Meet the Boss Dr. Rhythm Graphic

The Boss Dr. Rhythm 110 Graphic 

Ranking in at a mighty 4.4 out of 5 stars on Sonic State is the Boss Dr. Rhythm. Here's what's written on Sonic State.  

Comments About the Sounds:
It sounds like a less grungy, brighter TR-606, with fantastic handclap sounds. Ticky Roland noise snare, your roland hissy analog hihats, ride-cymbal's bell-like, like the 606s, and the Bass drum... well, if I make a successful mod I'll post it. Oh, did I mention the handclaps are the best?! Not real tunable. . . But I'll be working on making some mods once I get my spare (guinea pig) DR-110."

How did I get this Drum Machine?

Hopefully you're like me and have a handful of cool older cousins.  My cousin Mike is an awesome dude.  Super duper cool. Runs a local business, plays in a band, always up for a cigar or whiskey.  Back in the day he got cast as an extra in the Sopranos and so on. 

The boss drum machine came out in the 80s and my cousin Mike was one part of the intended audience.  Mike plays guitar and wants to jam to a drummer so Roland made these drum machines.  Well, you know how history goes. They were terrible at their original purpose as they sounded no where close to rock and roll drums and they made there way to the second hand market and became the stuff of flea markets.  Then us DJs and electronic music heads got a hold of them and you know what happened from there.  One day a long time ago at Mike's house he was like "Here take this thing, because I never use it but you might like it."  

Anyhow it's a cool but of kit.  Very very simple, theres like 5 sounds so I recorded them with my UAD Apollo through the unison pre-amps and assembled some basic loops. I don't know what project couldn't use the cymbals, claps, and snares.  What's nice is that it comes in it's own case, so many are well kept. You grab one for a few hundred but instead, I recorded and you can grab the samples here.  Enjoy. 

slogging through the process of sending demos

You've worked hard on your music spending hours to turn those loops into carefully mixed, fully arranged pieces of music. Now what?

Self release or get signed.

You can self release but without an audience you likely won't move many units.  Or you can get signed with hopes that label exposure gains you some sales and fans.

There's pros and cons to each, this post is about sending demos to labels.

I'm not going to rehash the obvious (like bulk mailing an MP3 to many labels at the same time) so here are some tips for you.

Send music that fits the label - easier said than done.  What a label has released currently may not be where they are headed sonically.  What you think is a fit may not always be the case.  Don't get miffed if you get feedback along the lines of "thanks but the music is not the sound we are looking for."

Take that as a positive sign that someone listened and took time to write you back.  You know who wrote me that? Either Igor or Dan from Pig and Dan.  I sent a demo to their label Elevate and got that feedback.  I thought it was great to even get a response.  The lesson is that people actually do listen, so when you send stuff it's not just sent off into the abyss.

Couple things to make the process more efficient.

Use Gmail and this free tool to track opens.  This is to help you know that your demo email is getting opened.

Use sites like Labels Base, Soundcloud, and Facebook to get record label demo contact emails. Once you find them, pay attention to their instructions.

Most are something along the lines of - don't send MP3, soundcloud is still the most preferred medium.  Use a private share link.  Another benefit of soundcloud is you can see your track stats.  If you're demo is getting plays, chances are it's from people you're sending to.

Personalize the subject and message.

These are common practices that help your email get opened and read.  Sell the open, then the click to listen.

I'd suggest Landr for demo purposes, some labels will take care of mastering, so no sense paying for it if you don't have to.  So far my stats are 17 emails sent and 2 replies. That's great if you ask me.  1-3% is a common response rate.  Once you get 1 email down pat, it's pretty much copy/paste from there.

Want to know another hidden benefit?

It really helps you dig.  Kinda like digging in the crates. You have to hunt and peck for labels you think will work. It really helps you define your sound.  Also most labels also have a promo email address easily found when looking for demo contacts.  It helps to build a list of promo's for yourself as well.

Another way to find labels is to look at other artists I like and see what the labels they've released on.  I'll be doing more of this.

Should you produce with certain labels in mind?

Another thing I'm thinking about is that when you DJ there's definitely an element of playing for the crowd.  Not every track you pick is 100% to your liking, you have to play to the crowd a bit.

To that note, getting tracks signed is probably similar.  You may have to produce for the crowd.  It's ironic, but music these days is pretty much all contained in these perfect little boxes.  Like going into a neighborhood of cookie cutter houses.

While DJ's pride themselves on breaking tracks and their selection skills, many many jocks today stick to a very tightly focused sound.  And it's the same for labels.  To a degree it makes sense.  A label can't be everything to everyone - my point is that these days it seems things have gone too far the other way.  Due to 1-2 hour festival sets, there's not much room for experimentation -- this has translated to labels.

Anyhow this video from Budi Voight also has some good pointers.

Remember, you're just 1 track away.

Production Workflow – The extra bit of punch and polish

Techno Production - The Last Bit of Punch and Polish

In this video you'll see me dive in and put the last finishing touches on a track that's nearly done.  I've already played in the car and listened critically so when I go in I know exactly what I want to do.

Tape saturation to give the low end and drums more ooomph.  Reverb because the drums are quite dry and want them to sound cohesive.  Reverb is a good way to do that.  I also recap checking your mix in mono, my mix bus compressor settings which I use the Fatso by UAD for. 

Hope you learn something - the next step for this tune is to be sent to labels as a demo.  This is one track in 4 part EP.  

Remember to subscribe so you get updates like this right to your inbox. 

