Follow me on social media

Facebook is my main news hub where I share upcoming releases, gigs, photos, videos, and blogs. Typically, I post 3–5 times a week.

Telegram and Twitter duplicate what I post on Facebook, with occasional extra content.

On Vkontakte, I write in the Russian language for my fans out of from Russia and CIS.

I also upload vlogs and gigs videos on YouTube and share travel photos, selfies, and studio routine on Instagram.

32 posts tagged

Behind the scenes

Stepping aside

For the last few years, I’ve been living on inertia. Write a track, share something on Facebook, record a podcast, all as per usual. Always in hurry, always in rush. Why? I thought I know the answer — because that’s how it supposed to be, isn’t it? But recently I asked myself: “Do I want to see myself there in 5 or 10 years?”, and surprisingly, the answer was no. A part to that answer was the music which no longer excites me that much.

Psytrance is stale. Even if the most successful artists say so (Astrix posted this a few days back on his Instagram story), then the scene is really in a bad place. I never said this before, but in reality, it’s not that easy to find even 10 to 15 fresh and original tracks a month to fill the monthly podcast. Same kick and bass, same copy-pasted leads, Terence Mckenna phrases, or Hindu vocals, or bloody stupid triplet drops that makes absolutely no sense. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite some awesome and talented producers and labels around and I still love Psytrance, but not that kind of “Psytrance” that you typically hear at a festival or in Beatport top chart.

It’s time to make a change.

I have decided to give myself a little break, time off to make something fresh. You’ll probably won’t see me very active in social media and even think to put Rave Podcast on hold for a while, but I want you to know that is only because something new will be forging in the meantime.

Sep 30   Behind the scenes

Audience location

Do you remember Apple Music for artists that I’ve written about a few days ago? Turns out, there is something useful, and I’d like to share my observations.

Just out of curiosity I looked at the top countries where the most plays come from, and then I looked at the same stats on SoundCloud. Here are the numbers:

Top countries where people listen to my music from. A coincidence? I don’t think so

Just look how similar the data is between two different services. Top three rows are exactly identical, even the ratio is very close. How cool is that! I mean, it’s one thing when you see top countries at some particular platform, but when countries match across few sources it’s a whole another thing.

So, I’ve got a pretty accurate geographical picture. The numbers are basically telling me: “your audience is concentrated here”. The fact that I already played in four of these countries indirectly confirms this.

From now I think to use this data to target my promo campaigns more accurately. Clearly, I had to check that before any media planning, but I haven’t done it before (and thus potentially miss some of the key markets) is a mystery to me.

Fellow producers, where are your listeners from? Would be curious to compare the stats taking a music genre into account.

2018   Behind the scenes   Marketing   SoundCloud

Apple Music for artists

Just got a closed-beta access to the Apple Music for artists:

Artist’s dashboard

For some reason, I expected a lot of juicy insights or at least some useful data, but as it turns out, there are just a few generic metrics and that’s it. Even SoundCloud has a deeper statistics tool for a long time, and overall SoundCloud it has much more playbacks.

I know that beta version means subject to change, but I doubt that anything will be different once they launch it live. That’s sad.

2018   Behind the scenes   Marketing

How much I earned on the album sales

Behind the scenes in facts and numbers

Last year I released my second studio album 2000 Years Ahead, my the most successful release to date.

Success shows in different ways: followers’ growth, bookings, smiles on the dancefloor. But today I’d like to share specific numbers, and that is how I earned on the album sales. Just in time as I recently got a financial report from the label.

How many copies sold

The album was released in two formats: digital and physical. Label — Digital Om Production. At that time Bonzai Music was taking care of the digital distribution, whilst Arabesque Distribution for the CDs.

940 tracks and 140 CD copies sold so far

For the first quarter, people downloaded 940 tracks and purchased 140 CD copies.

Is that good enough or not?

Let me answer with the fact: the album was #1 on Psyshop and #2 on Beatport top charts for the whole month:

“2000 Years Ahead” in the top sales charts. Source: bptoptracker.com.

Overall, the album spent 18 days in the top-10 and 69 days in the top-100 on Beatport. Sitting in the charts for more than two months considered as quite an achievement.

How much I’ve got

Now comes the more interesting part. To be clear, all numbers below are net, i.e. after the deduction of the stores and distributors commission, which is roughly 50% depending on the platform and region. For example, when you see $1,99 retail price per track on Beatport, the real income from it is about $0,9. That’s the numbers I’m operating below.

