Tag Archive for: networking

2016: Studio Trends and My Clients

It’s been a crazy first year for the audio services I founded in November 2015. Things really got started with the website in January, and it fired up right away. I thought this would be a good time to look back at 2016, and to share some of the year’s highlights: of the plugins I used the most, the projects I worked on, and the producers I had the great pleasure to work with.

Where to start?

Let’s begin with some numbers. With online sales alone, I completed over 300 projects by early December, though the number for all sales combined is closer to 350 projects for the entire year. This includes sound design, mixing, mastering, and training services, both online and in person. This was indeed my biggest year since 2004.

Add to that my online coaching service that reached 450 people in 6 months. It’s been a bit overwhelming to be sure, but being able to help so many people fuels me as well.

Overall, the breakdown of services offered by my studio in 2016 looks like this:

Mastering: 43%

Mixdown: 24%

Arrangements: 15%

Coaching: 15%

Other: 3%

And in terms of musical styles, it broke down like this:

Tech house/house: 24%

Techno: 33%

Deep/dub techno: 14%

Hard techno: 4%

Experimental/Ambient/Chill out/IDM: 15%

Pop: 3%

Hip hop: 7%

The most frequent requests were:

  • Rounded lows.
  • Warm bass.
  • Punchy.

I’m really happy that people have generally stopped asking for the music to be “LOUD,” as this was a common request years back. In 10 years, I’ve seen that people’s tastes have slowly evolved, and that they’re more and more into the warmer sound that analog provides.


In terms of plugins, these are some of the ones I used the most this year. In general, I try to create a different chain of compressors and EQ depending on the label or client, to create a unique aesthetic. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that the combination of various effects adds grain to the sound. It’s like combining ingredients when you cook: you can try 2 different brands of a same spice, and the results will differ subtly.

Universal Audio Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder Plug-In

This is certainly a very creative tool, as well as a nice mixing plugin. It adds saturation and will beef up flimsy parts. Anything that goes through it seems to come out in perfect shape.


Sonalksys CQ1

This is certainly the best multiband tool out there — and trust me, I’ve tried them all. You will need multiband for mixing, but you can get very interesting results if you use drastic measures for sound design. This one never fails.


Harrison 32C

This is definitely an underestimated player in the EQ world, as I rarely hear people talk about it. This year was when I started using it almost every day though. It has this little thing that makes lows so warm.



A simple compressor, but it works like a charm. Brainworx never fails to create quality products that use simple and intuitive controls. A huge help on percussions.


Space Strip

A fun little tool for sound design, it creates really cool spaces, as the name suggests. Throw it on the master and watch it craft lovely atmospheres out of so little.


Reason 9

The DAW of the year without a doubt. If you’re one of those people that has been overlooking Reason, run now to get yourself the trial and be ready to have your jaw drop in awe. Rewired with Ableton, it is the most powerful tool to get over any creative block. It also does crazy (I mean it) sound design.



This reverb didn’t get the attention it deserved. If you’re not familiar with Zynaptiq, they really make state-of-the-art products. These guys are machines. Adaptiverb is hard to explain, so I’ll leave the descriptions to them, but suffice to say that it is not your typical reverb. It’s certainly a nice add-on to your plugin collection, as it can form creamy textures out of simple pads.



One of the things that really got me motivated this year was having clients who were interested in pursuing a long-term association with me. They’d come to me for all of their mixing needs so that they could focus their energies on recording new ideas. Some wanted their studio sessions arranged around songs. It’s great to have multiple contracts with someone, because you start by working with a reference artist, until eventually that shifts and the producer starts referencing themself.

It would be impossible to list all the clients I had in 2016 whose work I loved, but here are a few of the highlights that come to mind:


From Argentina, Franco worked with my buddies at 31337 Records, producing a superb palette of ambient sounds, intricately organized into a beautiful microcosm.


Kike Mayor

Kike has been one of my most loyal clients this year, as we worked together to define his sound as something “fun and sexy,” as we both liked to call it. Kike’s style is hypnotic and catchy, and he always comes to me with projects I love.


Debbie Doe

Debbie had a breakthrough this year, as she managed to pull her very first project together and nail down a growing number of important gigs. This Lebanese-Montreal artist is not afraid of reaching into her Arabic influences to craft some exotic moods.



Another very serious producer from Italy/France who booked me regularly to handle mixes and mastering for his music. He’s a nerd collector with a massive modular set-up, and he prefers focusing on designing quirky house instead of spending time on his computer.


Andrey Djackonda

From Moldova, Djackonda was a nice discovery for me this year. The guy makes really organic techno with dub influences. It’s been a headnodder for my mastering sessions. You know you have some groovy music when you start spending time shaping the track into these groove monsters.





