Woodcut Music’s Free Online Music Producer Training Programme

Woodcut Music’s Free Online Music Producer Training Programme

Woodcut Music (with the help of funding through the NZ Music Commission’s Capability Grants scheme) is currently seeking applicants for a free online Music Producer Training programme. It’s a three-month course (but only eight hours a week!), that will provide training for up-and-coming music producers in the making of ‘production music’. NZM asked Woodcut‘s Aaron Christie for a few more details about this exciting-sounding opportunity on your behalf.

Woodcut Music isn’t exactly a household name in the NZ music scene, can you quickly summarise what the business does?

Woodcut Music is a music production and publishing company. We work with artists, labels and corporate clients producing and publishing music for a variety of uses. We have two record labels (Move The Crowd Records and Empire Records) and support our artists in producing and releasing music through these labels.

We also produce original music for clients in film and television. And we publish NZ’s own APRA/AMCOS Production Music catalogue. Production music (PM) is more of a corporate and broadcaster music product that has been designed to facilitate fast moving productions that don’t have the time or the budget to seek commercial music licences or get something composed.

Your MPT programme is aimed at ‘young up-and-coming music producers’. How do I know if I fit that description?

If you already have the ability to produce music to a high standard and can do so in a practical time-frame… but want to further develop your skills, then you fit the criteria. You will also need to have access to a studio (with a DAW – a home studio is okay) and a good internet connection. The programme is all online so you can be based anywhere in the country.

Have you done this before? How many applicants will the MPT programme take?

This is the first time we are offering this programme and we’re taking 6 applicants for this first year. The programme will run from the first week of August through to end of October, so 12 weeks.

Woodcut’s label history seems weighted towards hip hop. Will this programme be focused on that, or any other genres?

Production music catalogues require all styles and genres to be on offer to their clients, so there is no particular focus in terms of style. We want to encourage diversity and develop a broad range of styles. And good production music doesn’t sound like production music… it sounds like GOOD music!

Right now I’m loving being experimental and I don’t want to start making music that ticks standard genre boxes. Isn’t that what ‘production music’ is?

This programme would allow you to experiment and create music in any style you wanted. If you are looking to develop a sound or a style then this programme would give you the tools and resources to take your music in that direction, and to the next level in terms of the production quality.

I’m an OK producer but the whole business side of it, like licensing and contracts, does my head in – tbh I’d rather just make the music…

As long as you don’t mind your music being used to promote a product or service – and making some money from it – then there is no need to get involved in licensing or administration, as the publisher takes care of this for you. The programme will cover aspects of contracts and licensing, but it’s more about making some cool music – and making it well.

What sort of money is involved in supplying production music to clients?

It depends on how popular your music is and how many songs you have published. Earnings are more in the hundreds of dollars a year rather than the thousands in most instances. (Though some of our more successful producers do earn in the thousands.) But it provides you with another revenue stream using your skills and talents.

We would like to think that after committing 100 hours or so (2 or 3 weeks) of time in making some music, you could look back at your earnings over 3 years and say, ‘Well, that was worthwhile!’

The programme schedule says two hours a week of online workshops and tutorials. Who else will be in those, or are they personal?

Each week there is one group workshop, which will be an hour hosted by an experienced producer giving you their insights on a specific topic. The other hour is one-to-one tutoring with your own personal mentor – chosen specifically on the basis of your DAW and production style.

You are expected to commit another 6 hours or so of your own time each week working on your music, so the course will require about 8 hours of time each for the 12 weeks.

How do those mentor producers get chosen? Will my work get judged in some way?

We will match the applicant with a mentor that uses the same digital audio workstation (DAW) and understands your production style. For example, if the applicant plays guitar and uses Logic Pro X we would match them with a mentor –that is a guitarist themselves who also uses the same DAW. This way they can pick up good recording techniques as well as learn from a skilled technician with their preferred software.

If the applicant is a vocalist and uses Fruity Loops, then we would match them with a producer using that DAW, who is also a singer themselves.

Will I have to sign a publishing deal (or anything like that) with Woodcut?

Production music uses ‘specific works’ agreements. Any music that you choose to assign to us as PM at the end of the course would need to be signed over – but this is entirely optional. There will be no obligation to provide any further music, and no commitment other than those specific works. 

And what happens at the end of the course?

At the end of 3 months, you will have a collection of high-quality recordings, which we hope you would like to have published with us as production music. You will have rapidly advanced your skills and knowledge in all aspects of production including getting the best out of your DAW, and be ready to take on new and exciting challenges in the art of making music while adding to the wonderful diversity of the NZ music scene.