Stores take 20—50% cut from retail price

So, this is what’ve got from all sources — digital sales (including streaming), physical sales and sublicensing:

Revenue  
Digital sales +€815
Physical sales +€610
Sublicensing +€200
Total revenue: +€1625

A thousand and a six hundred euros sound nice, right?

But revenue ≠ profit. The album also had some expenses on production and promotion that we have to take into account:

Expenses  
Mastering -€225
Artworks -€200
CD printing -€300
Logistics -€100
Marketing -€100
Total expenses: -€925

Now let’s calculate the profit: €1625 (revenue) – €925 (expenses) = €700. But we’re not done yet since all profit splits between the artist and the label — that’s a typical deal in the industry. So, then: €700 / 2 = €350. And that is how much I earned before taxes.

€350 is how much I’ve got a year later for the first quarter of sales

Now we can make a few conclusions:

  1. Once again I’ve got a confirmation of my own words that a music producer cannot make a living on the music sales alone. I’ve written about it earlier and talked on my master class.
  2. Music release is not only income but also expenses. And whilst you may not gain profit at all, it will cost you something for sure.
    It’s important to mention that in my case the label took all expenses since we already worked together and I got a trustworthy reputation. Keep in mind that not every label would want to invest a thousand dollars if you are a new producer with a debut release.
  3. People still buy CDs!

Why I’m telling this

Perhaps, not everyone aware of that, but we actually have a problem in the music industry: many young producers expect to make a living on the debut release sales, then they see a financial report with a 2-digit number (or nothing, at all), start to accuse everyone around and eventually quit their career.

I’m sad to see these things happen all the time and hence why I share my experience on how things work behind the scenes.

I’d love to tell you that “I released my album and bought a house”, but the truth is after a year of hard work and a fantastic appearance in the charts, the album sales directly gave less than a monthly salary of a janitor. That’s the true story.

That’s why you need to remove the pink glasses and start working hard — a something that musicians do not really like to do. And threat your music releases simply as a portfolio.

Bonus: stats

A financial report is not only about the money, it’s also a lot of juicy data. I’ll put some metrics that I find interesting down below.

Digital sales, by store:

Beatport 75%
iTunes 18%
Juno 4%
Google Music 2%
Amazon 1%

Digital sales, by country

USA 20%
United Kingdom 13%
Germany 12%
Australia 9%
Switzerland 7%
Japan 5%
France 4%
Canada 4%
Brazil 3%
Finland 3%
Netherlands 3%
26 more countries 14%

Streaming, by service

Spotify 50%
Apple Music 38%
Google Music 5%
iTunes 4%
Deezer 3%

Streaming, by country

USA 10%
Germany 9%
United Kingdom 7%
Mexico 6%
Russia 6%
Netherlands 5%
Switzerland 4%
Australia 4%
Japan 4%
Sweden 4%
France 3%
Canada 3%
37 more countries 25%
2018   2000 Years Ahead   Behind the scenes   Music industry

On easy money

Jiz Lee

I’m going to put here some quotes, and try to guess what I’m talking about:

“There are performers, there are lighting people, there’s a PA, there’s a manager, there are all of that people and that’s the production day. And then there’s post and editing. Even beyond just the set, the industry is so much more of a business than people realise. Like every company has a sales team and an accounting department. [...] There are so many people behind the scenes.

Just like any other job, there are some days that are like the most fantastic days ever and it’s ‘I like my job!’ and there are some days where it’s like you’re working. Not everyone in the industry makes a lot of money, but it costs a lot of money up front for sure. I put more hours into being a porn stat then I think the average person puts into their nine-to-five job.

People might know me for being up from the camera but I do marketing and I set at a desk most of my day. If you do it as a career, you end up wearing so many hats: some performers learn how to do a makeup, some learn how to edit [...] Creating your own content, creating your own mini-vids or clips for sale, learning how to edit and upload. All of these things are learning curve that you have to have in order to be a... I don’t even say successful, that steady working performer.”

All of these things are learning curve that you have to have in order to be a... I don’t even say successful, that steady working performer.

That’s must’ve been about the music industry for sure, right? Well, you’re wrong: these are the quotes of the porn stars interview for Iris.

It’s amazing how similar the expectations of newcomers to the porn business and the music industry: both seem to think that being a performer is an easy money and pure pleasure.

Many think that once you’ve learned how to mix two tracks, you’re a DJ. Or just make some music and the gigs will come along, automatically. Or act in a porn and just get some free sex and fun (and even get paid for that). Sounds easy!

Well, in reality, there’s a ton of hard work behind the scenes and not every performance gives you satisfaction. I think everyone who wants to make a porn music career should know about it.

