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“The way that I kinda communicate ideas might be super anecdotal or super funny, helpful.
“I’ll tell you right now I’m pretty socially inept as is and I’m just gonna go through my methodology of what I think when I’m creating melodies or how I work when I’m systematically producing music.
“I’m not really afraid of giving away some arcane knowledge about my creation techniques because this is more designed for you to develop your own.”
If you’re a big fan of electronic dance music (EDM) or perhaps an aspiring DJ, the chances are you know who Joel Zimmerman aka deadmau5 is.
The Canadian electronic music producer and DJ is considered one of the most prominent figures of the EDM scene today. Sporting his signature over-sized mouse helmet, he’s known for jam-packed live shows and top-charting hits.
However, if you look deeply at his awe-inspiring career, it’s his music production abilities that are truly incredible. So when deadmau5 announced that he will be doing a MasterClass course on music production, it piqued the interest of a lot of aspiring music producers out there.
Perhaps you’re someone who’s only beginning to get interested with mixing sounds. Or maybe you already know how to set a drum compressor. Either way, now you can see how deadmau5 does it.
This MasterClass was marketed as a sort of “no-bullsh*t” course on producing electronic music. deadmau5 is offering 20+ private video walkthroughs and lessons on everything from sound design to artist branding. But truthfully, considering who the teacher is, it’s perhaps the inspiration behind this class that you won’t find anywhere else.
I was lucky enough to take deadmau5’s MasterClass. And I can help you figure out whether it’s worth your money or not.
Table of Contents
Here’s what deadmau5’s MasterClass offers:
- 23 Video lessons, 6 hours overall.
- 100% exclusive content and an in-depth course you won’t find anywhere else.
- A downloadable class workbook containing lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
- A chance to ask questions to deadma5 himself, as well as get critique on your work.
- Access to MasterClass expansive community of students and masters
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is a popular online education platform that offers immersive courses from various “masters.” These mentors are some of the most celebrated and renowned figures in their respective fields. MasterClass hopes to bring a Netflix-quality into the e-Learning industry. Each course is sleekly produced and of the highest quality.
Here are some of their most popular courses:
- Malcolm Gladwell teaches writing
- Annie Leibovitz teaches photography
- Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration
- Christina Aguilera teaches singing
- Ron Howard teaches directing
- Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
- Aaron Sorkin teaches screen writing
- Martin Scorsese teaches film making
- James Patterson teaches writing
- And many more
How much does MasterClass cost?
Currently, MasterClass offers two payment options for its students:
- A one-time payment of $90 per MasterClass. This includes full, lifetime access to all video lessons, workbook, and office hours.
- A $180 All-Access Pass that allows unlimited access to every MasterClass, including all its features, for one year.
MasterClass is willing to give you a money-back guarantee for whatever option you choose. If, within 30 days, you don’t like any of your lessons, you’ll get a full refund – no questions asked.
Should you get the All-Access Pass?
One MasterClass alone is an amazing opportunity for learning. However, at some point you’ll probably wonder about the benefits of getting the All-Access Pass.
I’ve been asked many times:
Should you get the MasterClass All-Access Pass?
The best way to determine whether you’re suited for the All-Access Pass option is to ask yourself:
“Will I benefit from or be interested in taking more than 3 courses?”
Take a look at the list of MasterClass courses. See if you are interested in 3 or more of the mentors. MasterClass offers courses in a wide array of fields from amazing celebrity professionals. You’ll likely find more valuable courses than the one you were initially interested in.
If you find 3 or more courses interesting, I highly recommend getting the All-Access Pass.
My Review of “deadmau5 teaches electronic music production”
My initial reaction from the trailer above was that this is not going to be an ordinary class. My first impression of deadmau5 in this MasterClass was that he is a little eccentric but endearing. He’s not boastful or authoritative in a way that commanded attention. But he was quirky, with a refreshing point-of-view of the EDM production industry that was really nice to see. He’s an artist – with all the bells and whistles that come with.
Right off the bat he seemed ready to teach. And the delivery was unapologetic. But more of that later. Here’s an in-depth look inside deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production.
Joel Zimmerman’s MasterClass contains 23 impeccably-made video lessons. Each lesson is between 3 to 21 minutes long. The quality of each lesson is incredible. It’s definitely a bonus to watch a course in 1080p and high-quality sound.
Here’s a preview of the course’s lesson plan.
You can see that the course covers a lot. The MasterClass is a good “primer” for individuals just beginning to tap into EDM production. deadmau5 delivers a well-rounded lesson plan. We started with lessons in theory, knowing which gear and software to use (which according to him, is really not a lot), to more advanced stuff like shaping sounds with effects and processing.
Aside from the pre-prod and production stuff, there’s also some insightful insider tips on how to navigate the music industry, collaboration, and even the how-to’s of live shows.
Every lesson is also accompanied by a class workbook designed for students to take their learning further. It contains recaps of each lesson as well as additional reading materials or assignments for you to do. I recommend doing these assignments. They are really fun to do and you might even get a chance to get some feedback from deadmau5 himself!
Below every video lesson, you’ll see the Lesson Discussion section. It’s a basic comment section, much like when you’re watching YouTube videos. Here, you can publish your comments, insights, and takeaways from each lesson for your fellow students to see. You can also reply to your fellow student’s comments and start a whole discussion.
The Office Hours
For me, one of the most impressive features in this course is The Office Feature. On this section, you can upload a video of yourself asking a question for deadmau5 to answer if you’re lucky!
