I feel like everyone remembers their first week of the COVID 19 quarantine. We all believed it was only going to last a few weeks. Only for it to go on and on until we were in 2021 and beyond.
With the whole world staying indoors, everyone had to head online. Well, everyone knows this so what am I getting at?
With everyone heading online, many people took advantage of the quarantine and built their own online communities, joined one, or even just lurked. And I fortunately was able to see the beginnings of a community that's influence on the music industry will be seen for generations to come and have an everlasting effect on our lives.
Pretty big statement, huh?
What could I have found with that kind of influence? Who can hold that kind of power?
On March 20th, 2020 Kenny Beats went live for the first time. He took advantage of the quarantine and began to stream daily. Since then, he's been a consistent streamer, cooking up hundreds of beats live, and dropping knowledge bombs for those trying to navigate the music industry.
Kenny Beats is a music producer from Connecticut who has become well-respected and beloved in the music industry. He has worked with the likes of Denzel Curry, Isaiah Rashad, Doja Cat, JID, and so many other talented artists.
I first came across Kenny Beats on YouTube. He did a video with T-Pain where they cook up a crazy R&B song all the while showing their whole process creative process with screen recordings and all. I’m a process nerd, so I found that video really interesting and entertaining. The way Kenny would just instinctually place in a drum pattern or even seeing T-Pain expertly harmonize with himself over several different tracks was something I have never seen before.
Soon after I began to search Kenny up on Youtube and found out that he has his own channel. On his channel he has this series where he builds a new beat with the direction of an artist, then has the artist go into the booth and freestyle over the beat he just made. The show is caved "The Cave" and is probably one of the most entertaining series' on Youtube. I highly recommend it.
Through this series, Kenny was beginning to build a consistent and almost cult-like following. With each episode he has big name artists come in like Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, Rico Nasty, etc. You just get to be a fly on the wall, watch a studio session of Kenny and his friends (the artists) joking around in the studio, and creating dope music. One song even got released as a single and has millions of streams.
I know I know I know, a lot of background information.
So during the first week of quarantine, I stumbled upon Kenny’s Twitch stream. It was also his first week streaming.
During a normal stream, he’d have his production software open (Ableton) and be making beats on the fly. He’d talk to chat and answer any questions they had. He would give out information (knowledge bombs) that took him years to learn. He would talk about the places where he made mistakes. He would talk about what to do when you get different opportunities and how to not get taken advantage in the industry. The guy was just an open book, giving information out to the masses for free.
Now, I’m not a music producer. I don’t know how to play any instruments. I don’t know anything about music theory. I don't even know the real difference between music notes. But I watch Kenny's streams for hours upon hours. His streams are really fun and entertaining to watch. Also, a lot of the things he would say about creative processes and creative work in general could be transferrable to most creative work.
It's cool to see the creation of a beat from someone who has become well established in the music industry. Learning how applies different drum patterns with different melodies. Seeing how changing a hi hat pattern can affect a song. Looking at the details in different sounds that are added just for textures. Like the song would be okay without them, but with them takes it to a whole other level. There is just so much to more to music production and these streams have brought me a new appreciation for music and a better ear for details.
As time passed, Kenny grew a very large and affluent community. He began to do weekly beat battles, where he would drop a sample to his subscribers and give them just a few hours to cook up a beat to submit. He would then have the community vote on the submitted beats and then Kenny would decide his top 5 beats for the day. The winning producers would then win different tools to help bring their production to the next level. Whether that was a plugin, piece of equipment, or whatever else he was giving away that day.
Quickly, other music producers and artists began to jump in on Twitch and begin to stream their own processes and build their own communities as well like !llmind, Baauer, Mike Shinoda, Disclosure, Bas, etc.
Now why do I say that these streams will have an everlasting effect on our lives?
Because simply, these streams are breeding and bringing to light the next wave of music producers. These music producers are getting the recognition for their talent and if not already, will be sought after for their unique sounds and voices. The music you will be more than likely stumble upon in the future will begin to be from these producers.
There are simply so many talented producers that were hidden from the world and just didn't have the right connections to get into the studio with affluent people. Twitch has become a platform for these producers to finally get their shot in the studio. Well respected Grammy winning producer, Timbaland even has his own stream where he will listen to beat submissions for a few hours searching for talented producers to eventually add to his Beat Club.
Okay, now you have to consider the voices of those that hosting these streams. These are very affluent people. You really never know who is going to listen or judge these beats. All you see are numbers of the people tuned in, not the actual faces of those who are tuning in.
Sometimes for beat battles, the hosts bring on established and affluent artists/producers in the industry to judge the contest for that week. The guest judges have ranged from RL Grime, to Isaiah Rashad, to Diplo.
With all of these guest judges giving their time out of the day to judge these contests, they understand the power in which these streams are going to have on the music industry. They are normally not paid for their appearances and are just giving their time to see what the Twitch community has to offer. You also have to assume record labels are tuning into these streams looking for these unknown talents. If they aren’t, they’re missing out and are going to be left behind.
For everything that the pandemic took away from us, there were some beautiful things that grew in the darkness. The music production community is one thing that grew into a place of prospering community of collaboration with many that perhaps would’ve never had the opportunity to be involved otherwise.
The Twitch music production community has been super inspiring and has influenced my vision for Simplex Minds. In my opinion, this is the best time it has been to be a creative. There are so many ways to get discovered and put your work out there for others to consume. Find a community that suits you and be involved. You never know who's face is behind that number on your screen and who's viewing your work.
Eventually Simplex Minds will turn into a hub for different creatives to get discovered. Simplex Minds will be a place where I can have different creatives share their processes and share their knowledge with the community. I want to be able to cultivate creativity and push creativity as a whole, much like the twitch music production community.
Kenny Beats pioneered this movement and the effects he is going to have on the future of music is going to be endless. He decided one day to share his process with the world and give back to the community, give opportunities and light to those that may not have gotten it otherwise, and be a digital mentor to thousands of faceless usernames on the internet. And through his efforts, began a movement that sparked the interest of other well known artists and producers.
The barrier of entry into creative careers is becoming lower and lower everyday. Get involved in communities. Put your work out there for people to discover. Allow yourself to be seen because you never know who will stumble upon your vision.