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Interview With Rida Naser (Sirius XM)

Interview With Rida Naser (Sirius XM) 150 150 Artist Coaching

This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity. You can watch/listen to the full interview with Rida.

Joey: What’s up guys? Today I’m having a chat with Rida Naser from Sirius XM!

Rida: Thank you for having me!

Joey: It’s actually funny how this happened. To give the listeners some context around the whole story, we’ve actually never met before. I had never heard of your name until one of my clients reached out to me and said, hey, I’m getting these messages from Rida, and she says she’s playing my remix and people are requesting it on Sirius XM.

Rida: Yeah, it’s crazy.

Joey: Yeah. And then I started looking you up and checking if everything was legit. We started connecting and I noticed that you were the Program Director at Sirius XM. What does your day to day look like?

Rida: So my day to day is a lot of listening, choosing music, and a lot of figuring out which songs are doing well, which songs aren’t, and connecting with artists we’re passionate about. So a lot of my day is dedicated to music. I’m also a host, so I get to talk on the radio every day Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm Eastern, and I get to talk about dance music. It’s great!

Joey: How did your passion for dance music start?

Rida: It’s actually a little crazy. I was 19 years old in college and kind of lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up getting introduced to radio through a local radio contest in my area which I won to see Selena Gomez. So I went to this radio station with my sister and walked in and I was like, wow. This is so cool. I saw people around my age of 19, 20 walking around working. And they got to have first hand experiences with, like Selena Gomez, and I’m sure other artists as well. And then after a lot of persistence I ended up getting a few part time jobs at radio shows. A friend later recommended I should try interning at Sirius XM. At the time, I had no idea what it was.

Joey: Yeah, for our audience, could you tell us what’s the difference between Sirius and conventional stations?

Rida: So first of all, there’s a big difference between terrestrial radio and satellite (XM) radio. One of the biggest things is that there are no commercials. It’s a subscription, you have to pay.

Joey: So this is on the internet?

Rida: No, it’s in a lot of cars. So when you first buy a car, they give you like three months free and then people start listening to it and fall in love with it. Another plus is that you have a lot more freedom and creativity within the station. It’s also uncensored; you can curse, say whatever you want.

Yeah. And then on top of that, the number one thing out of all of this is that it’s national. It’s a national broadcast and service, meaning you can hear it all throughout the states. We have a massive audience. We just acquired Pandora as well. So now we kind of work hand in hand with Pandora. So now all together, we have 100 million subscribers, which is really cool.

It’s been three years since I’ve been on the air. Now I live and breathe dance music. I just got promoted to program director a few months ago, so now I have more of a hand in the music.

Joey: As Program Director, you can you can pick the music. I was wondering how you were able to play Josh’s bootleg on the radio?

Rida: To be honest, I don’t think we can. If they wanted to, the label could take it down. We also have a relationship with that record label. And again, at the end of the day, its exposure for their artists. I don’t see why they would want to take it down.

Joey: And you found this remix through SoundCloud? Is that like one of the main places where radio people discover new talent?

Rida: I mean, I always keep an eye on all the other playlists. There’s not many dance stations here. It’s not like the Netherlands where you go into the car and dance music is playing. So I kind of have to keep an eye out on playlists, whether it’s Apple or Spotify. I get music sent to me a lot as well. I have a folder that I fill up every week. And then once a week, I go through that folder.

Joey: So you do actually check them? That’s one of the biggest questions that I get from artists: can I send my music to radio programmers or other DJ’s? It seems like nobody’s listening.

Rida: I listen. Yeah, it is overwhelming because I can get up to up to like 100 emails a day with music. It has to make an impact on you right away. I know it’s really frustrating for artists but like, if I don’t like a song, I’m just gonna move on. I’ve worked on the channel for three years now. I know what the audience likes, and I know what kind of sound they’re looking for. And then I also know what kind of sound is good to experiment with. So within that time, I’ve kind of just figured out like, what works and what doesn’t, and when people send me music, of course I’ll listen, but I can’t respond to every single one. A lot of people then come back saying they’ve fixed something, and I’m like, please stop. So I’m really careful with what advice I give. Sometimes it’s hard because I don’t want to put their hopes up. Every week, I only get to choose like three or four songs to add to the playlist and it needs to outdo every single other song that I’m looking at. And that’s tough.

I get a lot of backlash and people say I’m picking favorites. And then I’m like, I promise you I’m listening. I just I can’t get back to every single person. I really can’t unless I hear the song and I’m like, it has just blown me away. It’s like a lottery ticket as in it doesn’t happen a lot. But sometimes you have one of those tracks where you just instantly feel like WOW.

I don’t want artists to feel discouraged when they send music to a program director. But they also need to be careful about rubbing a program director the wrong way. There’s actually some guy who sent me like four emails in one day. Then just kept replying to those emails being like, okay, here’s a radio edit. Okay, here’s an extended mix. Okay, here’s a remix. I’m like, calm down. I haven’t even listened to the original yet. And then he somehow found my desk phone number and called me and then texted me and I was like, stop, stop. Now I don’t want to listen to your like. There comes a certain point where you have to be professional. I understand consistency but like you have to do it in a professional way.

Joey: What is the right amount of persistence in your opinion? Like how many times should people email you?

Rida: Email me a song, and email me a follow up. Most likely, if they follow up, I will reply. And maybe, if you have a remix that comes out two weeks later that’s fine. Definitely don’t call my personal phone or text me. It’s really easy to know where the line is. The connection that you have with your relationships is really important in the music industry. And in the end, it’s a human business.

I want to organically enjoy the song. In my head, if you’ve rubbed me the wrong way, like a million times, then I probably won’t play your track. At the end of the day, I see people like Josh who have passion and potential to be professional in the industry. If you can’t talk to a radio program, how are you going to play festivals? How are you going to play massive shows? How are you going to deal with fans? The power of the favor is a big thing in the music industry. And that’s where the personal aspect comes in.

Joey: Well, thank you for giving some insights about the world of radio in the world of SiriusXM. I think a lot of artists will get some value out of this episode as in having a deeper look into the radio world since a lot of us don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes.

Thank you!

Interview With Olly James

Interview With Olly James 150 150 Artist Coaching

Joey: What’s up, Olly! How’s the temperature over there?

Olly: Yeah, it’s horrible man. I’m in this office room right now trying to work on music. I just cannot concentrate. I’m here sitting and sweating man. Don’t have air conditioning either.

Joey: I never like to have air conditioning in the studio since you always have that little zoom sound in the background.

Olly: For me, I’m literally producing with these V-Moda headphones all the time. These are what people use to DJ, but I’ve never been one to splash out on hardware like speakers or headphones. I spend a lot of my money on vst’s and stuff like that. Over the years, I’ve learned to get the mix right in these headphones, so I’m extremely scared to change to KRK Rokits or other speakers haha.

Joey: If it works, why would you change it?

Olly: I could have better. When I’ve been in the studio with Blasterjaxx, their studio is sick. When I’m working on music there, I think ‘damn,’ this stuff would really make a difference to my mix.

Joey: I think for a lot of producers, when they get to some kind of success, they start doing different stuff which changes what actually got them to success.

Olly: Yeah, that’s something I was worried about. I look at other people who release on the same label as me, and they’ve got these big studios and equipment, and I think, ‘why am I not doing that.’ I think the main reason is because as a person, when I get something and learn it, I just want to use it forever. I didn’t update FL Studio for a long time until I physically had to. I was kind of doing myself a disservice. But yeah, I don’t like to branch out, and I’m scared to try new things.

Joey: The funny thing is you probably think you could do better, but if you ask your fans, they won’t hear the difference between you mixing the track on an expensive studio or on your own.

Olly: I think that if I had a studio, the most important thing would be the inspiration. I come in here and wake up, and it’s the same thing every time. I would love to have a space where I could be inspired. And when I leave that place, I can stop thinking about music and stuff. Right now, I’m constantly thinking about stuff. One day, I’d like somewhere where I could separate life and music.

That was the same reason I started renting out a studio outside of my house. I became this prisoner of my own home. I was constantly in my bedroom. I would wake up, take off my bathrobe, have breakfast, and then go back upstairs.

It’s the same reason why I like going to Holland every month since it breaks my routine. I have this routine right now where I wake up, work on music, bounce whatever I make, go to the car, listen to the track in the gym with headphones, come back and work on it some more. It’s that routine that sometimes slows you down and puts you in a writer’s block.

Joey: Let’s talk about that routine, since you mentioned that you’re going to the Netherlands every month. Why is that?

Olly: My manager and I have been working together for many years now. I go stay with him, and he’s obviously the manager of Blasterjaxx as well, so we’re all one big team. I get to go to their office and use their studio. It’s just really fun since I work with other producers in the studio versus when I’m home I have to send stems. It brings a different edge to the track when the person’s sitting next to you.