2018   Behind the scenes   Career   Marketing   Quotes

Backstory series. Part 4

First gigs as a producer

If you’ve been following this backstory series, you know that I had some gigs as a DJ in the mid 00’s, then I took a break, and then in 2011 I came back with ambitions to become a professional music producer and my education in the Audio School was the first step toward that goal.

Today, I would like to tell you about my first gigs but this time as a music producer.

Thanks to the new skills I got while studied in the Audio School, I’ve managed to get my first track released on Ovnimoon Records and that’s what I count as a starting point of my producer’s career.

As soon as my debut EP was released, I’ve got a proposal to make an EP for another label. Then I remixed a track from Magnus who already had a full-length album released on JOOF Recordings by that time. Then I got invited to make guest mixes for a few radio shows, plus my own Rave Podcast has started to have amazing guests too.

Here are some of my first tracks released at that time:

Soon enough, local party promoters noticed it. And we’re talking about gigs, remember?

Despite the fact I consider myself a DJ first, I have no doubts that it is my original productions helped me to get my first serious bookings.

Forest Quest Festival. Russia, 2012 Underground Avant-Garde. Russia, 2012

Advice: In today’s world, it is almost mandatory to be a DJ and a music producer at the same time if you want to make a career of a touring artist, despite these two are very distinguished professions. Your name probably won’t be interesting enough for a booking if you’re “just” a DJ, and you probably won’t be able to perform if you are “just” a producer that has no DJ skills whatsoever.

Being a music producer and a DJ at the same time is the formula of success today

If you are a local DJ who is struggling with getting more gigs with better time slots, start making your own music. Having music released on a credible record label opens new possibilities, you naturally get more followers and your name gets more value from the party promoter’s perspective.

To be continued.

2017   Backstory series   Behind the scenes   Career   Gigs

Pros and cons of my career decisions

Vlog 003

I’ve got great comments to my previous vlog, in particularly, Elimelec Domínguez asked the following:

“If you had to start again in your career, what would you focus on? What skills and areas are vital to the success that you already have? What things would you completely rule out?”

Wow, I love it. I recorded a new vlog episode to answer these questions, I hope other upcoming producers will find it useful too. So there you go, pros and cons of my career decisions:

Thanks to Digital Om Productions for the nice t-shirt :-)

2017   Behind the scenes   Career   Vlog

Managing a record label duties with Trello

An insight look at an A&R routine

When I joined the JOOF Recordings team as an A&R assistant in 2015, things were done using the typical tool that everyone uses — email. Each release goes through various steps, such as getting the mastering done, getting the artwork done, arranging remixes, making sure everyone got what they need etc. So as a big label that typically has a few dozens of upcoming releases in the pipeline, we had a bunch of emails sent back and forth. The problem was obvious: it was difficult to get an overview of the pipeline and hard to track individual status of each release.

Eventually, I came up to using Trello as a mission control centre for our releases, and in this blog I’d like to tell more about it. Perhaps, my experience will be helpful for other label managers out there, and for regular listeners, it might be just an interesting insight look at an A&R routine.

What is Trello

If you never heard about Trello and don’t know anything about it, I suggest watching the Getting Started With Trello or read the Beginner Tips for Using Trello first to get an idea of what this service is all about.

Basically, Trello is a free web-service for organising stuff. One of its common application is using it as a Kanban board, with cards moving across that represents a task in a production process. Like this:

Drag-n-dropping a card in Trello feels very intuitive and works really well

This concept allows you to get a big picture and see each individual task simultaneously in a nice visual way, something that a typical to-do list fails to achieve. It is commonly used for software and web development, marketing, customer support, and other teams and businesses.

The workflow

Our board has lists that represent the workflow and cards that represent releases. Here are the lists:

Forthcoming For releases that we’re expecting in the foreseen future, usually from the label’s artists. E.g. “A follow-up EP from John”
New demos For incoming demos that we found something worthy and for the releases from the previous list once it’s done. Here we have our internal discussion whether this particular release fits or not
In Progress For approved releases from the previous list. A release in this list means we’re currently working on the mastering, the artwork, the remixes etc
Submitted For releases that are good to go and submitted to the distributor. Once a card is here, we just waiting for the release date
Released For released titles that are out in stores, our back catalogue. It means our job is done here
Rejected For tracks that don’t fit JOOF for any reason. Rejected demos go straight here from the second list above
Profiles For cards that include our artist information: name, contacts, address, pictures etc. We use it a shared contacts book and for the contracts

Feel free to use these lists as a template for your label board too.

