[written in august 2007]
Here’s something I bet most of us have been thinking a lot. Unlike 10-20 years ago when you had to have a lot of expensive hardware to be able to compose electronic music, nowadays anyone with just a computer and some software can produce. And what I’ve noticed is that this is the biggest reason people blame the current bad state of electronic music, especially in trance.
First of all I gotta say I totally disagree that the current state of trance is bad. If pure oldschool trance is all you care for, well then yes the best days are gone, but if you’re all for fresh ideas and originality then you couldn’t be happier. The amount of different styles of trance we have nowadays is just huge, and we don’t even know which ones should we call trance anymore. There are fusions with techno, house, breaks, electro and even rock. The tempo is no longer a standard 138 or 140, that we have to use. we can produce an uplifting track with tempo of 125 if we want to, and now that there isn’t a big tempo gap anymore deejays can finally mix up house and techno records with trance.
So going back to the topic, what is the problem then? Now that everyone who wants to produce can produce, it means there will be a lot more music out there. And since you can’t expect everyone to be a superstar right away, there will also be a lot more bad music. And on the flipside a lot more good stuff aswell. Now I’m sure many are thinking that the percent of what is good has always been the same, let’s say 5% of everything, but I’m not so sure about that. I think back in the day everyone who produced were truly committed to it, and it was one of the most important things in their life. Nowadays even those guys who think “yeah well I guess I wanna produce, would be cool to make your own records and get some babes” are also producing.
At this point most of you are probably thinking, “if it bothers you so much, then quit producing that shit yourself”. If there weren’t accessible software available, but only really really expensive hardware, would I be producing? No, I don’t think I would be. Ofcourse if all the software we have now would magically disappear, naturally then I would get all that hardware. But back when I started, without all this software I probably would never have gotten into producing and gotten the spark for it. So I personally think it’s a great thing that everyone can produce if they want to. Everyone has a pen, but that doesn’t mean we are all great at drawing.
So does it matter that people are practising producing and maybe now and then post their bit average, still developing musical pieces to forums for feedback? it doesn’t. It’s when labels start to release these unfinished – average – not-that-well- produced tracks that is the problem. And since anyone can start a digital label nowadays (that’s a whooole another topic btw!) you can bet your ass there are labels releasing tracks from people who have only been producing just a year or so.
The problem isn’t the fact that now everyone can make music, but the labels releasing all of it. It seems that as the quality level of electronic music gets higher and higher, labels drop their quality standards lower and lower. Fortunately there are still some labels who really pay attention to the quality of their releases. and maybe release 5-12 singles / year. But then there are hundreds of these new digital only labels that put out like 4-6 singles / month, with no quality control at all. If all of a sudden all the standards would rise and I couldn’t get any of my tracks signed, I would be fine by that, cause it would only make me try to get better even harder.
But here’s some advice for all these new labels, just my opinnion, you can take advice or not, but here’s what we artists want from a label:
1. Honesty and keeping their word
2. Flexibility, us artists can be a pain in the ass with all our last minute tweaks and fixes to the tracks. So it’s always great when you can move your schedule and things like that when needed.
3. We love and need to be on the spotlight. If we didn’t want attention to our tracks, we would keep them just for ourselves. For most of us it’s not about the money, so the label with good promotion (and reputation, we dont’ wanna be part of spamfests) is usually what we choose.
4. We want the attention to last. I just hate those labels whose hype for a release starts a week before the release and ends a week after. Release and forget. Nothing annoys an artist more than a short lifetime of his track. He may spend months and months on producing the track and people forget the track in a week because the label didn’t promote it or they have already a load of new releases out.
5. We want criticism and high quality standards, if you just accept the first version of the track right away with nothing else than “I like it” to say, the release won’t be as good as it could be. but if you point out everything that isn’t 100% perfect and push and push us to make it even better, we’ll produce in our highest level.
So the conclusion? I think instead of not letting everyone try producing, we should make starting labels more difficult. There should be a lot more expensis for the label and if their new release doesn’t sell enough they should also have to pay for that, not be able to release anything in a while and wear a donkey hat for six months.