Tech Production – Workflow, Arranging, Mixing, & Sneak Look/Listen at a Work in Progress

Here's a track that's 80% done. I quickly go over some minor mix tweaks I do on my groups so I can export out of Maschine and then give it the final treatment in Ableton Live.
While I work in Maschine and you may not, the take away is committing your material to audio and then approaching the next stage of production. For me it's tweaking the arrangement, recording some new takes of the synth, adding swooshes and FX, and lastly I'll polish up the mix. The mix as it is is "good enough" to move along to these next parts of the process.  So when I start working on the arrangement, I know my mix is up to snuff so I no longer fiddle w/ EQ, compression and shit like that.
Stay tuned for more videos as I complete this. If you want to go deeper into things with me check out my course.

a primer on Facebook ads for DJs and producers

The Basics of Facebook Ads for DJs and Producers

If you build a better mouse trap the world isn't going to race to your door step.  They are more likely to yawn or say "so what."

So when it comes to building an audience, just putting your stuff out there isn't going to move the needle.  More than likely you'll get a trickle of likes and follows.

You have to promote yourself.

There's basically 2 ways.  Paid and "organic."  Organic is nice but it takes time, it's also something the underground community prides itself on.  The brick by brick building of a brand, word of mouth and so on.  We music makers tend to view advertising as "yucky" but this is a limiting belief.  We know some artist have bought fans which come from "bot farms," but don't disregard all advertising because of this foolishness.

10 years ago tit was easy to get a lot of growth just by putting stuff out there.   Today things have evolved - you can't only rely on "organic" growth.  It's going to be slow and frustrating unless you get lucky.  So let's make our own luck.

What most people think of as promotion is really public relations.  Working with influencers, posting and sharing on social this is all PR.  It's creating a favorable image by communicating with the masses .  This is great but it's hard to measure and takes lots of time.  Good to do but you can't have all your eggs in PR.

Typically "PR" campaigns involve lots of manual labor with no guarantee of a pay off, such as a favorable mention in the press that would result in bookings or record sales. By manual labor I mean cultivating a list of influencers or people in the press and then doing direct out reach.  Or submitting your music to popular blogs.

Getting back to basic text book basics, marketing is price, place, promotion and price.  The promotion part consists of personal selling, direct marketing, sales promotions, advertisements, and public relations.

Personal selling is the sales hustle - think "buy my mix CD." You can do that but you need an audience first.

Direct marketing - this is selling directly to the masses without a distributor, like you selling your music direct to fans without Beatport or digital distribution.

Advertising- this is how you build an audience. More on that in a second.

PR. This is about communicating with the public and building up a good brand. Posting on social is what we're most familiar with. Or maybe you run a Facebook group to establish yourself as an expert or taste maker - good stuff but time consuming with no immediate pay off in terms of bookings, music sales or even new rampage likes. There's press releases too but that's another subject. It's still another thing that takes time and money with no immediate result.

Back to advertising. This is how you grow because Facebook and many big media sites are pay to play.  If you are active on social, you have to put some money behind your activity to fuel growth - and it has to be done in a strategic way because otherwise you'll waste money.

Even DJs have to advertise to reach high percentages of their audiences. Paid campaigns also allow super specific targeting options. Like a European based DJ could run an ad just to her US fans that like Output if she want to laser in on a specific audience for an upcoming gig.

When you advertise consider that people are in 3 basic stages.

  • Awareness (I think I need new studio monitors)
  • Consideration (I'm considering Yamaha's, KRKs, or Focal Alpha's and looking at reviews of each)
  • Decision making or "conversion" (I'm ready to buy some Yamahas and looking for the best price on HS8s)

Facebook offers you the ability to create new campaigns based on these 3 stages.

In addition you want to reach the right audience. This is a key part of campaign planning. Audience, message, results.  An audience could be people that like the same things you do - fans of DJs you like, like websites such as Resident Advisor, or Attack Magazine, an audience could be people who already like your page, friends of people who like your page, people who visited your website in the past 30 days.  These are all examples of audiences.

The smart approach to use when resources are limited are to reach people at the consideration or decision making stages.

So if you're a new producer you want to reach other DJs who not only play your genre but also like things like Beatport or track source.

These are your buyers. The more general clubber or festival goer may spend little to nothing buying music.

Driving to beatport is not really advised because you can't measure the result.

You measure results by placing the Facebook pixel across your website, so you should have a website. It's not that hard to do a basic one.

If I was building an audience from scratch, I'd probably do things like:

Drive website clicks to my own site, where people can sign up for my email list in exchange for a free piece of music.

Upload a video of an original track to Facebook while building an audience of people who watched at least 50% if it's a longer video say 2 minutes or more.

Use retargeting ads to promote something to these people interested enough to watch my stuff for a decent amount of time.

To get this right, you need to have some tracks to give away or sell and your own website.

For a general awareness play it's not a bad idea to run an ad the way Agent Orange has, but in the long run ads like these are not sustainable because you can only track link clicks.  It's impossible for him to measure sales on beatport back to clicks spend on Facebook.

This is just a primer on using paid Facebook ads, remember that the best thing you can do is to be out supporting other parties and meeting people.  But again, this is like PR, you just don't know if each time you go out you're going to make a solid connection.

Consider that for the cost of a couple nights out you can buy web hosting for a year and pay for a basic website theme.  For a few bucks a day here and there you can begin advertising your stuff to build an audience.

Let me know your questions and comments because I could go real deep on this if you like.



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