From Montreal, Stereo_IMG is a serious sound designer who builds weird devices to extract found sounds that are both beautiful and intriguing. Working with him in the studio turned some of his tunes into Audion-sounding gems.



A programmer and kind soul, Wiklow came to me for mentoring, and we spent the next 2 months discussing music philosophy and the mysteries of human behaviour. This fantastic trip of anything-but-music-related talks led him to create a beautiful EP that would make Jan Jelinek blush.



Ruslan runs a label in New York named Minim, and he has been one of the most supportive people for me this year. We worked together closely, talking almost daily, and it was wonderful to see him at MUTEK to dance to Barac’s set.


Dom Varela

A young producer from Laval who I’ve seen grow slowly, finally releasing his first track this year. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and work closely with him on his development.



This was my most demanding mixdown this year, but man did it turn out well. Bmind is an artist I adore. His free-jazz perspective makes his music feel like a spiritual journey through an LSD trip. Nothing easy, but never flaky.



Not to forget also 2 other clients who were super busy with me, Isaac and Luis.

These guys make albums in a matter of months, and each time, it’s spot on. Not only are they dedicated, but there’s a real depth to every song they make.

There are so many others I could mention, and I have to apologize if you’re disappointed that your name isn’t featured here. But the truth is that working with ALL of my clients has been amazing! 2016 has been an incredible year, and 2017 will be too, without a doubt.



Should I Remix for Free?

If you’ve been hanging out on SoundCloud, uploading some of your music productions, commenting on other artists’ tracks, and exchanging a few words here and there, you may have been invited to collaborate at some point. If you haven’t invested much time in networking on SoundCloud, you’re really missing out on one of the most important hubs for music producers.

There’s been a huge emphasis in recent years placed on the number of followers producers can rack up. I even get people hitting me up every now and again to offer me 10,000 new followers, if I pay them 100$ or so.

Yet this craze over followers is nothing but a mirage.

Record labels won’t bite if they see an empty profile with two songs, but 1000 followers. And it’s not only labels who’ll see right through this. Anyone who’s even slightly curious or discerning will be struck by the awkwardness of such a hollow presentation.

Genuine connections, however, can go a long way. The more you interact with people directly (through SoundCloud’s horrible messaging system…), the more you run the chance of being invited to do a podcast or a remix. It’s even a pretty frequent occurence for active users.

Remixing for free can gain you valuable exposure and connections.Yet with this being said, if you’re at the beginning of your musical journey as a producer, you honestly shouldn’t expect to get money for this, not even if they propose royalties on sales. The truth is that the current state of sales in the industry is pretty discouraging for all but the larger record labels. Exposure and connections are thus the name of the game, and networking is the way to get you there.

It comes down to these key points:

  • Gain exposure, get heard. Considering that there’s not much money to be made, and that you want to expand your visibility on SoundCloud, one thing you can hope for is that the remix or podcast you make will help you reach a new audience. The music scene is composed of countless separate micro-worlds, and you’ll never manage to reach them all. Be strategic: try to reach the ones that are looking for music like yours. It’s a common mistake to assume that casting a wide net will succeed in garnering you enough people who will love what you do. But that’s actually counter-productive. You’re better off reaching one true fan than 100 people who care more or less. That one impassioned fan will spread the word and carry your music around. But you need to be exposed.


  • Target the right people, make your network work. Following the previous point, if you connect with people who love the same music as you, your music will find its way to the appropriate people. Again, you have to think strategically. Too often I see someone agree to do a remix without first having done research into who they are about to work with. On the other end, you could end up saying no to someone who is close friends with one of your favourite artists, or who attends a club regularly and passes music he discovers off to local DJs who love the kind of music you craft. The point is that good networking involves enlisting others to spread the wheel of music for you. And the same goes for you if you ask other DJs to remix your music productions: if someone believes in the music, they’ll pass it to people who will play it.


  • The rocky road. The state of DJing is pretty interesting these days. If you think about it, a lot of DJs play digital music they get for free, and will only pay for vinyls. Digital sales, at least for underground music, are somewhat stable, but haven’t evolved much at all in the last 5 years. For some reason, people have a hard time paying for underground music. They prefer to get it for free through their DJ friends. So with this in mind, accepting to remix for a label or a fellow producer is more about hoping that you’ll connect with someone who will get you closer to your goals: to release with a specific label; to be associated with a producer that inspires you; to get more gigs; or whatever they may be. This comes with a price though, and remixing for free might be one of those little discomforts that are necessary to get you closer to your destination.

Group of Friends with Digital Tablet

So as a producer, if you’re facing the option of being invited to work for free, consider these 3 things:

  • Are you inspired by the original song?
  • Is the invitation coming from someone with an interesting reach (fans, artists, community, promo)?
  • Who else is involved? Is there anyone in their circle that inspires you?


