Making House music: are you a Long Player or Short Player?

This is the first write-up in a loose series of posts written by guest writers. Today, we have the great pleasure to share Mr. Jones' thoughts with you. For more Pesto news related to Mr. Jones, please click here. These guest posts do not necessarily reflect Pesto Music's position (although they will quite often) but are rather intended as a good starting point for a discussion. Please join in!

House music is a passion most of us have it in the blood, usually the House DJ and producer starts off hearing electronic music at an early age and gets infected by grooves and interesting sounds. This leads to them wanting to know how it’s all done and most DJs end up in some form of training on software and hardware in studios and computer production suites. Some just dabble in it and release the first things they ever make and continue along that trend throughout their careers with no formal training or musical knowledge/skills.
 
It all starts with an obsession for buying new tunes and being at the forefront of the fashion show that is new House music releases. The club scene thrives off imports and new tracks flying about the globe from the thousands of artists and labels.
Here we arrive at the phenomenon of the superstar DJs who play these new signed and unsigned tracks they are sent for free, and labels and artists clamber over each other to get reviews and plays from the heavy hitters. Dark rooms the world over set the scenes for what is cool and what is not cool in the House music genres, and this drives many artists and labels to flow in particular directions based on these trends.
 
Here in lies the problem.
 

Fashion


It seems an unlikely idea that music would be fashionable and artists would be fashionable as opposed to music just being great but it happens and is happening right now. Somehow certain artists and labels can get away with murder releasing anything that the everyday clubber considers to be the current trend, and it will fly off shelves and download stores like its about to run out of stock.
This for many experienced music producers is unfathomable because when they listen to music in their knowledgeable ears and training they understand the complexity and production skills of real House music. So it can be rather perplexing to them when they hear a track made from samples alone with a few FX and not a shred of musical composition added to it, yet somehow it’s blowing the charts up and being played by every DJ on the planet. It is as if music no longer mattered and appreciation of actual composition and musical talent was no longer required. This leads to the next problem.
 

Elitism


There are certain DJs and producers who somehow think when they’re being charted and played by the fashionistas of the scene that they have somehow made it and earned the respect of the scene. The reality of it is that they have only succeeded in becoming a fashion icon of the scene, and everyone knows fashion trends come and go quicker than a punter in a brothel. The side effect of this is the artists or the labels gain a level of elitism that can be noted in their interactions with lesser mortals.
 
The trick in this music scene is not only longevity and dedication but its also being nice to people, because if you're not nice to people and are problematic to those who are going to outlive you in the scene you have a big problem. Longevity is not something that happens over night like a few beat port top ten hits, longevity requires study and sweat. Now most long time artists in the scene you will notice evolve and improve their skill sets. The main players tend to end up becoming more involved in their trade and learn more about production and musical composition, as well as playing musical instruments also they tend to be really nice people to communicate with. This is the level of technical abilities that are worthy of elitism and respect, it is very rare a newcomer arrives on the scene with all these skill sets in tact but when they do it's easily observed.
 
So we finally get to the core of this post.
 

The Frankenstein’s monster of the ego


There are so many artists who can be seen complaining about this or that, and expecting to paid this or that, or to be treat like this or that. It becomes somewhat tiresome for people to have to deal with this repeatedly as it’s the evil twin of the fashion side of the scene. From speaking to many artists and label owners the common complaint I hear is how much throw away material there is in the scene, a lack of musical skill and a lack of sincere communication. If you have got this far into the post you should sit and think about that because while you are thinking about approaching XYZ labels, bear in mind a lot of them talk about this kind of thing in the background to one another. Do you really want to be the person they are talking about? The one they don’t want to work with? The one they see as a fashion accessory?
 

It all boils down to the following


Take some time on thinking what you put into the scene and what you get out of it, because the House music scene has been around 30 years now and is not going anywhere anytime soon. If you plan on making a career from this it is well advised to take your time in your efforts and plan ahead for what you want to get. Do you just want to be a fashionable DJ no one is going to remember in ten years time as the scene evolves and casts off its old rags? Or do you want to be one of those long time personalities who everyone admires and respects for their efforts in the scene?
 
It’s easy to just bang a few tracks out and stand up in the spotlight for five minutes; any of us can do that. It's not so easy to forge a personal connection to your music and peers that actually means something in the long span of time. Be nice, get involved with people in the scene, keep the ego in check and don’t just think you have made it and demand respect. Respect is given and you will know when you get there, most of us are still working towards getting there ourselves.