Taken since the inception of 6AM in 2008, we have been able to develop and follow key principles that have helped us knock down barriers, break through troubled times and reach our goals in the electronic music industry while continuing to hit key milestones every step of the way.
The information contained herein has helped shape who we are today and represents what we stand for in the global electronic music industry. We are far from perfect, we are constantly learning and always working to improve. More importantly, we need a constant reminder of these guidelines ourselves, which is also part of the reason we are publishing this article. We want to hold ourselves accountable while sharing something we hope can help others, or at least can spark a conversation on subjects we feel are important.
We not only hope you find this useful but more importantly we hope you find the strength to apply the guidelines within this article into your own journey and discover the things you didn’t think would be possible by peeling away the layers of negativity and self-sabotaging behavior that are stopping the progress you wish to attain. We are all in this together, you are never alone.
Thank you in advance for hearing us out and we’ll see you on the dancefloor soon.
Much Love & Respect,
While this sounds like a bit of super obvious advice, we all know there are some nasty and bad intentioned people in the electronic music industry. Bad people exist in ALL industries and ours isn’t immune to that either. The countless, public and private, stories of people getting screwed over by their (fill in the blank) could fill an encyclopedia collection, but we aren’t interested in focusing on that.
Instead, we want to bring awareness to the fact that everyone in this community should act with good intentions, as intentions are the driving force behind all human action, and as long as we know we are doing the right thing and doing the best we can then that alone is enough—that is truly the key to being good and doing good.
One of the advice we often give to our community is to help others genuinely without any expectations in return, to not be a “this-for-that” kind of person because if all we’re ever looking for is a favor in return for the hand that we give, that is not helping at all. Being able to help our peers and friends in the electronic music industry should be the award in itself: give this approach a try and you will see that the unexpected positive returns are a welcome byproduct of your intention and action and not the reason you set out to help someone out in the first place.
Don’t get us wrong, at 6AM we are not saints either, we have made our own mistakes and we understand that we are not always available to help others. Perhaps some of the decisions we have made in the past or some external events outside of our control may have turned out to ruin someone else’s agenda or to cost them in some way, but that was never the intention. Instead, we encourage you to set out to help others with the true intention to see them succeed and without expecting nothing in return.
“Some people, when they do someone a favor, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it—still regard it as a debt. But others don’t even do that. They’re like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return.
A horse at the end of the race…
A dog when the hunt is over…
A bee with its honey stored…
And a human being after helping others.
They don’t make a fuss about it. They just go on to something else, as the vine looks forward to bearing fruit again in season.
We should be like that. Acting almost unconsciously.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Unintentional consequences happen all the time in life and as long as you know you did the right thing despite difficult choices or decisions you have to make, then that’s all there is to it. More often than not, going with a well-intended approach will always lean towards a mutual understanding that offers a resolution rather than burning bridges, the latter being something that happens too often in the electronic music industry because people are not well-intended in their motive and approach in the first place.
Take this one step further, and be sure to always surround yourself with people and groups that have the best intention for all and not just for themselves and their own agenda as those are the ones who want to be good and do good for our industry. This should ultimately serve as the foundation of your existence not just within the electronic music community, but any community—we are ALL in this together, so let’s always be good and do good towards each other.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” — Seneca
Contrary to Adam Beyer’s belief, you don’t have to “lose your mind” in this brutal industry; all you have to do is build an unbreakable mindset and you will be far from losing your mind when shit hits the fan and trust us when we say this: shit will hit the fan many (many!) times in your journey. The longer you stay in the course of the path and continue to level up, the more you will realize that the obstacles thrown at you are truly endless. Yet, it is in the obstacles that we find the beauty of the journey.
One way we have learned to develop a bulletproof mindset is by studying, learning, and applying the philosophy of STOICISM. Without diving too deeply into the actual philosophy itself, the general concept is quite simple and direct:
Learn to embrace difficulties and challenges every day. Within every obstacle you face, there is an opportunity. Do what is ultimately in your control and always do your best. Learn to let go of anything that is not in your control. Train your perception to avoid seeing things as good or bad. Things are just what they are, neither good nor bad. Look at the BIG picture. Take a step back and view things from above
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” — Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way
By applying the principles of Stoicism, you will begin to shape your mind towards neutrality in everything. You will stop blaming others or external events for things that happen (or don’t happen) while ultimately taking control of your thoughts and your life. In the electronic music industry you will face many difficult challenges, and in particular, you will run into emotions regarding what you feel or know is “unfair or unjust” regarding how the system or game is played.
Dwelling on those things will only take you down a negative path, and next thing you know you’re leaving negative comments on other artist’s videos, creating bashful memes, and hating on your peers’ success while secretly envying them, self-destructing your own mindset and soul in the process—what a terrible way to go through this journey!
“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Developing a strong mind doesn’t happen overnight, it is a habit that needs to be worked on every single day. Ultimately, whatever repeating thoughts you attend to the most are what you will manifest into real life, so we highly recommend that you lean towards at least a neutral mindset, learning to see things as objectively as possible and to know that YOU are the variable in everything you do.
Your mindset, attitude, and perspective ultimately dictate your success or failure in the industry and shaping your mind towards the right direction is already winning half of the battle as you continue on your journey.
Recommended Reading on Developing a Strong Mindset:
The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday
If there is only one advice we can give out above all the others, this would be it… period!
Back in 2008 we didn’t know anything about how the industry worked or what were the right steps to take, but one thing we focused and doubled-down on was how hard we worked on everything that was put in front of us. It didn’t matter what it was, we gave it 150% of everything we had and never left anything on the table.
At some point in our journey, we realized that working hard wasn’t enough, we also had to work efficiently and more importantly, we had to work with others, internally and externally, to achieve something big, something beyond just ourselves. WORK stumps everything and has served as the backbone of not only the entire existence of 6AM, but that of the human race as well. That is why WORK is deeply ingrained in our company culture to the point that it is the name we have given to our longest-running event series.
