Scuba’s top five tips for building a career as an artist

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Today, Scuba celebrates the release of his mixtape ‘Digital Underground’, which connects the dots between acid house, early hardcore, breaks and bass with a few nods to early 2-step. The project is out on his own imprint, Hotflush Recordings. The label has released seminal hits like Joy Orbison’s ‘Hyph Mngo’, Mount Kimbie’s ‘Maybes’ and Paul Woolford’s ‘MDMA’ over the 20 years since its inception.

Alongside his work as a DJ, producer and record label boss, Scuba runs the Not a Diving Podcast, which is nearing its 100th episode and has peaked at #1 and #3 on Spotify and Apple Music’s music podcast charts respectively this year, and holds a residency at the revamped SWU FM.

With over two decades in the game and no signs of holding up, Scuba recently used the platform impart some essential knowledge on how to make it as an artist in the music industry.

Read below for Scuba’s top five tips.

It’s important artistically, I think it’s important in terms of how people perceive you and how you construct your artistic strategy and just being clear who you are and projecting that.

Be yourself. Doing this consistently in a way that seems authentic requires real commitment to that ideal. I haven’t always been consistent with this, I should add. Be yourself and express yourself in contrast to other stuff that is going on.

I know it’s a really boring thing, but I think it’s crucial. If I’ve got a big regret in life, it’s not investing my money at an earlier point. The earlier you do that, and do it in your 20s, put money in a pension or whatever every month. And the earlier you do it, the less you have to do it because of compounding interest; if you want to learn about something that’s going to be useful in life, learn about the power of compounding interest, learn about lost-cost ETFs, learn about the relative performance of asset classes over long periods of time, learn about all that stuff. It’s so useful and makes such a huge difference to your overall position that feeds into your sense of security in life. It makes such a huge difference when you’re not worrying about money. It’s eminently doable as long as you take it seriously from early on. And the earlier you do it, the easier it is. You don’t have to be earning a huge amount of money to achieve that at all. You genuinely don’t. You just have to take it seriously and do it.

Having control over everything is a pre-requisite. Recognising the fact that you have control too. Booking agents and managers work for you. And always keep in mind that you are the boss and you are the one calling the shots. You have a responsibility to yourself to keep informed and keep up to date and understand where you are in the market place and where you fit in. Those things are super important and no one is going to do it for you, that’s the reality. It’s great having a booking agent who looks after you properly and it’s great having a manager who knows how to position you in the right way and knows how to add value, those things are all great, but ultimately, it’s all up to you.

If there was ever a thing I haven’t done enough of, it would be this. Really pick out people and engage them. If you haven’t got an obvious mentor, then go out and find one and just pick people’s brains as much as possible and be open to new ideas and be open to other people’s points of view and what they say. Don’t be snobbish about anyone. I often say it’s ok to be snobbish about music and I sort of think that it is. But you shouldn’t be snobbish about people ever. There is something to be learned from literally everyone and that’s something I would emphasise on myself as much as anyone. It’s so important to learn from other people and it’s important to embrace them and embrace their experience and learn as much as you possibly can.

Take them seriously, respect them, do everything you can to be nice to them and be aware that they’re the reason you’re able to do it; they’re the reason you’re able to make a living, they’re the reason you’re able to do what you love doing. Without them you’d be nothing. Don’t forget that one like I have many times over the years.

I wish someone had sat me down and told me that 15 years ago. If you’re starting your career now, take that as seriously as you possibly can. If you’re playing a show stay after your show and shake people’s hands. Take as many photos as people want to take. If someone messages you online, do your best to reply.

Listen to Scuba’s new mixtape, ‘Digital Underground’, here

Tibor Heskett is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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