Here is the overview of our JOOF board just to show you how these lists look like visually (all text labels are pixelated on purpose, for obvious reasons):

Trello board with JOOF pipeline

Even through the pixelated filter you probably see some colour strips on the screenshot above — that’s the labels, a sort of a tags system built in Trello (I will call it tags to avoid confusion with the word “label” in this context). You see, recently JOOF Recordings launched two more labels under its wings, JOOF Mantra and JOOF Aura, so formally speaking we’re managing three labels at once at this Trello board. And this is where those tags come really handy.

Here are the colours of the tags we use corresponding to each:

  JOOF Recordings
  JOOF Mantra
  JOOF Aura

Such colour code helps dramatically as I can instantly tell what’s status in each of our label just by looking at the board. And of course, I can also filter these tags or just search when I need to find something specific.

Card details

You probably noticed some square icons on the screenshot above, they are visible even through the pixelated filter. Let me show you a zoom-in screenshot of a card:

Trello card

See my user icon at the bottom right corner? Since here at JOOF we have several people receiving demos, we assign a person who managing that particular release to avoid miscommunication. A kind of “account manager” in sales and customers relationship.

For example, if I see an icon of my fellow colleague Gary, I know that he’s taking all communication with that artist regarding this particular release.

If you open up a card, it shows all the juicy details such as attached files, lists, due date, and the chat our team have about this release. Here’s how it looks like:

Trello card detailed view

Well, that’s pretty much it. Trello is a great tool for collaboration and management, but its application can go far beyond this. Personally, I also use it for tracking my radio show, vlogs schedule, gigs database, and so much more.

Feel free to ask if you have any question, I’ll keep the comments box below open.

2017   A&R   Behind the scenes   Management   Music industry

My Ableton setup explained

Vlog pilot episode

Many people find my humble advice blog useful and I’m happy to hear that. However, the number one request that I get asked all the time is to make videos, not just articles in the written form. I find myself watching more and more YouTube channels lately, so I totally get that.

Well, you asked — you get it. In fact, I’m thinking to make this whole vlog thing on a regular basis, although I’m not entirely sure yet. Think about this video as a pilot episode.

I know some people prefer to watch a video on Facebook, so I’ll put that link here as well.

Three fun facts. I had to cut almost half of the content from this video, otherwise it would be 40 minutes long. This video took me about 20 hours to make, not including time spent on a couple of failed attempts. Since it was the first montage I made in Final Cut Pro X ever, I’ve watched 70 video lessons alongside with making it.

2017   Ableton   Advice   Behind the scenes   DJing and performance   Vlog

Backstory series. Part 3

Getting to a new level

Previously I told about my first local gigs in 2006 and shutting down the community website in 2008.

During the next three years after these events, I lived a normal life trying to make a career in a totally different field of work. No music production whatsoever, I’m not sure I even listened to music — I guess that is how strongly burned-out I was because of the study, the job, and the toxic relationship I had back then (tough times of being a teenager).

So, 2011, I was 24. That was the time when I realised that not only I want to come back to music production, but also make it a big part of my life and eventually make a living on music.

It was sound like a nice plan, right, but where to start? After a 3-year long break, most of my connections in the industry had gone, basically, I had to start from the very beginning.

That’s how eventually I found Audio School — a Moscow-based school of electronic dance music that offer courses on production, DJing, VJing, music theory, and other related disciplines. In total, I spent six months learning the basics and nuances of the profession and studying there was one the best decisions I’ve made.

The final exam on DJing discipline at Audio School. Performing on 4×Pioneer CDJ-1000, DJM-800, and an external SFX-processor by Korg. Moscow, 2011

Also at the same year I started my radio show, Rave Podcast, actually a several months before my education. Now it’s funny how clearly you can hear the difference in my mixing skills before and after the study. I know those first episodes sound terribly bad, but that’s exactly why I keep them — it’s a reminder to myself of where I started.

All in all, education at Audio School gave me a great head start and saved a tremendous amount of time because learning all of this by myself would take me a way much more time. Eventually, the track I’ve made for the production discipline final exam is the track you know as “Contact”, my debut release signed on Ovnimoon Records.

Advice: music career has many pitfalls and nuances, so if you have a serious intention to make music as your profession — learn from someone who already mastered these things. It can be a school, online courses, master classes, blogs, vlogs, whatever. Always raise the bar and never stop learning, that’s the only way of getting to a new level. The time and money you invest in self-education will always eventually pay off.

Always raise the bar and never stop learning

To be continued.

2017   Backstory series   Behind the scenes   Career
Earlier Ctrl + ↓