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Music & Entertainment

On Stage: The Technical Side


Lesson time 15:07 min

Gigging and touring as an EDM artist means learning and managing lots of gear. These are Joel's techniques for keeping things running smoothly on the road.

Teaches Electronic Music Production
6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.
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When I'm performing, there's basically two types to shows. Well, I think maybe three, but just for conversation's, sake we'll keep it down to two. We call them the A show and the B show. An A show is where we show up, and I bring in a lot of gear, and we bring in a lot of production-- all our own lights, our own sound guy, and all that stuff. And a B show is more like me just kind of showing up at someone else's thing, and they've got all the production set up for you. But most electronic music festivals for everyone would be a B show. And that's kind of when you just show up with some minimal amount of stuff. Now performing live during an A show would be bringing a very small modular, a lot of synths-- mostly Moog's-- stuff that's kind of OK to get lost, I call it. So I don't take a lot of my studio stuff so I either hire out or rent or just buy duplicate things-- call 'em tour beaters-- that are replaceable and that kind of thing. A B show is a scaled down version of that where I'm still playing stems of all my stuff. I'm just playing the audio stems of so instead of playing like a two track stereo mix and then calling that a song, I'm playing like an 8 to 10 one where I'm using a couple of simple MIDI controllers. Like the whole setup would fit in a backpack you know, and then I just check that shit on a plane and then get to where I got to go. And with that, then I can add some VST effects onto those other stamps and then use MIDI controllers to control parameters, such as filter cutoff on this, or I want to beat repeat that for like half a second kind of stuff. So you're in a sense more DJing than there but a little more in giving you some flexibility. And same with the playlist. The order's not too important when it comes to a B show because you just have what's called a VJ just kind of jamming out, playing video clips appropriate to that song. And he's doing his own thing, and you're doing your own thing, and you don't really need to send any kind of cues or data back and forth because there's not a whole lot going on because it's not even your production anyway. So you just do it-- you make with what's given to you kind of thing. - We do rehearse before a live show, but not in the sense that we rehearse every show. We rehearse once basically out in a warehouse in Pennsylvania in a Amish town called Lititz for approximately two to three weeks, and what we do is we replicate the stage. We build the whole stage, the whole show-- lights, smoke, everything. All the bells and whistles that you'd see up on the thing, and we build it in a big amphitheater. And that's where we kind of bring together all the elements we worked on outside together and make them all work with each other. We only have a very small window. Every time I introduce a new stage or a new major element in the stage or a major change, then we have to strip the whole thing down, rebuild it in a warehouse, ...

Make better music

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class is for anyone who is seeking information. And this information is in formation. I an glad to have encountered such content.

It gives me a lot of information, a lot of push and a lot about making music.

It was great getting an inside view of Joel's approach to music production and song writing.

It's priming me to understand what I've recently found to have become a serious passion. Couldn't ask for more than this for what was given. It's been very inspiring!


Luke T.


Having played countless live shows (as a drummer, not a producer/DJ), you know shit is going to go wrong. A great thing to do is prepare and rehearse mistakes. If you're playing in a group, the #1 rule should be: Never look at the person who made the mistake and just keep on playing. In the instance of being a solo act performing a DJ set, having gear/program redundancy and backups is a fantastic idea. Practicing replace/reboot is genius.

Kenneth S.

Lots of good road tips here... including, @#$% happens, just be cool and cool and roll with it. However even more so is to play for people stealing things, your gear. It's not only people from the audience, but road crew can be involved. You definitely have to think about how to recover and keep the show going.

Patrick H.

I doubled over laughing from 14:00 to the end. I watched that segment four times.

Ryan C.

someone jacked a Deadmau5 head an got away with it - LMFAO ! I'd pay you for the Deadmau5 head ask you to sign it an go home!


This is so hilarious, now I go back to the start as I've missed a few lessons. Wanted to jump in at mastering asap...

DJ Peak Performer

I can sympathize he's advice that he bring 3 laptop computer to his show. And I also sympathize he separate a computer between the show and sending E-mail at hotel. I am writing a song. It is only a sketch for new song. Please check it.

Jay D.

Worlds M.

I remember doing one of my first club gigs. It was AWESOME! Then I tripped on the out of place power cable and ripped out the plug. The plug that plugged in my CDJs and my Mixer and my Lighting controller. (I had to do my own lights for that show) Thought I was fired but within 30 seconds music was coming out of the speakers again. Nerve-racking and a very big learning experience.

Steven S.

Having been on the road with some previous bands, what can go wrong WILL go wrong. Car trouble, stolen gear, broken equipment, you name it. Try to prepare as best as you can with contingency plans.