Deadmau5 On Making It In The Music Business: Make A World For Your Fans

Deadmau5 shared some advice at his tumblr site for musicians wanting to make a career in the music business.

He offers three recommendations, whether you’re a musician with 10 fans or 10 million:

  1. You need to make a world. So you have a rollercoaster in your backyard. And it’ll be the hot thing in the neighborhood for about a week. But once everyone’s had a go… they’ll lose interest, go home n play Sega instead. What you need then, is a fuckin’ theme park… and you AND your music are the theme. People come into your theme park…..check out all this shit… buncha rides, no 2 the same, some merch here and there, special events, dolphins through hoops and all that whack shit. You want people to come to your theme park and feel like they’re a part of this world of yours.
  2. Don’t overkill 900 on the promotional shit. – I don’t read spammed to death fucking promo shit, so, the type of people i’d like to have in my theme park don’t either. Nor do i come blaring on the theme parks PA system every fucking 20 seconds hyping the same fucking ride over and over again. Also a bad look to take flyers to other peoples theme parks and start plastering posters all over the place.
  3. Avoid being invisible. Get out there and immerse yourself in the world you created, youll have fun, it’s your place for fuck’s sake. If you’re not having fun in the world you created, then you fucked something up and did it wrong. Go jump on a few rides with your fans.

When you find yourself spending $45 for a deck of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards, you just bought a ticket to his theme park.

Check out Deadmau5 advice – and let us know what you think of it!

34 thoughts on “Deadmau5 On Making It In The Music Business: Make A World For Your Fans

  1. solid advice. seems like he is having a lot of fun and so are his fans… which is why i believe he has been a success… because they’re all having fun

    while Deadmau5 isn’t my thing… i’ve never understood all the hate… its like when people look at a piece of modern art and say “i could’ve done that,” but they didn’t. its about getting out there and doing what you do

    1. Rust Creep, why is it that these days, if someone dislikes something, it’s called ‘ Hate ‘ ?
      I don’t ‘ Hate’ DeadMau5. I will say, we are just as entitled to our opinion as Deadmau5 is.
      If I was to come here and say ” deadmau5 is a worthless POS and should kill himself ” o.k. I can see how that can be considered ‘ hate ‘ but to have rational disagreement with someone isn’t ‘ hate ‘

      the term ‘ hate’ is such a overused term anyways.

  2. Reading the stuff Deadmau5 writes is about as painful as listening to his tracks and trying to spot any differences. Terrible use of metaphors, too (by the way).

    1. There’s a reason he’s a musician, not a writer.


      Can’t argue his advice, though – obviously working for him.

  3. Funny. I thought his approach to success was, “Just phone it in and cater to the lowest common denominator”. He’s on to the truth here though, and is saying the same thing as anyone who “gets it”. Keep it fresh, be authentic and respectful of your audience/customers, and be accessible to them.

  4. He could just tell the truth: “I was extremely lucky. The right people noticed my music and I had a cool name and a massive helmet as a gimmick.”

    The rubbish about theme parks is just that — rubbish.

    1. I have to disagree – partly. Of course you need to be lucky. But that goes for every form of art – there are countless talented people who create wonderful music/graphics/whatever, but in the end you have to be lucky to make money from it. It’s always a “be at the right time at the right place” thing.

      But I don’t think that his theme park metaphor is “rubbish”. If you take a look at any successful music project / band you’ll soon discover that they have one thing in common, regardless of their genre: they do not only sell their music, but a total package, made out of their style, their looks, cover artworks, (of course) their music and an overall “feeling”.

      I think this is one of the factors that decides about the commercial impact of an artist: if he/she just sells music, it will always be less successful than other musicians who have achieved not only an acoustic but also a visual identity. Yeah, it’s not fair and it’s wrong and it’s terrible to focus on such things when only the music should be important – but if you are honest with yourself, you will have to accept that most people focus on visual aspects – even in the context of music…

      If you want to make money from your music, you’ll have to be a businessman. And a businessman has to do marketing.

      1. > they do not only sell their music, but a total package, made out of their style, their looks, cover artworks,
        >(of course) their music and an overall “feeling”.