Ask yourself these questions, and feel free to ask the people who are inviting you to collaborate. If you’re going to do it for free or for a few bucks, it’d better be a fun gig!

Now just one final tip: you too may at one point invite someone to remix your music, and they might be considering these same points. So if you really want to work with an artist you love, it could be worthwhile to invest some money into having that special artist remix your track. Paid artists are often a good source of promotion to get your music where you want it to be.

Find a track tester for your productions

This might be one important post, so consider taking 5 minutes to go through it carefully. You probably already know how important it is to test the music you’re creating, but the big question is, how do you test your music effectively?

you need DJs who will test your music properly

First, there are a few traps people fall into. I’ve said it many times, but succumbing to the myth that your music isn’t important if it isn’t signed to a label is a very common mistake — even for experienced producers. No joke. The truth is that your music is important simply because it’s yours. It deserves real love and attention, and that means proper treatment.

So how do you make sure to test your music properly?

In a word: you need beta-testers.

Track testers are experienced DJs who regularly play in all kinds of events, both big and small. The fact that someone plays often will ensure that your music gets inserted into their sets alongside other tracks, and that it will be heard by live crowds. The great news is that thanks to the internet, you can work with DJs across the globe and test its reception in different countries.

Here are a few tips on how to proceed:

Find a track tester to test your music properly Follow artists/DJs on Soundcloud. I’ve said it in past posts, but the importance of connecting with people on Soundcloud can’t be overstated. If you follow artists and DJs and engage with them, you can make some great contacts that will be beneficial to you both. Find people who enjoy, support, and comment on the music you really love. This is a good way to make sure the people you invest your time and energy into genuinely share the same tastes, which is a crucial factor in finding your beta-tester.

Share music in private. If you’ve gotten into the game of sending music to labels only to have your experiences end in frustration, then working in a one-on-one setting can be much more interesting. Don’t just send a random link to a DJ though. Take the time to connect with the person first, and then share a track after you’ve made contact. It feels special to receive music privately after a nice introduction — and even more so if the music fits.

Get feedback and tweak. This part is a bit trickier. If you want the DJ to play your song in a club, you’ll need to let them download it first. Be sure your mixdown is right, and it’s even better if the track is mastered too. Once the track is played, try to follow up to get some feedback. Be clear that you’re not fishing for compliments, but that you’re genuinely seeking constructive criticism. This is the only way to improve your track.

And very importantly, make sure the person will not share the track with their DJ friends! 

difficult producerYou have no control over this of course, and that’s why you need to be extra careful about whom you share your music with. I’ve seen some really awkward situations where unreleased material accidentally got into the hands of a vast network of people. There are even online groups where members create pools of music to be shared abroad. If your music finds it way into one of these groups, the good news is that you’ll be known by a lot of music collectors (who for the most part aren’t DJs). The bad news, though, is that your track will have been burned, and there’s basically no way to release it after that.

So sometimes, a smart strategy could be to sacrifice a great track you feel could get you attention, even if it means giving it away. If it works, then the benefit in the end could be much higher than the loss. I myself have done this multiple times with netlabels, and it often paid off.


SEE MORE:  Guide to shameless self-promotion

Make the Leap from DJ to Producer

Many people dream of being able to enjoy a self-sustaining life while working as a DJ or music producer. If you’re a DJ, you might be contemplating the idea of jumping into production. Both avenues can lead you to doing it full time, but not if you do it half-way. Make it your passion.

It’s always a bit delicate to talk about how to get started in a new hobby like making electronic music. There’s so much to cover, as there’s an extremely wide range of options to consider. While I already discussed how to get started with your equipment and such, I feel we can take the topic a bit further.

DJs often think about how they can make it to the next level, and it’s obvious to me that getting into production is the best choice you could make.

Channel your ideas into making your own music

Have you ever loved a track but didn’t like a certain part of it, and then arranged a hack in Traktor to get past that part, only to still not be happy with the result? Well this is actually very common, and as there are so many tracks being released every day, you can spend way too much time just finding the tools you need to make your sets.

So, while everyone is playing the top 10 on Beatport, you might want to pour your time and energies instead into looking through some of your unreleased material (or maybe starting to make some).

I do have to say that there’s nothing quite like playing your own music, and having people ask you what it is because they’ve never heard it before.

That’s the power of being a producer and making your own music.


DJ experience will help you as a new producer

With your DJing experience, you know what tracks will work well.

Not all producers are DJs, but if you are only producing, it might be a good idea to learn how to play in clubs. You’ll get to know how certain things sound on big systems and what it’s like to have a track that doesn’t create the proper momentum in a given space. Those things are hard to learn if you’re just hanging out in the studio and receiving feedback from your Soundcloud friends.

