The simple fact for most DJs today is that to achieve any level of success, you need to produce your own music. From distributing re-edit of bootlegs on blogs, to releasing via download site such as Beatport or even pressing up a run of vinyl, it’s the surest way to build up an audience of fans, letting promoters know that you have the sway to draw paying punters through the doors of their club.
Fortunately, in the digital age it’s never been easier to do this with software such as Ableton Live replacing the need for racks and racks of expensive hardware. For the novice producer, however, starting out can be a daunting task and even after using a piece of software for a long time, it’s easy to miss some of its finer time-saving features.
This is where Point Blank come in. Offering music production and sound engineering courses, DJ courses, singing and songwriting courses, and even radio courses, some online, others at their North London studios, they have a wealth of experience across every area that the modern day producer could be interested in.
We enrolled on their online Ableton Live producing course to get a taste of why they’ve been voted best music production and DJ school six times at the T-Scan awards.
A twelve week online course, the course notes for week one run through the very basics of Ableton taking you through essential pieces of knowledge such as what MIDI is, and providing sporadic tests to monitor how well you are progressing. Videos illustrate the more complicated parts, showing exactly how to do things on screen, while an online tutor is available each week to chat about anything you’re having difficulty with. An online forum also provides a means of posting any questions or comments.
The first weekly assignment was to create a series of drum patterns which are uploaded for tutor, then peer, review. We’re still awaiting our own assessment but will be keeping a diary each week to describe exactly we’re progressing. Come week twelve, we will have created, mixed and mastered our own track, developing the tools and confidence to be able go off and begin creating music and playing out.
For those who want an even quicker start to producing, Point Blank also run online pro production courses for specific music styles covering hip-hop, dubstep, minimal techno, deep and soulful house, electro and trance, providing you with the exact skills to create the sound you’re after.