You’ve just heard a new band for the first time. How do you describe them? Aretha Franklin meets Skrillex at a Mumford and Sons family reunion? Megadeath Mozart at Beyoncé’s baby shower?

Typically we try to comprehend the new based on what we already know. But when we break it down to musical terms rather than general impressions, we can gain a clearer understanding of just what makes new, new.

This week we’ll take the musical approach to understanding dubstep – a genre that sometimes defies definition due to the multiple influences that created it. And guest expert Cole Mize tells us in musical terms exactly what the beat is (and isn’t!) when it comes to rap music.

Breaking down the magic of musical success goes beyond the music itself. Winning that big audition depends on much more than musical prowess. And many careers never lift off the ground when musicians put all their attention on musical skills and none on their crucial interpersonal, business, and branding skills.

All about the music?

Today’s exciting do-it-yourself entrepreneurial environment offers infinite opportunities. But is it all about the music?


Yes, you’re amazing, original, and you have enough chops to mow down a forest of redwoods – but unless you have these Top 2 Must-Have Skills for the Modern Musician you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to listen.

These days, it is not enough to just be good at your instrument. There are some essential business practices that must be used to gain exposure and earn a following. Zapateria inspires us with one musician’s steps to brand himself and begin marketing a new piece of music.

Musicians need a marketing plan to get their music out into the world if they want to be successful as a performer or songwriter. This great article from Cyber PR Music gives a step by step guide to preparing your new album for release.

While Social Media is all the rage, email marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to reach your fans. So, how do you get started creating an email list? Dozmia walks you through the basics of email marketing.

Putting Yourself on the Line

While sometimes that big break comes through knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone, these days a multitude of shows (both stage and screen), classical gigs, and bands are reaching out to unknowns through the audition process.

Often times this process requires waiting in long lines and other environmental factors that wreak havoc on the body – and the ego.

Yet there are concrete steps that you can take – steps that add up to the ultimate audition blaster: confidence. Learn those steps for yourself in How to Prepare for the Big Audition, Part 1.

Preparing for an audition is a long process, and the final day before is very important to your overall success. Get Me In The Room has 5 tips on how you should prepare yourself on the day of the audition to perform your best.

Many auditions have some form of sight reading, which can be very unnerving. But, don’t worry! Sight reading is something that you can practice and improve.

Despite all the preparation, many musicians suffer from stage fright. Count on The Voice Factor will have you overcoming your fears and gain the confidence that you need to perform your best:

Finding your Flow

These days everyone refers to the instrumental part of a song, especially a rap song, as the “beat.” But that word also has a much more specific musical meaning. Rapper Cole Mize teaches the musical definition of “beat”, and how to internalize that beat into your body in order to sync up your raps to the music.

Plus feeling how the beats group into the “4-count” will help you communicate clearly with your musical collaborators. Check out this gem from a master rap teacher: Learning to Rap: Beats, Bars, and Beyond.

Making beats (the instrumental music, in this case) for rap and hip-hop is an underappreciated art form. The artists that excel in this genre of music have developed specific skills to make their music stand out and to the audience. Make Beats Forever lays out the ultimate guide on how to make rap beats.

Some musicians that specialize in popular music genres have the misconception that their abilities are based in their “raw talent”. Some even believe that any attempts to learn professionally about music could take away from their skills. ADG Mastering answers the question, “Does learning music theory make you a worse hip-hop producer?

Musicians have to work hard to develop their internal sense of rhythm during their studies. Some even develop little tricks that will help them during performances. Study Bass has the steps that you can take to help further develop your abilities to stay on the beat.

The Reigning Drop

An entire world of music – reggae, electronica, hip-hop, rock and much more – has collided to form the super-popular dance form known as dubstep. But despite the far-flung influences, there are certain discrete musical elements that combine to describe The Rise of Dubstep.

Dubstep has become such a worldwide phenom that there are instruction courses dedicated to creating this unique art form. In this quick read from Garnish Music Productions, some great tips from a seasoned pro will send you on your way to dubstep mastery!

Dubstep employs syncopation through the use of a dotted 8th note rhythm. How can you master the art of syncopation? Check out the Ethan Hein Blog’s fresh and fascinating take on the art of syncopation.

Varying levels of syncopation can be found in almost all genres and can add a great deal of rhythmic variety to your music. This sweet lesson from Kevin Goetz shows how he uses syncopation to create riffs for heavy metal music:

Break down to build up

There will always be times when we look enviously at the “talent” and success of others and wonder, “How did they do that? Where did they find those magical powers?” The truth: that magic is there for all of us.

Whether we learning musical skills like playing by ear, specific genres like rap or dubstep, or learning career skills, when we break down the magic into measurable steps we can build ourselves up into the musical life of our dreams. So have a look at this week’s offerings on Musical U and start your magic lessons today!