On Saturday the 13th July, 15 producers met for the first time to embark on a 5 day music producer retreat; collaborating, learning, relaxing and becoming a family.
Those attendees were:
Geek Fam, Imperial Tone, Thriii, Medici, Pengg, Bulgaria, Stxnley Beats, Lance Whitley, WTSN (our SAE scholarship winner), Rapha Don, Kevin Hai, Jupiter Wave, Caz Aglets, Is That Q and Jam Fu.
And mentoring this year was:
Tone Jonez, Alessandro (DopeBoyzMuzic), SikWitit, and Airbit CEO Wasim Khamlichi. The second half of Dopeboyz – Tommaso was unable to attend for the week, but was kind enough to drop in via Skype. We also had special guest appearances from Instros Only‘s Pino, as well as Grammy Award winning superstar Symbolyc One!
Our attendees wasted no time getting to work, spending the first night showcasing their beats and collaborating; getting to know eachother the best way producers know how – through music.
The first full day began with a masterclass from the one and only Tone Jonez. His Craft & Musicianship class showcased his beat-making process, his mentality, his routine – including early morning workout to get the mind flowing – his now famous ‘Skeletons’, ‘Specials’, and more. (Skeletons are the beginnings of beats/ideas that usually end up in the bin. In the words of Tone Jonez – always keep your skeletons!)
As it was the first day no beat challenge was set, and producers instead worked together freely, getting to know eachother’s process, techniques and styles, as well as putting to use the techniques learned in Tone Jonez’ class.
Monday gave us Alessandro’s Mixing & Mastering Masterclass, where he takes us through his process, which continually amazes all who see it. Alessandro is now known for his ability to create a professional sounding beat with relative ease, to the point where we can instantly recognise his presence on a beat, just from the quality (not to diminish anyone else’s ability, but this guy is a machine). Watching the younger half of DopeBoyzMuzic mix & master a beat in real time just shows how much detail he goes into, and how much time and effort is put into each beat. A great eye-opener for our attendees, who now see what’s required to get a sound that can compete with the best.
For the first beat challenge of the Retreat – the Sound Design challenge – attendees were tasked with finding objects from around the mansion/grounds, sampling them, and using those sounds to make a beat.
However each group outdid our expectations and turned up to the showcase with 3 or 4 beats! Perhaps we made the challenge too easy… or, the more accurate answer is that these producers were extremely talented and hard working, as we were beginning to realise. The showcase was a great way to see where everyone’s at and how they were beginnging to gel, and we could already tell great things were coming..
Although he was unable to attend the retreat, DopeBoyzMuzic’s Tommaso still gave us his time and ran his Masterclass via Skype. And so, with his Marketing & Branding Masterclass, attendees were introduced to a key part of running an online beat selling business – the business! From Soundclick to email marketing, YouTube and more, Tommaso provided a comprehensive overview of how a producer should market their brand to help sell more beats online.
For the next beat challenge each group was given one sample from each of Tone Jonez’s, DopeBoyzMuzic’s & Sikwitit’s kits and tasked with creating a beat from these. As we’ve come to expect now, each group of producers came packed with an aresnal of beats for the showcase, again eclipsing our initial expectations. After only 3 full days, the standard of beats being made was incredible. Each day the producers are pushing eachother to get crazier & more creative. Medici in particular blew us away in Tuesday’s showcase!
Wednesday saw the arrival of our special guest – superstar producer Symbolyc One! Having worked with Kanye West, Eminem, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Madonna to name a few, we were blessed and honoured to host S1 for a few nights, and amazed by his generousity and openness towards the occassion.
S1 didn’t just come to show his face, he was kind enough to run a Masterclass of his own, as he took us behind the beat and showed how he made the music for Kanye & Jay-Z’s “Murder to Excellence”. A truly once in a lifetime opportunity for these young producers and one they’ll never forget!
He also sat with us for a Q+A session, ran by Sikwitit, and took us through his musical journey so far. From being flown out at a moment’s notice (literally) by Kanye to work on tracks at the Hawaii studio, to sitting at the dinner table with Beyonce & Jay-Z, it was truly an exceptional story.
After Medici set the showcase alight the previous night, it was hard to imagine how that could be topped. But boy was it topped. After seeing the Retreat attendees blow through the first two challenges, Wednesday’s challenge was set to be a tough one (or so we thought).
So we tasked the producers with turning this viral video into a beat/song, and they more than delivered. As ever, everyone did an amazing job and had the whole room vibing, however the group that stole the show was Alessandro, Stxnley, Caz and WTSN.
Caz let loose his vocal prowess and dropped bars upon bars, and with Alessandro’s ability to mix and master a track in seconds (ok, maybe a bit longer), what came out was a finished song which could easily be released as a single today! Checkout the reaction of the room (for the second playthrough, because we had to play that through more than once).
As you can see, we were pretty hyped. So hyped that the song was played all day… whilst we shot a music video. You read that correctly – we shot a music video at the Airbit Retreat! Luckily we had proffessional cameraman Ben on hand who was more than happy to bring this idea to life, and photographer Chris to document everything. (Huge shoutout to both these guys who were amazing and up for helping out in anyway the whole time they were with us).
The video hasn’t dropped yet but once it does we’ll update it here.
Sikwitit was new to the Airbit Retreat this year, and he brought with him his Relationships & Networking Masterclass. It’s safe to say most people recognise that networking plays a part in being a successful producer, but many producers don’t realise just how much of an impact it has. And Sik did a great job of expressing this, regaling us with stories of his own successes which came about through relationships he had built, including getting Snow Tha Product’s song placed on radio stations around the USA.
And as our final challenge of the retreat, we set the producers the task of creating a “mentor type beat”. Anyone who’s listened to Dopeboyz, Tone Jonez or Sikwitit’s beats will know they have an instantly recognisable sound. So the aim of this was to teach producers to listen to key elements of beats that give producers their unique sound and apply that to their own beats to create ‘type beats’.
Type beats are extremely popular, and whether you agree with the use of them or not, they are a great way to help customers find what their looking for, and consequently increase sales. And as you’ve probably guessed, every group did such a great job that all the beats were recognisable to everyone in the room.
And so ended the final showcase of the 2019 Airbit Music Producer Retreat, and the final full day. A few parting words from Airbit CEO Wasim, all that was left was to pack up and prepare for the Online Beat Selling Panel at SAE Institute!
The Airbit Academy Online Beat Selling Panel, in partnership with SAE & Instros Only is an opportunity for local producers to come out and learn from some of the most successful producers in the game, as well as network with not only the pros, but other producers as well. It was a great turn out, as tickets sold out and attendees made the most of the event, throwing lots of questions at our panelists and networking long into the night.
All in all an amazing week, capped with an equally amazing panel, and an experience we hope to do again soon!