Daniel Lesden Blog

Music, technologies, and human experience from a Russian music producer and A&R manager based in Israel.
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“Is it worth releasing on a compilation?”

Do you think it’s worth to sign a track on a compilation? I’ve got a message from one particular label that interesting in signing me up, they said they’ll do the mastering and stuff but I’m not sure whether I want it in the first place because that compilation seems to be a multi-genre medley. Perhaps you have some experience releasing on compilations?

Radio Dynamica

To answer this question, you have to make a research to see what kind of compilation it is because not all compilations are equally good.

Due to my nature, I often organise things by categories, so I came up with three tiers of compilations.

“Shitty” compilations

“Techno Trance 2014 – 30 Top Best Of Hits, Acid, House, Rave Music, Electro Goa Hard Dance, Psytrance” by EDM Records; “Space Trance Vol. 2 State of Universe, an Ultimate Voyage into Electro Trance” by GR8 Trance Music

The first and probably the most common compilation type I call “shitty compilations”, as you guess the name is self-explanatory. You can easily identify a compilation from this category by its terribly bad cover artworks and the titles like “100 Top Best Future EDM Psytrance Hits”.

The only reason why such compilations exist is because their labels want to make money. Artists, decency, and reputation are not the things they care about.

“Recycling” compilations

“Goa Culture Vol. 34” by Yellow Sunshine Explosion; “Universal Frequencies Vol. 2” by Digital Om Productions

These compilations usually curated by the label’s DJs, and basically they recycling tracks from the previously released albums and singles. Don’t get me wrong: recycling is a good thing. It gives listeners an opportunity to catch up some tracks they probably missed, and also gives some extra income and exposure to the label and the artists.

As you can see, these compilations typically has much better visual look as well. They also often hit the top charts because over time they’ve built a reputation of a quality content provider.

“Featured showcase” compilations

“JOOF Editions Vol. 3” by JOOF Recordings, “Full On Fluoro Vol.1” by Perfecto Fluoro

Featured compilations are long-awaited releases that showcase the label where it currently stands and where it heading to. The tracks selection is picked very carefully, sometimes artists make new track specifically to get into tracklistings so the compilation often includes previously unreleased works.

Typically, such compilations generate a solid buzz in social media and press and also hit the top charts. That’s the reason why most artists want to be featured on a compilation like that, but not everyone can get there.

***

I want to say it again, do your research first, see what kind of compilation is it, check the label and their previous releases. Is it a credible name? What other artists are released there? Otherwise you may end up on a compilation from the first category which would give nothing but a bad reputation. Or, perhaps, you should make a solo release instead?

Read also:

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Mar 1   Advice   Music industry

Track of the week: “Never Hopeless”

You probably know me as a Psytrance music producer, that’s the music I love and dedicated to almost my entire life. But in fact, my musical taste are not limited by only particular genre. For instance, while running or doing some routine I like listening to a deeper Progressive music, and today’s track of the week is one of these.

This 3-minute cut is the only upload available on YouTube, the full length is 6:52.

Artist Gabriel D’Or & Bordoy
Title Never Hopeless (Original Mix)
Label Alleanza Music
Year 2013

Feedback for “Vibrations” by MKZ

Hello Daniel, my name is Adrian and I’m from Argentina. I started producing Psychedelic music about 3 years ago. I would like you listen to my track and get some advice and your opinion about my track based on you knowledge. Sorry for my English :) thanks for your time and hope you like it :)

Adrian

Adrian, I have to say this is a fantastic track I enjoyed a lot, reminds me of the good old days of Full-on Psytrance and also gives slightly reminiscent of Electric Universe. Well done! I have just a few comments.

First and foremost, the track progressed in a very strange way, sometimes by eight bars and sometimes by twenty. I can’t stress enough that most electronic music should progress by 16-bars sections, otherwise you not only make it weird but also make DJs job much harder. I’ve written about it earlier in the “Criteria of professional production” mini-series, make sure to check it out.

Criteria of professional production. Part 3. DJ-friendly arrangement

Extra four measurements at 49—53 Bars (highlighted in red) messes up the structure of the track

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that the kick and the bass are not quite in sync. You know, It’s like when you mix two tracks on CDJs and the beat is mismatched just a little so you hear those phassy high-end clicks? It’s like the bassline is somehow rushing (or dragging? :-).

Are you rushing or are you dragging? scene from “Whiplash” (2014)

Perhaps, you have some processing plugins causing latency of the channel? If that’s the case, I would suggest either using phase alignment plugin like Voxengo PHA-979 or manually adjust the individual track delay.

