After a fortnight of workshops and talks from industry professionals, we highlight some of the best pieces of wisdom from their sessions.
January is many things to many people. Here at dBs, January is a time for Enhancement and Industry Weeks; an opportunity for us to invite an array of industry professionals - as well as staff and students - to share their expertise, creativity and perspectives through workshops, guest lectures and discussions.
With almost twenty different sessions taking place across two weeks, we can't distill all the great advice shared, so we're highlighting six of our favourite tips.
1. To be successful, you need to be your own journalist - Red Rack'em
Danny Berman AKA Red Rack'em spent the last twenty years touring the world, but when the pandemic gutted the live music scene he had to think of new ways to make money from his music. His solution was Patreon, and it was this turning point and the positive effects it had made on his career were the focus of his visit.
During his session, Danny spoke about the current state of the industry and why it's vital that you learn how to be your own evangelist.
"If you want to be a successful artist today, you have to be your own journalist. No one else is going to write about you until you’re famous, and even then you’re at the mercy of trends changing and falling out of favour.
"The internet means you have to give a constant commentary on what you’re doing, though for your mental health I don't recommend you do. You don’t have to be an amazing writer, however if you can become good at writing about yourself in the third person it will help immensely."
2. Get comfortable with your own workflow - Max Jacomb
Max Jacomb is a touring FOH engineer who is currently working with BC Camplight and Lanterns on the Lake. During their workshop at dBs, Max shared some key strategies, tricks and methodologies that have helped them out in a variety of shows, but one of the most eye-opening tips they shared was possibly their most simple.
"Get comfy with your own workflow and check your mindset before a show. Some of the best shows were the ones I didn't stress about and instead to a lesser extent didn't care that much about. I'm not suggesting you don't take integrity in your work, but be mindful of how much pressure you're putting on yourself."
3. When collaborating, keep things simple - Jeremy Panoussopoulos
The Ableton Push 2 is one of the most versatile and creatively freeing pieces of hardware on the market, but it's an intimidating bit of kit. Fortunately, second year Electronic Music Production student Jeremy Panoussopoulos is well-versed using the controller and led a small group of students in a collaborative performance.
"When you're collaborating and making a track with others using the Push, keep your parts simple. Ideas that are too complex are going to drown out other people's ideas and dominate the track's overall sound."
4. It's all about money - Alex Pilkington
Alex Pilkington knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been signed, subsequently dropped and now almost £300K in debt to Island Records, he knows better than anyone why the major label dream no longer exists in modern music.
As a result of his experiences, Alex created Shout4, an online platform that enables small artists to create revenue sharing deals and contracts with ease, allowing them to further develop as artists without being crippled financially.
"Look at this like a business. You’re still a creative, but you have the tools to make money from your creativity, and it is all about money. The deeper you go into debt, the harder it is to have a developed career.
"The more that you can create within your means, the better the chance of having a career doing what you love. It’s not up to anybody else, this is your business. All the tools are out there, and Shout4 is just one of them. Things like Splice and DistroKid are great ways of making money from your creativity."
5. Ambisonics may not be perfect, but it's exciting - Natalia Mamcarczyk
Sound artist, DJ and producer Natalia Mamcarczyk (AKA Walya) has been invested in the world of cutting-edge audio for several years now, and when we've got access to a selection of ambisonic microphones and an 8.1 spatial audio lab here at dBs, it's the perfect chance to share that love with our students.
"We're amazing at stereo, we have all the tools to perfectly mix it, master it and it's been the dominant listening experience for years now. But with ambisonics, it may not have the same quality as stereo and we may lose something when we record in that way. It's such a new avenue of sound that we're still figuring it all out. It's an entirely new experience and that's what is really exciting."
6. Being a good composer for screen is more than understanding music - Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres
Composer Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres has scored everything from circus performances and advertisements, to feature films and documentaries, and as such, she possesses a great insight into this popular area of the industry. Amongst her many pieces of advice, it was her thoughts on the best skill a composer should have that resonated with us most.
"You have to understand the language of film. I think so many composers go into writing for film just because they want to write music. but also you need to understand the directors, the sound designers, all the other elements around you. It could be the makeup artists or the grading. It’s so important to understand what they're doing to the film, so you know where you fit in as a composer."
Looking for more tips from a range of professionals?
Check out our industry insights section here