Listening to and mixing music, and seeing how a live crowd responds, is a valuable experience that will improve your studio work as a producer.


If you can score a deal with a label, you’ll get access to a whole new network of contacts, which can mean more gigs.

It’s not easy to be able to tour as a DJ, as it demands you work hard to expand your network. Making your own music is kind of like sending a business card out into the world, and the more people play it, the more it will travel around. If you work things out, it will be the leverage that gets you out there and travelling too. This is why the quality of your production work will matter so much, and so the more effort you put into getting things right, the better it will pay off.

Lastly, if you’re already a DJ, you’ll have a head start. There are many things you’ll know, from what a loop is, to how sound works in general, to having a basic understanding of technicalities.

So there’s just no reason not to try to produce; in no time at all, production will become your new playground.


Making the leap from DJ to producer can be easier if you know producers

Shortcuts to make the leap into production

Team up with another producer first. If you know people who produce, one of the best ways to start is to hang out with them one evening and participate in making music. If they have gear, you can try to ask questions. And if they’re open minded you can make a track with them, or at least make a sketch of a song.

The idea here is to see how it feels to you and if you like it. If you get excited, there’s a good chance it might be for you.

Also, this person will be able to give you pointers on what to get first.

Watch tutorials, use demos. There are many softwares out there that will let you try before you buy. Be sure to wait until you have a good period of time to actually try it out properly before choosing to install. If you’re in school and exams are coming, for example, you might want to wait so as not to sabotage your efforts, both in music learning and classes. Plus, there are tons of videos out there on how to start a track or how to get started. The number one mistake people do is to buy a DAW because someone told them to without trying it first. I’ve learned the hard way, trust me.

Remix. Before making you own tracks, try remixing and playing with loops. This is the fastest way to get something done at first. You can get parts on various sites such as this one. Eventually you’ll make your own when you get to see how people do it.

How Will A Music Label Find Me?

This blog post will focus on one of the anxieties that every new music producer gets in this turbulent and busy world, which is: how to reach a music label aside from sending in demos.

Can your music make it to the ears of a label owner?

Following one of my most popular posts on how to send demos, this post will focus on the opposite approach, which is to slowly get labels to come to you instead of hunting them down. Call it reverse psychology if you want, but it could also be called the art of letting go. As Einstein said,

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

To understand how a label works and to help you prepare your strategy, perhaps I can share my own experience first. Here are some pointers:

Being a label owner is a bit like being a talent scout in sports. You have a routine of listening to music from within your own circle and of checking your preferred sources like charts and podcasts, as well as finding music through friends of label artists. Then there are moments where you’re a bit freer or more curious, and you’ll dig through SoundCloud for a few hours. I found some pretty incredible artists on SoundCloud and I find that it’s easier than ever to find unknown artists — raw talent. But while it’s easier and more exciting than ever to find unsigned artists, it’s also overwhelming.

The label owner and yourself face the same issue: how can you connect to each other to form a perfect match?

Maybe you don’t realize this, but you might not yet know which label will be your main career companion. It’s a bit like finding true love; it’s out there, but it needs the right timing to happen.

As the label grows, the owner tends to want to sign friends of the label’s artists and artists related to those that have already been signed.


Mainly because, in my case, I want to deal with people I feel are great to work with. Also, because while the music label is defining its sound, I want to keep some sort of logical progression from release to release. I won’t sign in a rush, or sign a track that sounds crazy good without knowing who I will be dealing with. Difficult and finicky personas are my pet peeve, and I will try to stay far away from them.

Running multiple projects can become messy with difficult people.

Dealing with contracts and such is so annoying, and I’d As an electronic music producer, networks and networking are extremely important for helping a record label labels find YOUprefer doing it with someone who clicks with me. I trust my friends more than Facebook or a polite exchange over email.

So what does that tell you? How do music labels get to you if they want to sign you?

Stop worrying about labels, and instead work on your network. Spend more time connecting with artists who inspire you. Befriend newer artists who also struggle. That struggling artist or that other dude you met can eventually be helpful at some point.

Some inspiration to meet people:

  • Soundcloud: Follow artists that inspire you. Comment on their tracks and go listen to people who also love the tracks.
  • Soundcloud groups: There are nice communities out there that you can join and where you can post your new ideas. Some music label owners are also there sometimes.
  • Facebook groups: If you search a bit, you’ll find many groups you can join. People will discuss topics or share a new find. There’s always something to read.
  • Google Hangouts: A bit like Facebook but one great feature is to have group video calls. Then you can talk all together. Quite fun.

The music label that needs to work with you will find you at the right moment, when they need to. It demands a certain faith in the process, but while waiting, go back to learning sound design and making new friends.