We don’t stand a chance in the electronic music industry if we don’t have what it takes to grind effectively and efficiently over a long period of time. The effort we have put in since 2008 has compounded over time, and we are only now witnessing the effects of it first hand.
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? to huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” — Marcus Aurelus, Meditations
The beauty of WORK lies within our own control, no one can tell us to speed up, slow down, or rest; we determine that action every single waking moment and we recommend that you give this a try. You will be astonished at the results you produce over time and will gain an understanding that “luck and opportunity” are often created through the work that you do every single day.
“You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Recommended Reading on Putting in the WORK:
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
10x, Grant Cardone
Ego, Entitlement, and Excuses are the three deadly “Es” plaguing the electronic music industry at a rapid pace and quickly becoming a global epidemic. More often than not, this is what kills our dreams, goals, aspirations, and our ultimate willpower to continue this journey. They also kill relationships, friendships and the reason why we hear of artist duos/trios or organizations splitting up within the industry.
We oftentimes think it’s others destroying us when in reality it’s us destroying ourselves and our relationships by letting the three deadly Es into our lives.
EGO is the reason why we can never meet others halfway, or why we can’t empathize on their perspective or ideas. It’s because we think we are always right and everyone is wrong, we are smarter than others and everyone else is stupid. Ego is the reason why we can’t be happy for others and for your info, any envy you feel? Yup, that also stems from your own ego. Ego is the reason we can’t admit we are wrong or say sorry when we have done harm to others. Ego is the reason why our name on the flyer needs to be above our peers’ and if not then we act out like an 11-year old brat.
Ego is the enemy in this conscious world we live in because it is rooted deeply in our subconscious mind as well as derived from insecurities developed in early childhood, which explains why we act out externally in ways we don’t even really quite understand. It explains why we think that this behaviour is OK, because we believe we’re “just being ourselves, and we are special.”
“Ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It’s a magnet for enemies and errors. It is Scylla and Charybdis.” — Ryan Holiday
Well, wake the fuck up because ”being yourself and thinking you are special” with an ego means you are being that asshole who’s mind is muddled by a set of false beliefs and emotions, and the worst part is that these are so deeply ingrained that we can’t see or hear others above the noise our own ego is making within, and it will only get worse over time.
No one likes to be around an egomaniac and while we can’t change others, we certainly can make the conscious choice of distancing ourselves from egomaniacs and self-entitled people. This is something we highly encourage you to do, or you will be dealing with the fallout of the ego-driven choices of people around you and they will inevitably bring you down with them.
A great book to help you be aware of and ultimately destroy ego is Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday—a fairly short and easy-to-read essential book for anyone in our industry. The sooner we kill our own ego, the sooner we will be able to set ourselves free from toxic behavior and emotions that hinder our progress in life and in the electronic music industry.
ENTITLEMENT is the reason why we think the industry owes us something when in fact nobody owes us jack shit. That is right, you’re owed zilch, nada.
The electronic music industry doesn’t care if we’ve been in the scene for 50 years or however long you’ve been into underground house and techno: nothing is given to you and everything has to be earned every step of the way. Even after being around for 12-years, we still have to work for everything because nothing is ever just given to us, and nothing can be taken for granted—life doesn’t work that way, and if you think it does you will wake up one day realizing you have missed plenty of opportunities due to this false mindset.
The sense of entitlement creates an attitude that we are better than others which is a ridiculous and frankly laughable perspective to have. Entitlement also creates elitism (another E!), laziness, self-content, and ultimately leads us down a hateful trail of skewed beliefs such as “how things were better back in the day” or that “the current scene is full of idiots and everyone now is ruining everything we once built!”
Entitlement creates a sense that we “deserve” things or that we need to be treated in a special way. Besides social media, the best place to see entitlement in action is the guest list line, where you will hear people name drop in an effort to not contribute and support the scene they claim to be championing, or where you will hear people say things such as, “Do you know who I am?” And no, we are not making this up as this is actually something we heard directly when working a festival door! W-T-F, right?
Entitlement can be easily crushed in two ways. Firstly, with the perception of gratitude, and secondly once we realize that none of us in the electronic music industry are curing cancer, alzheimer, or reversing climate change. Try gaining a broader perspective of the industry and your role in it, and you will see that getting 500 people to your party in a city of millions is but a drop in the ocean. That is not to say that what you are doing isn’t good, but it’s important to be grateful that we “get to” live a life where we can choose this as our profession or hobby while there are struggling families all around the world who can’t make ends meet, or can’t serve food on a table for their families.
“Man is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it.” ―
We are not any more special than others just because we produce electronic music, create cool events, or represent big headlining artists—really, who gives a shit anyways? It doesn’t matter what title we hold in the industry, we shouldn’t act with entitlement as we are not owed anything extra simply for doing our job.
It’s time you remove entitlement from your mentality and gain an appreciation and a sense of true gratitude for the opportunities you have to be in this industry.
EXCUSES are the justification we give to ourselves to comfort our weak minds when things aren’t going our way. It is very easy and convenient to blame others and outside forces for things happening in our life, as this is a mechanism that has been ingrained in human nature since time immemorial, a mechanism that aims to protect our own feelings and egos from the actual truth. Examples of common justifications:
“She’s only a big touring DJ because she’s the daughter of a big event company and got hooked up through that connection”
“That promoter comes from a rich family, therefore, he can do all these shows consistently”
“I don’t live in Berlin where the scene is big, so therefore I am not getting the opportunities I need to succeed”
“This artist is blowing up because she has a fleet of people behind her (manager, agent, PR, etc) to help her with everything”
Any excuse we throw out into this world to justify what is and isn’t happening to us is just the fake reality we have mocked up and painted in our brain in an effort to not hold ourselves accountable when we should be! We need to realize that by making up excuses, we are ultimately killing our own dreams and aspirations. Excuses set internal limitations that do not allow us to move forward in life, and it is these excuses that invariably and ultimately cause us to fall short of our goals.
