In their first year of study, Electronic Music Production & Performance student Felipe Vareschi went from knowing little about music media to being reviewed by one of their favourite online publications. Learn how they applied our music industry classes to the real world when promoting their latest EP.
If only being a music producer were as simple as producing music. As any up-and-coming artist will tell you, nailing your first killer track, EP or album is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting noticed in the scene.
Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering tutor and Copilco Productions founder Philip Röder summed it up perfectly in our 2019 interview about his industry-focused Pick Yourself podcast: “besides making great music, there are a ton of other things that [artists] have to get right. From booking their own shows to finding the right label, to promoting their releases.”
This is precisely why our music courses include classes focused specifically on the music industry. “Before coming to Catalyst, I knew nothing about how music media worked,” first-year Electronic Music Production & Performance student Felipe Vareschi tells us. “But after this year’s music industry classes, I used my assignments in the real world.”
After recently self-releasing their experimental ambient/noise EP, New Old Stock, Felipe sent electronic press kits to some journalists they enjoy. “I didn’t expect any answers,” they admit. “But Richard Allen, over at A Closer Listen, responded and decided to write a review about the EP.”
Read on to learn more about Felipe’s music and exactly how they applied what they learnt in class to score their first valuable piece of media coverage.
“We often disregard the relationships we have towards the objects that we interact with every day”
Felipe’s fascinating music analyses the relationships we have with objects. “We often think about the relationships we have with other people and how technological change impacts those relationships,” they explain. “Still, we often disregard the relationships we have towards the objects that we interact with every day.”
Becoming conscious of those interactions brings up a series of reality-shifting questions. “What is your relationship with the S-Bahn or your toothbrush and how does that relationship change over time?,” Felipe asks. “Do you establish a relationship with your neighbours when you go into the trash room of your apartment and interact with the bins? What responsibility do you have towards the objects you buy and use? And is it useful to think about the things you interact with as an extension of yourself or is it more appropriate to understand them as separate things?”
When it came to creating New Old Stock, Felipe applied this thought process to the relationship they have with musical equipment, trying to experience it from the point of view of the object itself.
“What happens next?,” Richard Allen reflects on the idea in his thoughtful review of the EP. “Will the equipment be salvaged, scavenged, bequeathed, thrown away? Will it hide in a back room for decades until the musician dies and his children inherit the carting costs? Or will it have a proper burial? Somewhere there is a heaven for all the lost and lonely equipment. We imagine them making beautiful, sorrowful music together.”
“We went through a bunch of exercises aimed at trying to communicate our artist identity as fast and as efficiently as possible”
Becoming a Professional Artist
Felipe produced the EP as part of their end-of-year assignments – and in the process, transformed their mindset from that of an amateur musician to a professional artist. “I redesigned all of my social media pages, wrote a proper description of my music, took time designing the artwork, and thought about what little promotion I could do with my existing communication channels,” they explain. Felipe learnt that, when it comes to releasing music, you cannot simply sit back and hope it gets some traction. Planning pays off. “I take myself more seriously as a musician because of this.”
From our music industry classes, Felipe learnt how to properly communicate via music media. “We went through a bunch of exercises aimed at trying to communicate our artist identity as fast and as efficiently as possible,” they explain. “Those exercises helped me to crystallise the cloud of thoughts around my music into something more concrete and communicable.”
“One of our assignments was to prepare a press release and an electronic press kit,” Felipe continues. “These are industry-standard formats that are used to communicate with journalists. In the past, I would feel extremely shy when reaching out to publications about my music. But since I had this format of the press release, I decided to send it out to a group of publications that are active within my genre. I read their specific requests for press emails and sent them out on the day of my release.” After a couple of days, A Closer Listen reached out and told Felipe that their EP was considered for a review.
Recognition Goes Far
Electronic press kits, or EPKs, are a big deal for today’s artists. Not only do they allow you to fine-tune your pitch to specific audiences with well-presented materials. But, as Felipe proved, the professionalism they demonstrate goes a long way to get you noticed by everyone from music managers to journalists. What’s more, since your EPK – rather than Google – provides all the required information, you get to control your own narrative. Score your first mention in a music publication, and your sounds will soon be making their way to the keen ears of like-minded listeners.
“It felt extremely validating that a journalist would appreciate my music to the point of writing a review of it,” Felipe enthuses. “Generally, experimental music is not really widely appreciated or even understood. It felt terrific to think that someone would value something that I’d made. It was surreal to read such a well-written piece about me. It was also fantastic to see how Richard related his own personal experiences with gear within the article. This is precisely the reaction I want to evoke with my music, and that was definitely the apex of this whole experience. Not only did he get what I was trying to communicate, but he also engaged with it, and that felt truly special.”
“This whole experience has made me realise how important it is to communicate your art to the world,” Felipe reflects. “Without adequately considering the wording on my social media pages, and without interacting with the media, my EP would have just disappeared within the sea of new releases that come out on Bandcamp every day.”