Joey: Where in England do you live?

Olly: Very close to Newcastle. Here, there’s no EDM scene whatsoever; it’s mostly tech house. It makes me sad since I’ve never played once in England before. It’s one of my biggest goals. I’ve played all over the world, but not yet here. I know one day it will change, but for the moment it’s all about the house scene.

Joey: I feel like England has always been underground focused.

Olly: When Big Room was popular for two years, even the clubs that I would go to would play it. That was one of the reasons I started. I heard Sandro Silva’s ‘Epic’ in the club, and was like, ‘whoa.’ I was just starting to drink at 18 years old and was like, ‘damn this is a vibe.’ Nowadays it’s just sad to see that doesn’t exist. I don’t think you here Big Room in clubs anywhere really.

Joey: In the Netherlands, it’s kind of the same. EDM disappeared in the clubs as well. You can still hear it in festivals, but I think in the last couple of years, Dutch hip-hop and Dutch reggaeton culture took over. There’s also a big hardstyle community as well. The hardstyle community is such a strong fanbase; they’re very dedicated to the artist.

Olly: I’m hoping that, one day, Big Room might come back. I went through a long period of abandoning the sound which got me to where I am because I wanted to make music that was cool. I was making bass house and all different kinds of genres which really slowed me down and my career. All these artists have this sound, and I just abandoned my sound because I was chasing the hype. Nowadays, I’m happy with where I am.

Joey: Wait, let’s go back to the beginning. So, you mentioned you went to the club at 18…

Olly: I’m 25 now.

Joey: Whoah, you’re young!

Olly: So I discovered Big Room, and that made me feel things I had never heard before. Naturally, I wanted to download more music in that style. When you get all these songs no one else has heard, you think ‘oh I should be a DJ now’ so I got the equipment and started practicing. I played to like ten people at my university and had never played in a club before. I got very lucky with ‘Ecuador’ which got signed to Spinnin’.

Joey: Was it your first release?

OllY: I signed a track to Revealed on their ADE sample, and I think the next year was when I sent Ecuador. From then, everything changed. I got another track on Spinnin’ with Vinai. I worked with that hype and kept it going. Then the shows started to come in. Naturally, I’m quite a shy guy, so it was difficult to start. Like, one was a top 100 club in Switzerland, and I turned up there with one USB, and there were 20 songs on there. Everything was already set, some tracks at 150 bpm. I was booked to play Ecuador kind of songs, so the guy went and told my manager, he’s killing the floor and needs to start playing harder, I just panicked and said, ‘I don’t have anything else, this is all I have on my USB.’ That was honestly one of the worst nights of my entire life.

Everybody I knew started playing in these empty bars and worked their way up. But when I got offered a show, I felt bad. When there were seven days left to the show, I wished the time went slower. Now it’s the opposite. I love playing shows.

Joey: Yeah, that’s a completely different story of what you typically hear. Like you mentioned, usually, people start playing locally and build their way up. They have experience before they have the gig. But for you, because of a pretty big release, you had your first gig and were put on the spot.

Olly: Is that how you started? Playing in empty bars?

Joey: Yeah, I started at the real bottom: playing at children’s parties. I gathered my own stuff and took a hi-fi set from my grandpa. At first, I didn’t have a mixer; I had two regular CD players.

Olly: See, this is the dream story I think I should start telling people..

I thInk it’s good for people to see, though. I would honestly say I’m a lot more different than anyone else. There’s no one in my family with a musical background, and no one’s had any interest or job in music. All I did was pick up Fl-studio. I’m surprisingly really bad with computers, software, and all that stuff. I just found something I was super passionate about, and that was Big Room.

Joey: So you didn’t have any connections to music – no passion for computers, and still, you managed to make those songs. What happened in between?

Olly: People ask me, ‘How did you get here?’ Literally, anyone can do it however old you are. The only thing I had from a young age was creativity. I would spend hours making cars on Need for Speed II – not even racing the cars. A lot of when I was young carried on. I started making mashups and naturally started combining different samples to make my own songs. You look at Zedd, and he can play all these instruments, I had nothing man. I treated FL studio like a video game and played it over and over again. And after seven years, it turned out I was pretty good.

Joey: I really believe that philosophy. Eventually practice, makes better.

Olly: Some people who have a musical background and can at least play the piano. That’s definitely an advantage.

Joey: Actually, for me, I started out the same as you: no knowledge at all. My family wasn’t into music and I couldn’t read notes. I just did it all by hearing. I listened to what I was making and decided if I liked it. Then, I went to music school where I learned to read notes and chords. And later, the more I learned, the more it started to block me. I started creating this book of rules which I had to implement. That blocked my creativity because what sounded well, wasn’t really okay technically.

Olly: Recently, I decided to try and learn an instrument. I had around 8 or 9 piano lessons and bought a keyboard which has not been used once. Honestly, since I wanted it so badly, I did everything I could to make myself better. It turns out, I don’t really work in the way of forcing myself to try things I’m not. interested in. If I create a good melody, I know which notes are good together and which chords work.

Joey: I think that’s really important. You need to know yourself and how you learn. Some people prefer to learn from books, while others just do it and see what happens.

Olly: I can do things in FL studio and with VST’s, but I can’t tell you why these things happen. I just know that I clicked it three times and it sounded good.

Joey: And who cares? I’m looking at your Spotify. Somehow, your tracks are getting 22 million plays here, 2 million plays there. People don’t care. It’s the same with a Ferrari – nobody cares how it’s built. They only care about how fast it drives. How I see it, nobody’s interested in how they make it, of course, there’s a few people, but that’s mostly music producers.

Olly: The real fans, who aren’t producers, the ones who literally care about your music, they really don’t care.

The only reason why I wanted to do those things with the piano was because I looked at other people and compared myself. And that was the worst thing. That’s the number one thing you can never do.

I recently had to delete my social media from my phone. I was looking at my friends, and I’ve always looked at them being proud of them. But a few weeks ago, I was starting to think, ‘why aren’t you doing that, why aren’t you there.’ I just had to take a week off and take a step back. If there’s anyone out there suffering from the same thing, don’t worry about taking a step back from it all. I think we all do it, and it’s a hard thing to get away from.

Joey: I don’t think social media is a bad thing, but I can totally see how it becomes a problem for someone. It’s addicting, especially for younger people. They’re an easier target to compare themselves with others and feel that they’re not special enough.

Olly: In the past, I would compare myself to Martin Garrix’s music, and that would make me feel bad. Now, if I don’t have a show that weekend, and my friends do, that would make me feel bad. But yeah, that’s just life.

Joey: I was also in a period where I was looking at other DJs. The problem is that you’ll never know. It could be anything. It could be network, the fact that it just was a better track, or a track that the label was looking for. The only one that’s really struggling with it is you.

Olly: For me, I just want to be better than I was last year. That’s all I compare myself to now.

Joey: So what’s the main thing that you changed for yourself?

Olly: Basically, all I did was, when I had that period of comparing myself to my friends’ stuff, all I did was look at my path. My manager actually always does this. He’ll say, what about in 2017 when you couldn’t even look at a crowd when you were DJing, and now you just played in a festival with 10,000 people. That would click. But I think it’s very rare to have someone who constantly has that positivity. He has helped me a lot.

Nowadays, I sometimes have to tell myself, look where you were two years ago. There are some people out there who would love to be in my position. That’s what I think about and where I feel happy that I’ve been given that opportunity.

Joey: It’s really easy to forget all your successes.

Olly: Exactly. People who I haven’t seen it in a long time, say ‘wow you’re killing it right now’ because they’ve seen the good things. But I’ve also seen the not so good things.

Joey: Do you like touring?

Olly: Yes! In the past, I didn’t like it. There was one time where I was left in China. A photographer came with me and just went home. That was the craziest experience since I was so far from home. Nowadays, I can’t get enough of it.

When I’m hungry, that’s extremely hard – I get very hangry! But apart from that, I never thought I would be the kind of person who would enjoy traveling. I’m obsessed with Asia. When I get back from tour, I feel so refreshed and ready to get back into the studio. It’s a great balance for me.

Joey: I used to get hangry as well on tour. As a tip for you, always bring food that you can keep for a year as in peanuts or Snickers.

Olly: Yeah! I used to bring protein bars. I take an extra case with me full of food and stuff. For me, I can only eat western food. I’m really not into sushi, so when I go into places like that, my diet is bad. I usually come back really fat and sad since I ate so bad. So that’s something I need to work on to keep doing this for a long time. Being out of shape after eating all of those horrible foods is just going to affect your work when you’re home as well.

Joey: Do you workout on tour?

Olly: Not as much as I should. But I workout at home a lot. For me, I just get lazy somehow because I got used to sitting and waiting. Most of the time on tour, I would just want to sit in bed and watch Chinese TV. But now, my tour manager will take me out to places. We’ll go shoot some pictures, and even if I’m super tired, I’m in this new country and experience, and it really brings up my mood.

