The Artist and Energy: A Note for Vancouver Producers

In Los Angeles, or the Netherlands, or the UK, a music producer can pursue music by quitting his day job and taking any work he can find. The three figure payouts here and there keeps him fed until his skills and reputation have enough momentum to break through into a tour schedule or better paying ghost production gigs. Along the way he picks up management, marketing buzz, and social media presence. A musician wakes up as his true self for the first time.

This is a story that we are familiar with. It’s how KSHMR and Cash Cash made it from nothing to the festival lineup, and probably hundreds more I haven’t heard of. The cities I listed probably isn’t comprehensive. But they certainly have more energy than Vancouver. Let me explain using Los Angeles as the example.

In Los Angeles, there are musicians trying to make it everywhere. But the energy we need to start a career is also more concentrated. There are dozens of major music labels (both mainstream and dance). There are thousands and thousands of other musicians to work with. Living in California gives you access to every festival and nightlife promoter in America, not just the west coast. So the resistance to getting your first gigs is smaller; you have a greater number of shots at hitting a mark.

You are probably thinking that the Internet happened twenty years ago, and the rules are not the same. I agree. It’s easier to get your name out there with social media and other attention-grabbing tools. But the competition increased there too. Cities exist on a more local level. Build momentum locally as a catalyst to your Internet presence.

Music spreads by the same rules as a meme. When you want to launch a career, you need people to notice your initial work. That’s easier in a place with more energy. The first people to hear about you might like your stuff enough to share it with ten people, one, or none.

It is a game of rinsing your luck over and over. You build your raw talent with repetitions in the studio. Produce, produce, produce. But you can be as great as you want in the studio and still have no career if there’s no one out there to hear it.

In Vancouver, we have a handful of nightclubs, music promoters, and perhaps one big music label (Monstercat). If I lived in Los Angeles, I could network my ass off and have more potential clients than I’d know what to do with, regardless of my skill level. In Vancouver, face to face networking opportunities are relatively scarce. Monstercat might be attracting international attention, but it doesn’t benefit the rest of us in Vancouver unless you go to them for help.

Instead, what if the energy came to us?

I recently heard of a concept called Team Supreme, down in Los Angeles. The jist is that musicians get together every week or two to jam, share ideas, and perform for an audience. To me, it’s a new idea. I’ve seen similar stuff but never like this.

The idea of Team Supreme has enormous potential. This is just a starter idea. I’m sure someone reading this has another idea they’ll think of later. For now consider all the things a group like Team Supreme would have access to by bringing the energy to them:

  • Humans trade favors. When you know a buddy needs help finding a label for his new weird house track, he has only one set of ears to find a good fit. In a tribe of thirty people, there would be thirty pairs. Simplified, every artist’s opportunity for success increases when another member is added.
  • Different people have different talents. I have no idea how to make a professional looking video. But I do know what to film to attract attention like a magnet, what to say, and where to post it. Suppose one of the musicians in our new squad had those talents as well. (We could always hire someone.)
  • A group of people can become noteworthy more easily than one person. Dance music has room for new ideas. The good ones grab attention, which benefits everyone involved. All we need to do is try out different ideas until something sticks.

Before AirBnB was invented, nobody knew there was a 30 billion dollar company to be made out of rooms people weren’t using. The potential was sitting there the whole time.

Thoughts?