“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” ― George Washington Carver
We need to suffocate all excuses and come to terms with the fact that everything is on us, and that no excuses whatsoever can justify anything. We need to bring ourselves to this conclusion so we can set ourselves free of those limitations so that we can continue to excel and break the barriers we never thought we could break.
Anything is possible if we all just stop feeding bullshit stories to ourselves!
Recommended Content to Crush your Entitlement and Excuses:
Watch all of Gary Vee’s IG stories and Youtube Content
“I don’t trust anyone who’s nice to me but rude to the waiter. Because they would treat me the same way if I were in that position.” — Muhammad Ali
If you ever meet someone from the electronic music industry who is extra nice to headlining DJs, their agents, or any supposed high-profile industry person, but treat their peers, staff, or general subordinates very negatively, with little to no regard, do yourself a favor and distance yourself from them immediately.
This is the toxic person in our industry who secretly, or not so secretly, lusts for power, fame, recognition, and/or respect; these are the people we need to avoid like the plague. For selfish and ego-driven reasons they act all nice and warm to those who they think are of importance, yet generally talk down or show signs of disrespect or disregard to others or worse, talk shit about the very people they were just admiring in public.
We have seen this both in the club and underground culture so no scene is exempt here. The ones who generally seem “too cool for school” will more often express this behavior and the worst part is most do not even realize they are acting out in such manner.
We have experienced this first-hand during our beginning days. We were often talked down to or completely disrespected and disregarded simply because we were new in the scene and lacked authority or credibility when it came to our own thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. Karma is practical and we should always treat everyone equally no matter if they are Carl Cox, a security guard working an event or the person cleaning the toilets of the club. It’s kind of sad that we have to even write about this, as being kind is simply the act of being a good human being and doing good overall (see principle #1).
People will always remember how we make them feel so it’s important to treat everyone we meet along the journey with basic decency, and to give everyone a chance to be respected and heard.You never know what that person has gone through and why or how they ended up being part of a scene and community that was originally created by and for the marginalized. You can even take a selfish viewpoint when it comes to this, as you never know who that “kid” or “noob” you’re being disrespectful to may be or may become in the future. Why be rude? Why burn bridges before they’re even built?
We have seen enough of this nasty behavior behind closed doors, on social media, backstage at events and in private meetings and get-togethers and we have simply had enough of this crap! Our scene stands for the principle of equality among all humans no matter the race, color, gender, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation, so the least we can do is show some human decency to everyone in our community regardless of their title or longevity in the electronic music industry.
From 2010 to 2016 our mentality and focus was on everything 6AM and nobody/nothing else. We were so obsessed on building a “company” that every motive and intention was very selfish. By the end of summer 2016, that selfish mentality and approach nearly ended us because we were so stuck in our own heads, and ego, that we made a very costly mistake (financially) that almost put us out of the entire business for real. The truth is that the mess was so disastrous that we are still cleaning it up to this very day.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa
During a moment of self-reflection after that summer in 2016, and reading a dozen self-help and business books, we realized our approach was all fucked up. Instead of doing what we had always done all those years with a “me, me, me” attitude, we decided to flip it towards the community and began to constantly ask ourselves: “What can we do to better serve the electronic music community?”
It took a while, but after adopting that mindset and applying it to our daily work we began noticing results in Summer of 2017. Ever since we started hedging towards the community approach we have seen our brand level up in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. This is the top advice we give our peers who are seeking help to level up when it comes to either their artist profile or their brand: Community over me, every single day.
We need to let our egos go and realize that we are nothing without the community that supports us. While it’s important to keep our closest people around, let’s never dismiss the fact that our closest supporters are not the people who are going to be buying our music, our merch, and tickets to our shows, which means that oftentimes they don’t help raise your profile as a promoter, club owner or traveling artist. They are usually the ones who want the free promos, the free shirts, and the free guestlist and once they’re done partying or no longer want to be around the scene they will disappear forever – this is the cold truth.
This is not to say that it is not important to recognize and acknowledge the close supporters who were with you during the darkest days before you began to see results with your gigs, your music releases, or the big shows you put on, but please understand that their time in this journey is limited and constrained to their own personal life and the journey for them will end much sooner than yours.
The community, however, has no timeline. It’s there for you to engage with as long as you stay in it. The people within the groups might move on, but the overall community will be there forever, and this is how artists, labels, and promoters continue to level up, by understanding the importance of doing good for the community, setting out to go beyond their own circle and focusing on engaging and building relationships with the larger community.
Do you really think the earliest supporters and peers who started out with Carl Cox, Sven Vath, Dubfire, Richie Hawtin, Robert Hood, Ben Klock etc. are still there supporting them right now? Some may, but the majority won’t be. Their first wave of fans and close supporters from the ‘90s and early 2000s are mostly retired from the scene and have moved on, so why are their names still so relevant even now in 2020?
The answer is the community they have built, the community that continues to support their music and events due to the legacy status they have all achieved through the decades of hard work. Artists, labels, and promoters who do this the best will most likely have a long and prosperous journey in the electronic music industry.
Start engaging with the community, meet the people in it, and build a relationship that are truly meaningful. It has to be done organically and it has to come from within, with love and well-intended purpose. The community won’t buy any of that fake shit either so be prepared to face them as authentic as possible and make sure your intention is as pure as possible too. You may fool some people with your flaky intent but you will never be able to fool the community at large over time, so be authentic even if it means being a bit vulnerable, as long as you’re keeping it real. The payoff will be huge once you catch the traction of the community.