Joey: Let’s go to the music. You released you first main release on Spinnin’, and you’ve had some releases on Maxximize and Revealed. How are you looking at releasing music right now? There are a lot of options available right now to release your own music without labels. At the level where you’re at, what’s your opinion on that?

Olly: I think it’s important to release on these big labels because they are almost a separate group of fans. There are fans of the label, and then also my fans. I’ll always drop free downloads. But when I release on a label that I haven’t released in a while, people go crazy.

Joey: How did you first get signed with a big label? With the Spinnin’ release, how did that process go?

Olly: Well, the first one was with Revealed, and basically, my thing at the time was making unofficial releases and bootlegs. That’s how I kind of got discovered on SoundCloud.

Joey: I think I played a couple of your bootlegs, now that you mention it.

Yeah! I used to love it, man. That’s still a thing that makes me click.

Joey: Is that how you started building your fanbase?

Olly: Yeah, just by bootlegs. Because people are going to search for a remix of a big song, not for an unknown artist’s original mix. That’s how I targeted more people, and basically, I got a few things played on Hardwell on Air. And then I got an email from Seb from Revealed asking if I had any demos for the ADE sample. So I panicked and made a song with two really talented guys. I didn’t do much on it, I did 5–10% of the work, and that track got signed. So that was my really lucky entry.

With Spinnin’, I also think I was very lucky. I made this Ecuador remix in 3–4 hours; in one night. Basically, Hardwell played it on Hardwell on Air, and they tag both of the artists on Twitter. I got a DM from Sash! who made the original, and he said, ‘yo, who said you could remix this song?’ And I was like, ‘oh man, this is going to go bad.’ And then I got an email from Spinnin’, saying ‘looks like we’re going to release the Ecuador track.’ But a track that took me 3–4 hours was probably the most successful track I ever did.

Joey: You hear that quite often, that the most successful tracks take less time. Do have any idea why that is?

Olly: It’s the cool idea which takes time. When I have a good idea, I can finish a song really quickly – especially when it’s a remix or a bootleg where you already have this amazing hook from them.

Joey: I think that’s the biggest difference. When you’re able to finish a track in that short amount of time, you’re not really thinking about what you’re doing. Everything comes straight from the heart, not from the brain. When you start to overthink, things start to break down.

Olly: With Ecuador, I was making it as an unofficial remix that I would put on SoundCloud for free. I didn’t have these label restraints. I just made it for free, and I think having that much creativity helped.

I recommend it to anyone trying to get started, but also when you’re already at a decent level. It’s always a great tool to build a fanbase – every DJ wants to play a good bootleg because crowds love them. The crowd is also going to look for remixes, and they will find your tracks in it as well – the knife cuts on both sides.

Joey: So after you got your foot in the door with Revealed and Spinnin’, how did things go from there? What changed?

Olly: First of all, it was extremely easy for me to get music to the people I wanted. That was super important. I always wondered how people got that first contact, but once you have it, it becomes so much easier. You can get feedback, they can tell you what works and what doesn’t work. But I also started to feel a bit of that box. That was a bit hard at the start, but as I got more tracks on there, I started to get more confident and work with other artists on the label. And then I could just really make music from the heart again, and that box kind of slowly disappeared.

Joey: I think that’s something you hear a lot: getting your foot between the door, getting that first contact. And with you, it just happened by creating bootlegs.

Olly: Obviously, nowadays Soundcloud isn’t as powerful as back then. But I think if you get a remix played at the Tomorrowland mainstage, it still has the same impact on your career.

Joey: So what’s something you’re focusing on right now? What do you think is something people should focus on right now in the industry?

Olly: I think people should focus on what they enjoy deep down. As I said before, I was chasing the hype train for a few years, which meant I got fewer releases and less shows. So I think that for me now, I know Big Room isn’t where it used to be, but I enjoy making that genre and I’m good at it. I’m going to put everything I can into it and make a more creative version of my sound. If you’re just starting, you’re gonna want to make the ‘in’ thing – I know that. You’re going to want to chase the hype. If you’re not really into that sound, you’re never going to be good enough to release on a label. Deep down, you need to be super into it. You have to take the time and think about what you actually enjoy. Because one day, that genre can become big again.

Joey: I actually had a talk with Bart B More about this. I knew him in my town when I was playing. At the start of my career, he was going really hard because he had this track on Toolroom. His sound was new. He started touring, and then the industry changed and went more EDM. He didn’t like that at all and he just kind of disappeared because he didn’t like making EDM. And now, he’s come back and totally redefined himself. He’s started to release the same kind of music, and it’s really successful again. He’s now signed to STMPD.

Olly: Also, because you’re looking at those people’s tracks, for example, Mike Williams, you’re never going to make future house like him because he’s already onto the next wave. You’re always going to be chasing that circle. Just stay where you are.

Joey: When you’re following trends, you’re always second.

What’s the thing you would have liked to have known before you started this whole journey?

Olly: That’s a tough one. One thing I wish I should’ve known is that money is not that easy to come by. I left my job way to early and thought it would be a lot easier because you see what kind of fees DJ’s get. But what I didn’t understand was all the costs you have. So don’t leave your job too early. Try to make as much time as possible, but don’t expect to make a full-time wage straight away. That has to come in time.

As a producer, you cannot make money from music unless you are creating all of the song, releasing samples, and all those other things. You need to have a DJ profile if you want to be a successful artist financially. We all want it as a job. Just don’t jump the gun too early.

Joey: What I always think as well is you don’t have to quit your full job all at once. There’s a middle in that whole story. The minute you get financial stress because you need to pay rent or need to pay the car, it’s killing. Financial stress kills creativity; it kills your positivity; it ruins everything. So, I would recommend maintaining a decent income as long as it’s possible to combine with your music. Most people quit early because of their ego; they feel like they’re already there when they really aren’t.

Well, thank you for being so open about everything, man! I really appreciate you talking about this kind of stuff but also the problems you’ve been having in your career. I think that’s important. The things we see on social media is only 1% of the career. So thanks for being open and sharing your whole story!

Olly: I know a lot of people listen to your stuff who want a career in this. I’ll always be honest because I think it’s good to see the other side. That’s the only way you can really make it in this business: if you know everything.

Joey: Best of luck with the rest of your career!

Interview With Sam Feldt

Interview With Sam Feldt 150 150 Artist Coaching

This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity. You can watch/listen to the full interview with Sam Feldt here!

Joey: Hi Sam, how are you?

Sam: What’s up! Happy to be here. I’m good! I just finished two shows – one at Electrobeach in France and another at Airbeat One in Germany.

Joey: Yeah, I noticed on your Instagram that you got back yesterday. I was already admiring how you were going to do the podcast today. That’s dedication!

Sam: Yeah, as I said briefly in our conversation earlier, I usually do stuff like interviews, meetings, and press from Monday to Wednesday, and then Thursday to Sunday I’m usually back on the road. In this case, on Friday, I’ll be back to Tomorrowland.

Joey: How important is it for you to have a rhythm like that; some schedule that you can maintain?

Sam: Well, I like it, but it doesn’t always work out. For the past four weeks, I haven’t been back home. Then it’s tough to maintain a schedule from Monday to Wednesday, etc. But yeah, when I’m back home, usually that’s how my week looks.

Joey: How do you manage traveling while also doing other parts of your job? You make music and play, but what about the other things you do? How do you maintain those things while you’re traveling?

Sam: It can be pretty hard, especially when it comes to time zones. Sometimes you have calls and emails, but you’re on the other side of the world. So when you wake up, you have a mailbox with like 100 emails, but then when you reply, no one replies because they’re all sleeping. It can be quite frustrating, but you have to make it work. I think it’s essential while you’re touring to keep responding to emails and doing your calls, while still working on music as well. Otherwise, when you get back home, you’re going to have an enormous workload with a backload of maybe 1000 emails that you’re never going to survive.

Joey: How would you describe your business as an artist right now? Everyone knows you make music and DJ, but what else is going on in the background?

Sam: There’s quite a lot. I just finished my label contract, so we’re talking to new labels now. Part of that is setting up my own label, which is a big task since I have to find the right distributor and build the right team. I also just launched my publishing company. Also, I’m the founder of two other businesses, one called Fangage, and another is a hangover drink that I launched in October called ‘Always Bright’. Plus, I’m also the founder of the Heartfeldt foundation, which is a sustainability platform and non-profit. I just went to Uganda for that last week. It’s a very diverse life with a lot of different aspects, and I think that helps me because I can do the creative stuff in the studio and on stage, can connect my entrepreneurial spirit with the two startups, and also have a sense of purpose through my foundation.

Joey: Have you always been this entrepreneurial? Or was this something you found out once you were at a certain level in your career?

