While writing and producing his own music, Adam helps other music producers build and grow their brands online so they can turn their passion into profit.
Renzo: How is your day to day?
Adam: I spend a significant amount of my time creating content for Teknofonic’s artist development platform while promoting it and running its business operations. I also provide 1-on-1 music production, business, and/or songwriting lessons. The time commitment will vary from day-to-day depending on the schedule of my students.
R: Tell me about Teknofonic
A: I began my career in contemporary classical music as a composer and have been blessed with opportunities to work with several internationally acclaimed ensembles, had my works premiered in major New York City venues, and received grants for my work from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, among others.
While I continue to work in the contemporary classical music scene, over the years, I have found myself equally at home in the electronic music community. I don’t really see myself as a DJ, so starting a record label in 2015 called Teknofonic seemed to make the most sense as a way I could support forward-thinking artists producing genre-bending electronic dance music and give a platform for emerging talent to reach diverse audiences. But these days, music can be recorded and distributed far more cheaply, so the once intermediary role played by the record label is no longer necessary.
To remain relevant, record labels are forced to reinvent themselves. Some have expanded into the artist management realm to counter the loss of revenue from music being primarily consumed from digital downloads and streaming. Some produce festivals and concert tours so that ticket sales is now the primary source of their income.
In short, revenue from record sales alone is no longer a viable business model. Whatever alternative business model is adopted, it presents an opportunity for record labels to become more collaborative with their artists. Teknofonic has fallen somewhere in between a digital distribution service and a record label, giving artists the competitive edge needed to get their music heard in today’s oversaturated marketplace while being able to retain the rights to their music. Since most labels these days don’t provide artist development services, we saw an opportunity to expand our platform beyond just serving the artists releasing their music on our label.
Over the past two years, we have evolved into an online community and education platform that provides electronic musicians with learning resources, networking opportunities, and career support. Our mission has always been to help music creators at all levels build and grow their brands online so they can turn their passion into a profitable profession and this inventive business model allows us to serve more people.
R: What is Studio Hangouts?
A: Studio Hangouts is a program I started at Teknofonic to recreate an experience online of what I had when I first moved to New York City. I would hang out in recording studios and watch the masters work. I learned a ton from being in the control room of some big studios. Unfortunately, with the advancements in technology, a commercial studio is no longer necessary to produce great records. So a lot of studios have been forced to shut down. I was also noticing that a lot of the producers I signed to my label are making music in their home studio and didn’t have the same opportunity I had to meet in-person with chart-topping and award-winning producers who took me inside the DAW to reveal the creative and technical secrets behind their music. Sure, there are tons of YouTube tutorials out there, but you don’t get the same experience you have watching a pre-recorded session that you do when you attend a live workshop either at a production school or conference.
So Studio Hangouts is an effort to recreate this experience online in the form of a video conference meeting. I also realize that not everyone can attend a live session, so we record these and make them available on our online platform to our subscribers. So far we’ve had 16 of these 90-minute online workshops that cover a variety of aspects of music production such as sound design, mixing techniques, songwriting, workflow, and business skills that you can apply right now to advance your music career.
R: What do you wish you had known when you started out?
A: It’s going to be a lot of work for very little pay at first. But never work for free. Musicians, in particular, have the habit of doing free gigs in hopes of building a portfolio. We are told somewhere along the way to offer our services at no charge in exchange for “exposure” or because “it’s a good opportunity.” But this really isn’t the way to start a career. Working for free is very hard to break out of once people know that you aren’t accepting payment. The hard truth is, you can’t continue doing favors for people and expect it to lead to anything other than bankruptcy.
R: What is this something that moves you to do what you do?
A: I have an innate desire to help people. I’m always willing to reach out and lift others up. A motto I go by is a “rising tide lifts all boats.” We are stronger when we work together. This is something that is often missing from the music industry. It is said this is a cut-throat business. It certainly can be, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
And working in the music industry isn’t easy. You have to wear many hats and it has taken me almost two decades to “make it” as a producer. So that’s why I started Teknofonic: I wanted to create something that I wish I had when I was first starting out in the music business–a resource that would save me years of frustration and confusion navigating an ever-changing marketplace.
R: What are you learning / exploring right now?
A: Right now I’m interested in learning all I can about sync licensing. While early on in my career, I dabbled in writing music for film and commercials, it wasn’t something I was truly passionate about. I have a few mentors I am working within this area of the industry and something I look forward to seeing where it goes. After all, a career in music these days means having multiple revenue streams.
R: If somebody wants to contact you, what are you looking for right now? What kind of help do you need?
A: At Teknofonic, we are always looking for collaborators to help us grow the artist development platform. Anyone that is passionate about helping aspiring producers level up their production and business skills should reach out and become a part of our mission. As far as the record label, we are looking for artists making awesome electronic music that doesn’t quite fit the mainstream, breaks down the genre walls, and has a collaborative spirit.