I also think that the mix can be improved. At the moment it seems like you’re trying to push everything at the front, as the result making all elements compete with each other rather than support and create several layers of depth. You can hear it especially at 2:18—2:45 minute.

Other than that, with some more effort it can be a really nice track. Keep ‘em coming!

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Track of the week: “Synthesize”

I’ve been playing this track at some parties and every time the dancefloor went nuts. Love the long progression and the dark vibe here. Miroslav’s style is unique, once you get familiar with his music you’ll always recognise it.

Things are starting to get serious at 2:30.

Artist ManMachine
Title Synthesize (Original Mix)
Release Goa Culture Vol.9
Label Yellow Sunshine Explosion
Year 2013

Listen also Manmachine guest mix on Rave Podcast

Psytrance flyers 2005—2007

I was cleaning up some old folders on my disk drive and suddenly discovered a quite nice archive of Psytrance flyers from the parties that took place in Moscow city in 2005—2007. Unfortunately, most flyers are lost so these are the only left. And yes, I was partying hard!

I thought it would be fun to looking at these pictures now, a decade later, especially for that generation of ravers who already have kids: “Look, son, that is where your old man used to rave!”. I think Moscow trancers (and some graphic designers, just for lolz) will appreciate these pictures.

Cosmo Horror Party by Insomnia Records (16.12.2005), New Year by Top Secret (31.12.2005), Mad Christmas Gift by Nervoza Planet and Freak Out Pro (07.01.2006)

The History Of Trance IV (November—December 2005), Psykovsky Debut by Vertigo and GlookAround (10.12.2005), Psyvergi Winter Jam by NoiseMakers (08.12.2005), Sunrise Trip by Psypunks Community and Nails Promotion (10.12.2005), Troll Scientists vs. Putskari in Moscow by Butterfly Effect Group (10.12.2005)

New Concept Party by Katapulta Promotion (21.01.2006), Vibe Tribe in Moscow by Tie-Vote Team (28.01.2006), Ostravaganza Birthday Party by Delight Lab (03.02.2006)

Returning in Movement by Refreshing Direction (17.02.2006), X-Dream in Moscow by Psy Detection Group (15.04.2006), Underworld by Nervoza Planet (10.02.2006)

Enlightenment by Delight Lab (03.03.2006), Mimoza by Positive Makers (07.03.2006), Psycoholic in Moscow by Hypnotic Reaction and Restarting Family (29.04.2006)

Nagual Voyage by Indigo Project (17.06.2006), Devil’s Mind Label Night by Sonic Chakras (15.04.2006), To Be Continued by Delight Lab (28.04.2006)

Hello Summer Open Air by Synthetic Dreams and Tie-Vote Team (20.05.2006), Magic Forest by Vastral Katapulta (19.05.2006), Nagual Voyage by Indigo Project (19.05.2006)

Brain Irradiation by Stebators Team and Novaya Psychedelica (17.06.06), Juno Reactor in Moscow by Coma Sound System (08.07.2006), Private Open Air by Night Spirits (24.06.06)

Dynamic Sensation Vol.2 by Night Spirits (15.07.2006); Many-Kaha-Hoo By Sonic Chaktars, Stebators Team, IDM Group, and Shining Lotus (15.07.2006); Psychedelic Trance Open Air by Sun Flower Promo (15.07.2006); Adieu Summer 2 by Tie-Vote Team (26.08.2006)

A series of events by Syntex Lab (June—July 2006)

Comics by Technical Freaks and Nervoza Planet (02.09.2006), Welsh Birthday by Real Stuff Pro (29.09.2006), Psyko Birthday by Syntex Lab (03.11.2006)

Halloween by Coma Sound System (04.11.2006), Gravity Plus Label Party by KPM Club and Electronic Trousers (11.11.2006), Demos & YoYo Birthday by Artfreaktion Records (18.11.2006)

Pajamas Party by Roxbury Club (18.11.2006), Voobrazjenie by Promo Style Group (01.12.2006), ReStart The New Year by Fun People Trance Promo & FullOut Group (29.12.2006)

World Spirit by Sound Spices & Yet Sound System (16.12.2006), First Spring Trip Air by Tutti Fruiti Lab & SubStance Sky Promo (29.04.2006), Private Rave by Psy Matter’s (unknown date), Predpodgotovka by hVP & Phantom (07.04.2006)

Cyber Queen by Sound Spices & Yet Sound System (07.03.2007), Alone in the Dark by Stebators Team (11.11.2005), Dark Factory by Nervoza Planet & Biocom Pro (26.11.2005)

Halloween by Psydivision Promotion (29.10.2005), Beautiful Dead by Nervoza Planet (31.03.2007), Global Cooling by Insomnia Records (16.12.2006)

Intonation in Provocation by Syntex Lab (17.02.2007), Just a Toy (25.11.2005), Red Planet series by Artfreaktion (2006?)

