Techno 101: Escape the gate-keepers of techno, and break-through?

Written on 19.11.2021 by Andrijan Apostoloski Bushi

As in every other genre on the planet, the industry-led pawns always make their ways into publishing magazines, popular platforms, elitist labels – and at first glance, it makes it seem like actually getting someone to listen to your techno would be like finding a needle in haystack.

Our prior Techno 101 article:
Techno 101: Starting Out From Scratch

However, I want to explain some tips on how to break through these gate-keepers that are put within the techno world, and how to get your music out there to the world, so it can actually be heard. When you’ve come at a point that you’re certain your techno sounds good and you are ready for publishing, there are many ways you can go with it. You can pitch your music at some label, you can simply create a Soundcloud and upload it there in hopes to get thousands of people to listen to it, or you can do it the proper way.

The proper way for a first release getting heard simply lays between the fact of having a direct communication: first with the people who give you feedback and tell you if your music is actually good, and point out the flaws so you can become better as time flies, and having a precise and clear communication with the will to self yourself (your techno) to the world.

Creating an EP out of nothing for some is a regular process, but to some it’s very intimidating and scary to do so. And with their rights. The gate-keepers of techno are all around, but they are present in the underground culture as well, steadily inclining since the late 90’s to fully take advantage of the media control they now have influence over. The thing with underground techno that most people don’t understand is that it’s run by underground folks – the gatekeepers are simply the big ‘companies’, such as Boiler Room, Resident Advisor, DJMag and others.

If you land a podcast for any one of them, that could be a huge bomb (in a positive way) for your career – and everyone wants a piece of it, but they give none. I hope my tips to overcome these barriers will follow handy and give you an insight on how to defeat this obstacle.


First: Deliver the music

The time to be shy has been over, is your music done? It will be never finished, but are you done with that creative episode and you’re ready to blow of the steam and just put it out to the world?

  1. Make sure it sounds professional – get the mixing and mastering right, because a poorly technical track won’t get a pass. (psst. we offer analog mastering)
  2. Conceptualize your release a bit abstractly, and have fun with inventing an alter-ego and act completely dedicated behind it for starters, and later when you get better to a next-level stage, you can invent another one that’s more serious, or even publish under your real name, it’s really up-to you, but you should have these things already imagined and planned before you make the release.
  3. Put yourself on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, and if you can afford a distribution service – always put your music there, so it’s available for streaming as well – think about the future.

Second: Be honest, sell yourself and communicate
So, you have your EP already, the artwork and tracks are gathered and you’re certain that you are publishing this to the world as – is. The magic with gate-keepers in the underground techno is that most folks are very understanding and want to help out anyone who’s passionate and has the groove and ‘magic’ in him, but also lots of these companies can be non-responsive and often act like cold machinery when you actually give them a piece of your soul. Don’t take it personal, they receive thousands of mails with review requests, etc – for you, only time and natural growth that comes with a bit of stubbornness, but also consistency with the mind-set looking towards a better tomorrow will get you where you want to be.

Contact platforms like HATE and Hard Vision for example, which require you to send out an email and create a conversation which in translation should be you politely introducing yourself and explain your story, ask them if they’d be interested in promoting the music on their channels and wait to see what will happen.

HATE, for example, is the most popular promotion platform for underground techno music on YouTube and has over 550K followers when combined with their sub-channel HATE Lab, which is made only for digital releases.

You need to find these other niche platforms yourself, and there are hundreds quality and forward-thinking ones that are pushing the barriers of electronic music, but also many in a styled genre where they release only hard techno, fast electro, ghetto-influenced music, etc. There are too many for melodic and deep techno, but that’s a universe I never really enjoyed too much. The deep techno always came to me from other places then being called deep itself, but for that another time…

What I want to say for the second part, is there won’t be a magical 1000 platforms you can message you link here. You need to do the homework by yourself, and invest in a list of possible collaborators so you can spread out your music when it’s released.

 

Third: Get noticed
There isn’t a magic recipe for getting noticed, you know? But it comes with some ingredients that I know of – experimentation to some level, being a bit sharp and not following templates of regular techno that covers 90% of the genre. Simply bring your influences of music inside the music you’re creating, do not start tracks with the idea that ‘I’ll make rain deep techno forest dub track’, but go with the gut and soul, just pace yourself the BPM and start producing it from scratch with that limitation – that can even change in the future.

Don’t overthink if it’s done or not, okay? When you have no ideas, you let a track sit and gather dust for at least a week, and after it, if you still have nothing to add – it’s done. But your gut will tell you if it’s good or not at this point, and you should always trust it, because if you don’t groove with your own music – how can you expect others to?

What if I don’t get an answer back from none of these promoters?
If you have genuine people for feedback, this shouldn’t happen, but in the case,  you must face reality – it’s time to get back in the studio and not rework your stuff, but continue working on another fresh abstract idea and try to make it real.


The clubbing gate-keepers
Another type of gate-keeping are the techno clubs, and in some places it’s so bad they literally ignore a broad variety of the techno spectrum and rarely exists a true underground techno club, but nevertheless, you be professional – and give them an email with all links prepared: a Soundcloud set (or few), why you think you should play there, and if there’s any chance to collaborate and make a party together?

To get to the point of being booked and asked for, first you need the music to be published and heard by people, and after that to gather a somewhat gathering as time goes on, and people who are bookers will eventually come to your music and feel it for themselves, they will get curious, and you must be prepared with a Soundcloud and Bandcamp, even a Resident Advisor profile if you want to get more into specifics.

After you get noticed – the requests for podcast mixes will also come, which are a great way to show what a DJ set of yours could sound like in the club, and club owners often rely on hearing those when actually booking artists.

As you continue forward with your producer journey, many contacts will land from the universe itself, and connecting with the real people for any style of techno is really crucial, as networking is the core principle of how the techno scene works under the radar.

I hope you found my ramblings useful,
Andrijan






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