Arts & Entertainment, Music

Understanding the Music Business


Lesson time 14:31 min

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.

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

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


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...

About the Instructor

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.

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6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.

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