1. Take a minute to introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Tommy Tench and I’m a Producer and DJ operating out of my studio in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. I specialize in sampling and making beats, and I’m a huge fan of Turntablism, which I practice daily. My YouTube channel, which I started posting videos to a few months ago documenting the process of beatmaking, currently has 1300 subscribers and shows no signs of slowing down. I have numerous few projects lined up for 2013, working with artists (most of which I am supposed to keep quiet!) as well a super limited run of vinyl pressings with some producer friends of mine. I am also former student and current employee at Dubspot, a music production and DJ school, where I oversee the Tech Department.
2. How did you transition from being a Dubspot student to an employee?
I started taking classes one summer, and spent as much time as I could there. I got to know everyone pretty well, and one day they needed help setting up a private event because a few people were sick and couldn’t make it. They kept asking for help over the next few weeks, and I approached them to make it a permanent position in the Tech Department. I worked for about a year and a half as a regular Tech, until this past august when I was put in charge of the entire department.
During this time, I was able to learn and listen to everyone around me and really soak up tons of information. Everyone there is so talented and knowledgeable, its crazy really. The whole place breathes music, and can cater to everyones’ specific tastes. It really helped me be where I am today. It’s incredibly important, no matter how good you are, to keep your mouth shut and listen sometimes. I do a lot of that.
Alkota: A lot of “up and coming” beatmakers & producers assume that the the music industry has a single linear path to success where licensing and selling beats is the name of the game. What most of the new jacks don’t know is that the industry is a multi faceted and dynamic beast.
Oh man. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The modern producer has to wear many different hats. He has to not only produce the track, but mix, master and release it himself. He also has to promote the song, coordinate with artists, get studio time, and in a lot of cases, coordinate the legal side of it with contractual agreements and licensing stipulations. Gone are the days where you show up at a label with beats and they write you checks on the spot. Now, if you’re one of these elite producers, these things may not apply as much. But I see that changing rapidly.
But having to do all these extra things are what makes it fun and interesting. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to learn and try to be the best producer out there, then go ahead and make your $5 beats off your pirated version of FL Studio. Just remember that theres a glass ceiling with that style, and you’ll never reach your full potential. No disrespect to anyone who pirated FL Studio and sells $5 beats, just try to do something different on top of what everyone else is doing. I mean, I bought a DSLR to record my videos, now I understand photography really well. White balance, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, focal length, etc. I also understand lighting and video editing. I then promote it online as much as possible. I understand SoundCloud really well to the point where I have videos on how to share to all your groups in one click using html scripts. You really get to learn a lot of things inadvertently through this process. Is it harder? Yes. But you don’t gain as much if aren’t trying to figure everything out all the time. I mean honestly, the whole beat making process is really just a puzzle you have to put together. This part here, this part there and so on. The other things are basically the same, just a different puzzle!
3. Can you talk about your role in the industry from the standpoint of an educator?
I get to meet all these big named artists through Dubspot, and there are two kinds of people. The ones that are always learning and trying to get better, and the ones that have what me and my friends call “Old Man Skills.” Now the Old Man Skills have nothing to do with being old. I know 22 year old kids with OMS. Its the refusal to try anything new, which is essentially the unwillingness to keep learning and elevating your craft. These people literally get stuck in time. I firmly believe that if something works, stick with it by all means, but who’s to say that theres not something you could do differently to make it that much better? This is especially true in Turntablism. Guys that are legends in the game but for some reason stopped learning new scratches, new juggles, etc. I would rather choose to not use something, (like a particular trick or technique or even new software) then to discard it without at least testing it out myself. I think it all boils down to being humble and willing to learn, while still thinking you’re the best out there. Its a fine line between the two, but if you really do become the best remember this: The best producers are also the best at learning.
Khrysis talks with Digital Hustle Films & The Drum Broker about making beats, workflow, sampling, drums, & much more. Don’t sleep on Khrysis playing some crazy NI Maschine Beats.
As I break into new genres for my sync catalog, I find that you can never have enough sounds, synths, drums, etc. Pretty stoked for Reason’s new Rack Extention, the PX7 FM Synth.
