If you’ve ever listened to EDM in your life, then you’ve probably listened to deadmau5 at one point or another.
deadmau5 is an icon in the electronic dance music scene, defining new trends and styles with every track he releases.
That’s why I thought he was the perfect guy to teach the MasterClass on Electronic Music Production.
So is the deadmau5 MasterClass worth it?
In this article I go through my entire experience with the Electronic Music Production MasterClass — what it is, what you can expect to learn from it, and whether it’s worth your time.
First, what is MasterClass?
MasterClass is making waves as an online education platform because the instructors are some of the world’s most successful people.
Want Timbaland to teach you about music production? Gordon Ramsay to teach you cooking? Daniel Negreanu to teach you poker? Tony Hawk to teach you skateboarding? Chris Voss to teach you negotiating? Then MasterClass is for you.
The format of MasterClass is pretty standard for the e-learning industry. You get access to lessons in the form of videos and notes.
What makes MasterClass unique, and utterly compelling, is this:
- The instructors are legends in their field. MasterClass has 80+ instructors and all of them are household names. It’s pretty staggering how MasterClass was able to recruit these instructors to come aboard.
- The video lessons are epic. This is because the production quality is Hollywood level good and that the instructors are so candid when they talk about their craft.
I’ve taken over a dozen MasterClasses and I found each one valuable. You can read about my overall experience with MasterClass in my review here.
In my opinion, I’ve found MasterClass more engaging and useful for my brain than binge-watching Netflix all day.
Before we get stuck into deadmau5’s masterclass review, I’m sure you’re wondering:
How much does MasterClass cost?
If you want to consume just one class, it will set you back $90.
But MasterClass also offers an All-Access Pass that gives you unlimited access to every class for $180 per year.
They’ve also got a money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied within 30 days, you can get a full refund.
I have the All-Acess Pass option as I originally signed up for the writing courses. It’s completely up to you though, obviously.
Why I Decided to Check Out the deadmau5 Electronic Music Production MasterClass
deadmau5 has been a part of my life since my middle and highschool days.
As a kid who had no idea what electronic dance music or EDM was, deadmau5 absolutely defined the genre for me.
For the longest time, deadmau5’s music was the only thing my entire group of friends listened to — at every party and rave, but also in between classes and when you just wanted to chill at home.
The iconic mouse head DJing in front of giant crowds is a staple of the last two decades that anyone who knows modern music should be very familiar with.
So when I first saw the deadmau5 MasterClass on Electronic Music Production while I was exploring the platform a few days ago, I knew this course had to go straight to the top of my to-do list.
Am I a music producer? No.
Do I intend to ever go into music production? Not at all.
But after going through dozens of MasterClasses with my MasterClass All-Access Pass over the last several months, I can say one thing for sure: MasterClasses aren’t just meant for people who are deeply invested in a topic.
What makes a MasterClass different from a normal class is that the focus isn’t on the class itself; the focus is on the instructor.
This means that whatever value you get from the class comes from their personal insight and ideas, which may not necessarily be all about their class.
And that’s what I was hoping for when I started watching the deadmau5 MasterClass — that my love for his music and interest in his entire brand would be enough for me to watch this from start to finish with complete focus.
For anyone still wondering if MasterClass is still worth it, this is what I always say:
Instead of struggling to find a new show on Netflix to waste your time on, why not spend it listening to some of the most accomplished people in the world?
MasterClass designs their courses in a way that everyone can get value from the experience — from the specialists in the field looking for a little bit more, to beginners trying to find a place to start, and just casual observers looking for some good entertainment.
In this case, I’m firmly in the last group.
So was it worth it?
Absolutely, especially since I already had the All-Access Pass to begin with.
What deadmau5’s MasterClass Is All About
deadmau5’s MasterClass revolves around the art of Electronic Music Production, but it’s definitely not a highly technical course.
The deadmau5 Electronic Music Production MasterClass is better viewed as something less like a traditional class, and more like a private several-hour lecture with deadmau5 on his experiences with electronic music production.
He doesn’t spend hours discussing the finer details of music production and music theory.
After all, as he says several times throughout the course, he doesn’t have the right training to discuss the nuanced elements and industry-specific terms and jargon.
This can be both a good thing and a bad thing — bad for experts in music production looking for some formula to make better music (because there is none!), but good for newbies and casual observers alike who just want to watch a music icon discuss his craft.
Here are some things you won’t get:
- Secret technical production tips
- Specific mix tips
- A step-by-step guide on how to make a great piece of music from start to finish
- A thorough discussion on music production theory and a formal review of the craft
And here are things you do get:
- deadmau5’s overall philosophies regarding music production
- Tons of personal insights and anecdotes from deadmau5 himself
- Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration — most music producers who take this course talk about how it’s a great source of inspiration, especially when you’re feeling like you’re in a creative rut
- An examination of the two sides of professional music production
It can be hard to pin down exact learning points from the course because deadmau5 bounces from one thing to another without too much structure, but here are three key insights I picked up:
Melody and Engineering: deadmau5 discusses how you need to develop two very different skills to truly become a success in the electronic music production industry.
