The 12 BLAP Commandments: For Music Producers

By Ill Mind

The 12 BLAP Commandments: For Music Producers

Strictly For: The Hip-Hop Producer looking to establish & maintain a career in music production.

1. Ask Yourself Why You’re Doing It

Everyone has a reason. Everyone makes choices, and those choices are entirely at the discretion of that individual. If you’re doing the “beat-making” thing because it’s actually fun, don’t stop. “Fun” usually starts off as a hobby, and it’s always healthy for us as human beings to do things that make us happy. That hobby could very well manifest into a serious career, if you play your cards right. If you’re doing the “beat-making” thing to make money, find another career. And finally, if you’re doing the “beat-making” thing because you think it’s cool, and everyone else is doing it, please see a psychiatrist.

2. Be Original

Being influenced by a song, or another producer, is completely normal. Completely copying a beat or the style of another producer is also very commonplace. This happens during the early stages of “beat-making” to help us sharpen our skills and get our hands dirty. Originality is everything, though. It’s all you’ve got. You may be able to experience a short run of success by copying another producer (or song, which happens often), but your run will be short lived. Being honest with yourself, your music, your influences, and your capabilities will help you to be YOU. The day you stop looking for a sound, is the day you may actually find it.

3. Understand Music Theory

It’s completely normal to have zero knowledge in Music Theory. Most hip-hop producers don’t. As your career progresses, you will find yourself in more situations that require you to know “some” music theory. Preparation is key, so knowing music theory is only going to help you. What will you do during that first intimidating session at the big studio, when the grammy award winning engineer asks you what “key” the beat is in? Take the time. Learn music theory. Be above the rest.

4. Be Open Minded

Music is such a free flowing energy. The worst attribute to posses, as a producer, is closed-mindedness. Are you a vinyl, throwback, hardware purist who refuses to embrace technology, and the new sound of current music? Are you an EDM junkie who knows nothing about the history of hip-hop, and doesn’t care to know? Neither is better or worse, but both are examples of being “closed-minded”. Free yourself from bias and be open to new things. Listen to different genres of music, before judging them. Stop being a burger, and listen to some different things. Your little shoebox world of music isn’t the only one that exists. You never know what’s out there that can move you or touch you in the same way.

5. Don’t Look For A Manager

Time and time again, the question is asked “how do I get a manager?”. It’s the equivalent of asking “how do you become a super producer?”. You just can’t answer that question in one sitting. Most successful hip-hop producers have either been “seeked” or “approached” by a manager (due to the already climbing establishment of the producer him/herself), or have built a sensible, working, free flowing relationship with an individual (who sometimes could be a long time friend, mutual friend, business partner, etc) organically. There’s no book, no list, and no website that lists “managers” to sign up with. It just doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, a lot of people think it does.

6. Be Self Sufficient

Being a full-time music producer requires a strong DIY (Do It Yourself) mentality. Even with the strongest managers, lawyers or team by your side, you still have to rely on yourself for many things. At certain points in your career, you may feel “alone” and/or “isolated”. Have the ability to bounce back from those moments when projects and/or money may be “dry”. Times like those are inevitable. Only the strong survive (and prosper into abundance!).

7. Remain Humble

Don’t let your surroundings get the best of you. People love genuinely grounded people. Stay grounded, regardless of the heights of success you might attain!

8. Networking Is Everything

Your network determines your “net worth”. Networking with people is an artform. You can’t get good at doing it, unless you try. And you will fail (albiet miserably, sometimes), but that’s ok. The simple rule is to know how to properly interact with other human beings. This is a people industry. You make music with people. People represent you. People cut checks. People run the labels. The imperfections of human beings are all added baggage to this entire hierarchy and life blood of the music industry. It’s a people industry. Never forget that.

9. Beat CDs Are Old News

Get with the times. CDs are useless (to most of us). They take up space. They generally don’t fit in any normal sized pockets. They’re old news. It’s 2016. Use flash drives. They are relatively cheap now, and most artists, managers, a&r’s or industry people in general are more than happy to take one from you. And DON’T snail-mail flash drives (or even worse, Beat CDs) to record label offices. That is a complete waste of money, time and energy.

10. Understand Studio Etiquette

It’s important to know how to carry yourself in a standard recording studio environment. Time and time again (and this is completely normal) “new” hip-hop producers get into a recording studio environment, and have no idea what to do, who to talk to, where to go or what role to actually play. Believe it or not, PASSION alone can naturally give you the wings and confidence/knowledge you need to succeed on this environment. In all cases, you must remember that YOU are the producer of the music. Be in tune with the audio engineer that is running your session. Be in tune with the artist(s), writer(s) and collaborator(s) in the room. Don’t be pushy. Be confident and open minded. And most importantly, have fun. Relax and enjoy yourself. It’s like being on a first date with someone. There’s a certain “smoothness” and “effortlessness” that you must carry with you, at all times.

11. Know What You’re Worth

You posses something inside that’s worth something to the world. It’s the ability and talent to create music. Sometimes you’ll collaborate with someone to improve your skills. Other times you’ll collaborate with someone because they inspire you to continue to create music. Eventually, you will collaborate with someone, strictly to get paid. Regardless of the situation, you’ve got to remember that you are worth something. That “something” grows, depending on how good you are, how popular you become and how official your resume of work becomes. All of those things take time.

12. Agree On Splits, Immediately

Business is crucial. Handle with care. Every song gets divided amongst the people involved in creating the song. Always make sure you are getting your proper %’s. A split sheet is nothing more than an agreement made amongst all participants of a single song (producers, musicians, writers, performers etc). It’s smart to formulate a split sheet AFTER a song is made and recorded. Sometimes, songs go through multiple transformations, over long periods of time. You want to make sure your contributions aren’t lost in translation, along the way (if that is the case). Get into the habit of agreeing on proper publishing and writing split %’s with people IMMEDIATELY after a song is finished.


13 comments

  • Good artcile. Most just need to realize that the challenges today are 3 times more difficult oppose the ones of a decade sgo when becoming a successful Music Producer.

    Kris on

  • Way Too real. Thank you for posting. I needed to be reminded of a few if these today.

    NIco bReeze on

  • knowledge is power. good read.

    Tobes on

  • I love this! I saw it on your instagram and i had to click the link. Great article.

    LEo LEgendary BEats on

  • Thank you for this.

    Adam on


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