Sam: I started my first company when I was 13 years old. I had to drag my dad over to the chamber of commerce because I couldn’t make a company yet because I was a minor. I sold my company when I was 15; it was an e-commerce store where I imported products from China and resold them here in Europe. So I think entrepreneurship has always been in my system.

Joey: We were talking earlier about how we met like seven years ago, and you were using a different artist name at the time. Do other people know that?

Sam: Well, I tell the people who want to know. My original name was Dr. Papasov. The Facebook page is still up if you still want to see what I looked like eight years ago coming up as a DJ. I always kept it up to remember where I came from kinda. Sometimes you see you’ve come a long way.

Joey: How did it all start? You started at 11 years old right?

Sam: Yeah, but it was just playing at birthday parties with my friends and stuff. Every year for my birthday I asked for money, and with that money, I would buy smoke machines and strobe lights – a drive-in show basically. I expanded that for a couple of years. My dad used to drive me to all these parties where I would literally play the whole night for 50 euros. But, as an 11-year-old, 50 Euros was a lot of money. I could buy video games, and I was having fun doing it. I then stopped for a while until I was 17, when I went to the club for the very first time. It was in Albufeira, Portugal and I saw Billy the Kid perform there. I was like wow, that’s great. I don’t want to be dancing; I want to be that guy in charge of the club and making people dance. That’s when I went back home and invested in a DJ controller. I started practicing, mixing again, and putting my mixtapes on SoundCloud. It still took me five years to get signed. It was definitely not an overnight success.

Joey: Was five years later your first sign ever, or the biggest track you’ve signed?

Sam: Well, that was my Spinnin Records signing. I still had some smaller records before that under the Dr. Papasov name.

Actually, the first record I made under Sam Feldt got me signed to Spinnin. It was a bootleg of the Kelly Family that never came out. But it’s still on my SoundCloud called ‘Alien’. I sent it over to Spinnin, and that for them proved that I was able to create something new and different; it was a fresh sound. Before, under Dr. Papasov, I was sending them the cheesiest EDM tracks. I was just imitating the charts and trying to make the next record for Hardwell or the next beatport number. Under Sam Feldt, I said fuck all that, I’m just going to make what I love. The moment I started changing styles, that’s actually when the success came.

Joey: What was the reason for changing the name? Did you feel the urge to change styles?

Sam: To be honest, I never expected Sam Feldt to grow bigger than Dr. Papasov. I thought Dr. Papasov was doing very well since I was playing 2–3 shows a week at hockey clubs and stuff. I was like 17 back then. I thought it was going well, but creatively I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I was playing the cheesiest sets – anything from hip-hop to hardstyle. I started Sam Feldt as a side project, never expecting to sign any records or any shows. I began making mixtapes in the melodic, deep house style for me and my friends and family. And then I did my first record, and when Spinnin replied, I was completely confused because they weren’t releasing records like that. They were releasing Animals by Martin Garrix. So they must have been seeing something else in it.

Joey: Looking back, what do you think was the reason that the Sam Feldt brand was bigger than the Papasov brand?

Sam: I think people see right through if you’re imitating and not following your heart; if you’re releasing or playing stuff that’s not completely you. With Sam Feldt, I didn’t care what other people thought. I just did what I loved. People will always see when somethings coming from the heart. That’s why my whole umbrella brand is called Heartfeldt because Sam Feldt was a project that I started from the heart.

Joey: Yeah, I think that’s a critical piece that a lot of artists underestimate. Everyone says that it’s like that. But still, somehow 95% of artists are copying other sounds.

Sam: I think that’s exactly it. Sometimes in interviews, they ask me, ‘what’s your biggest tip for upcoming producers?’ I always tell them that it’s cheesy to say, but I think a lot of people don’t. listen to the answer. I’ll repeat it, and I hope they listen. The answer is to find your own sound. Find a sound that you love, and produce that instead of copying other people. I think if I said that to Dr. Papasov, he would have said yeah yeah yeah, and he wouldn’t have paid attention. But that’s really what you have to do. I tried for so many years to get releases, but I played empty bars, and never got it. The moment I did exactly that, when I really listened to myself, that’s when I got the success pretty much overnight with the first release I sent over. While I was sending releasing for five years, I never got a reply. So that’s the key.

Joey: It’s so funny because I talk to a lot of artists and have been an artist myself. If you look at a successful artist career, it seems like there is some template in all those stories – a template of success. Finding your sound and doing the core thing you think is best seems to be one of the most prominent pillars.

You started your first release on Spinnin and had this new brand called Sam Feldt. Did you have an idea on how you wanted to brand it?

Sam: Uhm, kind of. I literally came up with the name Sam Feldt in two minutes. My first name is Sammy, and short for that is Sam. I was looking around, and I listened to the songs that I was making. I was like, okay this is kind of melodic and deep house. When I looked at who was popular, like Robin Schulz, I realized I needed a German last name. So I googled two German last names and scrolled down the list, and within a minute, I found Feldt. I was literally on the register page on SoundCloud, and had to type in a name; it stuck ever since. Then I had to upload my profile picture, so I got myself a logo. I just went into Photoshop, got a font, dragged it around a bit, put a line under it, and it’s still my logo. So that whole branding got created within five minutes. Obviously, over the years, I’ve perfected it, and now have an artistic director doing all sorts of things. Also, from the very first moment, I implemented a lot of natural elements into the branding. A lot of leaves, palm trees, stuff like that. I’ve done that from the very first track I’ve uploaded, and the rest has evolved.

Joey: I really like that because I’m a big fan of not overthinking shit. When I listen to your story, all of the decisions you’ve made – which seem to be pretty big decisions right now – didn’t require a lot of overthinking.

Sam: It’s also easier when you don’t have anything. When you’re starting with zero followers, it’s a lot easier to choose your name then when you have a million followers. I didn’t expect anything from the project, which is why those decisions were taken so lightly.

But also, when it comes to the musical side, a lot of my DJ and producer friends around me have the problem of perfectionism. And they never release anything because they think it has to be perfect. Coming from a different background where I’ve had businesses since I was thirteen, I know things are never perfect. I can work on a record for ten years…

Joey: What would be the difference between you and your friends? Is there a different mindset or thinking process?

Sam: I think you have to learn to be able to say to yourself at a specific point, ‘this is good enough. I’m satisfied now. I might not be satisfied when it comes out in a month, but yeah, let’s put that creativity in a new project.’ When I collab with people, usually I’m the guy that finishes it. Some people stay in a process for months and months: perfecting the sub-bass and eq; really going into detail. I think the best thing you can do is just to release and go on to the next project.

Joey: I’m so happy you say this. Because this is something, I would like to point out to everyone.

Sam: The problem is, you finish a project, and then you listen back to it two days later. You hear stuff and then change things again. Then, two years later, you go back to it. The mind is very subjective. It also has to do with how much you’ve slept and other music you’ve listened to in the clubs. If you hear the same track week after week, you’re going to hear stuff that you’re going to want to change, and that’s not going to be very helpful for your productivity.

Joey: It’s like looking at a piece of art. The more you keep looking at it, the more details you see. You keep watching it because you keep discovering new things in the same piece of art.

Sam: It might not be more beautiful, but for the time, it might just be more different.

I think that’s another tip for producers. You learn a lot more from starting a brand new project and putting your creativity in that, then working for months and months to perfect a specific kick drum or whatever.

Joey: And with the releases, how many records do you want to put out every year? Is there a goal, or does it come organically to you?

Sam: It’s quite organic. I usually work a lot with vocalists, so I’m not a traditional dance producer. I don’t produce a lot of club records. I rarely start in front of a blank screen. So that helps me pretty much produce a lot of songs and always have a selection to choose. That’s also why I did an album with 24 tracks two years ago; there was so much music on the shelf. So no, I don’t have a goal. And also when a record goes well, for example, my latest single is going really well on Spotify, we kind of postpone the rest. A new release was planned for the beginning of August, but we’re postponing that to September to give the previous track some more space.

Joey: So you keep track of the statistics and see how well it’s performing, and as soon as you see the stats going down, you start planning the next one?

Sam: Also, we’re working with the label. So, in this case, Warner Music has a whole radio plan, and they’re expecting the track around September. As long as I see that they’re putting in a lot of effort, they’re still actively working with the track, I think it’s always best to have one track as a priority – especially for radio and stuff.

Joey: Right now you’re at a higher level where you’re working with partners and have to deal with radio stations and long term planning. Whereas in the beginning, I can imagine it was different for you as an artist.

Sam: Yeah, I think that was a different strategy. When you’re coming up, you don’t have to pay attention to radio yet. You can pretty much release one track every month if that’s your creative process. I think that’s also something that a lot of upcoming producers don’t get right. Make sure you have a buffer. If you have a track that you put out, and then it takes you three months to come up with a new record, people are already going to forget about the first one. I would say finish six tracks and make sure that you release a track every month. Half a year later, people will know you because you just put out six tracks.

