How to Be a Successful Music Producer
Becoming a successful music producer can be one of the most difficult career goals to accomplish, even for talented people with lots of money. It's a highly competitive market, and there's very few people at the very top. But don't get discouraged, anything is possible if you are motivated enough and well prepared. To do this almost-impossible task, you should prepare yourself and learn the in's and out's of the music business. Just don't assume that everybody does things the same way to get to the top. Motivation is important, but creativity is key. There's so many different options and resources at your fingertips nowadays, you just need to be a little creative when it comes to using them. So let's go through some of the steps you can take to become a famous music producer, since there's many different options that you should be aware of. You can then apply your own creativity to these steps and choose which ones you feel will personally help you reach your goals.
Learn How to Produce
Obviously this will be the first and most important step you will need to take in your quest to become a successful producer. There's a number of different ways you can learn music production, and it all depends on your preferences and what types of music you want to produce. It's a misconception that you need to go to a music school to learn how to produce music. Look at the genre of Hip Hop for example. Many famous producers such as Dr. Dre and Timbaland never had any formal training. To learn how to produce music on your own, there's plenty of books out there and guides online. As far as hardware and programs, it all depends on your genre of music and preferences, but some of the most well known programs would be FL Studio, Sony Acid Pro, Pro Tools, Nuendo, Cakewalk, and Logic. If you take a look at any professional home recording studio, you'll probably find at least one of these programs. I started out experimenting with a program called Cool Edit, and this led me into using Acid Pro. From there, I started using FL Studio (which at the time, was simply called Fruity Loops) and eventually bought a Pro Tools system with a program called Reason. I still use FL Studio majority of the time though, simply because I prefer it.
If you think you're the type who has problems getting motivated and getting down to work by yourself, then attending school or taking courses on how to create and produce music is probably your best bet. Full Sail near Orlando, Florida is probably the most well known school right now for music, aside from Juliard, probably because of the emergence of the internet and their heavy advertising on the web. However, there are a number of cheaper schools around the country that have specific classes for music production that may work just as well for you. If you do decide to go to school for this, you need to understand that the commercial music industry is not as much concerned with degrees, as they are with talent. Having a degree in music production or audio engineering is probably useful, but it's not going to give you any kind of an edge if you don't have talent to begin with. For example, let's say Atlantic Records has their eyes on two different music producers. One has a degree but the other is more talented, the more talented guy will get the job first. People like Dr. Dre gained recognition from the tunes they make, not how many hours they spent in a classroom. So a degree or certification can be helpful, but is not necessary.
The second most important thing you need to learn, is this phrase "Opportunity will not come knocking on your door". If you aren't getting out there and showing people your music or trying to connect with people and exposing yourself, nobody will know about you. So you'll probably have to advertise your music in order to get noticed and bring attention to your talent. When it comes to promotion and advertising, there's a number of different methods and techniques you can use. It all depends on your preference and your resources.
Street promotion is probably the oldest form of promoting things like music. If you've ever been in a major city, you've probably seen stickers on park benches and flyers on telephone poles. That is one form of street promotion, but there are many different ways to go about it. Street promotion can also involve waiting outside of major record label studios, and trying to identify and approach employees who you know have pull in the company and trying to get them to listen to your demo. This probably isn't the best way to do things, because it could be illegal depending on how you actually do it, since it can be considered as a form of harassment. It has worked for a few people who knew the business and knew which employees they wanted to approach, but they probably just got lucky that the people they walked up to were in a good mood and didn't call the cops on them. One great way of street promotion is to make remixes out of your beats and instrumentals, by adding popular artists over them, and then putting them on mixtape cd's or vinyl records. Then you can visit popular nightclubs that play that type of music, and do whatever you have to do to get the DJ at the club to accept your demo. They may listen to and if they like it, who knows, they might even play it for the entire club the next time they are spinning on the turn tables. You may even want to get in contact with the managers of the clubs somehow, and work out some kind of deal to where you can solicit your mixtapes outside the clubs, while cutting them in on some of the profits.
You don't necessarily need to go out on the streets or go to clubs to promote your music. We live in the 21st century now and have nice luxuries that we didn't have before, such as the internet. Many people have been discovered through the internet for their talent, but the key is to keep at it and keep building a presence so people take notice. There's plenty of other ways to promote yourself, as long as you are creative, but the internet is probably the single most effective technique that you can use today. The rise of social sites like Myspace and Facebook make it easier for artists to connect with other people, and websites like youtube and soundclick offer a simple and effective way to display your talents to those people. If you can build a following on the internet, then the record labels will probably eventually come seeking you out. Making remixes of popular songs can bring visitors to your videos and songs that normally wouldn't have found them.
There are also P2P programs, like Kazaa, Limewire, and Bearshare, that allow you to share files with other people. So you can upload your music productions and if you're creative, think of a way to get people to download and share them with others. Torrent programs and sites are also very popular now and are pretty much the same thing. Just make sure you copyright your music first before you start uploading it all over the internet. Just try not to be tempted to download any music or files while you're uploading yours, because these types of programs are notorious for having viruses and spyware on them. Also, many people have been sued thousands of dollars for downloading copyrighted material through these programs and torrent sites.
Make a Website
It may be a good idea to register a domain name and build a website to showcase your music as well. Every artist or producer should have their own website, to serve as a promotional headquarters for their music. The problem with music producers building their own websites, is that they are not always internet savvy, and may not understand how search engines work. You should either learn what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, or hire someone that already knows about it. If an artist or label is seeking you out after hearing about you or hearing your music, it should be very easy for them to find you. When searching for your name in search engines, your website with contact information should be at the top of the search results. In order to do this, a little SEO is often necessary.
Post on Other Websites
There are many networking sites online that are specifically for the music community. These sites allow artists and music producers to come together, and some allow people to rate or comment on their music. Every once in a while, these sites have contests and even award prizes for musicians who win. People in the A & R departments for record labels and other professionals in the music industry sometimes check these sites to discover new talent and find unsigned artists and producers. Soundclick is probably the most well-known site like this, but there are many others that can easily be found if you spend a little time searching for them on Google or asking other music lovers in forums.
Lease Your Music
If you register your instrumentals and beats with the copyright office, then they should be completely protected in case somebody decides to steal them and make a profit from them. So once you are sure your music is protected and officially copyrighted, you can lease it out to people by having them pay you to use your music. Basically, when you lease your music, you are letting them borrow or rent it, for some kind of fee. There are usually restrictions or rules as to how the artists can use your music, and you would be the one to specify these rules. You never know, the more music you lease to other artists, the more likely one of your songs is to become a hit. One good rule you should specify is to have them mention the producer in the song. That way you get credit for it in case any record label executives or famous artists hear it and want to get in contact with you for more. Just make sure you have a website up and running so when they search google for your name, they find you right away and are able to contact you.
A big part of doing business in the music industry, involves the creation and maintanance of contracts. There are all different types of contracts available to music producers, and if you are serious about music production, then you will eventually come across a situation that calls for a contract to be drafted or signed. You may need to print out contracts and have artists sign them in order to lease out your beats, or you may be presented with a contract by a record label, when they are ready to sign you. This is the reason why we use phrases like "signed" and "unsigned" in the music business. Often, a music producer will go through an agent, who will help him with all contracts and forms, or who will offer guidance and assistance when it comes to the small print and details of certain contracts. So if you don't already have an agent, you may want to think about getting one, or at least learn a little bit about contracts so you can handle this aspect of the business on your own.
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