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So a couple of days ago I posted a thread on the sub entitled: “I’m Meeting a Grammy-Nominated Producer at His Home Studio. What Questions Should I Ask?” I wanted to take this blessing and share it with the rest of the community. So, after spending about two hours with Anon, I wanted to share the things I learned and also answer some of the questions that were asked by the community. I’ll start out with some specific inquiries from users of the previous thread, move on to my personal experience, and add on some tidbits of information I picked up at the end.
✨✨✨ Questions u/Cback
: “Ask what aspects about production or the industry he realized he was over-thinking once he hit the big-time, what $hit do small time producers stress about that he later realized doesn’t really matter later, what mistakes did he make, lessons he learned.”
Great question, & I got a great answer. 1. Music theory. It was brought up during convo, and Anon said while it doesn’t hurt to know it, a complex understanding of music is not necessary to get started in beatmaking. 2. THE QUALITY OF YOUR MUSIC. There’s no need to spend several days perfecting a beat because, as Anon told me, the industry only requires it to be so good. After you lay down a foundation, the rest is pretty much taken care of by the higher-ups. Even with independent music, the rise of bedroom pop goes to show people don’t need perfect production to enjoy a song. This same principle applies to a rapper buying beats. They’re not gonna care if the snare’s not punchy enough, or the 808’s a bit muddy. All they care about is whether they can hear their voice on top of it all. Instead of stressing about quality, EMPHASIZE QUANTITY. Anon admires and models his workflow after Nick Mira, who makes beats in 10 minutes that sell like crazy and go on to become gold/platinum records. u/SynthGod
: “Ask him about the game, how music industry work, legality of stuff (& risks), royalties, labels, dos and do nots etc…” u/Lowbeatss
: “Find out about contracts”
Anon told me that with the majority of beats you sell, it’s often as simple as a one-time lease. I know this is contrary to what a lot of online producers say, but he made a point that most artists won’t reach the stream cap that you set and even if they do, it’s not worth keeping up with once you reach a certain level. If your song does happen to go viral, often times a record label will purchase your production rights and you’ll earn your money through royalties that the label collects under a contract (This number is well into the thousands). Another course is obviously selling exclusives, which is essentially a risk vs reward scenario (I.E will the artist over-pay or under-pay for the success of their song?). But with those two paths in mind, policing leases is not going to be the most lucrative (or time effective) way of making money off your beats. Focus on getting out as much content as possible and let the success of the artist take you the rest of the way. u/So5011
: “Maybe ask him about marketing.” u/IAmDansky
: “I would talk more about the business and marketing stuff more than the actual creative stuff”
Anon started selling beats online about 10 years ago when the market was fairly new. He mentioned there was a distinction between an industry producer and an internet producer, the latter being looked down upon as desperate and unreputable. No one expected the online beatmaker explosion, and he hopped on that trend before anyone else. He invested just $200 into advertisements, and since there was little to no competition, he ended up dominating adspace. He rose to prominence on Soundclick (Early days Beatstars) through this strategy and became one of the more popular online beatmakers before the game became so competitive. Obviously, things have changed from a decade ago. But the moral of the story stays the same. You don’t need a ton of money in ads to get a return investment. Just target the right people on the right platforms and it’ll pay off. u/_Wyse
: “I would just ask what questions they wish they’d asked when they were coming up, and for lessons they had to learn the hard way that you can learn from.”
The biggest lesson I learned was from how Anon first broke into the industry. He knew an audio engineer who he flew out to LA with to help record with some artists working alongside Hitboy. He spent a lot of time out there just doing random tasks and watching his process. After being in the background for quite a while, Hitboy asked Anon to play some of his stuff. He pulled out a USB full of his melodies and Hitboy ended up FWI. Since then, Hitboy’s practically been using Anon’s melodies exclusively and he’s getting MAD royalties off of it. Not to mention his relationship with Hitboy also let him work directly with artists like Anderson Paak. Being patient, hanging around the right people, and being prepared with something to offer gave him the gateways to the music industry. That’s something all producers can learn from.
✨✨✨ My Actual Experience
I lot of people might have a perception that a grammy-nominated artist is like some sort of demi-god in the music industry. But in the end, Anon was just a chill dude who was willing to help a brother out. He lived in a fairly small home and invited me right downstairs to his lounge/music studio. I liked u/Frankalliance
‘s advice. “If you approach this as an interview, and not an opportunity to make friends with the producer, you’re not networking correctly.” Keeping this in mind, for the first half hour we just kinda talked about music, the producer community, VSTs we liked to use…Stuff we could relate to. I made sure to share just as much about myself as I was hearing from him.
After a while, he passed me the aux and asked to play some of my stuff. I showed him a couple projects and was receiving the greatest compliment a producer could receive: Stank Face. I was really excited in the moment, but I made sure not to place Anon on too high of a pedestal. As u/FlavorBitch
said, “Just be a human towards him and don’t think that being [in] his presence means anything for you other than you’re a peer.” So, I just kept playing beat after beat and hearing his reaction. After I ran through my favorite stuff, he told me I was way ahead of him by the time he was seventeen. Hearing that from a grammy-nominee just gave me an incredible wave of confidence and motivation.
After a while, Anon offered to play some of his own unreleased music from Big Sean, Young Thug, Anderson Paak, Naz, etc. We just vibed out for the next few minutes. Before I left, I mentioned I did sound design for Omnisphere. Just like he sent Hitboy melodies to work with, he asked me to send him any soundbanks I worked on. I’m aspiring to keep up a relationship with Anon by sending him packs, and always having something to offer.
✨✨✨ Other Tidbits of Useful Information I Picked Up
It’s OK to use samples. IMO it’s a great way to start out, especially if you struggle with melodies. Anon said he didn’t consider it “cheating” like others do.
Don’t overflood your beats with sounds. Make sure it’s possible for an artist to hear their voice on a track. You may think there’s something missing while cooking up, but oftentimes that’s the rapper themself.
College isn’t necessary. Anon went to a two-year college for an audio degree, which he described to me as “Useless.” It may benefit to study something that goes hand-in-hand with beatmaking (Perhaps online marketing or audio engineering) but it won’t provide any exclusive skills you can’t learn on your own. It may provide networking or a plan B, but you should consider a cost-benefit analysis.
Emphasize building up relationships. One of Anon’s closest partnerships involves free exclusives with a 40/60 royalty split. That artist started small but now has over a million monthly streams on Spotify, and is almost exclusively using Anon’s beats.
Realize that the industry has transitioned from being producer serves rapper to producer serves producer. Making midi packs, melodies, and presets will give you a significant source of income and also allow for some serious networking. Anon is currently working on a unique sub-based app to provide melodies for beatmakers.
Have as fast as a workflow as possible. Sometimes you’re gonna be put in the hotseat with an artist to have quick turnarounds, if not making a beat right in front of them on the spot. If you can’t make something in 20 minutes, they’re going to lose interest in you.
Be patient and Be Ready. Surround yourself with opportunity, and be prepared to seize one when the moment calls. That’s how Anon, and a majority of producers have found the key to the industry’s gate.
If you make it big, it’s a HUGE benefit to have a personal attorney. Anon used an entertainment attorney at first, but switched to someone who specialized in defending producer rights bc the former was insanely expensive. Make sure to be hyper aware of the value they’re actually giving you.
For anyone who took the time to read this whole thing, you’re already on the right track. I’m truly blessed to have had this opportunity, and I hope I gave back to this community in a meaningful way. If you want to ask me more or just hook up for networking’s sake, PM me and I’ll tell ya where to go. - @Prod.Zebra 🦓
Tagged people who showed interest from the last post: u/doinkx