Career advice and share your story


#1

Hello everyone, I’ve recently quit my job (a month ago) to be a full time music producer/artist. Would like to hear your experiences in the industry, where you are, how you’ve made it, what you are doing to financially sustain yourselves or how you’re making money with music, and whatever else you want to add.

My plan for this year is to:
-make at least 10 hip hop beats to sell on beat stores
-release a lofi/chillwave album, then work on my EDM album since ultimately I want to perform on stage and stuff
I’ll spend some marketing money on these once their done

my not so ideal plan is to find studio work for production experience and networking with the local players. I’m from Malaysia so the scene isn’t very eventful but there are jobs. I have no prior studio experience but I’m quite confident with my mixing skills


#2

Bravo! That takes a lot of guts to quit your job to pursue your dream. I am not as brave as you are, but that is what it takes sometimes. Best of luck, and btw I really do like your mixing skills. That is something I am struggling with atm.


#3

I’m not a full-time pro, and I don’t expect I will be soon, but what I would do (and am starting to do) is get in good with some labels (our own netlabel included). That is putting me in touch with the people who might need my skillset in mixing/mastering to help them make the best stuff they can, and bonus if it happens to be in the genres I specialize in. I’m getting to look over the shoulder of these very skilled guys and see how they work, which has made me a better producer when I find time to work on my own stuff.Things have taken a turn now that I’m on the label team here, I owe it to this place to be a bit more committed to making IDMf the best it can be than I am to making me the best I can be (though the two certainly go hand in hand). But suddenly I’m getting management and leadership experience that a lot of young engineers/producers are not going to have, so I’m excited about that.

For you, I’d say look into where your scene is, whether that be local producers’ soundclouds or club nights hosted by particular labels/artists, and be there. Let them know that you are a serious engineer and you can make whatever they’re doing better and ask for a chance to prove it. You’ll probably have to work for free for a bit to build up a reputation that you’re worth what you want to ask (I’m still mostly in that stage myself). And be open to trying things you didn’t have in mind.

Fun fact, I made my name in IDMf and have gotten where I am today because the netlabel needed a mastering engineer for IDMf 048 and I stepped up first. I had mastered my first song that I thought sounded better when I was done with it than when I had started two months before that, and had never mastered any song but my own. I did a good enough job that they asked if I could do some of the albums after that, and I had enough fun doing it that I said yes. I’ve had to turn down other opportunities, like playing live locally, and I’m always really bummed when I have to turn something down, even if it doesn’t fit super well with what I’m doing, because I want to learn from as many different corners of music as I can. The more open to work you can be, the better, but it sounds like you have that covered.


#4

The problem with questions like these are that most of the traditional avenues to making a living off of music production and performance have changed in the last 20 years. The internet has changed the game - the integrated silos of production/promotion/distribution are all but gone, and people are marrying music and technology in new and interesting ways every day. You’ll get lots of individual stories, they’ll all be different and particular to that person and their abilities and location and focus.

You mostly just have to figure out where the people that want your product are and sell it. That can be hard given the size of the internet and the fact that people tend to live in little pigeonholes of media now. Just making something and putting it on youtube doesn’t do it.

I personally just have a real job that affords me the funds to buy whatever gear I want and the time to play with it. I’ve spent time with live performance and engineering, but both were a long, hard road without guarantee of a paycheck and I already had a lucrative enough career that it didn’t make sense pursuing.


#5

For me long story short I dabbled, realized I sucked, decided to focus on having a day job being that I don’t take creative endeavors seriously enough as is and that it is so saturated that success are only achieved through networking and marketing there is also the other side of it I couldn’t see myself devoting all my energy to my creative endeavors because personal reasons about being happy with life


#6

I’m happy to have a job that’s unrelated to music, TBH. Don’t shit where you eat or something


#7

Just FYI: Job completely unrelated to music here, too. Sorry I can’t help with career advice in this area. Sold some sample and preset packs for a while, but stopped with that for now because of many other things to do, although that was fun and I would surely do much more of that if I had to rely on music for money.

As an amateur, I would recommend to focus on providing services to people that people want to pay for. Live shows can be one way if you get some local or regional networking going, but also things like mixing and mastering, beats, samples and presets might be ideas. Selling beats is not a bad idea imho, but a friend of me tried to sell Hip Hop beats without much success. Album releases might not take you anywhere if you don’t get promotion yourself or go viral for some reason by accident or get a label behind you that does some promotion.

Good luck in any case!


#8

I’ll say this, there isn’t anything wrong with having a job while performing a full time thing, or a primary focus.

My brother played in a band, or multiple bands as a waiter/bartender. They never made it but the life experience was special, I’m sure. He got a career, did that show and dance for a long time. Stopped playing. Then his life took a turn. He is doing it all over again. Living to play, and making it work beyond that.

Point being, just because you want to doesn’t make it happen. So enjoy it. But you’re probably going to want to have a job that works with you.

As for me, I have a 8 to 5 job, five days a week. Make music as an outlet. I also started at a time in my life I couldn’t say f the world. So hopefully you don’t have any major responsibilities that need attending.

I think there is a small window to do what you’re doing. So enjoy the experience, at a minimum.

Edit - I wouldn’t take anything back either. It’s my favorite way to waste time and forget the troubles of life in general. Apologies if that derailed into some derp stuffs.


#9

Don’t dip your pen in the company ink? Nah


#10

thanks for the kind words!


#11

Thanks for your thorough sharing. Kudos to you for getting management and leadership experience, I myself started as a project manager at a startup, and after 3 years ended up as head of department at the same place managing 30+ people at the 26. Get ready for a wild ride and try not to yell at people, having power changes you :joy:

True I have being open to work covered, just really need to take that next step and visit the scene. Sometimes you know something but still need a reminder or a little push, so thanks for that.


#12

True but then its important to understand how these people are evolving with the industry to evolve with it. Youtubers like Curtis King has created funnels for ad and streaming revenue, beat sales and placements, Graham Cochrane has a paid mentorship program/community, and they’re doing it full time. People like this have become a personality/influencer on top of just being an artist.

What I haven’t figured out is are there any artist that do more obscure genres like synthwave and lofi, whether or not they are doing it full-time and how much they are actually making.


#13

That saying is for not having a relationship with a co-worker but ya I get what you mean lol.


#14

Nah no need to apologize that’s completely relatable. As much as I want this I’m glad for my work experience so I have a safety net to fall back on. I’m burning through my savings now but I’m 26 so I don’t have any major commitments. I worked for a startup game company that did 12-16 hours during crunch periods which most of the time took up half the year so it was good to get out anyway :joy:

So if this doesn’t work out I’ll just get another job, but yea here’s to taking risk while I’m young


#15

Also thank you all for sharing!


#16

Look into guys like Mr. Bill, Seamlessr, and Tom Cosm (I think, you’re looking for a techno dude from New Zealand). I think they are realistic targets to emulate for more off-the-wall music, less dance friendly stuff. Cosm I think streams almost 24/7 and plays gigs around New Zealand, which has a nice geographic barrier to entry for other people. Seamlessr makes the bulk of his money tutoring people in sound design, hence why you don’t see much of him anymore. And Mr. Bill, I know the least about, but I think he’s a streamer kind of like Tom Cosm but more on the gigging end of things.


#17

@Cardinal Plenty of lo-fi, synth wave, bass, glitch artist doing it full time.

As mentioned Mr Bill, R/D, Glitch Mob are pretty much top billing for synth wave, Com Truise, Blowing Up The Workshop, G Jones a crossover synth wave funk artist who is blowing up. Tons out there


#18

thanks @White_Noise and @TvMcC I’ll look into them