For all those looking to get their foot in the door of the electronic music industry: this is the only guaranteed way to knock down the walls of almost any organization you’re trying to get through. No, we aren’t encouraging people to take advantage of others, nor for people to work for free ad infinitum. The truth is that any organization, collective or group you have direct access in this scene probably needs help in specific areas where your skills can provide value, but they may not have the immediate resources to hire you.
Furthermore, there are likely up to 10 other people with similar skill sets ready to offer their help to a local collective or organization just to get their foot in the door, whether it’s with a club, a record label, an event promoter or even working with/for an established artist.
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
We started as sub-promoters in 2008, and that was our way of volunteering our time while providing immediate value to the venues and the already established promoters that we wanted to work with or get the attention of. Since then, we have volunteered and provided value and free labor for many of the organizations and people we wanted to meet and rub shoulders with. There are so many people today who blindly send Direct/Private Messages to large groups and organizations’ social media accounts asking for gigs, music reviews, an opportunity to work with them etc.
Yet, they fail to realize that providing value upfront first, by volunteering your time and skills, by being present in supporting and helping your local electronic music community, you’re much more likely to not only break down the barriers of these organizations so they respond, but will enable you to be noticed and valued in return.
By volunteering your time in working the door of an event, you end up checking-in high-profile industry people that you can later connect with. By volunteering as a driver for an event, you end up meeting the artist who might just take your demo after you have been driving them all day and talking to them, making a real connection.
If you are on the other side of the fence, be open in having passionate people wanting to work for free. In 2018, we started a volunteer program for our events because we needed more operational support. What we ended up getting in return wasn’t just free labor, but we were able to discover and be introduced to young, smart and passionate individuals that we ended up recruiting and who are now permanent members of our team and close friends! The volunteer program allowed us to meet people with the mindset and work ethic that aligns with our company culture, which is often hard to find since most volunteers just want the behind-the-scene access or immediate benefits.
Truth be told, you’d be surprised by the diamonds in the rough if you’re willing to put people to the test and open your door to them as volunteers or helping hands. If your organization needs some free labor, be open to starting your own volunteer program and you’d be surprised to see how many young, driven, and smart individuals would love to be involved with what you are building. Make sure your volunteer program has a purpose, and that should always be to expand and to create a need for those volunteering to become a more permanent member of your inner team.
Again, for those looking to get a foot in the door with the scene there’s no easier way than to trade a bit of your time to get that opportunity you need. Be present. Be visible. Support, volunteer and help out without expecting anything in return other than the experience and opportunity of being a part of building something special in your community. There are so many stories of current big DJs, big promoters, and big industry professionals who got their start as volunteers/interns and eventually worked their way up into becoming who they are today.
This doesn’t get talked about enough in the electronic music industry and, in retrospect, it is a subject that has long been one of the underlying reasons for mental health problems in the electronic music world.
Everyone sees the headlining DJs, the glamorous life of a traveling promoter/agent/manager, or the Instagram pics of girlfriend/boyfriend of high-profiled artists or industry professionals. What most of us fail to see are the dark sides of that facade, all the internal sacrifices that were made in order to create this illustrious life all of us seem to be envious of.
“Just as certain capacities are required for success in a particular area, so too are certain sacrifices required.” — Epictetus
Sacrifices in the electronic music industry vary widely. We need to become aware of the different obstacles we will face in each phase of our lives related to the journey we have chosen to embark on. This is where most industry peers fall short, quitting (for various reasons), and ultimately hanging it up for good. The sacrifice becomes too great of a burden to bear or we aren’t willing to trade whatever sacrifice has to be made to continue on. Based on our experience, the sacrifices we face in the electronic music journey can be broken down into 3 main categories, all of which you encounter the deeper your involvement becomes:
The Basic Sacrifice: this is the sacrifice that almost everyone is willing to make because it requires only our time and energy, which generally we have plenty of, especially in our 20s and early 30s. While time and energy are very important, they are considered the lowest barrier of entry in anything we want to achieve in life. No one ever accomplished anything without first putting in the time and energy to make it happen. Whether you’re starting out as an aspiring DJ/producer, promoter, or industry professional, this is the first sacrifice we all make when we decide to take the first step forward. Not too many will quit the scene just because of the basic sacrifice that is involved unless they have a change of heart and choose to not pursue this difficult path ahead early on—aka “Fuck that, my time and energy isn’t worth all this!”
The Money Sacrifice: we all know this industry doesn’t come cheap and especially so when you try to become actively involved.
For an artist, it could be buying music, studio gear, or to launch their own label… or all three!. For promoters, it could be the money needed to throw their first party and booking their first venue and lineup. For others, it could be to launch a management agency, a lifestyle brand, or a PR company. Regardless of which direction you take, it’s going to cost you time, energy, and MONEY, just like any business. It’s no secret that the electronic music industry is a DIY industry and getting paid for the work you do is more often than not a delayed gratification that comes later (sometimes way later or never) in the journey.
Unless one comes from a filthy rich family, chances are most of us have, or had to hold a normal day job in order to support what was at first an expensive passion/hobby. For most of us, and especially at the beginning, we rarely see a dime in return for all the time, energy, and money we put in. When getting into the industry with an eye to longevity, it is also important to know that the money sacrifice is one that will last several years working in the studio, several events with a financial loss. There is an important element of investing early and reaping the benefits later, just like with any passion you want to turn into your full-time occupation.
Most of us are quite OK with grinding out the 9-5 jobs to expense our passion and then sacrifice evenings and weekends to continue working on our craft in order to level up. We have seen various artists, label owners, promoters, and industry professionals put in a lot of money towards the electronic music industry doing what they love, including some who wipe out their savings, retirement, stock, and/or crypto accounts just to continue on the path waiting for that delayed reward down the line. We are not saying you should do this, but what we are saying is that this path will require financial sacrifices of some kind, and everyone should be aware of this and make the right choices to do whatever it takes to get the results they want.
