Adam Ivy is is a multi-talented music producer, graphic designer, comedian and Youtube sensation. Zee was able to catch up with Adam briefly to discuss music business and the current station of music production.
@Zeeofafb: What’s going on Adam? Could you please introduce yourself and your production company to blog audience.
@AdamIvy: Hey, I’m Adam Ivy. I’m 27 years old and have been producing music for the past 8 years now. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and since 2007 I’ve been residing in sunny Orlando, FL. I currently run three different companies Including Adam Ivy Productions, LLC. , Ivy League Media, and my newest venture MyInstrumentals.com. I have been selling beats and instrumentals since 2008 and since then have had a lot of amazing opportunities to work with talented artists, producers, and major corporations such as the MTV network, Burger King, and Clear Channel Radio. Since 2008 I have supplied beats to over 400 independent artists in over 16 countries and that number increases daily.
@Zeeofafb: Wow! That’s a pretty strong track record you’ve created for yourself…so what made you become interested in music production? Did you grow up around musicians? Do you have family members that influenced you?
@AdamIvy: To answer your last question first. Yes. Growing up I spent a lot of time at my grand parents house. It was like a second home to me. My grandmother was an accomplished pianist and organist. Music was her life. She taught piano lessons, played organ at practically every church in town as well as wrote her own original pieces. I took a few years of lessons when I was really young, but I didn’t take it serious and unfortunately, didn’t retain much knowledge. My mother is an award willing violinist and actually received a college scholarship for it though she chose not to pursue that career path. My dad was a DJ since I can remember. He DJ’d at weddings, parties, bars, and dance halls. There was always music playing around the house. Everything from classic rock and polka, to rhythm & blues and country.
I grew up kind of poor so music was never considered to be something that would be a realistic career path. Music was just something that we used to melt away the stresses of the real world. When the right song comes on nothing else matters for those three to five minutes. You find your happy place. I’ve always been interested in music. In high school I played the drums and trumpet. I actually signed up for band because I was too shy to sing in front of anyone, and at our school you either had to choose band or chorus class. After I graduated high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had signed up for college to become a dental hygienist, but there was such a waiting list that I decided to drop out. That was in 2003 when MySpace was just getting big. Around the same time I had met my now best friend DJ Deville. He was making beats using Reason and I was so interested in what he was doing that I asked him what I would have to buy to get started. He gave me a basic list and the next week I sold my CBR 929rr and bought a cheap Dell Laptop, a MIDI controller, and a copy of Reason 2.5. That’s where it all started. I was hooked.
@Zeeofafb: Cool man…Now, Adam, as I’m sure you know, many producers are selling their beats online nowadays. Can give the upcoming beat makers any pointers based off your experience? Any sales tips?
@AdamIvy: One of my biggest tips is to be unique. Be yourself. Be memorable. Branding is everything! Make sure you think about what you are doing and the goals you have as far as building a business and your career longevity. I set out to be to the music industry what Nike is to the shoe world and it will always be a work in progress. One big thing is to have a professional persona. You need clients to take you seriously and that’s when your branding comes into play. Lets start with your name. Your name defines you in many ways. If a potential client hears your music and sees that “Yung Fuck-Yo-Bitch Beatz” produced the instrumental I promise you they will automatically judge you as a person and lose respect for your company. Also, I never liked when people use pop culture keywords in their name such as “Swag”, “Lil’”, “Young”, ect. because those are words that sound immature and quickly dated.
When you’re starting off you still need to be conscious of your image. In this industry perception means more than talent in many ways. If you have an extremely polished website and branding images and you have ok beats, people will still take you more seriously than if you have great beats with really crappy visuals. The same principles go for the outside real world too. Think about it. If you’re at a restaurant and you see someone pull up in a Mercedes and when they get out their wearing a suit you will instantly see them as successful even if in their personal life they are broke. You’ll take them more seriously even though the guy next to you wearing a t-shirt and cut off jeans might actually own 20 Mercedes dealerships. Perception is key.
At first I couldn’t sell a beat to save my life. I tried everything. Selling beats for $5, doing stupid bulk discounts for next to nothing, spamming everyone I knew trying to drive traffic to my site. Nothing worked. That’s when I started researching different sales and marketing techniques and realized that the old saying “it takes money to make money” is pretty accurate on some level. I started tucking away a few dollars from each of my day jobs paychecks and eventually after a few months I had saved up $500. At the same time I had been redesigning my SoundClick page to make it look more like the other guys who came before me that I had looked up to. I took a chance and spent the entire $500 on promotions that only lasted like 4 days. Long story short, I made my money back and then some from doing that. The point I’m trying to make is you have to invest in your business before anyone else will take you seriously.
@Zeeofafb: That’s some really solid advice, Adam. Thanks for sharing that. I know a lot of upcoming producers miss the mark when it comes to branding themselves properly especially when on the website Soundclick.
What are your thoughts on the abundance of producers using soundclick as their primary beat selling vehicle? Do you feel that the term “soundclick producer” carries a negative connotation in 2012?
@AdamIvy: I personally believe that the term “SoundClick Producer” is frowned upon in the music industry. Not by everyone, but I have been told to my face from A&R’s to get off of SoundClick if I want to be taken seriously and considered for more projects. SoundClick itself is a great website and avenue for producers to sell their production and at the same time promote their brand for relatively cheap. It allows you to get international exposure and network with artists and other producers quicker than if you were to start your own website from scratch. Its more of a community. The problem isn’t the website. The problem is the over saturation of people trying to make a quick buck with sub-par “beats” and literally no business sense.
