Tag Archive for: artists

Your Music Direction Coming From Your Community

The music industry, and more specifically the electronic music scene, has always thrived on the synergy between its creators and listeners. As an electronic music producer myself, I’ve come to realize that one’s journey to success often lies in understanding the pulse of the community. But what does that mean for the artists who feel disconnected, or those who gravitate towards genres with limited local support? Let’s delve into the heart of music communities and how they shape an artist’s journey.


The Role of Community in an Artist’s Growth


Having spent considerable time producing music and interacting with fellow musicians, a pattern emerges. Those producers who are part of an active music community tend to climb the ladder of success faster and more organically. It’s not just about having people to network with, but also about receiving immediate feedback, understanding what works and what doesn’t, and drawing inspiration from communal energy.

When you are plugged into a community, it’s akin to having your fingers on the pulse of the music you love. You not only learn about the intricacies of the genre but also understand what the audience desires. The shared knowledge and insights from a group of like-minded individuals can often be the difference between a track that falls flat and one that resonates deeply.

In my case, I quickly found my community of people loving the same music as me and got lucky there were events where everyone could meet. It was easy to connect and I felt quickly involved to it. One of the strength of this early boost was that I could present my music easily and got bookings organically. Nowadays I see people contacting venues for bookings but if you’ve never been to the venue, you will not know of it’s culture and direction. Going there is very important so you’ve seen and to see if the attendees are in the same mentality as yourself. There’s nothing more hard to play a gig where people don’t get what you do.

As I toured, I discovered bubbles of people in each city that reminded me of my local community. Even physically, I’d meet someone who reminded me of someone back home.


The Challenge of Non-Local Genres


But what about those producers who are passionate about a genre that isn’t prominent in their local surroundings?

Many artists look outward, connecting with labels or online groups that share their passion. While the internet has bridged many gaps, online connections often lack the depth and warmth of personal interactions. The very nature of digital communication can sometimes render these relationships impersonal.

There are people who live in smaller towns or aren’t close to a bigger city and this can be challenging because locally, there might be no chances of creating a community. How does this work?

Artists may produce exceptional tracks, but the age-old adage holds: people tend to support who they know. A community can sometimes be hesitant to welcome outsiders. This protective approach is natural, but it can inadvertently close doors for new talents who could have infused fresh perspectives and sounds. No need to think of labels who receive music from people they never heard of and those people expect them to reply. In the best of worlds, this would happen but in reality, this doesn’t happen much. It leaves artists confused.

So for people who aren’t well musically supported, there are multiple choices possible. One of them is to try to go to the closest place where there are events and a community to enjoy it as well as the music. Eventually you may find your role and space in that tribe. Then afterwards, using online communication tools maintain contact.

Let’s not forget that building your own local network and community is possible but can be challenging at first.


The DJ Solution


In such scenarios, one strategy that I’ve seen work is reaching out to DJs.

Why DJs?

Because they hold the power to introduce new tracks to an eager audience. DJs are always on the lookout for the next standout track, and they can be instrumental in helping an outsider’s music get the recognition it deserves. Having a DJ play your music can be the perfect bridge between the artist and a new community. You could also do the same with local restaurants or boutiques where you can ask them to play your music sometimes, but of course, you’ll need to do that in person after showing you care about their place and music tastes.

Also DJs love music for podcasts and that is a good way to breakthrough to a new bubble of people.


Building Inclusive Communities for a Vibrant Future


As we discuss communities and their importance, it’s also essential to talk about inclusivity. While protecting the integrity of a community is necessary, it’s equally vital to ensure it doesn’t become insular. By welcoming new members and being receptive to their unique musical offerings, a community not only adds to its diversity but also ensures its longevity.

To all the music communities out there: let’s remember that today’s outsider could be tomorrow’s trendsetter. By being open to new members and their distinct sounds, we guarantee that our community remains vibrant, fresh, and future-ready. Outsiders will bring new energy and ideas what will make sure the music won’t fall in the equivalent of an echo-chamber where everything sounds the same after a while.


Ideas to Discover and Connect with Music Communities:

  • Local Music Stores and Cafes: These places often have bulletin boards with events, gatherings, or workshops. Even chatting with the store owner or regulars can lead you to local music groups.
  • Music Workshops and Masterclasses: Enrolling in or attending these can introduce you to like-minded artists and instructors who can guide you to relevant communities.
  • Music Festivals and Gigs: Attend local and regional festivals. Even smaller gigs can be goldmines for networking. Often, they are organized or attended by people who are part of music communities.
  • Online Platforms: Websites like Meetup.com or Facebook groups often have local music groups where you can join and participate in discussions or events.
  • Community Centers and Universities: Many of them offer music courses and often have active music clubs. Engaging with these can open doors to local music communities.
  • Music Production Forums: Websites such as Gearslutz or KVR Audio have active forums where producers from around the world discuss music, equipment, and events.
  • Collaborate Online: Platforms like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or Splice can be great places not just to share your music but to collaborate with others, which can organically introduce you to communities.
  • Attend Open Mic Nights: These nights often attract local musicians and enthusiasts. It’s a relaxed environment to meet people and get feedback on your music.
  • Visit Recording Studios: Interacting with studio managers or technicians can give insights about local musicians and communities they work with.
  • Engage with DJs: As mentioned before, DJs have their fingers on the pulse of music communities. Engaging with them can often lead to introductions to these communities.


