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  • Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:35 AM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    Dive into learning the in's and out's of 'complextro' through a project series made from scratch. Complextro is a sub-genre of electrohouse, using frequently changing and modulating synths and leads to create a hectic audio landscape packed into just a few bars. 'Ikora' is a track that we built from the bottom up, and captured all of the video for you to watch!

    Within this series, we will look at building beats and rhythms, chord progressions, a touch of melody, and lots and lots of synth design with Sytrus. Sytrus is an extremely powerful FM synth that comes stock with FL Studio, so if you're looking to bolster your ranks of presets, this project is for you!

    The first two installments are free to all Torches Academy members. The full project series is available to Torches Academy pro members.

    You can get started here! Have fun!

  • Tuesday, January 09, 2018 10:23 AM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    I'm happy to say that we are finally closing in on having the new and improved intro series back up on the site. This was our first goal moving into 2018.

    We're excited because now we get to move forward into the fun stuff! This year we plan to add lots of lessons, features, and downloadable content for Torches Academy members.

    We will be creating new lessons every month starting in February, after we finalize everything with the content we currently have.

    Thanks for your patience while we build a bigger and better Torches Academy. 2018 is going to be a great year!

  • Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:14 AM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    Music and artistry can be tricky. I'm not even talking about just making music - the writing, composition, arrangement, recording, producing, mixing, mastering - but even after all that. What do you do with it? How do you start a following? How do you monetize? How do you stay relevant, let alone stay ahead of the curve?

    I don't have all the answers, all I can say is I live off of what I am passionate about. All I can do is offer my experience and share some of the ideas and concepts that have proven successful, even in the smallest ways.


    Keep it moving.

    I produce a lot of 'first time' artists, and I've noticed that as their first release, they are so dead set on getting it right. But the reality of the situation is (in my personal opinion), a lot of artists' first record is a burner, and for many reasons. From your listeners standpoint, marketing is working against you. How do you get people psyched for an album when they have no idea what you sound like? You're new to the scene - it's probably safe to expect that no one is going to care until you've proven your worth, which most likely will not happen until 1-2 releases in. From your standpoint as far as artistry goes, you are going to be spending your first couple releases discovering your sound! No matter how much time and effort you put into your first release, I guarantee you that you will look at it a month later and say, I could do better now. Whether you spend a month on it or a year on it. Hindsight is 20/20, and honestly that's fine, it's a part of the process. Obviously give it your best and make great music, but don't get stuck up on your entry into the scene. Chances are there aren't going to be too many people watching yet.

    Stop waiting to be ready.

    This is sort of in line with the first tip, but this applies to many aspects - not just recording an album. I'm not even going to go into detail here, but there are so many hours in a day. 'I'm not ready' is a BS excuse - comfortable does not mean progress. If you are ever 'ready' to do something, it means you've spend way too long waiting to do it. This applies not only to recording albums, but playing shows, learning new skill sets, networking, and investing in yourself, to name a few. It's no excuse - get to work! Comfort does not mean progress - failure does.

    Know your weaknesses better than your strengths.

    From a producer's standpoint, this one gets really important. There are tons of producers who can work very well within one genre. I'm not trying to discredit their skill, because I don't deny the fact that they have it - but they're boxing themselves into a life of being a one-trick pony. Explore and fail. Credit yourself, and praise yourself for progress, but don't let that onetaste of greatness fill you with complacency. Musicians who take themselves seriously take every opportunity to grow, and you should never be the smartest one in the room. Surround yourself with people that are better and more experienced than you. The second you think you know everything is the moment you've sacrificed your chance for real greatness, at the expense of ego. Know your weaknesses and improve.

    Don't underestimate 'Grass Roots' methodology.

    In this day and age, it's so easy to just litter the world of social media with your music, hoping that the 'wide net' method will bring you fans. Let me tell you - it doesn't. In fact, I can't tell you how many people I've unfollowed because their methods are spammy and self-absorbed. Be a part of your music community - talk to others, comment on their music. Engage fans and get to know them. Talk about your struggles, your plans, and your dreams. Be a human being. People are smarter than you think - they're tired of automated messages and shameless self-promotion. If you want to promote your sound, drive traffic to smart, visible placements in your social media where your music is stupid easy to find, and then talk about anything and everything MUSIC but yourself. You will see more traffic to your page, and more listens because people will view you as an artist, not a robot.

    Invest in yourself and others who work for you.

    Your artistry is your brand, and you have to spend money to make money. Make a budget and crunch the numbers for short-term and long-term goals. Stop trying to get things for free - in the short-term it may be nice, but not only does that reflect on you as a dead-end prospect to anyone who may want to work with you, but the quality of work you'll see your team putting in will show in your art. Quality over time requires sustainablity. Budget and take care of the people who take care of you, and your art will reflect that. Get people excited about the waves you are making, and your art will reflect that. Let people know that they are taken care of under your roof, and your art will reflect that. No one who makes music for a living will take you seriously if you cannot offer them some kind of compensation. Take the time and energy you allocate to trying to get free services and apply that to building revenue off of your craft. Build your business. You're an artist, not a charity. Which leads me to...

