Important Tips For Producers
Dark Heart is a Los Angeles based producer & DJ who has been supported on radio shows and in live sets all over the world by acts including The Chainsmokers, Marshmello, Tiesto and more.
To celebrate 8 Years Of T.H.E, Dark Heart shares important tips for producers that are bound to help those that belong to the new generation.
“Hey everyone, here’s some advice with a few caveats. First, I don’t know everything and I am not even close to accomplishing my goals as an artist. I am just a dude relaying my experience in music and life so far. Before I started producing music I was a talent agent in Hollywood so I’ve been around in the entertainment world for awhile. Second, I tailored this to producers and DJs. If you are a vocalist, I’m sure you can find some insight regardless. Hope this helps.” – Dark Heart
Let’s dive right into these important tips for producers!
Make as much music as you can
If you want to do this for a living, you can’t treat it like a hobby. Making music can be very fun but you will never get to the fun part if you don’t put in the work. Every day you need to make something, even if it’s a four bar melody that sounds like the original Nintendo music. Yes, this is the most generic advice I will give on the whole list but missing it would be a disservice to everyone reading. Out-work everyone else and you will see results. That goes for everything, but especially when you want to entertain people and make a living from it.
Stop worrying about sound design
No one cares about how good your snare sounds or how fat your 808 is if the song idea blows. Learn how to make melodies, arrange music and entertain your listener. That said, if you’re having fun while EQ’ing a snare or creating random sounds, do it and see where it goes. The music business is too hard for you to not have fun. Maybe that’s what you’re good at, but I would guess that maybe 5% of people reading this are cut out for high level sound design. In my experience it’s for the most talented of the nerds and you probably aren’t one of them. (neither am I)
Listen to different genres
If you want to be a great writer you need to read everything. If you want to be a good artist, listen to everything. I don’t care if you want to be the next Skrillex, you need to listen to everything from Scott Joplin to Elvis & Sinatra and everything that’s poppin on Spotify and Tik Tok. Nothing is more tedious than hearing a song from a new producer and knowing exactly what they were trying to knock off when they made it. Every great artist I have met is a walking, talking music encyclopedia, and if you aren’t trying to become one then maybe this is just a hobby for you.
This one is very specific to the producer / DJ world, but this is also how I got my start. When you get started as a producer no one is interested in listening to your stuff. However, they are definitely interested in listening to their own stuff that you put your spin on. This is why you should bootleg your favorite songs. Several of my biggest, most supported remixes started as bootlegs. Look through my Soundcloud and you will figure out which ones I am talking about.
Be honest with yourself
Piggybacking off of my last point, please please please stop sending out your bootlegs because they sound sick on your new KRKs and your buddy said he could hear Diplo dropping it. Find a reference track, compare your new remix / bootleg / original to it on a low volume in headphones and tell me if you really think it stands up. Then run it on a meter, check for any phasing and check how you are RMS’ing compared to your reference. If all of what I just said sounds like I am speaking Klingon, maybe music production isn’t for you.
I cannot emphasize this one enough. My rules are pretty basic here, you need to have at least ten(10) original songs stockpiled before you can start sending music around to labels and artists. Why? Because you will not understand the context of where your record stands until you put some space between you and it. You can also start to find “your sound” in this time period. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about branding and finding “your sound” as these intangible aspirations but the reality is you will grab both of these things if you add patience and hard work.
Get used to “no”
Assuming you listened to everything above and you have your 10+ songs stockpiled and sent around, you will still hear “no” from most labels and artists. (If you don’t get a response, that’s a “no.”) That’s fine, don’t be afraid of it. As long as you have a high standard for yourself(see tips 5 and 6), there’s no reason to be afraid of “no.” I saw a Michael Jordan commercial when I was a kid and I never forgot it, here’s the quote:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
Write down your goals for the year
You cannot know what success is if you don’t define it. Give yourself a moment to seriously consider what success would look like over the next 365 days. If you really want this life, one year is not a long time.
What do you think of these important tips for producers? We sure feel that upcoming producers can definitely make use of those.
On a separate note, follow our Lockdown Essentials playlist, to stay engaged during your quarantine.