        It used to be that good music would sell itself. Now being a good musician doesn’t matter, because the “entertainment package” you have described is all people want to promote. This is how guys like Deadmou5 can make any money at all… his music is pedestrian at best, but he has this roller coaster people seem to like. If he had to stand on his music alone, he would be bagging our groceries.

        1. Basically that might be true – but you have to accept that it is not 1960 anymore. Just take a look at the vast amount of people producing music nowadays. Today, almost everybody with access to a computer has the potential to make decent music. It’s simply impossible to listen to every single artist that might be of interest to you.

          And by implication, this means that it gets more and more important for musicians to promote their works in other ways. Just think about it – you have to listen to a song for at least a minute to estimate, if you really like it or not. But you just have to see a picture for a few seconds and you know if you can relate to this style or not.

          So, the advertising appeal of visual promotion is obvious. And it’s just a logical reaction to an ever-growing market.

          Regardless if you like artists like deadmau5, Skrillex, etc. – you can’t deny that they have understood the workings of the modern market. And most important: they have no obligation to the improvement of the world for idealistic idead. They are businessmen who sell their products – and it works. Simple as that 😉

  5. those that believe in luck wont have any

    you make your own luck… you think a mouse head helped make his career? in any way what so ever? really?

    i use the word hate.. because if i made a thread about Skinny Puppy… 5 people would respond… but if i made a thread about mr mau5 it would be inundated with negative “this is crap.. lowest common denominator, etc, etc”

    electronic music is going through a renaissance and electronic musicians couldn’t be more unhappy

    you think skrillex or deadmau5 were lucky? … they made their own luck.. by doing something.. not expressing their dislike of this or that on the internet

    these guys are in the music business… and business has always been about profit… and you know what is the best way to ensure the largest possible profit… by catering to the lowest common denominator… because you know… divisibility and math and shit… which is why i guess we’re talking about deadmau5 instead of any of you “real” musicians

    1. I think skinny puppy are the greatest electronic act ever.

      But my 11 year old who doesn’t like music yet asked me for a deadmau5 cd, and to see videos. Why?

      The mouse head.

    2. Get real, man. Time to face reality.

      Even Skrillex himself has said that he got EXTREMELY LUCKY and thats part of why he had the choices and opportunities he did.

  6. You know what I have learned about Mau5 hate, or Skillex hate, etc? They are better than 99.9% of the producers that slag them off. It’s funny really.It’s called “jealousy,” with a heavy dose of “ego.” Yawn.

  7. As much a people enjoy theme parks, they also epitomize corporate culture. To spend day at Disneyland is to experience a 12-hour immersive advertisement. A fun, well-designed, detail-oriented advertisement, but an advertisement nonetheless.

    Not a bad analogy in this case.

  8. I definitely believe in the “theme park” bit. Making it in music these days is more than just having good tunes. Once you’ve gained the skill to be able to produce some killer music then you have to stand out and produce an image (or in the Mau5’s words a “world”) for yourself.

    There are sooo many people out there producing electronic music so why should someone listen to you if you’re just like all of the rest of the producers out there? BUT if you’re going out of your way to market and brand yourself then people will recognize it and feel more involved in the process. Thus, leading to the possibility of more popularity and “buzz”.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s still ALOT of reliability on your skill and originality as a musician/producer. But as mentioned in the other comments, it is still in fact a business and a part of being a businessman is branding and marketing yourself in a way that no one else is.

    (I also have to agree with the promotional aspect.. I mean COME ON when you post something – people see it. Posting it 100 more times isn’t going to make people like it any more…)

  9. This guy has proven himself as shittex pup steps equal, what an over glorified and over deserved prick

    Electronica is stuck up its own ass these days, no one is a superstar for reall, just stupid fan boys and girls and mixmag put them there

  10. His speech is reflective of his music:  choose three to four swear words and repeat over and over again with slight variation.  In the case of music, use three or four chords, hit the loop function and slowly open and close the filter.  Instant effin’ rollercoaster!

    It’s actually a relief that he sounds more like a pimp or drug dealer.  It would be infinitely more irritating if he chose to grace us with pontifications of a pseudo-intellectual nature regarding the finer points of his “compositions”.