Spring Connection by FTPG & Sostoyanie Project (23.03.2007), Nastroenie by Free Sound Lab & Multivision (02.01.2007), DJ P.A.N. Birthday by Zodiak Sound (10.03.2007)

The Time is Flying by Psy Detection (11.11.2005), Spiritspiraliom by Tie-Vote Team & Re-Aliens Promo (04.11.2005)

Utopia in Moscow by KPM Club Promo (24.02.2007); Wallace Gromit Wrong Trousers by KPM Club Promo, Electronic Trousers, Noise Detection (13.01.2007), pre:Vlublennost by Syntex Lab (09.02.2007)

Feb 17   Fun

What should I post on social media as a music producer

What should I post on social media? Do you have any ideas? I’m also trying to find someone who can help me with posts.

From the previous question of Timothy

Bedroom producers be like: “Ok so it’s Wednesday, let’s see what I can post on Facebook today”. Illustration by Alexander Nanitchkov

Before answering these questions, I’d like to make one thing clear first.

There is no one ultimate winning strategy for social media content that would work for everyone. Some people engage their audience by posting funny pictures, others prefer to make it strictly business.

Whatever way you choose, I suggest being genuine. I know words like “be yourself” sound cheesy, but once you accept where you currently are it’ll be much easier than pretending to be someone’s else. Music producers are different from corporate companies in a way that our communication is much more personal. Behind every alias and track is a real human being, and people feel that too.

Nevertheless, I know where this problem comes from. Look at any successful artist’s social feed and most of the time you’ll see either his upcoming gig announcement or photos and videos from the past gigs. But what if you don’t have twenty gigs a month yet? And obviously you can’t upload a new track every week either, so “I don’t know what to post on social” can be a real issue.

Well, here are some ideas for you. Keep in mind this is not an instruction but rather general categories of a content that you could possibly post as a bedroom producer:

Making-of’s Show what you currently working on or tell how some of your previous works were made of. It always goes nicely, especially with the videos.
Studio Demonstrate your workplace, gear, and tools you use. I find that this type of content attracts both listeners and producers.
Mentions Did some credible DJ played your track? Have your track climbed at the top chart? Did you give an interview? Tell about it.
Share Shout-outs to the other producers you enjoy. Share their music, give them a credit, tell why you like that particular track or song.
Trivia Some episodes of your daily life. Remember that something that seems ordinary to you as a producer might be interesting from the fan’s perspective.
News Official announcement such as signing on a record label, release dates, new track’s preview; milestones in your career.
Hashtags Share content on specific day of the week with a trendy hashtags, like #ThrowBackThursday or #FridayFunday.

But you can go further and create your own sort of series of content. For example, I host a monthly radio show, run a weekly advice blog, and plus occasionally share “Track of the week”, “Weekend readings” and other blogs. It helps to fill the gap between releases as so I always have some content to share. And people know that too so they have a reason to keep an eye on my updates.

Here are some of my posts just to give an example:

As for you trying to find someone who could post on your behalf, read the advice on artist’s manager if you haven’t yet because it’s a quite similar story. If you have no idea what to post on Facebook, how do you think someone else would know it unless you expect some generic phrases and producer’s memes? It might be a good idea to put social media management on someone’s else shoulders later, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that in the beginning because that’s how the learning curve goes, you have to get that experience from the first hand before hiring someone.

I also highly suggest checking out my experience of managing social media using Amplir. If you have the right tools and know how to use them, turns out, managing social media isn’t that hard and time-consuming. In fact, you can have several active social accounts just by spending hour a week if you work efficiently, so time is no excuse even for busiest persons.

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Track of the week: “Science & Spirit”

I love Boris Blenn’s music for almost two decades in a row since his early Goa trance releases. But I also respect him that he constantly improving his sound and not stuck in the 90s.

This collaboration with Symbolic is a truly modern top-notch Psytrance.

Artists Symbolic & Electric Universe
Title Science & Spirit (Original Mix)
Label Nano Records
Year 2016

I don’t give Skype lessons, and here’s why

Some people asking if I give one-on-one Skype lessons on Psytrance production. I suppose I’ll be asked this question over again, so let me put my answer here to make everyone’s life easier.

