Photo by Brady Hartman
This episode features Mike Dawson on dynamics, creative recording, getting gigs and more. It’s the first ever rewind episode of the Unstarving Musician, based on episode one of the podcast. In rewind episodes I’m digging deep into past conversations to further mine insights. The hope is that I’ll uncover insights that were perhaps lost in our collective note taking. This is of course intended to serve music professionals like you.
Mike is the former managing editor at Modern Drummer Magazine. He is now Chief Creative Officer at Drum Factory Direct. He’s also host of the Drum Candy podcast, described as the definitive podcast for gear-obsessed drummers. His education includes a Masters in Music Performance from University of the Arts Philadelphia, music studies at West Virginia University and many years of high school band. His education is a relevant part of our conversation, and I believe very relevant to who he is professionally.
Mike has had a great career performing in the music business, in part thanks to his education. But don’t be discouraged if you lack formal music education. Mike also says that among his peers, about half are self-taught. I am in fact self-taught and have always been able to play when, where and with whom I want. And that comes with the other part of being like Mike, the part that involves keeping relationships alive and working on your craft.
Mike and I also discuss dynamics, something I learned thanks to the bit of formal education that I do have. Mike shares about the importance his education had on dynamics and why it matters. The skill of dynamics seems to be lost on lots of otherwise good musicians–drummers especially. All musicians benefit from developing good dynamics and by learning how to lead a band in dynamic changes. It’s hard to find musicians who can play quietly and with a good sense of dynamics. So give yourself a leg-up by working on your dynamics and on leading other musicians dynamic changes.
Mike also talks about his passion for anything that’s authentic and emotional. He was working on a few different projects of varying styles when we spoke. These varied projects presented challenges that Mike really enjoyed at the time. I’m sure he still pursuing a wide variety of passion projects today. This speaks to the value of being a diverse musician and being open to trying new things for the sake of a challenge, and for the sake of personal growth in your art. Diversity and discipline have allowed Mike to work in a wide range professional gigs.
Mike and I also cover his passion for recording and experimentation in the studio. He loves the art of recording. It’s even become his morning meditation of exploration and creative practice. This practice allows him to create something new almost daily. Mike shares his recipe for nurturing and leveraging his creativity. One important aspect of Mike’s mornings is that he looked at the limits of his schedule and made the decision to work in early morning creative time. It’s Mike’s way of starting the day in a creatively productive way.
Other topics we discuss include his self-care routine, marketing, social media trolls and business tips.
Find Mike on Instagram @MikeDawsonDrums.
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Mike Dawson on Gigging, Studio Gear, Music Ed, Early Music Influences, Marketing, and YouTube (Ep 1)
Mike Dawson’s Home Studio and Social Media Strategy (Ep 25)
Crushing it on Instagram–Drummer Mike Dawson
Studio Work, Teaching, Visual Arts and Drum Gear – Mike Dawson (Ep 200)
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