    1. Well mr., I don’t know what kind of music you’re making, but if it comes with flowery class-conscious ”pontifications” it must be pure rock and roll! Lol

  11. IIRC Deadmaus was as reclusive and introverted as every other electronic producer when he started out. Why the helmet? Gimmick or disguise? Anyway whatever the reason for his success, this seems like the advice of/for someone who’s ALREADY made it.

  12. you know… when people talk shit… it has a lot more weight when they are not anonymous sock puppets. none of the detractors have a soundcloud that they link to their name on synthtopia?

    or any other website where they have placed their music for others to judge?

    i’m not trying to make it in the music business… i’m an accountant.. thats good enough for me.. but even i link my shit

    and hey.. i like talking shit too… i’m back @ synthtopia doing it… but you guys look like foolish cowards… let us hear the brilliant shit you’ve done that no one appreciates because you’re above the gimmicky bullshit

  13. Well, I agree on some level with him, but when you’re as famous as he is, sure it’s ideologically easy to say: Hey Guys guess what You don’t need Promo, just be cool and you’ll make it. Guess what? You won’t be heard of two blacks away from your pad unless there is some level of promotion involved.

    Honestly I think part of what he’s saying is contradictory to his own behavior and that’s his business really. It’s like the Priest saying: Do as I say, not as I do.

    I still think he’s cool on various levels, but its also easy to be cool and act cool when you’re famous.

    1. He didn’t say no promo though, just don’t go overkill. Focus on creating a brand (no, it’s not a dirty word) that people want to engage with. I totally agree with the overall advice, it fits my understanding of many creative endeavours (I’m a game designer). If you’re honest and passionate about doing it then it attracts people and comes through on its own, without the need for promotional spam. Word of mouth is 100x more effective

  14. I think he made it to the top because his music is better than his competition for where he was shooting for. Same thing with Skrillex. People at the mall like it. It sounds great to them. The best.

    Theme park analogies make sense when discussing the success of Mickey Mouse. However, the success of Mickey Mouse is more useful for explaining the success of theme parks.

  15. You don’t need to be a musician to be able to recognize good or bad music.

    “So you think ‘Battleship’ sucks, do you, Mr. Ebert? Exactly how many blockbuster films have *you* made based on a classic tabletop game?”

    1. Damn right!

      Furthermore I don’t dislike deadmaufive because I’m jealous, I dislike it because I think it’s boring. It’s popular because it’s designed to be popular, and that’s something that is a huge turn-off for me in most cases.

      That said, his advice (though not exactly eloquently worded) is decent. You have to engage people and give them a reason to check your shit out over the hundreds or thousands of other people making similar stuff. The more popular you wish to be, the more engaging and active you have to be.

      On the topic of luck: luck isn’t something controllable, but it is something usable. If you put yourself in a position where you’re more likely to get a break, you have higher chances of good luck coming your way. The thing is, sometimes luck strikes those completely not seeking it, and sometimes it avoids those who really want it. That’s what luck is: randomness. Most of the people who get to be known on a level that Deadmau5 is, got there both from luck AND working hard so that they were in a position to take advantage of that luck.

  16. Regarding “go home n play Sega instead,” I can think of a number of Dreamcast games that I’d be inclined to play instead of listening to deadmau5. The games have good music, after all (e.g. Jet Grind Radio.)

  17. This is a great short, and has a lot of truth in it.

    The idea of a greater themed portfolio (Discography, “Themepark”, ect…) is clearly visible throughout all forms of art. For all thos who are denouncing this as just marketing think about other artists like Salvador Dali who undeniably had his own “Theme Park”. A Dali peace is easily recognizable to anyone who is familiar with art graphic art, because it has a theme and style that is unique. Why should it be frowned upon to do the same in music? Of course it helps in marketing and branding, but it is also a peace of artistic identity.

    Secondly about the luck of making it… Like it has previously been stated these producers make there own luck… do you think deadmau5’s ability to mixdown and master all his own tracks was just “Luck”, Fuck no he had to learn compression, general theory, DSP, and more just like the rest of us.

    I agree there is some level of luck that decides who reaches superstar status, but musicians who make amazing music and understand the world we live in will make it… Look at Ronald Jenkees, The man is a wizard with his keyboards, but not really a born showman or super model. He has reached a fair amount of success despite all that, because the music he makes is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *