A reflection on my musical journey so far

It’s now been over five years since I started seriously producing music. When I say seriously producing music, I’m referring to working on music on a daily basis and not just thinking of it as a hobby. I had done some hobby level music production for most of my life, had formal music training as a kid, produced albums with friends, and performed as a DJ (both regular and ad-hoc) but not until after a New Year’s Eve party in 2018-2019 did I really start studying and practicing electronic music production and taking lessons in earnest.

What happened in 2019? At the time, I was working at a large Mountain View -based search engine company in a role which gave me lots of exposure to the technological relationship side of the music business. For example, I had access to partner engineering from all of the major streaming distributors and would frequently find myself in the room helping them with their needs related to the technology platforms I was working on. I had long been a fan of electronic music and was friends with many up and coming artists. In fact, I was staying in an Air BnB in Oakland attending Coalesce and was sharing the house with artists who were in the event lineup alongside Tipper. At the event, I’d occasionally lose some of my friends (the artists) as they went backstage to participate in the event. They offered to sneak me back there but I wanted more than anything to earn my place amongst them as an artist.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was in Los Angeles visiting the CEO of a large sample-reselling company who encouraged me to become a producer. He told me that engineers within his company made the journey in just over a year through dedication and consistency. I was inspired and knowing my network, I felt that fate was telling me that I needed to start walking down this path immediately. When I got back to my hotel room after the meeting, I signed up for Mr. Bill’s Hardcore Abletoneer, and started learning Ableton Live (I was using FL Studio to scratch my hobbyist itch up until that point). I painstakingly shadowed the creation of Mr. Bill’s track from the Art of Mr. Bill season 1 and took apart and wondered at the project files that he generously shared to help budding producers learn.

Hungry for individual learning, coaching, and more content, I then joined Ill.Gates Producer Dojo and started studying both Mr. Bill and Ill.Gates every day while applying their lessons in the DAW. It took me around a year before I was even the slightest bit confident in Ableton Live but I kept growing and learning.

That was just the beginning, in the time since, I have slowly gotten a little better over time through consistent practice. I have taken lots of lessons (LOL) and have become friends with many of my music production heroes through a combination of luck and persistence. 2020 and 2021 with the pandemic and remote work were a blur and I took on a really difficult job in 2022 that slowed my progress a bit but has allowed me to become a full time artist (student) as of 2023. Being able to work on music full time has been extremely helpful and I’ve noticed an increase in my growth over the past year that has me hopeful of one day realizing that dream of earning my place as a reputable performing act.

Realizing it’s been 5 years, I did a little script-fu and counted how many beats I’ve created since I started – it’s over 2000. Of those thousands, I’ve been compelled to put out only a handful but the trend over time has been positive and I keep raising the bar for myself.

My technical skills would not put me as a master of music production quite yet but I’m at a point where things that used to take me hours to figure out are happening automatically. I can sound design a few types of sounds from scratch and have some awareness with how to detect and resolve problems in my own mixes. I can compose whole songs from scratch and can revisit and improve old works. The biggest change that I’m noticing now is that I listen to music differently now than I did a year ago, two years ago, and so on going back to 2019.

I still feel like I’m just getting started though and there’s a bigger climb ahead. Although I have had many advantages through the journey so far, I have not popped off yet. I’ve brought up the 1-year success story but I never really expected that I would rise that fast given I know so many people who have made the tough climb requiring years of constant practice. As for many others, this has not been a steady climb and I’ve had a lot of really difficult challenges over the course of the journey.

I will keep going. I’m grateful for the friends and peers who have come along with me over the years in the music production community and am really doing my best to enjoy the journey and adventure as I grow. I’m saying this in case other producer’s journeys have been similar – not everyone will learn and progress at the same pace so patience and persistence is a really important skill to develop in this practice.