1. Don’t become a slave to fashion
When you’re creating, the worst thing you can do is think about what sounds are currently in fashion. The best way to think about it is that all of us resonate to different types of noises, frequencies and textures of sound. Listen to what hits you and eventually you’ll figure out the right path to developing your own sound. the gear you use doesn't matters, software, hardware, samples... none of it matters, the song is all that matters. Making someone feel something is all that matters. (*Note: save your money, don't waste your money on new shoes, invest your money in your studio - if it really is your truest passion).
2. Rely on your ears
There are no rules when it comes to production technique. You don't need 1000s of drum sounds to play, you don't even need to know how to create them, just start where you're at, use your phone to record things in the kitchen as drums sounds. Record/create a reverb in the bathroom, no excuses. Create with what you have. Sometimes having shit equipment or just a few sounds can inspire simple fresh creativity. Your ears are the best thing you possess as a producer. If it sounds cool or unique, who the hell cares how it was made or where it came from.
3. Make the most of your early years
Take advantage of the time you have right now to learn and experiment because once you’re successful you’re never going to get that time back. You'll be busy doing everything else that your career needs from you, with very limited time to create. Spend 2 - 3 - 5 years working out your own sound, something that you're super stoked on. Try many different styles until you find the one that you're truly passionate about., It’s so important to use your time to experiment and play with things to see how they affect sound or how you can change the vibe, mood, feel, or tempo of a song.
4. Get access to stems
Having access to stems is really important because you can learn how individual sounds are layered. When you're first getting into production this can be a huge help in your learning process, doing remixes can give you a look into another more established producer's process. You can always grab a set of wicked instrumental stems at www.splice.com
and then head on over to www.vokaal.com
for the perfect Topline Vocal or Vocal Sample Pack to take your production the next level.
5. Embrace the word ‘No’
If you don’t feel ready or it seems like no one’s getting back to you - that’s fine, just keep going. You have to realize that it’s very rare that someone becomes big overnight, so just remember that you’re gonna hear ‘No’ a lot more than you hear ‘Yes’. Just use that negativity as rocket fuel that keeps you pushing towards your dream. (note* Make sure to have a solid social media presence, it's gonna be a very tough road without it.)
6. Prepare your tracks for mixing and mastering
You DO NOT NEED to mix everything yourself, you can take it to someone who is a master of their craft. If your strength is production or songwriting that's awesome, dive deep into your strengths and put together of a team full of people working within their own strengths. Each aspect of the creation of a quality single or album is its own art form. So never forget, teamwork makes the dream work.
7. You can’t be creative every day
Sometimes you can go round and round in circles when you’re trying to come up with ideas, so when they’re not coming just walk away and do something else. Order will always turn into disorder, which always turns back into order. Everything is a cycle and it’s the same with creativity. You've gotta treat your life experiences like compost that is eventually used to grow something beautiful in your musical garden. If somebody claims to be creative every day of their life, they must be an alien or a freak. When you’re making emotional music that comes from a deep part of you, it can be exhausting to tap into that every single day. So when you’re not feeling creative, go outside and do something totally unrelated to creativity. Get out and live your life! Your music will thank you for it.
8. Treat DJ'ing and Production as separate entities
People seem to want to put DJing and Production in the same category, they’re polar opposites and should be seen as such. Creating music is very personal, it's a self-centred and introverted experience... Whereas life on the road and live performance is a very extroverted activity, using a totally different part of the brain. DJ'ing and Production are best viewed in these two terms because they really are two totally different skillsets. Equally awesome in their own ways.
9. Don’t sell your DJ soul
Learning how to read the crowd is a very important tool to have as a DJ, but don’t play stuff you don’t like just to please a crowd because if you’re not into something people can feel that. Always play tunes you’re into and don’t ever compromise or just play what you think people want to hear. Find the music that resonates with you, that’s what will get you in that big energy zone, it has to come from a real place.
10. Be flexible - there are millions of songs
There’s a difference between a good DJ and a great DJ. A good DJ is technically good and knows how to play the right songs and read a crowd, but a great DJ realizes that there are millions of songs out there, not 40, and you can always turn a crowd around. You don’t have to play the expected songs, there are so many possibilities or ways of branching out within your set. A lot of opening and support DJs are playing all the bangers... but don't be afraid to be an individual. It's the best way to stand out from the crowd.