hours in. It will be a slog but it's never going to be any other way. You simply can't be good at anything if you don't put the hours in. You should begin by thinking of this as a long term project. Be patient, you're never going to be great straight away. Forgive yourself regularly. Like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Set yourself realistic targets. Get them done. You will head in the right direction. Everyone in the industry you know of has worked hard, no matter what they tell you.
9. "DON'T BE HOT, ALWAYS BE WARM"

This is the best piece of advice I've ever been given and it's served me well. Do you want to be a one-hit wonder, tour the world making bank for 6 months then burnout, disappear and be forgotten? Or do you want to still be listened to and talked about 20 years later with fans buying your music and coming to your shows? Take the long view. Only releasing solid tracks and regularly. Rather than throwing all your shit at the walls and hoping something will stick, so you'll become the next big thing for your fifteen minutes of fame.
10. BITE THEIR HAND OFF

Back in the day if a label picked up your music they would press 10,000 copies to 12" vinyl and Bob's-your-uncle you'd have $10,000 for your two tracks. They were the golden days. These days are no more. Digital formats, streaming and CDJs have killed this model stone-cold dead. Of course the top-tier artists are still getting the big bucks. But name me twenty in your genre? Chances are you've named 75% mid-tier players, who usually earn a middle-class income. And for that they'll have to do a whole host of things (playing live, merch, remixing other people's work, promoting, mentoring). At the moment I get on average $1,000 for a three track EP and $500 for a remix, giving away publishing rights. If anyone offers you around that amount of money, you've made it. You're not going to get any more than that. Period.
Funk D'Void is a DJ and producer veteran with over 30 years experience. He has released records on Soma Quality Recordings, Outpost Recordings, ON IT Recordings, and Lost & Found. And has DJed around the world over the last thirty years. He now lives in Barcelona, where he plays table tennis and is here to out the next generation of talent.

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