A shot from “Prometheus” of David learning new information

In short, the answer is “no” — I don’t give Skype lessons. I’m sorry. But I guess this statement might cause even more questions, so I would like to give a little explanation and tell about the motivation behind my decision.

I was always surprised that there was no place a young music producer could ask a question and get an answer from someone who knows the industry. Typically, producers don’t share their secrets not to mention that most of them simply out of reach. Some forum boards with helpful communities are still out there, but most of them are abandoned due to all traffic is driven away to social media.

That’s how I launched the “Advice” with a sole mission — to help aspiring producers like myself.

I never intended to be a full-time tutor, I’m an acting music producer first with a lot of other things to do. Practically, it means I have to choose wisely whether should I spend the bits of available time on a Skype lesson or the “Advice” blog because I can’t afford myself doing both.

And if you look at this question of choice from the mission’s perspective I set myself — to help other producers — the answer is obvious. Writing a blog which thousands will read is much more efficient than spending the same time talking with just one person.

But to push this mission even further, I would like to make such system that will be scalable and independent of my availability. This is why I’m thinking to make a full educational course.

As you can see I have quite bold plans on education but there is simply no room for personal teaching. At least for now.

Feedback for “H N Y” by Myrtillus

First of all thank you very much for your awesome site, I have to confess this is somewhat gold, thank you very much for you availability and expertise sharing in the scene with such an open mind.

I have been persuing passionately the psytrance production for some time, and it is clear you are very passionate about your work as an artist.

Recently I have managed to finally achieve a track with which I am comfortable to share and ask for feedback and I think you are the best person to whom I can ask for that advice. Please, tell me your point of view.

Myrtillus

Myrtillus, this track has some nice melodies but overall it doesn’t hold up as a whole. The structure is very weird too: it seems like throughout the track you turning on and off different layers with no particular reason.

Let’s take a listen and look closely what happens at the first two minutes:

Bars Time What happens
33—41 0:56—1:10 Kick, bass, and textures
41—49 1:10—1:24 Snare drums added
49—50 1:24—1:26 Short break
50—57 1:26—1:38 Snare drums removed, hi-hats added
57—65 1:38—1:52 Drum loop added
65—66 1:52—1:54 Short break
66—68 1:54—1:58 Just a kick, bass, and textures again
68—73 1:58—2:06 Hi-hats added
57—65 2:06—2:20 Drum loop added

Different elements turning on and off

What’s wrong with this? Well, it’s bad for two reasons.

From the listener’s perspective, this track sounds like you just playing around with various loops turning them on and off randomly. There is no development, no storyline, it just goes nowhere.

From the technical point of view, all electronic dance music progresses by 16-bars sections. You can’t just add a new instrument layer at a 7th Bar or make a 23-Bars-long breakdown, it breaks the entire structure of the track. I’ve written the advice on how to make a proper arrangement, make sure to read it.

Criteria of professional production. Part 3: DJ-friendly arrangement

Also, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like the track tempo isn’t a whole number. To make the track goes along with the metronome, I had to warp it at 136.50 BPM. Is that the case? If so, that’s a total nightmare for DJs, please don’t do that :-) Just remember: always use whole numbers in tempo, 135, 136, 137 BPM... whatever, but with no decimals.

There are more issues in the track, but at first I’d suggest learning more about arrangement, structure, the “flow” of the track. And the best way to it is to listen to more music around, put some reference track and try to recreate its structure, the same way like painting artists learn by copying other artists’ masterpieces.

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Producers! What do you struggle with the most?

I need your help to make a better product together

In 2015 I started “Advice” series to help aspiring producers learn about music production tips, DJ’ing tricks, the industry insights, and more aspects of the music career which typically hidden from those who need this knowledge the most.

“Advice”, the weekly knowledge exchange

And while this blog serves a useful purpose, basically it’s just a random topics with no connections in between; those who just getting started may find it difficult to get any use of it. It’s like a puzzle, you can’t see the big picture with missing pieces.

So, I would like to make something special — an educational course. Not just one-on-one Skype sessions, but a complete online course so everyone could learn from how to get started with a DAW to releasing on a record label and playing on a gig. Step-by-step in a coherent way.

Why I don’t give one-on-one lessons

But to make this course really tailored for those who need it, I would like to ask for your opinion. Several questions, in fact: about your current experience, career goals, difficulties you are struggling with, and expectations about the course.

Please, take a moment to take a survey:

... or send me an email if you have some thoughts on this that you would like to share in a free form.

I don’t want to give any promise when (or if, at all) I’ll be able to launch this course, but if it sounds interesting to you — put your email address in there so you’ll be notified about any news.

And share this post to your friends who might be interested in learning music production.

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