Some of us have made monetary sacrifices in a bullish way, and this is not uncommon in the electronic music industry. While we do not encourage bullish financial behavior, we do want to point out that a lot of financial sacrifice will take place in the course of your entire journey and many of your peers will end up quitting because of big financial losses over time. These losses may either be too big and irrecuperable, or it simply may make little sense for the individual or group to continue this irrational “investment” if it’s essentially throwing money into a bottomless pit.
Be aware of this sacrifice you will have to make. It is the reason we always advise our peers to hold on to their day-job as long as possible and no matter how much it sucks, because it is that day-job that is financing and fueling their electronic music passion. What sucks more than having a day-job is quitting on your passion because you’re out of funds to continue.
As long as you are strategically smart about money, you can make this passion last as long as you wish and it will be under YOUR control to transform this hobby into your profession.
The Life Sacrifice: this is the sacrifice that has led to 90% of our peers to cut ties with their electronic music journey, whether temporarily or permanently. When we compound time, energy, money, and life sacrifices altogether we have what we call the “perfect storm.” It will make you reconsider this passion of yours because shit is finally getting real. It’s time to step out of the Matrix for a bit and see life for what it is.
Some of the most challenging life scenarios that get us to reconsider our choice in this industry are:
Having a family: First off, let us say that we value the importance of any family unit, no matter the size. It is GREAT to have a life partner, a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife. More importantly, news that a newborn is on the way and should never be seen as negative. However the truth is the truth: time isn’t infinite for anyone, even for those with seemingly infinite money. Every human relationship demands proper time, effort and energy, as well as money, and if you’re holding a 9-5 job, are trying to make it in the electronic music industry on top of that and also have a relationship or family you’re personally responsible for, sacrifices will have to be made.
Everyone in the industry knows that this could very well put a temporary or permanent hold on continuing with the electronic music journey, especially if one is still at the beginning of the journey and is trying to juggle everything at once.
Having a healthy relationship is important for any individual no matter their life, and being with a partner who knows, understands and supports your life goals and passions, is vital to achieving your goals. Conversely, it’s also important for honesty, transparency, respect and communication to be top of mind for any industry professional juggling a relationship and/or family, a day job and their passion in the electronic music industry.
Let’s be fully transparent: this isn’t an easy industry and shady people abound, so it is on YOU to be a good partner, and to not justify away immoral behavior as the result of your industry surroundings. It is on YOU to be transparent and honest about your goals, and to be in the kind of relationship that is virtuous and enables you both to achieve your respective dreams, rather than be a constant source of problems in your life.
While we (speaking of the individuals writing this) currently do not have babies of our own, we at the very least have a small understanding of what it takes to care for and raise a kid as we have seen our own members and colleagues go through this. Raising a kid is a full-time job both in terms of time and financial commitment. It’s a job where PTOs and vacation days do not exist. It will take up a lot of, if not all, of your time, body, and mental soul to raise a family. Some people make it happen but not without great sacrifice and for some it’s just too much to handle altogether. It’s important to know that sacrifices will have to be made when juggling a relationship and/or family with the pursuit of your goals in this industry.
Caring for an ill family member: Needless to say, we do not wish for anyone to ever have to go through this, but we are also aware enough to realize that this is an inevitable part of life for some. We know firsthand that family members (mom, dad, grandparents, brothers, sisters) of our industry peers have fallen into serious illness that requires personal attention and resources for the sake of the person’s wellbeing and the health of the family.
Some may be required to find a second job to make ends meet, to use all of their free time to attend to the ill family member, or simply do not have the mental strength to deal with this family stress while also tackling the daily grind and BS that comes with being a part of the electronic music industry.
Once in a lifetime opportunity: Ever so often in life we get rolled a dice and are faced an opportunity that we simply cannot refuse. You know, one of those opportunities that would leave you wondering about the “what if’s” for the rest of your life, just like we felt when we had the choice to join the electronic music industry a little over 12 years ago. Now, if you ever get presented a new opportunity outside our music field and feel “super-strongly” about it, stronger than you have ever felt about that day you decided that Electronic Music was going to be your life, our advice is to TAKE IT!!
Don’t waste a second overthinking it. In the name of NIKE, “JUST FUCKING DO IT”.
You already had a taste of what it’s like to be a part of the electronic music community to some degree and sometimes, all you need is to go through this rigorous journey and process to understand there is so much more out there for you. If your heart is leaning stronger on this new opportunity then do not fear, you have made the right decision! But, if you’re unsure, hesitant, and making excuses it means you’re not ready to let it go, so re-think this subjectively.
There is no right or wrong choice, there is simply “a choice”.
Social and family pressure: society has its own ways of giving us a pretty skewed version of how life should be. We are all supposed to conform to the norm of society (or worse our friends/family’s own viewpoints of it) or else what we exemplify with this so-called “career choice” becomes the laughing subject for our friends and family. They do not understand the level of difficulty and sacrifice it takes just to hang on by a shoestring in this industry, nor the passion that drives us to do so in the first place.
However, let’s not lie to ourselves either. In our 20s it may be cool to have the burning passion of turning our love for electronic music into our career, before most of us find out that it’s not so easy at all to pursue said passion. In fact, it’s very difficult and takes time, hard work, money, and some luck to make shit happen and even with all that, success is not guaranteed either. Bummer, right? By the time we hit our late 20s (specifically 27-29), most of us begin to question our lives and the decisions we have made; depending on the age we began, we question whether to continue this journey or not around this time period. By the time the 30s hit, you begin to build a clearer perspective on things and to be quite frank, if you have put in a lot of time, energy, and money without seeing the results you anticipated, it can really be deflating to your mental and spiritual soul, especially if you see your peers or others leveling up the way you wish you had.
Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, but it was for us: this hits particularly hard in your 30s but ultimately, THIS IS PART OF LIFE no matter your chosen career profession—some people will make it and reach their goals, and others will not. In this industry specifically, most will not and the hobby and passion will remain so, without ever translating to a life career… and that is fine!
Social and family pressure isn’t just an external factor, it also lives internally within yourself. You know it already, it’s that voice you hear in your head! At some point, you will begin to question if this was all worth it. And even if you do reach another milestone, will it still be worth it later? In the end, when you’re old, would any of this be worth it? Only you have the answers to those questions based on the context of your own personal lifestyle and where you currently stand with where YOU want to be in life, not what society or your mom/dad/family thinks—it’s all about YOU.
The entire journey has been about YOU, so the last thing you need is to make decisions based on external factors.
The Good News to Sacrifice
Humans often view sacrifice as something negative because it takes away our main objective for another thing.
Our innate human nature tells us “NO, we must have it all. I want my cake and eat it too, and have it all right away!!” Yet, if you re-read advice #2 (Develop a Strong Mindset) this is the best time for us to apply the power of our mind. The moment we all made the conscious decision to make “Electronic Music” a big part of our lives, we already made one of the biggest sacrifices we could ever make in life. We sacrificed our time, energy, money, social life, and oftentimes personal relationships with longtime friends, family and significant others for…THIS!! The longer we have been in it, the longer and harder the sacrifices we will have to face. NO ONE is exempt.
Good News #1: we have already been willfully sacrificing this whole time, the journey has made us mentally stronger and all we’re doing is flipping the switch when a sacrifice comes and some other thing now needs our attention. With this in mind, continuing and pushing on is really not that scary, right?
Good News #2: the electronic music industry will be here for a very long time, if not forever. That’s right, this shit’s here to stay, and in our mind it may be at least another decade before this blog post becomes outdated because another decade is up and our guidelines don’t apply anymore. Everything that causes you pain is temporary, yet we believe that taking care of yourself and your family is more important than anything else, even more important than Electronic Music.
How can you possibly be at your best state of mind to tackle what is already a very difficult industry when life is truly calling!? Go handle that shit like a champ, take however long you need to heal yourself, take care of family, or attend to the new baby, because whenever you’re ready to come back, we’ll all be here, and the community will be here too, and you can work your way back up at any time as long as you put in the hard work, treat others well and persevere.
It won’t be easy however, as scenes and people do change, but for the most part it will just be a matter of time, energy, and a bit of money to make it all happen again. Maybe this time, after taking care of what life threw at you, you might be in the best state of mind and awareness to find happiness and success in the journey you had embarked on and put to the side for a while.
We have personally seen and met touring artists become loving parents, event promoters who are happily married, and electronic music industry professionals who are big social advocates, all striking a perfect balance with their passion and purpose in life. Sometimes all we need to continue this brutal journey is a bit of clarity, a mental break, and time to reflect on what is truly important to us. Sometimes all we need is to put some things in order so that we may continue on our journey with a clearer head, firmer purpose, and less distractions.
Good News #3: the truth will ultimately be revealed through the sacrifices that you make. Some people may enter their break with a temporary mindset, not realizing that what is waiting for them on the other side is their true happiness. We have seen many peers leave the electronic music industry for all of the above sacrifices and have personally witnessed how much happier they are with themselves and with life. Just because they are no longer involved doesn’t mean they forget how to have fun! We love seeing old friends/peers come back to our events from time to time and nothing brings us more joy seeing them prosper in their life decision and being truly happy overall!
With full commitment comes sacrifices. No great achievement is accomplished without hard work. There is always a price to pay.
In the end, there is no right or wrong decision. If you leave the scene but your heart hasn’t left with it, you will eventually make your way back as we have witnessed many times, and we will be here to welcome you back when that day comes. If you leave and have no regrets about anything then we are happy for you!
It’s a win-win either way, the key to all this is finding your own happiness and what works for YOU.
The world we live in, where we can get Amazon deliveries in less than a day, is completely absurd. What the internet has done to human perspective is dangerous, as we want everything NOW!
Building a million-dollar business should happen by next week, becoming the next Richie Hawtin (or insert your favorite DJ) should take no more than a year or two, and being the biggest artist or PR agency in the world should happen at the end of next quarter, and so on and so forth. To some extent, we all have hammered our own mind with these thoughts, these random internal timelines of when a specific milestone should occur ASAP or else!!
We understand that setting goals and writing them down is important and yes, we should always strive to do our best to reach them, but what if we don’t reach our goal or dreams or milestone by that arbitrary deadline we set ourselves? Do we quit? Do we??!! The answer is most likely NO. We continue, we work, we get better and we keep moving and improving! The key to all of this is understanding the long road it takes to build anything truly worthwhile, whether as an artist, promoter, or any electronic music industry professional title we wish to attain. There is no easy short road here.
“The capacity for patience was given us for a reason.” — Marcus Aurelius
Sure, maybe a few of our peers may rise up faster than the rest, but those are uncommon because they most likely have an uncommon talent or whatever it is they have an advantage of. It is not the norm, and it is not a practical strategy to follow. Let’s be honest here, which one of us have attempted to take short cuts only to eventually realize how bad it can backfire? We are not ashamed to admit that we have been guilty of this.