I heard briefly in your podcast with Steff Da Campo that before, he had a strategy where he would release more than two tracks every year. He then found a way to release a record every month, and now he’s starting to get some recognition in the industry. You want to stay relevant by releasing a lot of music. I think that’s the music industry right now.

Joey: Where does your main success come from? Is that streaming mainly?

Sam: I would say so. I’m currently the 140th most streamed artist on the planet on Spotify. I think streaming wise I’m doing relatively well compared to other DJ’s. And I think that’s because I make tracks to listen to. I don’t make tracks for people to jump around or dance to. Which is also tricky because when you’re playing your DJ set, are you going to play Spotify?… So that’s always been a challenge: finding the right balance between energy and making people recognize you when you play the DJ sets. To solve this, I usually make club mixes for my records.

Joey: I was watching your Instagram. You have great posts where you create different kinds of videos of you playing the club mix of your last single.

Sam: That’s one way I get recognition. Just because people know the track on Spotify, doesn’t necessarily translate to people coming to my shows. They think I’m going to play that chill-out hangover track that they listen to on Sunday mornings. How’s that going to work out on a club? But by doing club mixes and showing that online, I think people are going to see that my sets are high energy.

But that’s been a challenge with having streaming success. People know you from the tracks that they listen to back home. It also limits the creativity in my DJ sets. If I don’t play ‘Show me Love,’ people will be disappointed. I’ve played it so many times.

Joey: So you think about it from the audience’s perspective when you play?

Sam: Well, I think that’s what the job of a DJ is all about. I think a lot of people in the industry take it very seriously. But in the end, you’re just a guy entertaining. Especially on Twitter, I see so many people take it so seriously as an art form and hating on other people that play too commercial or whatever. I’m like, come on, guys! The only reason you’re there behind the decks is to show people a good night. If you have to do that while playing 50 Cent, you play 50 Cent. That’s what you do – in my opinion, that’s what a DJ is for. Yes, I always look at it from a crowd’s perspective. I can’t just play what I want to play, because I might feel like playing some underground techno since those are the parties that I usually go to when I have a night off. But if people buy a ticket to see my show, and I just had a new track that’s streaming very well, they want to hear that track – that’s what they know me from. I think it’s important for people to recognize you when they go to a club or festival.

Joey: I noticed you’ve been spending a lot of time on content. How relevant is content to you right now?

Sam: The thing is, when you play shows for 1000 people, that’s your audience that night. But if you get photos/videos from it, you get an audience of millions. You’re not just playing a show for people that are there. You’re playing for your fans. Your fans might not be there since they don’t live in the area, or there’s a lot of reasons why people don’t see a show.

In this industry, content may even be more important than music. I know people will hate on that. But look at guys like Marshmello who are blowing up because of content. Because of hosting events on digital games, making a cooking show – cooking with Marshmello – that has nothing to do with the music, but separates him from the rest. If you purely listen to his music, it’s not that different from a lot of other acts that are on Monstercat or other labels. The reason why he’s so big is because of the content. So objectively looking at it, it’s a big part of the industry. Do I like it? Not really. I kind of hate social media in a way. But it’s the game you’re playing, and you have to be a part of it.

Joey: Is this something you outsource? Do you schedule your posts?

Sam: No, maybe I should since it would give me more peace of mind. But I think if you don’t do it yourself, just like music, and it’s not authentic, people see right through. Thats a big lesson I got from the Dr. Papasov era. Like okay, if you’re going to outsource people to write your posts or whatever, people are going to see, and it’s not going to go as well. Right now, I do everything myself. I do kind of have a social media manager, but that’s more operationally, so like uploading a video or setting up advertisements for shows. In terms of the main content on the feed, that’s usually done by me.

Joey: And you can obviously do more on the go. Because your photographer takes a photo, and two minutes later you can post most. Otherwise, you would send it to your manager, and that guy could be asleep.

Sam: Yeah, 100%. I also have some buffer content, which is in a big Dropbox folder. Like today or tomorrow, I’m going to be home. There’s no photographer here, so I use that content. But yeah, on tour, that’s usually how the best way is.

Joey: What does your team look like? How many people consist of your regular team?

Sam: Well, it depends on how you count. I have zero people that I employ; I work with everyone freelance or through an agency. For example, my booking team is ACE. You could say I have one booker for the US and one for Europe. But he’s supported by a junior agent – the team could be five people – so do you count the one or the 5? If you count those five it could be 100 people working for Sam Feldt on the label side, press side, tour side; it varies depending on who you include in it.

Joey: Another thing I wanted to touch on was how you sometimes implement acts into your live shows. What’s the reason for you to take those artists with you in certain shows?

Sam: As I said, Sam Feldt’s music has always been very organic. From the very first track, I’ve used a lot of live instruments, especially horns, trumpets, and saxophones. They’re in maybe 70% of my tracks, in addition to guitars and pianos. I also think that sets me apart from a lot of dance music and EDM producers who are very synth based. I’m very live instrument based. When fans listen to my tracks on Spotify or on the radio, I want them to have the best experience at my shows; that’s why I get the live band involved. A lot of people bring an MC, Vjay, or a lot of effects. For me, live instruments are my ‘effects.’ I think that it’s more important right now to present the tracks in the most natural way – the way they got recorded in the studio live. The reason I don’t do it in all shows is the financial aspect; you also kind of need a big stage.

Joey: I really like what you’ve been saying and am on the same page with a lot of things you’ve said. I admire how you’ve built your career in the last couple of years, and I know you’ve been doing things differently from other people.

Sam: Right now I’m at a crossroad. I’ve been with the same label for five years and finished my contract. It just gives me a lot of opportunities. Same with management. Right now I’m not signed with a management. I have my own management, and I employ managers to do specific things. So that really allows me to finetune the people I work with. Also, if someone is not performing well, you have the opportunity to do something about it. If you’re signed to a management, you just complain to the management company, but you can’t fire them – so you’re not really the boss.

Joey: I think that’s going to bring you a lot of good stuff in the future, especially with your own label which is going to give you a lot of new opportunities. Aside from new music there, other people will drop some music there I’m guessing.

Sam: Yeah, I have my own platform, Heartfeldt, which also has a website and a demodrop. A lot of times I get good demos but can’t put them out. I think that’s the main reason I want to start a label – to help new talent get their music heard!

Joey: Thanks again for taking the time, Sam!

What a Record Label Is Looking For

What a Record Label Is Looking For 150 150 Artist Coaching

Congratulations, you’ve finished your track and you now have reached the point of an important decision.

Do you want to release it on a label or are you gonna release it myself?

You see, releasing your music on a label isn’t the standard go-to option anymore.

The reason for this is that it has become easier to release it yourself throughout distributors online and since labels don’t always add value to your release anymore, this might be the better choice for your release.

That’s something that has changed in the last few years.

I won’t go really deep into that specific subject right now but if your interested to know more about the reason why sometimes it’s better to release something by yourself, check this video.

Let’s say that you’ve chosen to release it through a label.

What’s your next step?

How are you gonna reach out to them?

What is gonna make you stand out of the crowd?

In this article, I want to go deeper into the mind of the label.

What is a label exactly looking for and what can you do to get signed?

We’ve reached the point where mailboxes are being ignored and most of the music actually gets signed through through a label owns the network.

One of the reasons for this is that the quality of music, unfortunately, isn’t at its highest level at this moment.

A lot of music sounds the same and a lot of musicians are copying each other.

You might say there is a lack of uniqueness in the music industry.

Why do you think artists like Oliver Heldens, Don Diablo and Martin Garrix are doing so well?

Exactly, they have their own sound. They’ve created something no one else did.

That brings us to the first thing that labels are always looking for, uniqueness.

They aren’t looking for a Hardwell or Martin Garrix look-a-like, they are looking for something new.

And to quote Barney Stinson: “New is always better.”

Being unique isn’t easy, that’s why there are so few artists who actually are successful in their musical career.

Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to make a living out of music if you’re not unique.

I’m saying that creating something unique will make things easier for you.

One of the things that labels are also looking for is a long term relationship.

They don’t want to be that one-night-stand where you’ve just released one single and left without leaving your phone number.

They want to build an actual relationship where you can both trust each other and build a future together.

There are a few reasons why labels are more interested in long term relationships then they are in short term relationships.

One of them is investing.

The question, did you ever bought a two hundred dollar bracelet for your first date?

Probably not… And why didn’t you?

That’s how labels think about investing in your career as well.

If you just released one single and they’re not sure if you will stay with them after it’s released, they will probably not invest that much time or money into your release.

If you can give them some kind of security that you will stick around for a longer period, they might be open to talking about possible investments.

‘Sticking around for a longer period’ means agreeing on a few options in your agreement or signing a deal for a certain amount of time.