Closing Notes: A Call to Artists


To my fellow artists feeling a tad adrift, remember that every community started small. If there isn’t a community for your genre, consider starting one! And if that seems like a monumental task, don’t hesitate to reach out in person. Attend local gigs, music events, or even workshops. Establishing a face-to-face connection can be more impactful than a dozen online interactions.

In the ever-evolving landscape of electronic music, one thing remains constant: the value of connection. So, whether you’re an artist seeking your tribe or a community member wondering about the next step, remember that it’s through inclusivity, understanding, and personal interactions that we’ll continue to thrive and create harmonious symphonies for the world to enjoy.

Keywords: electronic music, music production, community, DJ, networking, inclusivity, artists, local gigs, music events.

Music Goals: Using Signposts instead of Goals

You often hear about setting music goals to keep your drive going and to get you pointed in the right direction. I’ve previously discussed the best ways to set goals and reach them, but as time has gone on, I’m not totally sure if setting goals is still the most efficient way to get yourself going.

However, some goals on your bucket list still might be relevant; but this depends on how you set them. For instance, whenever I have people in coaching, we discuss that setting goals should be done in a way where you can actually quantify the success of your work. For instance, people often try to set a goal of “becoming a known artist”, which, in a way, doesn’t make sense at all compared to “finishing an album.”  The problem with the first goal involves two important things:

  • You can’t control your circle of influence. What does “becoming an known artist” mean exactly? That you’re appearing in charts or that 1,000 people have your tracks on their Spotify playlists? You can’t control that at all and being vague in your objectives will lead you to failure.
  • Becoming a known artist may or may not, happen. If it does, you might not even be aware of your reputation and some people think they’re known, when that’s actually not the case (for example, buying “likes” on Facebook doesn’t mean anything).

In the second goal, “finishing an album”, you’re in total control of that goal – you can clearly make a “definition of done.”  If this definition is reached, then you’re done, and the goal has been achieved. Working in this way can be useful, but I would also highly recommend that you also put an end date on your goal.

Now there’s another alternative to setting goals, which, for lack of better terminology, I’ll define as setting a signpostWhy? Signposts are signs you see when you’re driving that help you be aware of the direction to go, to get you where you want, and also to reliably re-guide you when you’re lost. I like the term in French for “repères” – it’s sort of like “landmark” but not necessarily for physical places.

What is a signpost in your musical journey?

They are something you can rely on from a community you want to be part of, or a specific sound that you want to immerse your life with. I’ll give you the best examples as of how I applied the community approach to my life and why I use them in parallel to the type of goal-setting we described above.

In Montréal in the late 90s, we were really lucky to have a solid core of people and producers that gathered around the MUTEK festival which was our community but also a sort of signpost; a direction. It was a place where we could perform the music we all appreciated (arranged based on our personal tastes) and where we could also discuss music production. So back then, a goal for me was to play at MUTEK, but at the same time, it was that community that dictated how we had to sound to achieve it.

Another signpost I’ve used was a sort of music “target” I set through Ricardo Villalobos. I’d study his music, his sets, and a recurring question I had was “will he play this track of mine?” There wouldn’t be any goals attached to this besides, perhaps, having him play my music, but it was more as a reference point of how my music could be made or adapted,

I often do mixing and mastering for artists and labels, or do coaching, and one thing I often see is how people are a bit lost on determining who their music is for. Who do you want to reach exactly? Who inspires you? Which community would support and encourage you? This is the type of question to seriously consider, as I often work with people who are far from the physical community they’d like to be part of and rely heavily on the internet to be in touch. For instance, I have in mind some guys from South America who love Romanian artists – that’s quite a distance!

In past articles, I’ve about the importance of networking. Here are a few ways to help you find your own set of signposts:

  • Locally. Is there a club, a venue, or promoter that is booking and playing the music you love? Where is the closest place to you that could be your local reference? This is very important as you can get to meet people who have the same tastes as you. Perhaps it’s a festival that you can attend in another city, like MUTEK (this reminds me of a huge community from Colorado used to visit MUTEK in a group of 20! They would forge bonds and networks on their trips).
  • Online. I find it’s important to find a crew that make good podcasts, DJ sets, or music that gives you goosebumps. A trap however, would be if you aim too high, at very big artists and organizations (ex. Time Warp in Germany) where it is so big that becoming part of organization might become a huge puzzle and is very difficult. There are many smaller festivals that exist that have the same kind of music but on a smaller scale, you can grow with them. That said, try to downscale your target, or follow the bigger names but try to connect with the other, smaller guys who like that same music but are also emerging.
  • Aesthetic, genre, mood, direction. Try to find artists you like that are emerging and look stable and serious about their craft. You don’t need to contact them; it’s more about following their production and supporting them. Be a fan, someone who encourages and gives, while not expecting anything in return. Feeding people that inspire you is a good way to invest in yourself as well. I’ve supported and encouraged artists that started to go well but then have disappeared; it’s a disappointment, and sometimes I wonder what else I could have done to help. Seeing someone you love perform and do well is a great motivation for your own art!

I’d love to hear what you consider to be your own signposts!