It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in the beauty that artists can create when they finally have a finished song. Their sounds and instrumentation are chosen with the most accurate precision, their audio engineering techniques are polished flawlessly, and their unique sound is unlike any other artists out there. While we stand in awe of their craft, little do we know the struggle that several of these artists go through in order to finally reach the point of having a finished product as beautiful as they can.
To be completely honest, most of these artists spend years upon years of grueling effort glued to their computer screen, starting with nothing but bleeps and bloops. After sometime of experimenting in their DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) they can start to pull out sounds of their VSTs that actually sound somewhat interesting (Virtual Studio Technology, although most of the time they come from virtual synths like Serum or Massive, which are forms of VSTs). Then from here there comes about choosing every other sound as well and how they fit together cohesively. Your kicks, hi hats, snares, claps, shakers, cymbals, any other kind of percussion you may use. This is commonly referred to as the instrumentation of your tracks. Moving from there then you have all the other parts of a song, your bass lines, leads, synth chords, ambience, risers, and more.
Once you finally have all the instrumentation chosen and then arrangement has been written, your song is still only just about a third of the way done. There’s still a whole lot of processing and mixing to do; adding saturation, EQing, sidechaining, balancing levels, stereo imaging, and layering tracks are among of the few most common to say. Then last you have to master your tracks so that they sound the same volume level as every other track currently out on the market. This way when you transition from song to song, there aren’t big differences between what you play (Because even if you listen closely today, there are a lot of tracks out there that are still different and haven’t been mastered so well).
All in all it takes a lot of work to get to the point where you have a finished song, and to back up the argument even more, there are a ton of artists who have shared their story so far and the years of work it took to get there. Check out what some of our favorites have said below in support of the struggle.
- I’ve cut every single distraction from my life other than music/my girlfriend. I don’t go to parties or social events that fill time.
- Advice for starters: Start within the box. Only take advice until you know you’re onto something. Understand that there are hundreds of thousands of people trying to do exactly what you are so you need to be a needle in the haystack to stand out
- Be inspired. Its all about the people. It all goes to personality, you can be super talented but you still have to be a hard-working person. All of the people who made it out there, they have all been working so hard. I mean, DJ life is not like a dream come true in one second, like you don’t make one track and you’re out there. I mean, maybe it might happen sometimes, but its still just hard work. You should be passionate, you should be patient, and you should love the music.
- Work hard! You got to work harder than the guy next to you and with a little luck you can breakthrough!
- Work hard is the best advice I can give. Hard work pays off thats a fact, I think quite a few others along with myself can say that. Meet as many people as you possible can in this industry as well, just like any other industry it boils down to who you know.
- If you wanna be Michael Phelps, you have to fucking swim fucking 20 hours a day. If you wanna be the number 1 medalist in the world, just swim. Don’t talk about swimming, don’t watch other people swim… Just fucking swim.
- If you sit and produce music for 20 hours a day, you are going to become at least average.
- It’s all about the balance of elements. No need to have a thousand plugins on every track in the session.
- Make the music that you are passionate about. Trying to fit in a cookie cutter mold only restricts your creativity.
- Spend an obscene amount of time in your DAW.
- Spend all your free time on music and never give up. Try to find your own style. I always say “if you go to bed before midnight, you’ll never make it”.
- Get hours in because hard work pays off. You know like I wasn’t kidding earlier when I was saying I was living off of water and oats. After about 5 or 6 months, just water and oats, my body started getting really f***ed up. I would talk to the hospital and nutritionist and they said you’re super deficient in salt and fat. So I added salt and olive oil in my diet and then eventually I was back in business so I could do like 6 months more. So hard work and putting in hours is definitely what you need.
- Work hard, never give up, experiment, don’t be afraid to share your music, and most of all enjoy yourself!
- To get booked you have to keep working really hard and make your own luck, build your own scene. That’s the most fun anyway.
Fedde Le Grand
- When I was first starting out, I DJ’d as many clubs in my hometown as I could, and honed in on a sound I could call my own. I perfected it, and then got my tracks into as many peoples hands as possible. You have to be prepared to fail, and not be afraid to show your art to others and take serious criticism.
- The rules of producing do not matter, if it sounds good, if it feels good, then it is good.
- If you’re stuck on a track, start a new one and come back to it.
- Just be yourself. I mean, learn your craft as much as you can, learn all your instruments or your laptop or whatever it is and create your own sound, because that’s whats going to separate you from the rest in the end. That’s the most important thing is to just have your own vibe and sound. Have fun.
