Thanks to the availability of digital audio workstations, such as Ableton, any person who is passionate about music has the ability to become a music producer. Gone are the days of having to save large amounts of cash to purchase multiple pieces of analogue equipment. And whilst the purists might be against this new production style, the Music Production Convention celebrates this change in culture and also gives producers opportunities to learn and network.
In its third year and hosted at the Abbey Road Institute Paris, the Music Producer Convention is a 3‑day event that helps producers up skill, hear inspirational talks from their idols, gather information on the business side of the industry and is an opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals.
This year’s convention hosted a line up of producers from around the globe including Rockwilder (US), Scoop Deville (US), Shroom (Amsterdam) and Madizm (FR), just to name a few. Though most classes were in French, the talks with the US artists were in English and the open discussions were translated into English for international guests.
Kicking off on the Friday, the first (half) day of the Music Producer Convention included multiple sold-out Ableton workshops, which culminated in a Beat Battle. The battle took place at 2 Piece Cuisine outside of Paris city centre and featured over 15 producers across Europe including a very talented 15-year-old. Word is the 15-year-old knocked out last year’s battle winner Thibault (USA) in the first round! The winner was Swiss producer Luvanga.
The Saturday and Sunday of the convention hosted talks and workshops by renowned producers and was more fluid in its approach. Attendees were welcome to attend the variety of workshops and also socialise in the networking lounge. The lounge is also where the open discussions were held. More serious and determined attendees booked 1–2‑1 listening sessions with established producers to discuss sound and techniques.
In a Saturday producer session, Amsterdam producer, Shroom, who has worked with the likes of Ghostface Killah, Mobb Deep and Busta Rhymes, hosted a intimate session where he went into detail into his creation and production styles and techniques. In the session, the group created a beat, using Ableton and a series of plug-ins, that was reminiscent of something you’d hear on a Wu Tang Clan album. Shroom explained and demonstrated his process in real time, and one, very brave attendee stepped up to the studio and provided some keys on the Maschine.
Shroom is also known for creating samples packs, which have become popular within the production community. He also broke down his very specific and meticulous process of recording instruments for these packs.
One of the discussions of the day was titled Producer Life: Dream versus Reality. A very interesting and relevant topic. The panel consisted of artists who were also involved in workshops including Shroom, Italian rapper Mondo Marcio and French producer Madizm. The host very kindly translated for the English speakers in the room.
All of the panellists spoke frankly about working in the music industry and making music, whether that be as a producer or as a rapper, and gave sound advice to the guests. The resounding response was that it is possible to be successful with making music as a career and don’t believe the [negative] hype.
Mondo Marcio stated: “everybody is making music” [but you] “really need to believe in yourself, cliché but true. Trust in your craft. Focus on your career and sound”.
Shroom, who has had successes with working with Eminem and with his sample packs echoed Mondo’s sentiments. “[I’m] still trying to make it myself. I’ve had success but I’m working every day”.
Mondo finished with, “there is a myth around contracts and getting signed. Don’t look for that, look for [your] sound and the contracts will come”.The discussions focused on the business side of the industry, something everyday producers have very little knowledge on but something that is important to their ways of working and successes. In the Diversify Your Revenue Streams discussion, the artists made it clear “don’t pull all your eggs into one basket”, like just releasing music, look for synch opportunities and/or collaboration opportunities.
Sunday, again, was a very fluid day in terms of timings. Unfortunately due to flight delays and emergencies some of the morning programming was pushed to the afternoon. This allowed for attendees to mingle in the common area and out the front, and it also meant there was more involvement in the debates. One of the discussions for the day was The Market and the panel included an eclectic mix of people from different strands of the music industry.
On this panel was French rapper Vince, UK producer/finger drummer Nali and Nerve/Universal label executive Oriana, who all gave their advice on how best to use marketing tools such as social media.
One thing was evident and that was that “time[s have] changed due to the internet” and it was important for artists to be on at least one social media platform to engage with their audience.
Label executive Oriana advised the “most important thing is personality and story-telling, [I] don’t look at the numbers”. From their own personal experiences as independent artists Nali and Vince both agreed that it was important to be consistent with sharing content on social media, and that you don’t need high tech equipment, just interaction and human connection to stand out.
Finally, to close out the 2.5 days of the convention, US producers Tony Dofat and Rockwilder hosted a joint workshop session. The combination of the duo speaking together created a great dynamic and in turn provided interesting insight into their beginnings as Hip Hop producers in New York City. Rockwilder spoke about his humble beginnings of “just doing beats to play in the car” and knowing and working with Redman who his “mother was scared of” and Erick Sermon “his production was complex”.
Rockwilder weaved in the songs he referenced whilst he spoke and Dofat interjected throughout with hilarious anecdotes. When Rockwilder spoke about women being the best sounding boards for tracks, “if my mum like [a beat], hit record”. “In house A&R”, Dofat joked. Fast forward to the 2000’s and Rockwilder speaks about working with Big Pun, Jay‑Z and Eminem. His stories were inspiring and humbling, and were a nice way to finish the weekend at the convention.
In its third year the Music Producer Convention is still very much in its infancy and yet has managed to attract a number of high-profile international speakers, as well as interest in attendance from producers from across Europe. I look forward to seeing the event, which is worthwhile for beat makers and producers of all stages, develop and expand further in years to come.
Kylie de vos
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