The creative ability and discipline to perfect your melody structure, combined with the formal engineering talent to make it sound just right.
He says that while there are many people who have either skill, it’s incredibly rare to find someone who has enough of both
Originality and Re-Creation: One of the first things deadmau5 says is that a huge factor in being original and having your own sound is “being able to create music that can’t be recreated”.
This is something that sounds right in hindsight but not something I would expect a traditional musician to say.
We tend to write vocal arrangements or lyrics for the purpose of people singing along and recreating the music. deadmau5 specifically mentions that he doesn’t want his sound to be recreated
Even the Experts Are Lost: deadmau5 discusses his creative process a lot, and a huge part of his process is really just playing around on his programs until he hears a beat that sounds cool.
And he says that this is how so many other producers make their tracks as well.
If not this, they openly copy other music producers who are doing well, which is why so much of EDM sounds the same.
deadmau5 actually originally defined his own sounds by pushing EDM into a darker direction by basing his tracks off of Nine Inch Nails melodies.
Who Is deadmau5’s Electronic Music Production MasterClass for?
deadmau5’s MasterClass on Electronic Music Production has been out for a few years now, giving people more than enough time to form an opinion on it.
And if you check out other reviews and discussions on it online, you’ll see a divided opinion on it.
On one hand, music production beginners, casual observers like myself, and anyone else who isn’t “super serious” about music production all seem to love the course.
Listening to the man behind the mask and hearing what makes him tick is such an enlightening experience, especially if you’re a fan of his music.
For example, I learned that the reason why he started off with the mask is because he’s a bit of an introvert.
He had difficulty standing in front of huge crowds of people without any kind of mask — and the mask gave him the confidence to perform which he didn’t have without it.
On the other hand, serious music production students or anyone actively producing music found the course lacking.
They felt hard done by, because deadmau5 doesn’t go deep into the discussion of how exactly you should come up with a melody or create a track.
There is no step-by-step guide in the MasterClass on the production of actual, real music.
But I think it’s naive to go into this course with those expectations in mind, mainly because no one can make a course that answers those needs.
There’s no such thing as a guidebook teaching you how to make a piece of art — art is organic and unexpected, and we all have our own creative processes that we can’t always put into words.
To expect deadmau5 to explain any kind of formula for his creative process is silly.
If he ever incorporated a formula into his music production process, his music wouldn’t even be half as good anymore.
Simply put, this course is for you if:
- You are a deadmau5 fan and you’d love to hear his personal anecdotes, philosophies, and insights on his craft
- You are a beginner in the field of music production and would like to experience a great discussion from one of the best in the field
- You are coming into this with no expectations that you’ll be able to write a perfect track by the end of it
- You understand that music production — just like any other kind of art creation — takes talent and practice, and there is no simple formula for creating a masterpiece
- You’re interested in seeing the human side of deadmau5 — the man behind the mask
What Makes deadmau5 the Perfect Mentor?
Joel Zimmerman, also known as deadmau5, is very open about his background in music.
Throughout the course, he reminds students that he didn’t really have a formal training on music, which explains much of his distaste towards a more formal approach to production.
Reviews online always mention that his MasterClass doesn’t provide technical instructions into music creation, which ultimately feels like a counterintuitive approach to his MasterClass.
Right from the get-go, he treats the MasterClass as a foundation newer musicians can use to find their own style and inspiration.
And if you’re looking for inspiration from a self-built guy who mixed his way from the ground-up, there’s probably no better story to hear than deadmau5’s.
Although not classically trained, deadmau5’s experience as a producer has long begun before he started playing major venues like Coachella.
In 2005, he released a studio album entitled Get Scraped. Not long after, he became one of the biggest names in electronic music.
deadmau5 is one of the highest-paid electronic dance music artists in the world and his approach to music is instinctive almost.
Throughout the course, you’ll realize a lot of what he does is problem-solving; playing with different segments and taking it one step at a time.
The artist has more or less lived a public life.
In 2015, he took a break on social media and opened up about his disappearance, citing depression and a need to lie low for a little.
In the following year, he released new track “Snowcone” which was later revealed to be the first single on his next studio album, W:/2016Album/.
His history and personal relationship with music makes deadmau5 one of the most accessible mentors on MasterClass.
You have industry giants like Hans Zimmerman in the same league and you think to yourself, “Do I have what it takes to make great music?”
Getting into the music industry, or whatever creative industry for that matter, can be quite scary because you think you have to be a certain kind of person with a specific type of software and hardware in order to produce music.