If a label is going to invest in your career, they would like to see something in return as well and that ‘something’ probably is a return of investment a.k.a. profit.

Since most releases don’t make that much profit anymore in today’s music industry, the label would like to have a lower risk by signing more of your tracks.

Why do labels think about money when it’s all about the music?

Because it’s a business as well and businesses need to make a profit.

The creative part is really important in this industry but the money part will never be forgotten.

Remember: “Music is a business and business means money.”

Since we’re talking about money anyway, let’s dive a bit deeper into this;

Labels are looking for something that is sellable.

I know that by saying this a lot of people will disagree with me but I’m pretty sure that if your label doesn’t want to make as much money as possible on your release, you might want to look for another label.

Why? Because more money means a more successful release and isn’t that what you are aiming for?

Let’s break this down. What does ‘sellable’ actually mean?

It means that your product (a.k.a. your music) is so good that people are actually willing to spend money on it.

So, when is your track good enough for people to spend their money on it?

The answer is simple: If they like the track on its own or if they are a huge fan of the artist brand.

One thing that a lot of creatives are wrong in is that they think that they are the ones who decide if their track is good enough.

Wrong. The audience will decide that for you.

The strongest point of a good label should be knowing their audience.

They pick music from which they think their audience will like it.

Why is it so important for them that their audience likes it?

Because the audience is the people who are spending their money on it and are responsible for the label’s profit.

“Music is a business and business means money” remember?

One thing that labels are also interested in is the fanbase that you’re taking with you.

The reason for this is that the bigger the fanbase, the easier it gets to sell the track and create more awareness.

You are actually making their job easier if you bring a big crowd.

It’s really hard to (maybe even impossible) to persuade someone who isn’t interested or doesn’t even know your music into buying or streaming your music.

If you bring a fanbase, you actually bring customers who are already 100% interested in their product (a.k.a. your release).

And bringing customers who are already interested in buying your music means more money for the label and an easier job to make the track successful.

Besides earning more money and having a more successful release it’s also about the promotion of their own brand.

You might consider releasing your music on a label as a collaboration in some kind of way.

You are both interested in getting a bigger reach by using each other’s channels

You are both interested to get more followers by using each other’s channels

You are both interested in creating more sales

This actually all happens when you release your music on a label.

You will both promote each other, grow your audience and get more sales if you combine forces.

Now that you know what labels are looking for, what can you do as an artist to increase the chance to get signed?

Create your own sound and be unique

Be open to a long term relationship with a label if they are able to add value to your releases

Understand that music is a business and your release needs to make a profit

Bring a fanbase

The Power Of Collaborations

The Power Of Collaborations 150 150 Artist Coaching

Do you find yourself wondering why so many of the songs in the charts are collaborations? Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne, Ariana Grande & Iggy Azalea, Robin Thicke, T.I. & Pharrell… and don’t get me started on David Guetta! The reason for this is simple… Collaboration = Exposure!

There are so many reasons why collaboration can add value to your artist career.

Here are 7 of them to get you motivated:

1. Different Perspective

We all know that feeling of hitting a wall in the studio. Not knowing which way to go or what to do. That’s the moment where your partner in the studio comes in handy! When you’re in the studio with two persons, you have four ears to listen and you have two brains to be creative instead of one.

When you find yourself in the studio with someone else you will instantly notice that this is a completely different way of working in comparison with working on your own. You will have to work with the other person’s opinion and taste which could be really refreshing and annoying at the same time. You will get insights that you would have never got by yourself and you won’t be experiencing as many roadblocks as you’ve had before because the other person will take over once you hit a wall.

2. Expand Your Network

When you’re in a collaboration you obviously already expanded your network since you know an extra person in the music industry now. Besides working on a track, you will also start to create a relationship with each other when you’re in the studio. This might help you in the future when you need people to get you to the next step. The person sitting next to you might be a local DJ who has a residency in a local bar and who is able to invite you there on a monthly base. Or he might be really connected with a lot of label managers which could help you make it easier to reach out to them in the future.

You probably have heard of the sentence: ”You are who you know”. Well, that is correct, when it comes down to the music industry.

3. Gain Experience and Knowledge

You can’t do everything on your own in life. We learn from each other. We spread knowledge by talking to each other. This also happens in the studio! When you are working with someone else you will notice that everyone has his own habits and routines. Some things might work better and quicker than you used to, some may not.

Everyone knows something that the other person probably doesn’t know, so besides having a new track at the end of the day, you’ve also learned something.

4. Using Each Others Following

As an artist you probably have a following, even if it’s 10 people, it’s a following. Well, guess what… The guy sitting next to you in the studio also has a following. Maybe even a bigger one? When you spent time in the studio together you will make a guest appearance on his social media. He will notify his followers about you and they will be interested in you. (read; more followers).

So by collaborating, you don’t only have a new release coming up (if the track is good enough), you also build your following online by promoting each other.

5. New Revenue Streams

When you are going to collaborate with someone this doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you will be on the title as well. You can also decide to go in a different direction. Maybe you would like to co-produce, ghost producer or write the lyrics for someone without being featured. By doing this you can still collaborate, build your network, create a bigger following and gain experience and knowledge. When you co-, ghost produce or co-write other tracks you create a different stream of income which is always great.

6. Experience Other Genres

Most artists spend a lot of time producing the same kind of music. Simply because they’ve built a fanbase that has expectations and to manage those expectations, they don’t really dare to try out new genres. The best way to experience new genres is by collaborating because you can simply explain why your song sounds different than normal. It’s the influence of the other party.

I don’t recommend that you are only producing music for your audience but it could be a smart idea to think outside of the box every now and then. Especially to keep your own creative juices flowing.

These are just a few tips to. get you going. Collaborating is the perfect way to grow your following and awareness.

What are you waiting for? Go look for a partner to collaborate with!

The Secrets Of Artist Branding

The Secrets Of Artist Branding 150 150 Artist Coaching

An important thing that you have to do as an artist is branding yourself.

This is something a lot of artists are struggling with…

What if I told you that there’s is just one thing that you should do to have a unique branding?

Let’s get started by taking a few minutes to think about who you are.

Create two columns.

In the left column, you write down all your personal strong points and in the right one your weaknesses.

You will probably notice that it’s pretty hard to write down weaknesses of your own.

The left column will probably be bigger than the right one.

That’s oke, but take an extra few minutes to think about your weaknesses.

Things that you do on a daily base that didn’t come to you by nature.

You have to force yourself each and every time to do it and to do it at your best.

Now it’s easy…

Do more of what you’re good at and do less of what your bad at.

Find ways to outsource your weak spots.

For example, if your bad in social media and it sucks up a lot of your energy on a daily base. It might be a good idea to find someone who is really good at it and who is open to help you with this.

By doing this, you are able to focus more on the things that come naturally to you, for example, producing.

Here’s a personal thing that I found out when I quit DJing and dived deeper into myself as a person.

My career started with DJing.

I started playing music at people’s homes, weddings and graduation parties which led me to my first gigs in local bars and clubs.

After a few years, I decided to start making music as well because something attracted me to do it and I could start playing my own songs during my gigs.

The thing that I never thought of but what I did found out later on when I quit, was that I actually wasn’t the best producer out there.

I was always struggling to create a new original because I wasn’t the most musical guy.

Starting from scratch was the hardest thing for me and that’s why creating bootlegs and remixes always worked better for me.

I didn’t have to worry about creating a melody from scratch or creating a breakdown from scratch.

I already got a starting point which influenced me to new discoveries and new melodies.

I found out that I wasn’t the best producer. I was a DJ who had to make music to build my career.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have radically changed my approach.

I would have searched for a co-producer or even a partner to help me with producing so I could focus on the things that I was better at and he could focus on the thing has was best in.

It’s just impossible to do everything by yourself on the highest level possible.

Now that you know who you are as a person and what your strong points are we can continue with the rest.

Think about this:

What kind of music do YOU like to play or produce?

What kind of content could YOU make that fits you as a person?

What would YOU like to be known for?

You see, the thing that you’re ‘known for’ is your reputation and your reputation is your brand.

Are you the nice guy who always replies and shows his whole life in a vlog?

Or are you the asshole who ignores his fans and doesn’t do anything for his fans?

What would YOU like to be known for?

Take a few minutes to think about this.

You are now starting to focus on your personal brand.

Another thing that is common when it comes down to creating your brand is that you can’t make everyone happy.

You have to pick a genre or sound that you like and go all-in on that.

Your goal as an artist is to become someone’s favorite artist.

And the best way to become someone’s favorite is by being yourself.

People will fall in love with you for who you are.

People will fall in love with you because of the content that you’ve created.

People will fall in love with you for the music you produce.

Be you. Being different is more important than being better.

Now if you don’t know where to start your career because there are so many things to do.

Always keep in the back of your head that nothing will happen if you don’t start at all.