Peep the video below for more info
Official Specs & Details Below:
The PX7 FM Synthesizer is a six operator FM synth for the Reason rack. As a faithful recreation of the popular DX series keyboards, it provides a wealth of new sounds, ranging from classic 80’s bass and brass to modern textures, leads and growls.
But PX7 is not only an emulation of a classic keyboard. With an easier interface, macro controls for quick and powerful tweaking of sounds, stereo spread, and full integration with the Reason rack, it takes FM synthesis into the age of Reason.
In FM synthesis, or Frequency Modulation, sounds are generated by layering or modulating the frequency of sine wave oscillators, called operators. The 32 selectable algorithms decide how the operators are connected, and which modulates what.
The envelopes, one for each operator, are more advanced than those you typically see in synths, with a number of different breakpoints for extremely precise control over the modulation.
With the new macro controls you get tons of new tones out of a single patch — even without a full understanding of FM synthesis.
I’ve been contemplating this specific topic for a while and this video (via Crate Kings) reiterated what I had already planned on writing about. It was refreshing and I think everyone should take notes.
The new generation of beat makers (we will call them the instant gratification camp) are overly concerned with selling their beats & living off their music. What most of these new jacks don’t understand is that it takes years upon years of networking and building to achieve any level of “success” in any industry. The music industry is no different. Of course, there are the exceptions to the rule or the “outliers” who seemingly stumble into placements or become overnight super producer sensations. Whether its luck, being at the right place at the right time, hard work, or raw talent… some people just seem to make it happen regardless.
However, for the rest of us, we are most likely going to have to work alot harder and will likely never achieve the level of “success” that some beatmakers and producers seem to enjoy. The problem with the instant gratification camp, is that they have grown up in an era where “here today, gone tomorrow” is the motto. Blogs and media constantly feed them the next best thing, hottest rapper, producer, product, etc. They have been brainwashed by mainstream media to believe that success is material, monetary, and otherwise lacking any sort of passion. To them, success is only chasing placements on the next major label release.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Success is purely subjective. For one beatmaker, hearing his favorite rapper over a beat he created is success. To another, a major label placement and a nice check satisfies his condition. And to a third, merely creating a beat hes happy with is all that is required. At some point you have to ask yourself why do you make beats, produce, and contribute to culture. Is it because your passionate about it? Do you enjoy it? Is it your hobby? Are you trying to get rich? Then define success for yourself. Ask yourself what level of success you can realistically achieve within the music industry.
For some of us this is a hobby that we are passionate about. Maybe we have never sold a beat, collaborated with an Artist, licensed our music, etc. For the lucky few, its a job, a grind, and a career choice. Whatever category you fit into, you have to love this and be passionate about it. That should be the first and foremost reason to
create music make beats.
So my answer to all the new jacks questions of “How can I sell my beats”, “How can I make money doing music”, “Whats the best way to sell beats”, is…
Quit trying to make money making beats and “producing”. Chill. Make beats and perfect your craft, be passionate, and do it for the love. The saying is cliche, but the money will follow! It won’t for everyone, but for a lucky few it will.
Quit putting the cart before the horse and look to someone like Mr. Kavet the Catalyst for inspiration.
In the meantime read Beattips.com article “The Bad Odds and Low Probability of Beat Placement Success”, its a great read!
Alkota: I don’t think the readers need an introduction to The Arcitype, but just in case they can check our your first interview here
Alkota: I just got done watching the Ruste Juxx & The Arcitype “Rock to the Rhythm” Music Video on YouTube. Very dope lyrics and the production is tight!
1. How did you and Ruste Juxx link up to create V.I.C.?
I had been a fan of Juxx for years and kind of randomly decided one day to reach out and see if maybe we could do some work together. My manager hit him with a few joints and he quickly got back to us saying he was feeling them and wanted to do something. We decided to do one joint and see how it came out, so I rolled down to NYC and booked a session at a studio in Brooklyn. The Joint came out DOPE, and at the end of that session I played Juxx a few more beats and after he heard about 5 more that he was feeling, he said that he wanted to do an album with me, and the answer for me was EASY, I was amped to do it. That night he walked out of the studio with a CD of about 10 beats to work and I e-mailed him a few more joints over the next couple weeks. A few months later he came up to Boston to record the project at my studio, The Bridge Sound & Stage in Cambridge.