Between the Fall of 2015 through the end of 2016 we were having the worst time of our lives in this industry. An industry filled with supposed fun wasn’t fun anymore, it was MISERABLE. It felt like a drag, the team wasn’t fully engaged and everything we did lacked intention, it felt fake. Our motives were selfish, and it felt like shit to realize where we had gotten to, and who we had become. We simply forgot how to have fun, and once we stopped having fun it was equivalent to going through hell, because not only were we having a terrible period mentally, but we were also spending a lot of our time, energy, and money for what felt like nothing worth anything at all; it was a very dark period for us and in retrospect, we can tell you that we were going through a deep and personal burnout period. We wanted to quit. No lie, after spending 7-8 years in the electronic music industry with full dedication and having absolutely nothing to show for it besides a cute email list and vanity social media metrics, at the end of 2016 we were ready to throw in the towel.
But we didn’t. What we ended up doing was changing our perspective and our attitude towards it all. By refocusing our passion and truly understanding that when things really get hard and difficult, that is the moment we should push on. That is how life tests you. We looked back on all the great artists, great events, and great companies within the electronic music industry and realized that all of them have been on their journey for 20-30 years, and all of them have been through some very troubled and turbulent times during their story.
When we compare their 20-30 years to our measly 7-8 years, we realized we were not patient enough, that we wanted things to happen faster under some sort of imaginary timeline we had unconsciously set for ourselves, ultimately leading to a mindset of rushing things, making damaging decisions, and chasing all the wrong things because we wanted to reach our goals in a hurry. Despite some people telling us that 7-8 years is a long time, we realized that it really isn’t when we put things into real perspective. No matter what profession or industry you are in today, no one reaches true success without putting a long term dedicated approach to their path.
If being patient is the game then we must do ourselves a favor to ensure we are having fun every step of the way. This is key for our own sanity and for the sanity of others we encounter on our path. When we’re not having fun we rush things, because we want to reach the end of the game now. When we’re not patient, we start doing things that are not very fun by rushing and chasing things of lesser or no importance. Being patient and having fun is the only way we’re going to really enjoy the process. Adopting this mindset has given us the mental clarity to do the right things, to make the right calls, and ensure we don’t sabotage our hard work moving forward.
Remember, life is long and time will eventually pass, so please enjoy each present moment to the fullest—that’s how you win in the game of being patient. Don’t forget to dance and smile a little along the way!
During Memorial Day Weekend 2018 we had a big opportunity to interview one of the greatest and most influential electronic music artists of our generation, John Digweed. This was right after his stellar performance at the mainstage of Movement Festival in Detroit for what was supposed to be an interview focused about Bedrock’s 20th Anniversary release. Instead, the interview turned into a 15-minute off-the-record discussion on passion, purpose, and intent that had NOTHING to do with his upcoming release but everything to do with a state of mind that John wanted us to leave the interview with.
By the time we had asked our fourth question, the word “passion” must’ve been thrown around 75-80 times, at least!. Truth be told we were also really nervous to be interviewing one of our idols so a lot of words got repeated and as we were about to get into our fifth question Digweed put his hand out signalling and kindly asking for us to pause the recording. We thought we fucked something up and he was ending the interview right there, but to our surprise, he continued with something that will be instilled in our mind and souls forever:
“Listen, I think you are emphasizing the word “passion” a bit too much here and we need to be careful to not let passion drive everything we do and stand for.
Society has put the word “passion” on a pedestal like it’s some sort of holy grail in life, but if we take a closer look it’s really not that significant nor that important. You see that over there? [Digweed points to the Movement Festival Main Stage crowd] That’s 20,000 people who have passion alright, they either have passion for the music, the DJs, the drugs, the festival environment, being with their friends, traveling, or whatever. I’m sure they ALL have passion for something about this or they wouldn’t be here. But the thing is 95% of that crowd will never be able to find purpose and intent behind their passion for partying at festivals or clubs. Why do you think the party-goers are always the first ones to leave our scene?
Your purpose and intent drives out your “why” and I just can’t imagine anyone justifying why partying every weekend and doing drugs is actually good for them, it’s certainly not sustainable and I have seen the worst of it from that angle.
Now for people like us, who wanted more from this, more than just partying at festivals, clubs and having fun with friends in this environment, we need to find our purpose and intent because there will be a day when what you do gets challenged by society; it could be from your family, spouse/significant others, friends, and life circumstances.
You will need to have a strong sense of purpose and intent to find your ultimate reason to continue this journey. Passion doesn’t stand a chance against those forces, but purpose and intent will…or at least put up a very good fight” — John Digweed
For the first time ever, we realized why we had felt a bit sad and depressed despite having a very clear “passion” for electronic music since 2008. What we were missing was the purpose and intent driving that passion, something a lot of us in the electronic music industry clearly miss. Without a strong sense of WHY, our purpose and intent, external forces, society’s standards, and imaginary timelines will always work against your passion and succeed in pulling us out of our state of happiness just like it has happened to many of our fellow industry artists and professionals who have had to call it quits regardless of what their circumstances were.
Since that interview, we have made it a collective goal to encourage and enable each of our members to dig deep and discover their WHY, their purpose and intent. After every big quarterly team meeting, we always challenge each other to continuously drive out our WHYs. We have dug deep to ensure we know our true purpose and intent, and not to just rely on our passion. What John Digweed said on that special day in Detroit saved us from ever having to question our own reason, because our purpose and intent are as strong and meaningful as ever before. When you truly discover your purpose and intent, no one can take your joy away and that thought is what keeps us inspired and motivated as we continue down this path. the
We do not know whether Digweed reads Stoicism, but we have found a clear link between the words he spoke to us at Hart Plaza and the word of one of today’s most influential modern Stoics:
“What humans require in our ascent is purpose and realism. Purpose, you could say, is like passion with boundaries. Realism is detachment and perspective.
When we are young, or when our cause is young, we feel so intensely—passion like our hormones runs strongest in youth—that it seems wrong to take it slow. This is just our impatience. This is our inability to see that burning ourselves out or blowing ourselves up isn’t going to hurry the journey along.