There are a thousand reasons to NOT do something but you only need one to actually DO it.

Because YOU want it. That’s the only reason you need.

And no one is gonna hold you back.

I can already hear you thinking of a thousand reasons to still not do it but let me give you a small motivational boost.

Artists like Hardwell, Martin Garrix and Tiesto started somewhere as well.

They have also been at the point where you are right now and believe it or not, even though they are the leading DJ’s at this moment, the world is always ready for something new.

Even with the millions of fans they’ve gathered in the last few years, there are still millions of people that you could attract with your music because you are you and there is no second version of you or your music.

Be different, stand out and the right people will come your way.

Why Working For Free Helps You Built Your Artist Career

Why Working For Free Helps You Built Your Artist Career 150 150 Artist Coaching

Do you know that situation? You’ve worked on a track for 30–40+ hours, maybe even more..

You are so hyped to share it with the world, but what now?

Of course, you want your release to be as perfect as you possibly can.

So you’re looking for someone to get that last 10% out of your mixdown and mastering.

You are happy with the sound of the track, now you need to cover art and a little promo video to really grab people’s attention. So you’re also hiring someone for this.

Everything is set and ready to go, but what you didn’t think about was how do people get on all these fancy playlists?!

Through a friend you’ve heard that you can actually pay to get some Spotify promotion to grow your plays and trigger the algorithms.

So the next step, you also hire some promotion.

Now you look at your bank account and realize that you are freaking broke from all of the costs for just one release..

What can you actually do about it?

First of all the solution will not be easy and secondly need a LOT of hard work but in the long run it is absolutely worth it and there’s absolutely no budget necessary.

The key to success is networking.


But how do you get in touch with the right people or the companies that deliver the services you need?

This is where our topic of the week comes in handy – working for free!

First, you should do some research on who you want to contact and what the person exactly does. Then you need to think about how you can bring value to that person and just message them directly.

Maybe you think their homepage could use some improvements..

maybe you have some visual or design skills you can offer..

The possibilities are endless!

Even if you don’t figure out anything you might have to offer, you can still offer your manpower at promoting their stuff in your producer network and comment / like / share their social media.

People will definitely recognize it.

And I’m not talking about doing it once or twice, you have to be very consistent and patient.

As I pointed out in the beginning, it’s a long term plan.

Spread your wings as far as you can.

So let’s say you’ve worked for them a few times now.

Now you’re actually in contact with them and they trust you because you’re basically one of the good dudes out there.

But you kept your own artist stuff silently so far.

As you are friends with them on Facebook / Instagram /.. whatever now.

They actually find out about yourself on their own and you will be surprised how many opportunities this will create.

People will return a favor of 100%.

You put out that new track of yours, suddenly they’re putting it on their big playlists on their own or finally someone actually listens to your demo as you don’t need to email their overloaded demo mailbox, or they connect you to another key-person that will have great value for your own career.

I could go on forever! You’re now part of their inner circle, which is exactly where you want to be.

It’s simple, share the love and you will receive love.

The more you do it, the bigger and better the opportunities and your network gets.

One last tip, don’t ever judge people on their following / likes or other stupid numbers.

Don’t be that person.

First of all, it’s just stupid, we all started with 0 and you never know what is about to happen with that relationship or who they know.

It has happened a ton of times to me already.

Always be nice and gentle to everyone and you’ll be successful sooner or later and it’s actually way more fun to live that way.

Try it out yourself and kick it this week!

Let me know your experiences in the comments. I would love to hear your personal stories and experiences.

10 Tips For a Starting Artist

10 Tips For a Starting Artist 150 150 Artist Coaching

So you are on your way to becoming an artist? Awesome.

Did you know that there’s a lot more to being an artist than just making music?

No? Let’s find out.

1 – It’s a Business

Let’s be honest. It’s awesome to be an artist but most of you forget that you’re running a business here. Running a business requires paperwork, paying taxes and other things you probably don’t want to spend your time on. The fact is that it’s something you need to start thinking about because you could end up in deep sh*t if you don’t. Here’s a couple of tips to get you going:

Register your company names a.s.a.p. and get a tax number as well so that you’re able to send invoices. Most of the venues will need an invoice from your side when you play there.

Hire an accountant to do your taxes. This will be an investment but will be worth your while in the long term. Unless you’re a genius with numbers yourself of course…

In most countries, you’re able to withdraw the taxes from everything that you invest in. To explain this in an easier way, in the Netherlands everything get’s a 21% discount. (depending on your tax rate)

2 – Surround Yourself With Positive People

This one is underrated. It’s ridiculous to see how enormous the damage might be when you have negative people around you. You need people that support you in your choices and people that help you wherever needed. Do you have someone in your closest friends or family that projecting all of his negativity on you? Get rid of them and find a positive friend! You’ll be amazed at the difference.

3 – Stay Healthy

I feel like a fifty-year-old dad telling you this but, we can’t deny the fact that this industry has any drugs, alcohol or fast food in it. There are multiple examples of artists that collapse because of the maximum use of it. You are not gonna change the world, so fighting this fact is gonna be worthless but you can keep yourself clean. It’s a cliche but take good care of your body. Being an artist is a full-time job and has a big impact on your mind and body. To process all of this in a proper way you need to be 100% healthy.

Eat healthily, don’t drink too much alcohol and stay away from drugs.

4 – Listen To Yourself

Everyone on this world has an opinion. That’s a beautiful and a bad thing at the same time. Sometimes it’s great to get someone’s opinion on something but most of the time you’re just looking for approval to do or to not do something. Be smart enough and listen to yourself! You are the only one who knows what’s best for you. Recognize the moment when something feels off… Don’t ask other people what to do but with it but make this decision yourself.

When you stay close to yourself, you will never regret any choice you’ve made.

5 – Cry Now, Laugh Later

When you’re getting into becoming an artist at a young age (16 years and younger) you should know one thing. Spending all of your time in the studio and working on your career is the best investment you can do at this point in your life. You are so young! Think about it… Even when you put in two years of hard work and it doesn’t pay off, you’re still only gonna be 18 years old!! You will still be able to go to school etc but at least you gave your dream a real chance.

It’s better to regret something that you have done than something that you haven’t done.

6 – Start Building Your Network

You really can’t get started with this early enough. As you may have read in my previous articles or have heard in one of my podcast episodes: “Network is key in this industry”. Without a network, it’s really really really hard to make any steps forward in your career. So spent a lot of time connecting to people from the industry, online and offline. Make sure they know you and vice versa. Every person may come out very useful to you, somewhere in your life.

7 – Toughen Up

This industry isn’t built for people who are too emotional. It’s a rough world! You will get feedback that you don’t like or don’t agree with. People will tell you that you suck and are never gonna make it. Don’t let all those things break you down. Let this be the fuel for your engine! Use this feedback and negativity to show them that you ARE capable of pulling something like this off.

8 – Collaborate

One of the best ways to gain a bigger musical output, expand your network and get a bigger audience is by doing collaborations. I can highly recommend you to start doing collaborations from the beginning. It’s amazing how much you learn from being in the studio with someone else. They might have different perspectives on how you should use several plugins etc. which will help you in your creative process. Besides learning in the studio it’s also great to get to know to another person better and your name will be dropped on that person’s social media pages as well.

9 – Do Stuff For FREE

People might have already asked you to play for free or to do a remix for free. That’s actually something that is quite common in this industry. Whenever you still need to build your brand it’s a great idea to do as many things as possible, especially whenever it’s a great opportunity but when there’s no fee involved. Take every opportunity and get the most out of it! This industry. requires you to first prove yourself and then start talking about fees. There’s just one downside to this, some people are trying to make use of this too much, so stay alert for that.

10 – Set Goals

When you’re building your career it’s really hard to recognize the goals that you’ve already achieved because of all the things that you’re doing at the same time. Myself for instance never could enjoy the achieved goals because I didn’t know I already achieved them. I was already working on my next goal.

Setting up goals before you start will help you recognize the growth that you’re going through as an artist. Checking boxes at the end of the month always gives you an ego boost. That’s something that gives you positive energy and positive energy is something that you’ll need to get over the finish line.

How To Market Your Music

How To Market Your Music 150 150 Artist Coaching

After writing a couple of tips and tricks I was wondering which subject the audience (you guys) wanted to know more about. That’s why I did a poll in the Arist Coaching Facebook Community and the result of that poll was that people wanted to know more about how you can market your music. So, thanks for voting and being active in the group. This one is for you!

Let’s start off with the basics. The word “marketing” actually exists from two word

Market: as in the marketplace

Getting: how can you get the people to your shop?

So what is marketing exactly?

Marketing is all the things a company does to promote their product.

If we rephrase this to the music industry, the so called ‘product’ is your music and all the ‘things’ are video’s, photo’s, written content and livestreams.