    Stop doing things for free.

    This is the flip-side/continuation of number five. To pay your team and make sure you are getting the best quality work, you need revenue. Music is a business and your name is your brand. If you are going to post or give out your music somewhere, have a reason for doing it. Look up marketing tactics used by professionals and apply them to your sales methods. If you're going to give out 'free' music, get something else in return - like an email. Building an email list could mean hundreds, if not thousands, of future sales if they like the sample you give them. It may not be for money directly, but don't underestimate the value of a contact. Re-monetize your work - Sell your music directly, license it, enable ad monetization on stream services, and blog about it on Steemit - boom, four different revenue streams. Putting value on yourself and your work is important. When someone receives something for free, that is the value that they assign to it - zero. Don't be afraid to allow people to see you as something worth paying for. Even if they choose not to pay for it, they will still apply the value to your worth as an artist.


    Naturally, growth creates a larger web of duties, responsibilities, and prospects for you to take care of. Take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you, but never lose sight of your mission statement. If you start to get side-tracked, reel yourself back in - cut out the fat. It's easy to drown in the sea of opportunity that you create for yourself - stay focused and don't be afraid to simplify.

    Have fun.

    I've almost quit music completely, twice. Why? Because I got lost in the ideas that I was not good enough, or it was overwhelming, or I wasn't making enough to live, or my music had no place in the industry, etc. Don't forget to stop yourself every so often and remember why you do it. It sounds simple, but I can't tell you how important this part is. Keep having fun and always love what you do - if you don't love it, stop doing it. Passion is what drives good music.

    These are just a few things I try to remind myself of on a daily basis. I hope that there are artists out there that can read this and take something away from it!

  • Saturday, December 16, 2017 4:16 PM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    As a music producer, I think one of my favorite and most valued skill sets that I have is my ability to mimic. You learn to hear a song or style, and 'copy' it in a way that helps you learn what it's made up of.

    When you're first starting out as a musician, obviously you want to establish your own style, and it's going to be important that you do so over the length of your songwriting experience. However, I will say that sometimes the best way to find your sound is to mimic others.

    This accomplishes multiple things...

    Firstly, you will quickly master sounds and styles that have already been tried and true. As you continue to do so, your arsenal of sounds and abilities will grow, making sure that you are never stuck in a block of sound design or style. You can accomplish this through mimicry - finding artists that you like and studying/executing their style in a way that is insightful and educational.

    Secondly, not only will you absorb information about artists, but also common denominators within the genre. You can only really accomplish this by spanning your studies across a spectrum of artists. This information becomes vital when an artist asks you to produce a 'trap' instrumental, and you need to know what elements typically go into a trap beat.

    And the last thing that I want to touch on, is this - many times, no matter how hard you try, it's VERY difficult to emulate an artists' style exactly. What this means is that you may find yourself setting out to mimic a song, and realize that you've created a completely different sound entirely.

    This is where the intent of mimicry simply becomes inspiration; it's healthy. I've found that in my experience, when I try to emulate styles of artists that I like, it almost always still sounds like my music. This is the peace of mind to the individuals who are worried about being unoriginal - don't be afraid to mimic! Chances are you will miss the exact mark and make something entirely yours anyway.

  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 3:00 PM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    Lately in my personal life, I've caught wind of a handful of artists who have released their music on social media. Now, I don't want to give you the impression that there is no way to advertise your music on Facebook, but sometimes I believe it can do more harm than good.

    Let me start by saying that Facebook ads can work. I've spent a little bit of money on trying to get ads to take with the public and it hasn't been a complete failure, but I'll also say that I haven't seen groundbreaking results either. The bottom line is, I see more engagement on posts that were already doing well, but Facebook ads have never been a tool that make-or-break a post - only enhance the potential that there was to start.

    Personal Accounts

    You should never overly promote your music on a personal Facebook account. I've gotten multiple questions about this recently, and to be quite honest it just doesn't work unless you already have a very good standing with your friend-base as a musician. It's fine to post once or twice about your music life if you have good reciprocation from your friends list, but overdoing this can shoot you right in the foot.

    I've seen artists who post their new releases multiple times a day to their friends and family, spam-tag in posts, and try to encourage their general acquaintance-base to give them a chance, support their craft, and listen. I get why to some, this may seem like a good way to boost your initial visibility by having your friends and family support first, but there are some big issues with this method.

    The fundamental problem with this method is that you are targeting individuals who are not actively looking for new music. As a consumer, this catches me off-guard all the time - if you're not in the correct environment to accept this type of promoting, it can come off as spammy, automated, and just straight out annoying.

