10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started: Zack Edward
Many aspiring music producers start their journey without truly knowing what’s ahead of them. We’re here to help you navigate through the twists and turns. Today, one of our instructors, Zack Edward, shares his “10 things I wish I knew when I started”
1. Trust Your Taste
At the end of the day, this is what makes each artist unique! It’s easy to see others having success making a certain type of music, and wanting to follow. Stay true to yourself and make whatever you feel like making. You’ll be at your best when you can sit down and let the music effortlessly come out of you. As soon as you start trying to force a specific sound, you’re putting restrictions on your creativity.
2. Just Finish It!
We preach “finishing music” in the Cosmic Academy program. Why? Because it’s the quickest way to improve your songs. You get better by doing the entire process. There’s so much that goes into finishing a song: Writing, Arrangement, Sound Design, Development, Automation, Mixing, Mastering, etc. By not completing a song, you’re stopping yourself from practicing everything that goes into making great music. If you just write ideas every day and never get past that phase, sure you’re going to be great at making ideas. But what about everything else?
3. Don't Sh*t on Other Styles of Music
This one might seem obvious to some, yet you continue to see this “genre bashing” go on daily. There’s no time or place for it. Creating and releasing music is an extremely personal thing. Whether you’re a fan, or not, you should always respect the work that goes into it. They’re doing the same thing you are...and it’s not easy. Be positive and accepting of all types of music. It can only open your mind and expand the possibilities within your own music!
4. Don't be Shy... Collaborate with Others
Everyone has their own unique way of doing this. Don’t limit yourself to only “your way.” Collaborating is an amazing opportunity to combine your tastes with someone else’s. This is how you can create some pretty incredible songs you might have never thought of yourself! It might be hard to find the right collab partner, which leads me to my next point…
5. Community is More Important Than You Think
Let’s be real—making music and building your artist brand is HARD! It’s even harder when you’re sitting in your bedroom alone. Majority of the time your friends you grew up with aren’t really into it as you are. They might be casual fans, but they’re not a music producer like you. They don’t understand the daily grind, struggle, etc. There’s nothing better than being part of a community of like-minded artists who support each other every step of the way. It’s literally what Cosmic Academy has been building for 10-years! The artists within our alumni group are only talented, but some of the hardest working and supportive people out there. Does this sound like you? Feel free to apply if you’re interested in joining :)
6. Reach For the Fader Before an EQ or Compressor
Volumes are EVERYTHING when it comes to mixing. As boring as this might sound, it’s the most powerful tool you have. You should always make sure you’ve tried solving the problem with volume first, before reaching for an EQ or Compressor. It also makes it easier to judge frequency masking (EQ) and dynamic issues (Compression) in the mix when your sounds are first leveled correctly.
7. Don't Wait to Build Your Fanbase - Start Now!
“I’m just gonna wait until I have the music to start building a fanbase.” Okay great, now you have music and no one to listen to it! This is an outdated approach. Look around you! There are people on social media with millions of followers and you still question “what do they even do?!” You can grow an audience even in the early stages of your journey–even if your music isn’t quite there. Your fans will follow you for MORE than just your music. Start putting yourself out there and let people follow your story.
8. Don't Compare Yourself or Your Path to Others
Everyone’s story is different. How someone else “made it” is unique to them. They had their own experiences which led them to that point. You can’t assume it’s going to take the same amount of time for yourself. You can’t assume you will have the same experiences. The ups and downs. It’s all unique for each of us. Embrace your path, and just keep working towards your goals.
9. No Plugin, Sample Pack, or Gear is "the Answer"
This is the truth. They might seem like they’re helping, but no piece of gear, sample pack, or plugin is the reason why your music doesn’t sound “good”. If you’re not a handy person and stink at building things, would it matter if you were handed a gold hammer, gold nails, and a pile of the finest wood around? Of course not! The tools don’t matter, you still stink at building things! It’s no different with your music. Spend the extra time learning your fundamental tools, concepts, etc. These are what will allow you to eventually reap the rewards of these third-party plugins, sounds, and more!
10. Be Patient and Don't be Afraid to Fail!
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and doing it well! It takes time to become truly great at something. You’ve signed up for a marathon, not a sprint. Anyone with a laptop can produce music nowadays and you need to be able to stand out from that noise. It’s going to take time to develop your skills and brand. Be patient and embrace the ups and downs because there will be plenty of both. Don’t be afraid to fail. Instead, treat it as a learning experience. You’re going to face a lot of rejection as a musician. Labels will say no, promoters will say no, etc. These are incredible opportunities to learn from.