However, for me, I didn’t need to submit a video. Just watching deadmau5 answer questions from other students is already a goldmine of information. There was a particular video on signal flow that I think a lot of beginner to intermediate producers would find useful
The Hub is the MasterClass version of a community. It’s a lively forum containing topics and discussions from each MasterClass available. Personally, I found it was not as active as I expected it to be, giving how popular MasterClass is. But I still found some interesting discussions and additional reading materials.
The verdict – The good
Now let’s start with my insights from the course itself. There are plenty of good things you can take away from deadmau5’s MasterClass:
It’s a great primer course if you’re starting to seriously get into EDM production.
This isn’t a complete beginner course. Don’t expect your hand to be held from start to finish. I think you’d be out of your element if you have no idea what a DAW is.
But if you’re someone who’s starting to get serious with producing EDM tracks, this course is a goldmine for you. I believe you’ll find this as a nice immersive introduction to the scope of what it means to produce successful music today – what works, what doesn’t, and the absolute bare necessities you might need.
Furthermore, it’s a good overview of the entirety and complexity of EDM production. Particularly, deadmau5’s approach of finding melodies, oneshots and fx on an experimental base will really help you become aware of new workflows which might simplify your process.
For experienced producers, there’s still some valuable tidbits. He will confirm some of the suspicions you may already have about what really is going on in the music industry. And if you approach this as an in-depth interview with the industry’s best, you’ll have a lot to take away, too.
It’s a great look behind the two lenses.
“There are basically two things you need to have a professional sounding track. One the music has to be right. Your melody structure has to be on point and then, on top of that, the engineering side has to be done right.
“That’s something that is really rare in this industry, to have a guy who can do both.
I do it because I’ve spent 50% of my time learning how to mix, and how to treat audio in such a way to get it print ready.”
Deadmau5 isn’t just someone who fully-books venues. He’s not just someone who records top-charting hits. He’s a music producer, too. And I believe that is where his genius lies.
In this MasterClass, you’ll not only get insights from a DJ’s perspective (the mixing, the performance), but you’ll also see the lens from a master producer’s side. Deadmau5 will tell you to avoid using presets because producers can tell. He’ll tell you to experiment and find refreshing sounds because that’s what will make you stand out.
“It’s about your ideas, not your gear.”
“You could do this in your fucking bedroom. You really could.
“I’ve heard absolutely disgusting shit come out of some really high-end studios. And I’ve heard some really amazing shit come off of some kid’s laptop in LA. I think I signed one.”
Perhaps most importantly for me, deadmau5 reiterates, over and over again, that you don’t need expensive gear. I think it’s inspiring to hear from someone so successful that you could do amazing music without building a spaceship of a home studio.
And let’s be honest, music producing is freaking expensive. There are many aspiring DJ’s and producers out there who get caught up with getting the most expensive gear. I think it is very important advice to give to people who are only starting, so they can avoid making the same mistake.
I also love that while he says that, he gives good advice for the alternative. At one point, while talking about DAWs and how every one in the market is basically the same when it comes down to it. He expressed that there are many trial versions you could take advantage of, if you’re under a budget.
I loved that he was very practical and realistic about these subjects because it’s what every beginner or even experienced producers could relate to.
The verdict – The bad
While there are many good things about this MasterClass, there were some parts I think could have been improved.
Deadmau5’s pitfalls as a teacher.
Deadmau5 is fascinating, even sometimes endearing. As a teacher, he is capable. At the beginning, he even admits that he is “socially inept.” But it’s hard not to like him as a mentor. For the most part, he delivers.
However, he also has his downfalls. There are times he displays very little patience, and if you don’t listen closely, you’re bound to miss a couple of good things.
He also jumps from topic to topic, sometimes failing to explain anything fully. For example, while showing how to seamlessly incorporate beats into a track, his beat compressor started going haywire.
And in true deadmau5 fashion, he simply said, “whatever.”
It was meant to sound funny, but I thought perhaps it was better if he explained what to do when something like that happens in the editing process.
Don’t expect deadmau5 to make a full track.
When deadmau5 started whipping out some base notes from scratch, I had the initial impression that he was going to make a track from start to finish. I thought, well that’s a nice way to teach to beginners. But he didn’t.
The video lessons are helpful, immersive, and delivered in a logical order for you to make a track from scratch. However, don’t expect the mentor to write the piece of work for you.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I am just nitpicking at this point. In fact, I think it’s even effective teaching – you’re forced to experiment and explore the new knowledge on your own.
But if you’re expecting some kind of textbook approach to music producing, this is not the class for you.
“There’s two types of music production. One, it’s pleasing yourself. And then it’s pleasing the crowd. If you’re doing one or the other, that’s fine. But it’s hard to do both.
“But it’s important to do that left field stuff. And you know what, who cares?
“I could shit out melodies all day and night and probably come up with a million things that a million people would like.
“But I want it to resonate with me as something that I’ve done that I haven’t done before.”
This MasterClass has a lot of personality. It’s snarky, funny, and one that I think, should not be taken too seriously. If you know deadmau5, then you know what you’re in for.
Will you learn a lot?
You’ll learn a lot technically, for sure. You’ll learn how to develop your own chord structure. deadmau5 will teach you the basics of his approach to gain structure, EQing and limiting. The course covers a lot on music production.
However, I believe what you’ll learn is something you can’t find anywhere else.
You’ll get the wisdom, the inspiration, and the chance to get an inside look to a true EDM master’s creative process.
For those rare things alone, it’s definitely worth your money.