    It is SO important to be able to see the listeners perspective, and by promoting on your personal Facebook account, you are catching people while they are at work, sleeping, taking care of their kids, doing laundry, using the bathroom, having a fight with their ex, etc. It is just not an appropriate time or place to catch a person to listen to new music - the success rate is extremely low - in fact you may be doing more harm to your name than good. You may see some support from other musicians and people who support you already, but most of the people who see these posts and scrolling right by, or even worse, labeling you as somewhat of a social-media pest and unfollowing.

    It is extremely important to reach a person while they are in an environment where they are accepting of new music.

    So what can we do as musicians?

    First of all, make an artist page if you don't already have one.

    Not only does this look more appealing visually, but you get FREE analytics on Facebook for how your page is performing. Facebook isn't the greatest platform in the world for promoting anyways, but if you're going to do it, do it here. The analytics will give you a better idea of who to market and promote towards in the first place.

    The idea here is to reach people in a state of acceptance and discovery. There ARE demographics of individuals that are looking for new music all the time, it's just a matter of finding them. Use your best judgement and imagination, and post your music to places that you think will reciprocate to your projects positively. Reddit is a great place for this if you follow the rules of the /r/ and post appropriately. It's also a great idea to reach out to music blogs and playlists to get your music on those. Be sure to send professional and personal messages/emails to avoid looking like a spammer. And of course, be sure to get your music on major distributors, and have your music registered with a performance rights organization beforehand to collect play revenue accordingly. People browsing streaming sites are the EXACT demographic of people you want to find, as they are in the perfect place to hear new tunes. They are already listening.

    Every musician and band is different, and there isn't one good way to market your music that will work for everyone. But honestly it's about doing the research and the footwork, and executing in a professional and cordial way. No one likes spammers, and anyone who listens to your music on Facebook after your 50th share is most likely doing so out of pity, if anything. Let your Facebook friends live their lives - a better way to interact on Facebook to bring yourself visibility is to engage. Talk to people, ask them questions and answer theirs. Constantly seeing your name in the comments and News Feed (with thought-provoking content, not spamming your Soundcloud account) will give them a reason to check you out.

    Nothing should ever come easy if it's worth doing, so ditch the spam-shares on Facebook and rebuild your marketing/promotion strategy with some innovation, calculation, engagement, and thought.

  • Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:00 AM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    Hey producers and songwriters! As you all know, we've been undergoing a bunch of changes here on the website in an attempt to find the most convenient and efficient way to get content over to you guys. We've had a few bumps in the road from a technical standpoint but we're feeling great about the new layout and the plans that we have for 2018. I wanted to update you guys on some of the plans that we have set in place.

    - Livestreaming will be back! We took a break from this for various reasons. It was a little tricky to coordinate these on a weekly basis due to staffing, and it seemed we were getting more out of creating lessons than we were streaming. However, we want to reinforce the idea that we want to work on YOUR projects to make sense of the material to the memberbase. Livestreaming will be big in doing this, so we will be scheduling regular livestreams again based on member requests and project submissions.

    - Staff additions will also be another big part of 2018. We are bringing on a few fantastic musicians to help develop Torches Academy content! This is great because, as I always say, perspective is everything. As much as I can help the aspiring producers with what I know, getting perspectives from other musicians is still invaluable. Seeing a few new faces around here will be refreshing for you guys, I'm sure! Not only that, but they are beasts in their respective fields. We'll have staff to focus on songwriting, sound design, arrangement, music business, etc. in a much deeper context so you guys are never left wondering.

    - The new website is also a big change. This is our second hosting change, and while it is kind of a setback to have to restructure the layout of the program, it's only to make things better. We're excited to optimize a bunch of things within torchesacademy.com, and we have lots of plans to make it better.

    - While we used to charge $30/mo for a pro membership for lessons, reviews, and personal development, we are dropping that number to $14.99/mo. We think this will make the program more accessible and affordable to all ages.

    These are just a few of the big changes we're making next year! We also plan to schedule workshops with great industry professionals that will be free for members, release more sound packs, tons more lessons and templates, and even look at a certification program and academic curriculum. Stay posted for more updates!

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2017 7:05 PM | Mike Harrison (Administrator)

    Hey all - Mike here! Over the past couple years, we've been experimenting with what the ideal ways are to get information over to the youth about modern music. In March, we had completely renovated our web properties in a way that we thought was going to be one of those ideal moves.

    Unfortunately, while on paper it sounded like a great idea and the site itself looked nice, the functionality and flexibility we wanted wasn't exactly all there. This is why you are noticing a difference in torchesacademy.com now - we have since re-revamped the website to implement certain things that we were missing.

    It's super important to us that we're able to get you anything and everything that you need as an aspiring musician, so our website and it's format is a very important aspect of that mission.

    This means that we have to reupload and reformat a lot of the existing lessons. You may see some things missing over the next couple of weeks, but I assure you they will be coming back better and stronger than ever!

    Thank you for your patience while we adjust!

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