Keys N Krates
- Just make as much shit as you can, try and form your own style and take influences from people you dig, and be a nice person and don’t be a weeny.
- When we meet artists who are weenies we are shocked cause why wouldn’t just you just want to be nice and have good energy around you?
- No promoter or fan is every going to be like “oh I especially loved SO AND SO cause he’s such a fuckin’ dick head.” Be a good human and you’ll be a way better off.
Kill The Noise
- 2004 I was in community college just dicking around really, taking a bunch of random courses writing, philosophy, some art classes. I spent most of my time DJing and making tunes. I started hanging out on a messageboard called “dogs on acid” interacting with other guys like me and i met some guys from atlanta: mayhem, evol intent, and some others really early on. They were the first guys that listened to my stuff and started giving me feedback on my work. They were a couple steps ahead of me with some record releases and a bit of a international reputation. I stepped my game up big time trying to impress those guys haha. There was a 5 year period or so that I still worked a day job and tried to spend as much time as possible making tunes. Just taking a year at a time asking myself “am i making progress?”. Little by little i got better released more records. All the way up till 2010 when i started a new project called “Kill The Noise”. It’s been a slower more steady growth over a decade. Which kinda seems rare in our environment now. It wasn’t an over night thing that got me to where im at now.. where ever that is.
- Make a beat every single fucking day. You will get better.
- Be honest with yourself. Seriously, there are a lot of people who come up to me saying they wanna drop school and their day job to do what I’m doing. Is it really for them? Are their heads in the clouds? Are they honest about their position to do such a thing? But be honest with yourself in general so you can see things the way they actually are. Be grounded, and make good judgments. It’s easy to find sugar coated things in music, whether it’s people coating comments on your music or coating yourself because you’ve signed a record deal. Don’t bask in victory, keep working and improving yourself. Sure you can treat yourself every once in a while, but this whole “path to making it big” is a never ending process, you just gotta keep perpetuating yourself to do cool things.
- Do everything you can to be different. I know it’s so generic and overused but I really mean it. When I first started producing, I always tried to replicate what I liked in the context of my own melodies (synth sound, drum patterns etc). I really started to be proud of my work when I was writing things that didn’t sound like someone else.
- Just try it! If you have the desire, go for it. Anyone can try it out, who knows what you will make!
- Giving up so quickly is an easy mistake, it’s a skill that requires patience so if you stick with it long enough you can enjoy making music much more fluently.
- I would definitely say to, first of all, you need to frickin’ put a lot of time and effort into it. You need to lock yourself up in your room and do it. I always say this, I don’t think the hardest part is becoming good enough to be successful; I think the hardest part is ignoring all the hate that’s going to come your way. No matter who you are, you’re going to get hate. I was always so friendly in high school, had tons of friends, everybody loved me, but guess what, I still got shit talked here and there for what I was doing. Even if you’re the nicest person in the world, people are going to hate on you and won’t give a second to understand you. With parents too, my dad doubted me the whole frickin’ time, and I do value his opinion so it was difficult at points, but that’s what I have to say. You have to use all your strength to ignore these people, because in the end if you focus on actually becoming great at your skill, shit’s going to go down.
- Work your ass off! Really, I’ve been making music for over 11 years. When all my friends were going out and going on holiday I was in my little room working ALL DAY to create stuff!
- It takes years to find your sound! First when you start producing, something sounds good when it sounds like something else you know… But in time you’ll realize that something sounds good when it doesn’t sound like anything else!
- I think success has to come with being open about your personality. Do YOU and don’t give a FUCK what people have to say.
- If you surround yourself with creative, hungry, and productive people, it will make you have to step up your game. If you’re around lazy people who complain then you’ll never grow as a person. Keep good people close!
Slips & Slurs
- Keep working hard. When all the politics and drama of the music industry are removed the bottom line is that you need to be good at what you do, and that comes from hard work. You’ll probably hear “no” more than a couple of times but don’t let that stop you. Set your goal and accomplish it, then set another goal and accomplish that. Keep that pattern up and you’ll be where you want to be before you even know it.
- Be patient and to take your time. You can achieve a lot but sometimes you have to invest a certain amount of time to get there. Also – try to find your ‘own’ special sound or at least something which makes you stand out a bit from the rest. And besides that – always be passionate and love what you do.
- I think you just have to believe in yourself for starters, because everyone is going to try and knock you down. You have to really put in the work and the time. Just keep doing your thing, and be humble. Try to be nice with everyone. Be firm on the things that you to to be. And stay authentic. Eventually timing and persistence really starts to pay off.
- Just keep on trying and never give up.