“When I started out making beats in my bedroom, I never imagined where it might take me”. It’s kind of a cliché now, but it couldn’t be more true for me. Except that it was actually in the laundry room of my parents house, on the family computer. I spent every second on it that my parents would let me. I remember getting a copy of FL studio from a friend when I was 16 and trying to make music that sounded like the music from my Playstation games. Music that sounded like The Crystal Method and The Prodigy and Dieselboy. I didn’t think it would turn into anything, but I loved doing it. It was my passion.
When I was 23, I decided to move to NYC and I started really pushing myself much harder to hone my craft as a music producer. I also discovered EDM – dubstep, electro, and trap music around this time, and that changed everything. The sound design, the bass, the way that everyone moved together when the beat dropped. I was eager to get my music out there, so I started searching out people in the music industry to work with. I created a networking group for musicians, which launched me into the center of the NYC music scene. I started to work with a few labels and I started getting booked at shows.
This led to one of the most incredible periods of time in my life. In a lot of ways I was living the dream. I was playing shows every month, collaborating with other like-minded artists, and attending or hosting events every week. It felt amazing to play my own original music in front of people and have them go crazy for it. I met so many amazing people and made so many friends, who I keep in touch with to this day.
As I pushed myself to develop my skills, I had many sleepless nights and, to be honest, a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. I suppose when you put your mind to a single task, you are bound to make sacrifices.
In the music industry, you are expected to hang out late at the studio or at a show, and partake in whatever partying was happening that night. While it’s certainly a good idea to celebrate and have fun, we took this to an extreme place. I was spending a lot of time at the studio listening to incredibly loud mixes and constantly going to see new DJ’s and as a result of this, I began to develop a horrible ringing in my ears that never goes away.
I don’t often talk about this, but after one fateful night of partying, I became incredibly wasted after drinking half a dozen PBR tall boys and Jäeger shots at Webster Hall and blacked out. I woke up the following afternoon with a broken leg. It took me 2 months to be able to walk again – not the most fun way to spend the summer.
Meanwhile, things were getting weird in lots of other ways. Certain people I had surrounded myself with (the people that seemed to have the best connections), were doing everything the same way they had always done things – the old version of the music industry. A version of the music industry that was slowly dying. Studios were closing, revenue was down, and album sales were plummeting. One label owner I knew was even threatening to sue any of their artists if they shared production advice on social media. Talk about a “scarcity mindset”.
Even worse than that, when I looked around at who I had been working with – not only were they not able to adapt to the changing music industry, but they would consistently manipulate and take advantage of new artists trying to get their foot in the door – including me. They were the kind of manipulative people you should be wary of…
They will promise you the world, but then when it comes time for you to get paid, somehow they are nowhere to be found.
On paper, I was a huge success.. I had produced for a Billboard top 40 artist and had my music featured on radio and TV. I had official remixes coming out for major artists in the EDM scene. I had multiple top 5 releases on the Beatport charts. I was featured in major music blogs. I had a fancy studio with all the latest and greatest gear in midtown Manhattan. My friends were working on famous TV shows and movies, and working for major music companies. I was playing shows every month. I felt like I had made it, or at least I was well on my way to making it.
However, none of that matters when you’re sacrificing your physical and mental health to stay in the game, to stay relevant to the ‘right people’. None of that matters when you’re being lied to by the labels time and time again, and asked to work ‘for exposure’ and feeling like you have no choice but to comply, because if you ask to get paid, then that will cut into the promotion budget, which will deprive the song of its chance to blow up.
I started to feel lost. I had my foot in the door of the music industry, and I didn’t think it was wise to take that for granted. But nothing felt right. I wasn’t able to pay my bills with the money I was earning off my music, while the labels were getting rich. I started to become bitter and depressed, and I felt like I had no control over my destiny.
I had to make a change. I left NYC after the pandemic hit, and cut ties with those labels I had been working with. I moved out to the country, where I hoped to rebuild. I needed to get healthy, both physically and mentally.
I had serious doubts about moving forward with music at this point. Without the shows, the studio, and all of the connection I had made, what was I going to do? Was there any point to it? How could I continue to build my fanbase? Would I have to rebuild my whole music career from the ground up?
I eventually realized that I’d be making music no matter what, because I always knew I was never in it for the money anyway. I started to focus on my own music and doing my own live visuals. I started building my own home studio that would become the new base of operations.
What came out of that was my largest series of releases ever. I released as much in 2020 and 2021 then I had previously released in my entire music career. Without the help of a label. Instead, I learned how to become my own label. And those songs ended up being my most streamed songs of all time.
Don’t ever compromise yourself, your beliefs, your health, or your integrity in the hopes of achieving goals. This will only erode your sense of self-worth and identity. And It’s okay to walk away from people you once considered friends if it means staying true to yourself.
It’s been a wild ride, and I feel like this is just the beginning. I finally feel confident to release all my own music by myself, for the first time, without the help of any other person or label. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time, and it gets better every day. If you hear my music and enjoy it, know that this is all that matters to me now.
Here’s to the good times and the friends I made along the way.
You guys, the listeners, are really all that matters to me now. Although it’s going to be a challenge to strike out alone in this crazy world of music, nothing worth doing is easy. Here’s to hoping that you are a part of that journey.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click here to listen to my most recent album, “Magnitude”.
Thank you for being a listener and making it all matter.