He came into town at like 1am on a Friday and we hit the studio right away to start knocking out joints. Over the course of the next 2.5 days, we spent roughly 35 hours in the studio working on the album. It was a blast. Artists and DJs were coming in and out of the studio the whole weekend, laying down parts for the album. We were hanging out, hearing stories about Juxx’s world tours over BBQ, chopping it up with him on song concepts and joking around in the studio, kicking it and being productive. It was impressive too because Juxx hadn’t written the whole album before getting to Boston, so he was doing a lot of the writing in the studio with us. He got into his zone and knocked it out, and it was dope to see how he incorporated references to what was happening in the studio that weekend into his rhymes. It was a great time.
At the end of that weekend, we had the majority of the album recorded. There were some missing gaps that we knew we wanted features for, so Juxx reached out to the people he wanted on the records and we started getting verses back from everyone. I scheduled a couple sessions in NYC to do little touch ups and add a couple more songs so we had plenty to choose from for the album, and some extra bonus songs for the deluxe version which is being released on iTunes. And now here we are.
Found this one courtesy of createdigitalmusic.com. A few simple keystrokes and you can now sample audio directly from OSX via keystroke. This is awesome for digital digging! Check the excerpt below for more details:
Press a key or two, take a screenshot. It’s been dead-simple for ages. But not so if you just want to grab some sound – until now.
“WavTap, from coder and GitHub user Patrick Ellis of Berlin, finally makes grabbing audio on the Mac work the way you’ve imagined it should work. Hit a keyboard shortcut – ctrl-cmd-space, though that default can be customized – and start recording. Hit it again, and stop. WavTap is a fork of the wonderful Soundflower from Cycling ’74, the free menu tool for inter-app audio. That means WavTap shares Soundflower’s sophisticated routing solutions, so in addition to grabbing a recording of a radio broadcast you want a friend to hear, quick capture of elaborate multichannel rigs is possible, too. (Users of tools like Max and Pd – or other experimental sound sources – will love this. And, of course, it’s a way to do a quick cover of Radiohead “Fitter Happier.”)
I’m sure this could also be used for activities deemed “evil” by certain rights holders, but the nature of sound is such that, if you can hear it, you can record it. And I can think of countless legitimate uses. Just remember to ask permission before recording that phone call.
Now, of course, there are fancier solutions for doing this, but few I’ve seen with the simplicity and accessibility of WavTap. (If you do have a tool of choice of your own, of course, do let us know in comments.)
Free and open source on GitHub:
If you have Xcode installed, installation is a cinch. Terminal, make install, done. (The readme shows up on the site – scroll down.) If not, it’s more work. Someone want to contribute an installer?”
A recent Twitter post from super producer Illmind got me thinking about how the “beat cd” has truly become obsolete. In 2009, I designed the MPC2000XL & SP-1200 Flash Drives with hip hop producers in mind. My original intention was to design a product that producers could use for beat shopping that would ultimately grab the attention of A&R’s, Managers, Rappers, etc. We live in a hyper competitive beat shopping market where A&R’s, Managers, and Artists get thousands of beat emails bombarded at them. Everyone has access to email and everyone has access to everyone’s email address. Competition is stiff. Prior to email submissions being the norm, producers and beat makers had to submit their beats via CD (Mail, Hand to Hand, etc.) and alot of people still do this.
However, Beat CD’s are obsolete for a few reasons:
- No one uses CD’s anymore. Industry leaders like Apple are phasing out optical drives (forward thinking…), consumers download their music & rip their music to iTunes (MP3 format), we stream our music via iPods to our car audio systems, etc.
- The process of getting beats off of a CD is slow and tedious. Ripping a CD is annoying. Pluging in a USB Drive, dragging and dropping, is a efficient & fluid process.
