Here at Virtuoso, we have been lucky enough to see some great artists come to deliver informative sessions on the Virtuoso Stage. As 2021 comes to an end, we would like to cast our minds back to some of the best pearls of wisdom that we have seen throughout the year.
Create timeless music, branding and art
In his November visit, Moscow Records founder and esteemed producer Archie Hamilton left us with the following gem:
‘’You want to create something that is timeless. Something that will be as cool in 10 years as it is today. I think that’s where a lot of people fall foul, they will create something that is of the moment and in 2 years time, whatever that moment is, it’s gone and it’s not that cool anymore. Something that we have always tried to do, and I hope that we have achieved this, is to keep that longevity and timelessness.’’
These wise words were given within the context of branding, but they are powerful words to consider in every aspect of your musicianship. In the age of social media, musical trends emerge, blossom and then die with an alarming frequency. Whilst chasing trends can be a way to grab some quick success and easy exposure, if you are hoping to build a long-lasting musical impression then you will need to find ways to create music, art and branding that will still be effective after trends change and the music industry develops.
You can check out the full live session with Archie here.
Make lots of music and finish your projects
Right back in January, we were visited by Bristol icon and Reebeef legend, Eats Everything. His live session was full of lots of great stories, advice and industry tricks but the one that stuck with us went as follows:
“Make tunes. Finish them. It doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad. Just finish them. Try and finish as many tunes as you can. Say you make forty tracks in a month, out of those forty, twenty are going to be ‘alright’, ten are going to be ‘good’, three are going to be ‘mint’, and one is going to be a BANGER.”
We love this advice because it contains 2 important ideas. The first idea is that you can’t expect every idea that comes to you to be your best work. Sometimes an idea isn’t as good as you think it is and it takes you time to work that out. If, however, you take the time to develop and finish every idea, then you will get to practice the process of taking your ideas through to completion, which will make you more efficient when you next have a truly great idea. The next important idea going on here is that if you dedicate enough of your time to creating music, then you are bound to strike gold eventually, as well as the obvious benefit of practicing your craft and improving your abilities as a musician.
You can check out the full live session with Eats Everything here.
Push past your musical anxiety
Another visit in January saw the world-famous superstar DJ Carl Cox step into a Virtuoso Live Session. Alongside plenty of truly inspirational musical wisdom, Cox imparted the following during the live session:
‘’The thing that is really important to understand is that you are only as good as your last party. So, if your last party was rubbish you’ll think to yourself ‘Was it me? Was it the crowd? Was it the situation? Was it the soundsystem? Was it the place? Was it the time of year? Was it too hot? Was it too cold? If you think about all of these things, you’ll never get past your anxiety to what makes you who you are.’’
This top tip addresses issues that most musicians or creatives of any sort will face throughout their careers. Anxiety can interfere with performers in various ways, and it can be tempting to hide behind anxieties and shy away from performing. What Carl is identifying here is that although these feelings can often feel all-encompassing, finding ways to overcome them and continue to develop as a performer despite your anxieties is the best way to realise who you are as a creative.
You can check out the full live session with Carl Cox here
Build a music portfolio
Later in the year, in June, superb vocalist and singer/songwriter Becky Hill joined us for a live session. Throughout the session, she dropped lots of hot tips on how to manage yourself as an artist and how to interact with record labels, but our favourite tip from her was this:
‘’Do 5 covers and write yourself 5 songs that you’re really proud of, put them in a portfolio or a private Soundcloud and then start sending it out to people. Send it out to managers and even start inboxing artists. Go anywhere, go Drum and bass, go House, go up and down the dance scene. A lot of people may not even see it but people will eventually see what you're doing and if you're talking to management then they can even get you into a publishing deal or put you in front of the right people.’’
We love this tip because it provides a clear structure for anyone looking to penetrate the music industry. Whilst Becky’s advice was directed at vocalists, the same concepts can easily be applied to other contexts. For example, a producer could begin by creating 5 remixes or bootlegs and 5 original tracks. This places you in a position of strength when approaching labels, artists or management for support, as you can evidence the work that you are doing and the quality of your music. It also provides the added advantage of having music to fall back on should a label take to your sound. Then you can start releasing your tracks straight away!
You can check out the full live session with Becky here.
Ignore your musical critics
In October, Critical boss and label manager Badger provided learners with some insights into what goes on behind the scenes with a record label. He dispelled some myths about the runnings of a record label and provided great advice on how to operate within the music industry. Our favourite gem from him was this one:
‘’You get your purists that think old is better than new, and you get those that think new is better than old. You get people that like everything that we do, you get people that only like certain artists on the label and disavow any other artists on the label. We are not here to please everyone. You’ve got to ignore your critics. Take it on, but don’t let it get to you.’’
This applies to so much more than just record labels. It is important to be aware of what people think of your art, as this can be a great way to source valuable constructive feedback, but allowing this to drag you down will only further hinder your artistry. Even if your current audience doesn't like your music now, if you continue to remain true to yourself and create the best music that you can, then your talents will shine through eventually.
You can check out the full live session with Badger and Sam Binga here.