Knowing the right people in the music industry might get you more opportunities but if you don’t have the skill set to back it up then all the gigs and opportunities in the world won’t get you anywhere.
And good mentor has been-there-done-that and can help producers and artists who are at an earlier stage in their career replicate their success. They provide valuable insights into the industry, build up your skillset, help make you more connections, and also can turn into life-long friends.
You can ask for no better case study to find the power of mentorships than by looking at the career of Columbus-based producer and DJ Entel, who was picked up by Grum’s label Deep State. Over the last few years, Grum himself (alongside the team at the label) has helped shape Entel’s sound, navigate the early and most difficult stages of Entel’s career, and even brought him along on an international tour.
And with two of the biggest milestones in Entel’s career fast approaching on Grum’s Deep State label, we decided we would pick Entel’s brain about how he made it all happen.
Entel’s Upcoming Tour And Latest Music
Already having a handful of releases out of Grum’s label, Entel latest album acts as a cornerstone for how he defines his sound. A tasteful blend of energetic club records and dazzling vocal tracks, his Melodies In Harmonies album runs the gamut of sounds and showcases the raw talent this man has.
Listening from start to finish is the best way to truly feel how Entel is already beginning to carve out a sonic niche for himself in an intensively competitive, and often formulaic, genre of music.
But that’s what it takes to catch the attention of an artist like Grum and get brought along for international gigs.
Check Out All Of Entel’s Upcoming Events, Including Deep State London, Here
Why is having a mentor in the music industry so important?
It’s important to have someone who can teach from experience. Someone who has your best interest in mind while being able to stay honest about areas of improvement is a huge benefit. An outside perspective can be incredibly beneficial to help you further your goals, and stay fresh in your musical process.
You can watch YouTube videos and read production and industry blogs 24/7, and still not garner the same levels of information a 30-minute phone call can have with a close friend and industry mentor. Because YouTube and stuff are great at explaining what the music industry is, but fail to add the context and the “why” behind it all.
And that’s the only real information that matters once you get your foot in the door in this industry, which makes finding a mentor that much more critical.
How can newer producers find a mentor?
First off, your local communities! Learning from those who regularly play out, or write music is always a nice starting point. Go out to shows and immerse yourself in the nights you see your own music being played. Ask other DJs or promoters what you can do to be a part of their nights, and then go from there.
Another great way is by sending your demos out to labels and other artists. Even if you don’t get responses at first, being consistent while showing a commitment to wanting to improve is all it takes sometimes. Be ready to be patient if your goal is to find a mentor as well, most of the time it’s not an overnight process.
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What value can producers offer their mentors in exchange for them taking them under their wing?
Taking their time seriously.
If someone is giving you time out of their day to offer help, don’t waste it. Not only that, they’re most likely doing it for free and because they believe in the music you’re making. Be present as well as receptive to feedback, and I think the rest will work itself out.
One of the earliest lessons I learned in music is to show up on time, be respectful, and be easy to work with. It’s crazy how far those three simple principles will get you and how 90% of people chasing their dreams of music completely disregard them all.
Really, it all comes down to being respectful and appreciative!
Where do you go to find mentors in the music industry?
I started by promoting and selling tickets for local promotion groups, and from there got my first opportunities to play out. It’s the best way for newer artists and DJs to have some form of social currency or leverage to use when trying to help out artists bigger than they are. It’s something you have total control over and sets you apart from the sea of other local DJs just wanting time slots for free.
Once I got this all in place, I started talking with other DJs on the lineup, as well as acts that were getting booked to come through. If the conversation was right, I’d ask if they had a preferred way of receiving promos.
Just be friendly and try to give out the energy you want to attract. I feel very fortunate for the people that have taken a liking to my music so far. Grum & Deep State especially, they’ve been a great home for me as I’ve grown into the artist I am today.
What do most producers get completely wrong about finding a mentor in the music industry?
That it’s an instance ticket to success.
Just because someone who’s more successful than you has taken an interest in your music doesn’t guarantee a career. Most of the time it’s a slow burn of a process that involves consistency and commitment to a schedule. Having a plan for growth over a 3, 6, and 12-month period is incredibly important, and no one is going to magically come up with that plan for you.
At the end of the day, if you want to attract a mentor, manager, or any sort of team, you need to give them something to be attracted to. Because with music, more so than any other career path I would imagine, is so dependent on your internal skillet of making amazing music. And there isn’t any shortcut there, you simply have to put in the work.
So while mentors and connections can certainly help pour fuel on the fire of your career, you are the only one who can work to build up the foundation each and every day. It really is all about the long game and anyone who thinks you can cut corners is dead wrong or aiming at a one-in-a-million shot at success.
What are the three most important lessons about music that your mentors have taught you over the years?
Time is your most valuable resource, use it wisely. early on in your career, going out and networking can really help build up a community around your music in the local scene. But after you’ve been chipping away at music for a few years, it starts to become even more important that you invest far more time in the studio perfecting your craft. Time management is incredibly tough, because there is so much that needs to be done and priorities shift the longer you’re at this. Just be mindful of how you spend your time.
Having an expensive studio with the best gear doesn’t mean you’re going to write the best music. Never underestimate what you can accomplish with just a laptop and headphones. It can be an easy trap to fall into; chasing gear and toys for your studio. But at the end of the day, they are the only tools to get the job done.
Wear earplugs every time you go out.