All this worrying about the equipment or being That Special Kind Of Person makes people forget what really matters in the end: putting in the work, testing the waters, and producing music.
deadmau5’s MasterClass demystifies the process shows music production for what it really is: a long trial and error, a lot of shuffling, and loads of uncalculated fun.
Everything You Get With deadmau5’s MasterClass
This MasterClass costs $90 for a solo purchase but you can access this (along with MasterClass’ entire library) for an All-Access Pass worth $180.
You can expect the following when you sign up for deadmau5’s MasterClass:
- 23 video lessons with a running time of 6 hours
- 100% exclusive content; this is Joel Zimmerman’s very first online course so you won’t find anything as in-depth as this
- Workbook and assignments for supplementary learning
- Exclusive access to the MasterClass community where you can connect with students, enthusiasts, and professionals alike
- The Office Hour feature, which is a library where deadmau5 answers questions directly from old MasterClass students. There’s no guarantee he will be picking yours, but you can also post a question here if you like
This MasterClass is split into 23 video lessons. Here’s what his lesson plan looks like:
2) The deadmau5 Process: Theory
3) The deadmau5 Process: Practice
4) Building Your Home Studio
The first four lessons will ease you into the MasterClass and what deadmau5 is like as an instructor.
He’s quirky, candid, definitely enjoyable to listen to.
If you’re coming in as a beginner with little to no understanding of music equipment or production, I highly recommend brushing up on the very basics because he won’t be breaking down the fundamentals for you.
5) Developing Melodic Structures
6) Turning Melodies Into Arrangements
7) Introduction To Synthesized Sounds
8) Experimenting With Modular Synths
9) Digital VS Analog Synths
10) Shaping Sounds With Effects and Processing
11) Beats: Part 1
12) Beats: Part 2
13) Structuring Songs
17) Mastering Case Study: Snowcone
Lessons five to seventeen are all about the technicalities of music.
This is less of a structured lesson and more of a “playing with music” session with deadmau5.
You learn more about his creative process and get an exclusive peek into what he’s like as a person and as a composer.
18) Starting Your Producing Career
19) Understanding the Music Business
20) On Stage: The Music
21) On Stage: The Technical Side
22) On Stage: The Show
Lessons 18 to 23 are all related to career: what to watch out for in the music industry, how to make waves, and what makes someone stand out.
Even if you have no plans on getting in the scene, he still offers a lot of fresh and raw insight on the music industry and what reality is like for EDM artists.
The MasterClass: In Summary
The course is pretty extensive and touches on every subject imaginable when it comes to music production, from pre-production to performing it on stage.
He even dedicates a lesson to what your set-up should look like: your equipment, which DAW to use.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t matter as much as you think it is. You can have the most expensive equipment in the world and still produce the worst music anyone has ever heard.
deadmau5’s MasterClass is a good mix of theory and technical detail. He demonstrates what he would personally do with his tracks, but he won’t hold your hand from start to finish.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step approach to music production, this isn’t going to be it.
This MasterClass jumps into the little details and elements that make up music.
You’ll learn chord structure, Qing, and limiting from a leader in EDM, but he won’t tell you what to do when you get stuck on a chord or how to work around equipment failures (which happens in one of his videos).
Is deadmau5’s MasterClass Worth It?
I’ve seen other MasterClasses and it’s worth mentioning how different deadmau5 is from different instructors for the simple fact that he’s just fun.
If you’re expecting him to suit up and take on a professorial role to unveil the deep mysteries of music production, you’re not going to find that here.
deadmau5’s MasterClass owes its merit to his personality. It’s snarky, sarcastic at times, but it’s also just so real.
What other people might see as uncoordinated and whimsical really just translates to a fun time overall.
You don’t feel like you’re being taught how to make music in a boring, classroom setting.
Oftentimes, it feels like you’re sitting in the same room as Joel and listening to him rant and rave about his process and EDM production.
Because of that, this is probably one of the more engaging MasterClasses I’ve completed.
Joel talks as himself and engages the students as he would a producer or a collaborator working in the same booth as him.
Is this the type of class you learn something from?
For sure, but that depends on what you want to learn.
He talks about structure and technique, but as I mentioned earlier he’s not going to create a track from start to finish.
He won’t guide you through the technicalities of a DAW and teach you how to use it.
Instead, you get an idea of how each element works but it’s up to you to synthesize that and do more research and experimentation to feel out the process for yourself.
deadmau5 may not be the best teacher but anyone could easily see he’s a true EDM master.
If you’re looking for inspiration, a sign to pursue EDM even just as a passive hobby, he definitely lights that spark and makes the process look a lot simpler (and therefore more accessible) than most people think it is.
For those things alone, it’s definitely worth looking into this MasterClass.
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