Making it in the music business is a tough prospect these days. It takes a lot of hard work, and there's a slim profit margin; file sharing and the elusive nature of the makes charging for your music harder than ever. But if you do make it, the rewards, both personal and in business are bigger than ever, DJ Caroline D'Amore shares her advice.
The FIRST and most important thing you need is the love of your art. Love then turns into a drive. An almost unhealthy drive that can cause you to turn down a cozy 9-to-5 for a life of couch surfing and eating off the dollar menu at McDonald's. So many talented people I've met in my life have loads of talent, but they are missing that drive, the love of the game, the willingness to gamble. They are unwilling to roll the dice. They're scared of risk and can't handle rejection, and they give up easily. If you never give up you can never fail. The drive to make it is the most important tool you must have to get started.
I always thought I was awful at this very necessary new world of social media. And, at first I was. I didn't get how some people I really respected had so few followers and certain people I've never heard of had Millions. The KEY that I've learned is to speak to your followers, not AT them. You cant just post "I'm great and here is why, blah, blah, blah... buy my album!" You have to evoke thought, and encourage a dialogue. Ask questions instead of "Hey Guys Listen to my song " Try something like... "Have you ever been so in love you wanted to Shout it from the roof top? Here's how i let it out. My new track MUSIC MAN is all about the love of my life." .If your followers feel like they are a part of the ride others will jump on.
BE YOUR BRAND
It's very important to be genuine and sincere. And be special. Carve out a unique niche for yourself. Be doing something no one else is doing. It's especially important for an EDM artist. 12-year-olds can make these tracks on their lap tops now. There are teenage DJs turning up with residencies in Ibiza. Having my own radio show Heartbeatz on Skee247 has been an eye opener. Now all the labels send me all the new tracks before they even drop with the hope that I will play it on the show . So I really get to hear everything that's out there, good and bad. The one thing I've noticed is that a lot of these tracks are starting to sound the same. 128 BPM with the big build up into the overly bright and happy drop. First, everyone was trying to recreate Aviici's Levels and now its Aviici 's Wake me Up. So props to Aviici for being unique. I can tell in the first few seconds of listening to a song if I'm going to give it air time. Like when I heard song like Tommy Trash's Truffle Pig, Audrey Napoleon's Dope A La Mode, Headhunters Feat. Tatu -- Colors , ( Yellow Claw Remix ) or Brass Knuckles's Bad Habbits ( Bl3nd Remix ). These tracks are original. You need to have an idea of who you are as an artist. At first I just started writing tracks that sounded like songs I liked. That's a good place to start, creatively, but them you have to push yourself. You have to write a 100 OK songs to get that great one. That's when I found my sound; my voice. I knew it was finally happening when legendary DJ and remixer Stonebridge heard my lyrics for Music Man and he jumped at the chance to make the music. Another highlight was when Legendary DJ/Producer Robbie Rivera was on Heartbeatz and he told me he was excited about my new track with Stonebridge called Global Warning. He said he hadn't heard a track like that in a long time and the vocal were so different from anything out right now. He's now releasing Global Warning on his label Juicy Music. Be you, and your sound will find the ears it belongs to.
Also, create your own scene. Some of the biggest DJ/Producer/ Artists we all look up to have their crew. Steve Aoki has his Dim Mak crew that started out as a cool night at a club in Hollywood to showcase the labels artists and just rock out, Skrillex has his main crew with 12th Planet and the SMOG guys all making the best in hard ass Dubstep. I have my Skee247 crew thanks to DJ Skee and his team which is the home of my radio show and full of amazing engineers I work with, My Skam Artist crew is full of amazing DJs that I've now had on my radio show, and we do shows and make music together. So find the people who bring out the best in you. Being surrounded my what you love is the best way to make things happen.
INDEPENDENT VS. LABEL
I have experienced both being on a label and being independent, and I can honestly say I'm Happier label less. Sure the big paycheck is a huge plus, but these days labels don't build artist, they're doing research and development. They find artists that are already big and go from there. If you have 10 Million magical YouTube hits you will get a record deal. The point is, you have to do it yourself anyway. It's great when they are paying for tour buses and music videos but is it worth losing all your music and being shelved? I only know from experience and of my friends . One of my favorite bands in the world was signed to a huge label, paid lots of money and put in the studio with huge producers and artists and a few years later not a single song was released and they weren't allowed to put any of it out the music they made themselves. They had several albums worth of music they made and ended up not owning them. Now this doesn't happen all the time. You just never know. It's just not that scary anymore to do it on your own. With social media and YouTube, you can be heard, build a fan base, tour, and even make a living. It's an exciting time in music for the little guy.
The worst part of not being signed to a major label is the lack of funds to push your music. A very important part of being a musician with no side job is understanding that it's a business. Sometimes its hard to live off your art and keep it moving forward. There are many things you have to pay for to appear as professional as possible. Sometimes you've got to fake it till you make it as cheesy as that sounds. What I did was open a separate bank account for my music needs. Every check I get, I take a small percentage and put it into this account so I can dip in when I need things like a proper promo shoot (images for flyers, social media , album artwork etc.), mastering tracks, and music videos all cost money and are very important. Use your savings for these things. It's also key to make friends with people in the arts: makeup artists, photographers, editors, web designers and so on. It helps to be able to pull favors for videos and photo shoots. They also need cool images for their promotional tools as well so its like a trade or barter system.
WORKING WITH THE PROS
Getting the attention of people you want to work with can seem almost impossible but it's not. Don't be scared to put yourself out there and show people how great you are. You may be rejected many times but the one time your not will lead to many other times. I had this one experience where I played this producer my music and he immediately shut me down. It felt awful. But then I was opening for Stonebridge at a festival in Alaska and we ended up at dinner. We got along great shooting the shit then once again I built up the courage to ask him to listen to my work. He loved the lyrics I wrote for Music Man so much that we collaborated on it immediately. He put it out on his own label and it went #1 on the Beatport house charts. You will never know if you don't try. It will suck when they say no or don't give you the time of day but it's the best feeling in the world when you succeed. So wipe your tears, get up and try again.
I now trust that I know what I want a hundred percent of the time. I got there from learning from my mistakes. I've tried a lot of things I'll never try again. I've put out music I hate because I listened to too many other voices and I let people steer me in a certain direction. I can't fully blame others for these directions as I didn't fully know who I was as an artist yet. Everyone has a song they can't believe they did. It only gets better because of the songs you didn't love. When you arrive at that point, you know what not to do and what you love to do... you've found your voice.
If there is ever something in your track you didn't feel like you nailed , something that annoys you, or you knew you could have done better but just wanted to be done and get the track out there... WAIT... fix it. I have a few tracks out there I wish I had done that with. Do not let someone tell you "its fine " so you can move on. I still get bummed out every time I hear those few moments in those tracks. Now I make sure when I hear the track back that there's not one moment I should change. Even if no one else hears those mistakes, you always will.
You can listen to Caroline D'Amore's Weekly Electronic Music Show Thursday Nights 10pm ET by going to Skee247.com or downlaoding the skee247 app. You can Book Caroline for Events at Skamartist.com/carolinedamore
Her new track Charting on Beatport GLOBAL WARNING is available now on Beatport and iTunes.