Passion is about. (I am so passionate about ______.) Purpose is to and for. (I must do ______. I was put here to accomplish ______. I am willing to endure ______ for the sake of this.) Actually, purpose deemphasizes the I. Pur pose is about pursuing something outside yourself as opposed to pleasuring yourself.” — Ryan Holiday
“Choose purpose over passion. Passion runs hot and burns out, while people with purpose — think of it as passion combined with reason — are more dedicated and have control over their direction. Christopher McCandless was passionate when he went “into the wild” but it didn’t work well, right? The inventor of the Segway was passionate. Better to have clear-headed purpose.” — Ryan Holiday
We would like to ask all artists, promoters, electronic music industry pros, and peers who are reading this to aim to do the following in order to help you dig deep towards the core of your purpose and intent, in order to find your “WHY”: please check out the “Seven Levels Deep” exercise created by world-renowned entrepreneur and life-coach guru, Dean Graziosi. Dean has an exercise that will ensure you get to the core of your WHY and it goes a little something like this.
Ask yourself a starting question → “Why are you doing this?” and for every answer you give yourself follow up with the next question: “Why?” The idea is to ask “Why?” after each answer up to seven times, and by the 7th time you have answered “Why?” it will reveal your true purpose and intent of why you’re doing the things you do. It is extremely powerful and liberating if you get through the 7-levels. If your intent is to purely get famous, be recognized, and make money your answers will sound pretty ridiculous as you read them out loud and chances are you won’t even be able to answer the rest of the WHYs that’s required to go 7 levels deep.
As an example, we will answer 3 questions from our perspective as an event promoter:
Question 1: Why do you produce electronic music events?
Answer Level 1: Because we love the music and want to give people the opportunity to experience a real moment we have felt on the dance floor through the music. We want for people to forget about their everyday problems and worries for a moment. We want to achieve this through music and good vibes, by bringing people together for this united experience
Question 2: Why do you want to put together an event where people can forget or escape everyday problems?
Answer Level 2: Because life is difficult with many obstacles thrown at us everyday, and we all need the space and time to balance things out, to have a little fun so we don’t lose our minds. We all need to recalibrate, to find that balance. Our events provide attendees the platform to release and express their inner-self through music, surrounded by like-minded individuals that help them cope with whatever it is they are going through in life, that inspire them to get back to life and face their issues.
Question 3: Why do you want people to express their inner-self through music with like-minded individuals?
Answer Level 3: Because life gets lonelier as we get older and this is something our generation is coping with for the first time. Technology is separating human interaction, as are politics, religion, social media and other modern life factors, which is why many of our attendees come to our events to find a sense of community through this music gathering, hang out with friends, and also catch their favorite artists who are individuals or groups they admire as it is music that brings them joy and happy feelings. It is important for people to express themselves freely through dance in both a physical and spiritual manner, as a form of therapy. That is what they seek at our events. For some it will be a positive experience, and for some it may not be the same but that’s OK. We are here to serve those that need us for as long as they need, and those who are just looking for a quick-high can get what they need and move on.
The questions and answers will go on until level 7, at which point you will be digging into something you didn’t think was even there, answering the real questions as to why you do the things you do. We humans live too much in the conscious world, never realizing or wanting to admit that our subconscious mind drives all of our actions as well as our physical and non-verbal behaviors.
This is the reason why it’s difficult for many of us to peel off the layers of what’s on the surface. It’s difficult because it makes us uncomfortable, and it makes us feel nauseous to think how unaware we can sometimes be, of how we are just so blinded by the lights, the sound, the drugs, the alcohol, and all of the temptations that come from this journey. Worst of all, we don’t even know the real reason why we are here doing the things we do while sacrificing everything in life just to say “this is what we do!?”
It’s time to dig deeper, to discover our WHY. To find purpose and intent behind our journey.
Twelve years went by for us, and only recently are we finally understanding why we are in the electronic music industry and why we are part of this community and why we are doing “this”.
The guidelines in this article clearly came from our collective experience, from our many losses and few triumphs, the pains and gains, and all lessons along the way. We can’t help but to think that somewhere, likely close to us, someone in the electronic music community is currently going through their own journey and really needs to read this.
Truthfully, it’s none of our business and we really don’t care whether you agree or disagree with any of the principles we have laid out here. These are our truths, our very uncomfortable truths. They may wholly or partially apply to you, or they may enable you to see your own truths. All we wanted to do was share our perspective. Whether you believe these guidelines apply to you or not, just realize that another decade will pass us and only time will reveal all of the answers we are ever looking for. Ultimately, your results and your success or failure will be revealed, so don’t rush this too soon, ok?
You can take all of this with a grain of salt or take this wholeheartedly, you either think we have some knowledge and insight to offer, or that we are full of shit and full of ourselves—that is your choice and a perspective that we do not control.
All we want to do is share a piece of our journey and our truth, hoping that in the next decade we will begin to see more electronic music artists, promoters, and electronic music industry professionals go through their journey with the best purpose and intention, with a strong ego-free mindset, with a strong desire to work hard and work well with others; we hope to see people who treat everyone equally and who cares deeply for the community, people who are not selfish or stingy with their opportunities to help others , people who have an understanding that all of the sacrifices they make will be the key they need to power through the troubled times.
When things get harder and nothing seems to make sense we hope they use patience, gratitude, and joy to remain in the good fight and to ultimately understand why they got into “this” in the very first place.
One can only dream right?
Thank you for reading this all the way through, thank you for your support over the last 12 years. We appreciate you deeply and hope that you’ll begin to find the purpose and intent going through your journey sooner than we did. Here’s to 2020 and beyond, and here’s to the community we sacrificed everything for!
Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback! Open communication with our community is essential for us to learn and grow together in the electronic music industry, so feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
We love you and believe in you, now go love and believe in yourself.
Cover Photo by @nightmovesme