I just launched my own independent website separate from SoundClick called MyInstrumentals.com. It gives me more freedom to do what I want with my music as well as gives me more opportunity to connect with my friends, fans, and customers. I will still maintain my SoundClick page and continue to promote it like I’ve been doing for years, but it will no longer be my primary outlet for selling beats and instrumentals. I don’t get offended if someone calls me a SoundClick producer. In fact, more people call me a YouTube producer because that’s really where I started. I call myself a freelance music producer who is also affiliated with the SoundClick community.
@Zeeofafb: You mentioned yourself being a Youtube producer. How has social media, specifically Youtube, affected your music business? What do you see its impact being going forward?
@AdamIvy: First and foremost, I LOVE YouTube. Best site ever! I remember watching Mysto and Pizzi beat making videos, Ryan Leslie videos, and even Ronald Jenkie’s videos. They inspired the hell out of me. I’ve probably watched those videos 3,000 times each. Like I said, before I ever started selling beats I was uploading beat making videos on YouTube. I used a 5 Mega Pixel Kodak Easy Share camera that had a video mode to shoot and iMovie 08’ to edit them. I could talk all day about social media and how it’s helped me build my business. Like anything else it takes work. Its like a garden. You have to plant the seed’s (sign up for different sites like Twitter/FaceBook/MySpace/ect) and then the sees need water. Content is the water. You won’t believe how many emails I get asking me to check out their site and they literally have 1 beat, video, or song on there. YOU NEED MORE!!! You have 30 beats on your site? Work on making it 50. You have 4 YouTube videos on your channel? Make it 25. You can never stop working. You need to continue to water and pay attention to what grows. What grows is what becomes popular. If people love your beat making videos, but hate your comedy sketches then focus on what’s working. Don’t beat a dead horse. Last thing I can suggest is to be friendly first. Don’t tweet people saying “Watch my video http://dhfnuwnr.net/hdyensie” when you’ve never tweeted them before. It’s rude and pisses off most people. Engage your audience then they will be a lot more willing to support you if they are already familiar with you. The Internet and social media has been the vehicle I’ve used to build my business. Without it I wouldn’t have gotten far.
@Zeeofafb: So that being said, how important is it for producers to network in the music industry and how do you approach networking with other music professionals and artists?
@AdamIvy: Networking is important. I’ve approached it slightly different than most though. I am kind of a homebody and have remained so. I don’t go out to the club, I don’t really party since I’m always working, and to be honest, most artists, promoters, managers, and even other music producers that I’ve met are shady two faced douche bags. Not the type I like to surround myself with. I keep it about business. I built up my business to a point where I felt confident that my professional image as well as my production quality was up to industry standards before I ventured off reaching out to industry professionals. Most everything I do is planned out and strategic. I never set out to use anyone. I always try to work with people as a team. If you have something the other person could use and they have something you could use, then work together. Don’t backstab people. It will come back to haunt you. Most of my networking is done via email like everyone else. From there I built rapport with the person and trust. Two key elements. Once you build your brand and reputation you will begin to be approached by the right people. I’ve always worked hard and knew that it will take years before I get my chance. That’s why in track they tell you to run through the finish line as hard as you can because if you slow down someone else will pass you.
@Zeeofafb: So Adam, let me ask you a personal question. What was one of your biggest “wins”/accomplishments as a music producer?
@AdamIvy: Oh wow, good question. One of my biggest wins would have to be working with my dude ModSun. Since the get go that dude has inspired me man. Working with him and coming together on the “Lightning in a bottle” record was huge for me. After that dropped my email flooded and my phone started ringing. It wasn’t that the song went Billboard Top 100 or anything like that, but the fact that it was such a powerful song that I believed in and moved so many people that really meant a lot to me. ModSun and Pat Brown are definitely brothers from another mother.
@Zeeofafb: What was your biggest “failure”/ disappointment as a music producer? How have you learned and grown from the experience?
@AdamIvy: I’ve gone through the same disappointments as most other producers. You send out beats to label representatives, they really like a couple of them, and then nothing ever happens with them. I don’t get disappointed very easily though. I try to stay positive as much as possible. They say that the difference between a great day and a bad day is all in your attitude. I believe that. You only fail if you refuse to learn from your mistakes.
@Zeeofafb: What is the vision you have for your production company? Where do you want to be in five years?
@AdamIvy: In five years I will be a household name. Whether it’s from my music production work, or my YouTube videos. I also hope to build my new website (myinstrumentals.com) into a much larger and powerful website. I want to be able to bring on other producers and make it the Internets premier instrumental marketplace. Winning a Grammy would be cool too.
@Zeeofafb: Can you tell us what upcoming projects you have coming up or in the works? Anything we should be looking out for?
@AdamIvy: I’m working on a few major projects right now that I can’t talk too much about, but I can tell you that I’m working on some new material with Kid Famous, Tay Dizm, ModSun, Maribelle Anes, and a few others directly. I’ve been doing a lot of writing as well lately and you will be able to hear those projects in the near future. Be on the look out for some new and exciting video content coming soon to my YouTube channel. I’m linking up with my brothers over at 30 Entertainment to come up with some really amazing visual projects.
@Zeeofafb: Well we’re going to wrap it up Adam. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do another interview soon.
Contact Info For Adam Ivy