Back in the days, people had to print posters, visit record shops or make appointments with every possible man or woman who could buy their music. That’s a lot of work and takes up a lot of time doesn’t it?

We live in a beautiful time people. We have the internet! We can speak to a person on the other side of the earth just by clicking our mouse. We can reach out to our fanbase by targeting them on Facebook. We can promote our music to people that are actually interested in our music. The ROI (Return Of Investment) is bigger than ever! It’s amazing what you can do by spending small amounts of money nowadays. It’s just all about using it in the right way.

So how do you market your music in 2017? By using the following platforms in the right way.

Facebook – Instagram – Snapchat – YouTube – Musically – Twitter

I’m not gonna talk about all of them but I’m gonna take a deep dive into a few of the most important platforms.

How to market your music on Facebook

Facebook is the biggest social media platform out there on this moment. All your friends are there, your family and guess what… So are your future fans! The biggest plus side of Facebook is that they own a LOT of data from every user. They know exactly what you eat, drink, laugh about, cry about and what you like to do in your spare time. They know all of this because they know what you click on. They know which movies you watch and how long you watch them, they know which pictures you like, share or reply on and they know who you are connected with (and much more).

All this data gives you a lot of power when it comes down to selling stuff. The only thing you should know before you start using this data is:

WHAT am I gonna sell?

HOW am I gonna sell it?

WHERE am I gonna sell it?

I’ll give you the answer to that:

Your music

By creating likeable,shareable and loveable content that represents your brand

Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Musically, Youtube etc.)

So now you have the answer, you can start filling in the blanks for your own brand.

Facebook is a platform where you can share a lot of different content. You can post video’s, photo’s, written word, animated GIF’s.. It’s up to you to decide which one you are gonna use for your marketing strategy.

Not everyone feels comfortable doing video and not everyone looks good on a photo.. So try to think of content that works best for you. Are you a great photographer? Great, post photos. Are you a great video editor? Awesome, use videos! Do you prefer to speak without visuals? Do podcasts. The most important thing here is that you pick a way of communicating that feels natural to you. If it doesn’t feel natural doing it, you’re not able to maintain it and so, you’re quality and quantity will go downhill after a few weeks/months.

Here’s a few ways to market your music on Facebook

Customize your content so people will instantly recognize it (see picture 1)

Be creative Try to make creative content that is easy to engage with (see picture 1)

Promote your post invest a small amount of money and create your custom audience to have the best ROI

Get involved respond to your audience when they leave you a message, I know you’re behind a computer but it’s still people who are typing those replies. People have feelings so be kind and show them your appreciation

Live video’s are a great opportunity to engage with your fans and give value to them

Quality over Quantity

Every platform has new content 24/7 so how are you gonna stand out from the crowd? It’s really important to know that we are at the time where quality is more important than ever! Because of the noise, it’s important that when you post something, it’s quality.

Are you posting a video? Cool, give me a reason why I should spent 2:30 minutes of my life watching your video.

Are you posting a livestream? Cool, why should I watch this?

Time is key nowadays. Everyone is busy so if they are gonna spent time it should be worth their while… Give them value in your content. Don’t only think about yourself, but think about what’s in it for your fanbase? What could they be interested in?

Is it a funny video of you falling off stage?

Is it a free give away of your latest bootleg?

Are you gonna pick a winner of the merchandise package?

That’s value.

Posting a photo and adding a text: “My new track is out now, buy it here” isn’t.

Quality over Quantity -> Right mouseclick -> Save as -> IMPORTANT

How to market your music on Snapchat and Instagram Stories?

A new way of communicating is the way people like to call creating stories. Snapchat was the first who started this (the first big and famous one actually) and it just was a matter of time before other platforms started adopting this feature. Nowadays we can’t think of Instagram without the stories functionality but only until a few months ago Instagram was only about posting normal content. This is one of those examples when I talk about shifting platforms. Snapchat started something that worked really well and other big platforms start copying it to keep their audience on their platform. When platforms start doing this you can see a shift from audience from platform to platform. That’s also why I should never go all in on one platform but always spread your chances and be active on multiple platforms.

Let’s say you’ve build yourself an audience of 100.000 people on Twitter and all of a sudden Twitter isn’t hot anymore because everyone is using Snapchat. That means you’re in deep shit! So try to cross-communicate online. Get your fans from Snapchat to go to your Facebook page as well and vise versa. Never rely on just one platform.

So why is marketing my music on Snapchat and Instagram Stories so different from using Facebook?

Well for starters.. Your content will disappear in 24 hours (or even quicker) so it’s not that important that all of your content should be picture perfect. It’s OK to post a crappy low quality photo of your coffee with a timestamp on it because it disappears in a few hours.

The reason why they call it “stories” is because it’s perfect to tell people your story of the day. Show them what you did today, what did you drink? What did you eat? Who did you meet up with? Where did you go?

Instagram Stories and Snapchat are all about the NOW. Not about what you did yesterday, not about what you are gonna do tomorrow. Nope, what are you doing RIGHT NOW. That’s what matters on these platforms.

So when you want to market your music through those channels. Don’t create perfect content, just show people who you are and what you do in a normal day! How much time do you spent in the studio? How much do you travel? What’s your favorite drink? What’s the name of your dog? That’s content that should be posted here.

If you really want to take things to the next level on these platforms, you can start to think about a strategy that gives people a real story. Think about the things that you are gonna show people before you go on your next tour. Take them on a trip and create a small movie that consists out of short 10 second video clips or show them backstage footage of your videoclip recording day, show them the crew and bloopers before you show them the final video. It makes them feel like they were there! It makes them feel special.

Like I said at the beginning, i’m not gonna talk about all the platforms.. I think that Facebook, Instagram, Instagram Stories and Snapchat are the most important platforms as we speak to market your music and all the things I told you today are also applicable on the other unmentioned platforms. Be creative with your content, be consistent and get involved with your fanbase.

And remember: ‘only ten views’ today, is already ten views more than you had yesterday!

Good luck!

Why Spotify Isn’t The Only Streaming Platform You Should Focus On

Why Spotify Isn’t The Only Streaming Platform You Should Focus On 150 150 Artist Coaching

So many people are talking about Spotify right now and I totally get it. I’m a big fan!

It’s a great service, it’s user-friendly and it has great music discovery modes

But don’t let all that shine distract you from what your focus should be

Every artist has its own genre of music and its own market where everything is happening

If you want to promote your music on the right spot, it’s important for you to find out where your hotspot is

It’s a bad idea for a baker to sell bread in a club, it doesn’t make sense…

Where are all your fans listening to your music and what is the best platform for you to grow?

If that genre is house music you might consider focussing on Beatport or Traxsource

If that is pop music, Spotify could be the one to go for

At this moment, everyone is aiming for Spotify which makes it really hard to stand out from the crowd

There’s more competition…

So having another strategy could pay off quickly since there are other platforms emerging with millions of ears to entertain

One of those platforms is Apple Music, we all know it.

Apple’s music streaming platform is quickly growing in the footsteps of Spotify but they both have their pros and cons

Nonetheless, Apple Music also has playlists and curators who are looking for the latest music and chances are bigger that they will listen to your music their since there are fewer people asking for their attention there

Besides focussing on playlists and career growth options it’s also smart to keep an eye on other emerging platforms

What a lot of people tend to forget is that YouTube still is number 1 when it comes down to music streaming

And, *drum fill* YouTube will start it’s own streaming service this year tentatively called “Remix”

Imagine a giant like YouTube starting its own streaming service and taking a lot of Spotify’s customers

How important will Spotify remain to be if that happens?

You need to keep your eyes open and stay active on all platforms

You never know which one will pop and be the next big thing

Another service that has become a ‘one to watch’ is Amazon Music

Amazon is becoming a monster on multiple platforms at the moment. but we’re focussing on music right now

They’ve launched Amazon Alexa a few years ago and since then the whole game has changed

Imagine this:

You’re walking through your living room and suddenly feel like listening to music

Instead of walking towards the radio or grabbing your phone you just say: “Alexa play music”

Suddenly there’s music playing in your living room

Now let’s try to say: “Alexa play music from JoeySuki”

Suddenly my music is playing in your living room.

now first… That’s awesome since I’m getting royalties

Second… It has become so easy to listen to music and it has become so easy to discover music

Think about apps like Shazam or Siri who helps you find your favorite music

There are no boundaries anymore which make it really easy for people to discover you and your music

To make things even closer to reality: This isn’t a future thing, this is already happening.

I already own an Alexa in my home and I already play music by yelling at that device

A lot of people in the world are already talking to there phone, asking which track it is that they are hearing at a festival, at a club, at a bar…

What if the landscape changes? Because it can and it will, somewhere in the future

Would Spotify still be so important?

The essence of this story is:

Focus on the platform that matters to your genre and your audience

Be aware of other platforms and be active on there as well

Be aware of technical developments that are able to change the game

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