After being active in electronic music for more than a decade, DJ, producer and instrumentalist Mark Otten wanted to branch out by helping producers to make the next step in their career with guidance in their work, and life. Several years in, Producer Coaching by Mark Otten has a solid reputation and an international client base. Otten and VIRPP found each other in an exciting new project. We talked to Mark Otten about the business, teaching, EDM and the collaboration with VIRPP.
Mark, tell us something about your musical origin?
“My family was very musical and we even had a room that was used to play music. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been making music in all sorts of forms. I started out with drumming and when house-music came up, I went all in. As a DJ and a producer, I released records with the labels of big names like Armin van Buuren and Tiesto. During the day I studied technical business engineering at university and just a couple of weeks before my graduation, a friend of mine asked me to be a teacher at the Rock Academy in Tilburg. The fact that I could share my knowledge of electronic music was fantastic. As part of my studies, I developed an IT-architecture for Armada Records and when I got my degree they said come and build it. So, I quit the Rock Academy and went there. The cool thing was that after a year, I got asked by the Herman Brood Academy to start their Dance Producer program. After that I decided to fully focus on music and education.”
How did you get the idea for Producer Coaching by Mark Otten?
“What I noticed after a couple of years of being a teacher was that I really liked the one-on-one guidance with the students. Those are the moments where you can make a difference. You’re not only helping the student with their music but also the human behind the music. To help solve roadblocks you have to know the person. The best feedback that I ever received was that the lessons they learned can be used in music and life. So, it was a logical next step to start my own business to center even more on the music coaching side. From that philosophy Producer Coaching by Mark Otten was born. I was the first one in the world who combined the words producer and coach. Nowadays there are several other companies that use those words together. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
So, what happened next?
“It was a sure hit. I did remote coaching via the internet and onsite Studio coaching at Martin Garrix’s STMPD Studios in Amsterdam. Producer Coaching by Mark Otten was in demand and so I worked up a waitlist that was a yearlong. I needed to find help and asked my old student Alex Vasi. This year Nova Blue came aboard and she brings a lot of cool stuff to the table. Nova is an incredible session songwriter and producer expert. Working with artists like Fred Again and RAYE, she’s a 22-year-old producer who works with the best that pop and dance music has to offer.”
How did you hear about VIRPP?
“I went out for a coffee with former student and superstar DJ/producer SWACQ and we made a plan on how to use his worldwide experience in stuff like remixing, hits, and collaborations for the people we coach. It was only logical he would also join us as a coach. SWACQ knew VIRPP and worked with them in the past. He thought we would be a great fit and did the introductions. From the first demo I was impressed. This is a really smart concept that puts control in the hands of the community and I love that. They are the reason why great music, artists, and producers are being discovered. Their vote is the most important thing on VIRPP and it fits perfectly in these modern times.”
On what is Producer Coaching by Mark Otten collaborating with VIRPP?
“First out of the gate we’re going to start a contest. We’re looking for the most creative musical track out there. We will select four winners and they will get an exclusive coaching session. We’re looking for artists with ambition to grow. To take new steps and explore new and exciting options. We’re looking for a creative person who can be taught and coached.”
You can hear all that from just one track?
“I think our shared experience can make that happen. If a producer wants to apply to our program, we ask him or her to submit three demos’. So, we have quite the ear when it comes to quality and potential.”
What advice can you give to participants to stand out in this competition?
“Everybody who is creative brings something unique to the table. The difficult part, especially for young producers, is to find that unique ingredient that makes you special. I call them the YouTube rule collectors’ generation, they’ve been brought up with all the rules they learned in YouTube tutorials. I think by using only rules you’ll get further and further removed from the music that will make you stand out. My advice to stand out in this competition is to let go of all the rules and make something that is 100 precent you. Music that is made from your heart, body, mind and soul.”