Q&A: Next Step for a Producer

Email question received:

I’ve been producing for about 8 years now and now i’m ready to take that serious step I stay in Lincoln Ne, and it’s hard for a producer out here, so I was wondering how do I just really start I make hiphop,r&b,dirtysouth,soul and blues beats and i’m still not getting paid like I want to I know i’m damn good at what I do but just need to get with the right person, how do I reach or find that person, where do I look it’s hard for me here and at the same time I have family here and I want to do what I like, to make money that way I know i’ll stick with it




Hi Dennis,
I wish I had a magic answer for you but I don’t. There are “many ways up the mountain.”
There are so many paths, and what works for one doesn’t work for another. If you read “what to do” on the internet you will hear the same things like “move to LA, New York,”etc; but if you find people you admire and look up their stories you will find a myriad of luck and passion that takes many different shapes and actions. The stories are all very different.
The road I chose was to leave family and move to Los Angeles in my late teens. This allowed me to reinvent myself and rely on my own resolve – very valuable lessons that I needed. Others can get their thing going from wherever they are. My best advice is to forge your own path, whatever that looks like to you. And of course it’s always good to go to a major city hub that has more going on (according to all the internet experts…)
I will give you a few more examples from my personal experience, which may or may not apply to you.
In 1995 I began to feel a real pull to Skagit County in Washington State, namely Mount Vernon, WA. I had been living in Southern California for almost twenty years and actually moved up to Mount Vernon to take a conducting job. My friends in Los Angeles took me off their lists, effectively “wrote me off” because I was now “out of the scene”. Most people would say Mount Vernon, WA is a podunk farm town – but I saw it as a powerhouse for the arts (which it is in my opinion). I had a great experience there and worked with such fantastic people, I cannot even tell you what a life changing time it was for me.
And the work I did there was a springboard for me to get with Cirque Du Soleil, which had been a goal (dream) of mine for many years. So while that shift looked to other people like me “dropping out” or “giving up”, it was actually the perfect path for me. But only for me, it would not be the path for someone else.
At the same time I had a good offer with a job in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t “where my heart was.” Logically the LA gig was the one to take, because that’s where everything happens. But the emotional tugging for me was in Mount Vernon, WA.
A wise person once counseled me: “Instead of looking around to where you want to go, instead listen carefully to where you are being drawn. The strongest pull is where you should consider going.” That’s the advice I took.
You cannot feign passion – you will be weeded out. But if you are doing something because you can do no other (and when I say that, I mean you would literally give your life for it or lose everything to do it), then….well, I wouldn’t say you are guaranteed success – but you are guaranteed the fulfillment of following that path.
And to the accomplishment of “success” – that word will change many times in your lives. One of my greatest triumphs in my life was taking a young boy who was mercilessly made fun of for his girlish voice, and encouraging him to become an opera singer (which he did, very well I might add). That would have never been on my top 100 list of goals for my life, but there it is. It might not be fulfilling to someone else, but it is to me.
Your music will take you so many places in the long haul. Places you could not even imagine now. In time it will not be about beats or gear or technology, it will become “organic” – a tool you use to affect those you touch on your path.
The hardest thing I think for an artist is to estimate their worth correctly. Starting out we have a tendency to over estimate our talents, and later on a tendency to under estimate. Take a hard look at that – it will help you navigate along the way.
If someone would ask me at this point if I had one regret – I would say that perhaps in my twenties I would have moved into Studio City, CA and fully pursued film scoring. But it’s not really a “regret” for me, just another path that I would have been interested to see where it went.
Now at 42 I sometimes look at my resume and am very pleased with what I’ve accomplished, other times I am a little melancholy and feel that I could have done more. It depends on the mood I’m in. Doesn’t matter where you are, you always want “just a little more” – it’s the human condition. Enjoy the journey, that’s really all we have – there are no destinations. They are fleeting and ephemeral.
I hope that makes sense to you. If not now, it will make sense at some point along your journey.

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