A couple weeks ago while I was in Florida, I met a group of freshmen students who are studying music production at Full Sail, which is one of the most renowned schools for that sort of thing in the country. I didn’t go to school for what I do, so it was super interesting to talk to these guys. We sat outside the club and they wanted to pick my brain about my experience as a producer and touring artist, and I thought it would be cool to share some of our conversation.
If I only gave one piece of advice.
The first thing they asked is if I had 1 piece of advice for a new producer just starting out. Honestly, I think this applies to all types of artists, and I know I’ve said it before (even if it’s a little cliche): if you are passionate about what you are doing, don’t give up. I know tons of extremely talented artists who decided to call it quits. If you want something bad enough, you have to be in it for the long haul. It takes time to be good at something, a lot of time. Every single artist faces hurdles, and the music business is super demanding and full of pitfalls. But I think the number one thing to remember is that if you care about pursuing art as a life long endeavor, then you have to show up every day. You have to treat it like a job. Wake up early and hustle before you go cook burgers or whatever if you have to. No one else is going to do the work for you.
What is Success?
We also talked a lot about the definitions of success and how it’s different for everybody. For me, I’m a sort of strange example I think. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and be gracious for the progress I’ve made thus far, because I always want to push myself and my art to greater heights and new experiences. I reckon this is probably a common attribute among really successful people – to not be complacent when reaching one specific goal. So, I don’t know if I will ever have a moment where it clicks and I say “oh shit, I finally made it”. But, I think everyone has to measure their own success differently. Having goals is super important. For some people, their goal might be “I really want to release on this label” or “I really want to play this festival”. One goal I’ve had for a long time is, “I’d like to get to a place where I can financially support a comfortable life. I want to be able to one day buy a house, pay for decent healthcare, own a reliable car, etc”. That’s a long term goal. I think it’s important to have both short term and long term goals, and to try to balance being happy with where you are without being complacent about growing as an artist.
Networking and getting your music out there.
A super interesting thing they were very excited to talk about was the subject of “networking”. They wanted to know the best way to like, get their mixtape in the hands of a bigger artist, for example. One of them asked me for my phone number, and started telling me about a mix he had recorded but then immediately started giving excuses for it not being perfect. I suggested that they might be going about it the wrong way. First, I think that it’s more important to spend time on your work and getting it to a place that you can be proud of it vs just getting it into the hands of someone who might listen to it. Having feedback from people you respect is important, but if you aren’t confident in your work yet, then you have more work to do. Also, I think that just being yourself and making friends is the best way to network. All the best connections I have in this industry are my actual friends. So my advice is, be a nice, pleasant person and work hard on your craft — the rest will fall into place as you progress.
John Burcham, the label manager of Gravitas Recordings has been moving bodies and turning heads as Psymbionic for several years in all corners of the USA, playing with acts such as Bassnectar, STS9, Big Gigantic, ill.Gates, Excision, EOTO, and Tipper. Check out his music here: https://psymbionic.bandcamp.com