- CD’s are boring to look at & lack dual purpose functionality. A custom shaped USB drive is sure to grab the attention of anyone and as Illmind puts it… “cats like me need USB Drives”
Truthfully I could go on and on about why shopping your beats via CD’s is obsolete and a bad idea, but I think you get the idea. When it comes to shopping your music you generally only get one chance to make an enormous impression. Up and coming producers and beatmakers need to think outside the box… just a little, and invest some money into branding themselves. Presenting your music on a dope flash drive vs. a bland burned CD might be the foot in the door that lands you a sale. This is basic marketing 101.
For anyone interested in purchasing some dope USB Flash Drives to shop their music, I’ve set up a promo code (“25FLASH”) for http://www.hiphopdrumsamples.com for $24.99 Flash Drives. Thats $15 off the regular price. These things aren’t cheap to make or buy, but I guarantee they’ll get you plenty of attention and people will love carrying them around. Invest in yourself and your career!
Its been a few months since I wrote the Confessions of a Pirate – Reason 6 Torrent Article. If you haven’t read it, please do so.
Since I purchased my first legit copy of Propellerhead’s Reason & Recycle Software I couldn’t be happier. Propellerhead’s recently released their Reason 6.5 Production and Recording software and gave us Rack Extensions. Rack Extensions promises and looks to be one of the greatest improvements in Propellerhead’s Reason Software, allowing 3rd party plugin developers to create a more stable competing platform against VST’s. The days of complaining about the lack of 3rd party EQ’s, Compressors, Synths, etc are over. Now its a matter of waiting to see which developers release which plugins for Rack Exensions and when.
Again, by purchasing a legitimate copy of Reason and Recycle I have continued to support the ongoing development on one of my personal favorites and arguably the best DAW’s on the market. After all, it takes money to develop this stuff and continually improve the user experience.
Since purchasing Reason 6, I have also received some awesome support from Propellerheads. They have posted my Reason beat making videos & tutorials to their Facebook & Twitter accounts with viral results. This is what we call “value added”. There aren’t too many software companies that support their users & users music quite like the Properllerheads.
With that being said, read the “Confessions of a Pirate” article & go buy a legit copy of Reason 6.5. You really have no excuse no to.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with a prior client of mine (via Facebook) about his budget for a music video. First off, in my opinion, Facebook is not the best way to reach out to a service provider (insert service here) about working together. Anyway, let me summarize the conversation… the client didn’t want to spend X amount of dollars on a music video for his artists Mixtape because “I’m not making any money off of it”. My video services were out of his budget (which was low). I charge X dollars to shoot and edit a music video, and won’t go below my established pricing. Its not worth my time or energy.
First off, the artist (“label owner”) had a flawed approach to his artists project/mixtape. Its 2012 and your music, videos, albums, and mixtapes should be viewed as advertising and promotion for your brand. Establishing a brand is extremely important and how you sell your brand and monetize it, an entirely different topic altogether, is up to you. However, artists and labels shouldn’t look at the ROI (return on investment) of a music video, mixing, and mastering in terms of forgone album sales. To say, “I’m not making any money off this project” is admitting failure before you even release your project. Just because you are giving away a mixtape or album for free doesn’t mean you can’t profit from it. Simply view the costs associated with producing a project or shooting a video as advertising and marketing dollars for your established brand vs. dollars invested that need to be recouped directly from the project.
Lets look at this a little differently. The label owner could get his merchandise game up and print up some really dope T-Shirts for his label/brand. He could also spend the extra money and get a quality, well shot music video for the Mixtape and do some simple product placement (his awesome new T-Shirts appear on everyone in the video). At the end of the video he could use a simple call to action, i.e. “Diggin the video and Brand X T-shirts? Visit our online shop to download the Mixtape Free and order a Brand X Shirt”. By viewing the mixtape and music video as advertising for his brand T-Shirts he has all of a sudden created a way to profit from what was otherwise expensive promotion for a FREE project.
Its not rocket science! Loyal fans will buy your music and merchandise, but they need to know you exist! Advertising and marketing your brand via music and video is one method of creating a buzz or awareness. Take it a step further, have a product or service available to your fans, don’t just create awareness or a buzz. Its a dead end road. Be prepared to spend money and invest in your music and understand that you won’t always recoup the investment through album sales and downloads. Build a fanbase, do paid shows, sell merchandise and albums, etc.