From deadmau5's MasterClass

Understanding the Music Business

Major labels can be major headaches, or worse. Here's some of what's Joel's learned about navigating the logistics of a recording career.

Topics include: Learn the System and Make It Work For You • The Problems With Major Labels • Building Your Team • The Online Marketplace • An Approach to Making Albums • Don’t Stress Over Titles

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Major labels can be major headaches, or worse. Here's some of what's Joel's learned about navigating the logistics of a recording career.

Topics include: Learn the System and Make It Work For You • The Problems With Major Labels • Building Your Team • The Online Marketplace • An Approach to Making Albums • Don’t Stress Over Titles

deadmau5

Teaches Electronic Music Production

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You learn by experience. I became business savvy because I learned very early on of how people get exploited with arts in general, and then more specifically, in music. How major labels make money. Because I'm thinking in a Utopian society or somewhere IN some parallel universe you think that an artist that created something would get paid the most for it. And then when you look at some of the books, some of these figures didn't line up. And it's like wait, you're only getting that out of this because, oh, it's because we gave you this advance and you have to pay it off. So I slowly learned that. And then I would always approach things a little cautiously when it came down to signing pieces of paper and working with whom and why and that kind of thing. So, I was always wary of that to some degree. You hear about groups like TLC going fucking bankrupt. Like how does that happen? So I think that's what's kind of put this like climate of fear across everybody trying to enter into a major record label deal or something like that. So, of course, and to my surprise, I signed with an individual who shall not be named and I got fucked, huge, like on everything and double dipped and all that stuff. And I had to get fucked before I learned that I got fucked. But I'm eternally grateful that happened very early on in my career. That I made a bad decision that I've grown now not to make worse [? decisions ?] and from that point on, it's like OK, well, you know what? I'm going to start learning entry level things like music law and publishing and how it all works. I'm going to start learning little bits of that so that I have a better understanding of the deals that I'm entering into. But that's, if you're fortunate enough to get into that world, it gets really interesting and kind of fun once you have control over it. It's like having a nightmare and having, versus having a lucid dream. Whereas like I would say like a nightmare, you can't control. You're just kind of like this passive entity in this, just taking everything. Whereas if you're having a lucid dream and all this weird, dark shit's going on, you can get an understanding of the situation you're in and then make it work for you. Major labels are kind of like, they're teetering on the edge right now. A lot of them have coalesced into bigger ventures with more debt. But the last 360 deal was actually signed about five years ago. And 360 meaning all encompassing. Like I'm going to buy you as an act. I'm gonna own your publishing, your merch, ancillaries and all this stuff around it. And we're going to give you one big thing and we're going to keep you on for like five, 10 years, whatever a term is. They vary. But they're generally a really long fucking time. The majors are kind of struggling to keep up with this, all this flash-in-the-pan movement. The only thing that's wo...

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.

Reviews

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

I liked how the class was an overview of the entire profession. Though I would have liked to see more hands-on sections like the drums, I really appreciated getting an idea of the entire pipeline.

Great class. I learned a lot and enjoyed it overall, but it was a bit slow at times and also felt a bit chaotic, like not as much thought was put into it as it could be (topics were all right, but content not always).

This class was extremely valuable to me because it taught me some techniques, like compression and equalizing, that I previously had a lot of difficulty with. I also learned to not fear the wall of knobs. It's a great platform and Joel is a really interesting teacher whom I enjoyed learning from.

Excellent, totally different to what I was expecting and great to see a totally different way of producing. And come to think of it I started out doing things like this a long time ago but got trained out of doing it. Really good class and a really great counterpoint/companion to the Armin Van Buuren and Hans Zimmer courses. Looking forward to more!

Comments

David G.

Good high level info. I was hoping Joel would go more into how to copyright songs and register them with ASCAP or BMI (or even if one needs to anymore).

Revshow

Joel touches on "Recoverable" only briefly. Let's say you sign a $1M contract. In most cases, that money is "recoverable", meaning every cent of that first million has to come back to the label (through album sales, streaming royalties, licensing, merch, etc.). That $1M goes towards production costs (studio/equipment rental, equipment purchases, sound engineer, producing, mixing, mastering, promotion, tour support...and on and on), NOT IN YOUR POCKET!

Bogdan I.

Truly amazing! These last series are like gold mine! "If he can't answer you in one sentence, you need to fire him on the spot"

Rich S.

This is a very, very good lesson. I formed an LLC specifically to avoid being taken advantage of. Many creative types are more vicious than labels in my experience. Never, ever base a business agreement on a handshake, always, always write up and sign a contract.

Kenneth S.

This is an invaluable lesson! Lots to review about the real-side of the music business, and what pitfalls to pay attention to. Plenty of artists just hand-over their careers and royalties without knowing what's going on, so it helps to have very direct guidance on navigating the business of the music business. Thanks Joel, most appreciated!!!!!

Masterclass

Thank you Deadmau5, you've inspired me to really mentally experiment with the idea of starting my own label/analogous! I've had many experiences in the past that if I didn't take advantage of with respect to this objective they'd really seem a waste. Really taking a lot of away from all that you're teaching here, thank you!

Brian A.

I think that's bad advice about titles; it probably works for him because it suits his character which his fans obviously welcomed. I actually think "Shit Cunt" would sell a lot more than he thinks, maybe even more than "Right This Second" lol. Otherwise, good insights about the business and industry. Would've appreciated some more detail on actually getting started selling.

Ryan C.

Good stuff, now to drop by your house an make EDM & see ProfessorMeowington!

Aaron T.

If anyone is interested, I have my first release on bandcamp if you want to check out. (I get if you don't as I never click on posts like this.) But if you do, the music is for the most part the opposite to typical EDM, as this I may put you to sleep. Each track was recorded on Eurorack Modular synths, recorded in one take with no external effects or processing. Just raw anolauge goodness. https://theedgehill.bandcamp.com/releases

PsychosisUS

My first song I ever produced I had titled it "ATTEMPT". Why? Because I was attempting to make my first produced track lol. Couldn't agree more with what you're saying about the major record labels. I work alongside some of the biggest Psytrance Record Labels since I also host Electronic Music Festivals in NY, so I book their guys on a yearly basis. One thing I didn't like was how they'd give their artists a shit ton of money to attract them and then they'd get them to play for pennies for their parties and festivals after they signed with their record label. Personally I like to go my own route and seek out friendships and partnerships, instead of signing myself away to someone who isn't going to care about me or what I'm doing because all they want is the potential money I could bring in. I'd rather struggle for a year or 5 years trying to make something of my own team. Making friends with the bigger record labels is always a plus, but always, always, always, remember who they are and what they want.