DMP Sub Club Every tutorial and new monthly content for £15 a month.

Our Story.

Our history is as varied as our tutorials. If you want to know how DMP started and where it came from – you can read the story straight from our founder, Rick Snoman..

Dance Music Manual on a desk

The Dance Music Manual

3rd Edition

I think I’m expected to say that I was some kind of child prodigy or that I’d been into music ever since I could walk but that’s not quite the case.

I was brought up in the 70’ s/80’s. I wasn’t a genius at school and I never learned to play an instrument as a child. My parents weren’t musical and I wasn’t massively interested in music either. My only real exposure to music at the time was limited to the Sunday evening top 40, and recording the songs I liked on to cassette tape so I could play it back in the week.

I did have a passion though, and that was computers. As I grew up they were becoming more accessible. It started when I received a ZX Spectrum 48k. I was hooked. But it was the Commodore 64 that began to tie computers and music together. It wasn’t the games that all my peers were playing that I enjoyed, it was the music to these games.

 

“By 1990, I’d built myself a small studio. An Atari STE 520 with a few select instruments and a DAT recorder (that I had to take out a loan for).”

Artists like Rob Hubbard were creating sounds on computers I had never heard before and I’d load up a game just to listen to the music. I wanted to write this new music using my computer too. I tried reading some magazine articles on how but I just couldn’t get my head around the computer language. So I just listened. And that pretty much sums up my youth – listening to music created on computers. As I got older, I had to get a job and take on a trade, I became a mechanic.

Fast forward (just like we did in those days on a tape machine) to 1988, and I was invited to the Hacienda nightclub by a friend. He couldn’t stop telling me about how fantastic it was, how everyone felt like your best friend, that it had a community. But it wasn’t just the community that I experienced that night, it was the music. It was that “computer music” again – this time it wasn’t just square waves from a SID chip – it sounded like Rob Hubbard on acid! It was House music. It was the Commodore 64 music for adults. It ignited my interested, I was older and this time I could learn programming and produce music…

By 1990, I’d built myself a small studio. An Atari STE 520 with a few select instruments and a DAT recorder (that I had to take out a loan for). I would come home from work and attempt to make music. I say attempt because most evenings I was tired and constantly found myself frustrated by the equipment. Cubase would often crash and because the gear was second-hand there were no instructions. There were no tutorials sites or books around at the time, and no way to really contact other musicians who were doing better than me. Those I did talk too fed me full of misinformation – whether it was to protect their interests or just to watch me struggle I couldn’t say.

I’d write a piece of music and take it to a shop in Manchester that would press it to a vinyl dub for £50. It could only handle a limited number of plays but I would then hand it to the DJ’s at the Hacienda to play. It was terrible mostly, and if I’m truthful to myself, it was probably a mix of the drum rhythms and the drug of the time (Ecstacy) that kept everyone on the dance floor. If it were played in any other club, it would have probably emptied the dance floor.

 

A 90’s Studio

With the Atari ST520

“I was a full-time engineer and producer employed at the studio. I was exposed to not just dance music but all kinds of genres and working alongside other engineers and producers, it developed into a skill and trade that I love.”

I struggled onwards, learned more and managed to release a number of white labels and get signed to a few smaller labels that are now no longer around. I reached a turning point after reading an article in Future Music. I can’t remember the artist but I do remember their words – if you’re serious about being an artist, then you should put everything into it.

I decided to quit work – I gave up everything to work on music. I was told I was crazy, that I would be back in a couple of months begging for my job back but I was serious about the music. Later that same year, I took one of my tracks to a studio in Manchester to have it mixed professionally. The engineer hadn’t mixed dance music before, only Manchester rock music, so part way through I took over the mix. It was my first opportunity to work on a large desk and it felt natural. The manager of the studios liked my approach and said that if any further electronic music came in, he would give me a call to mix it. At the time, the music was not receiving a good reception in the press.

The Sun newspaper, in particular, were spreading propaganda about dance floors covered in silver paper wrappings from Ecstacy (it was silver paper shot from a canon during the evening) and the music was hailed as a drug-induced fad. Consequently, work was slow at first so the studio had me attend University to earn a BSc in Audio Engineering and that eventually grew into a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in Music Technology and Production.

Over the years, as dance music proved itself to be more than just some passing fad, more and more work came into the studios. I became a full-time engineer and producer employed at the studio. During that time I was exposed to not just dance music but all kinds of genes and working alongside other engineers and producers, it developed into a skill and trade that I truly love.

Future Music Chill Out Article

Written by Rick in 2001

In 2000 I started to write for Computer Music. I wrote articles and reviews and ran a column “in from the cold”. I also began to write articles and reviews for Future Music Magazine. As a trained producer, I was fast at composing and producing music, so I ended up authoring most of the how to create *insert genre* articles, and also reviewed many of their exclusives.

It was this experience that highlighted the lack of published information there was available to aspiring music producers. At the time there was a couple of magazines that touched on dance music and one book. I wanted to share the knowledge I had struggled for years to learn. I wanted to share the tricks and techniques that had taken me years to master so that others could learn at a faster and more productive pace.

In 2003, I found a publisher willing to take on my proposal – Focal Press. I had originally wanted to call my book the Dance Music Bible, but after being submitted for review, it was refused by the peer reviewers who said it would upset religious groups…

The publishers wanted to call it the Dance Music Production Manual, and that became the working title as I registered DanceMusicProduction.com. However, as the book evolved, the name was changed again a few months before release to the Dance Music Manual. In 2004 the Dance Music Manual was published and the Dance Music Production website went live. The book has since become required or recommended reading on many university and college courses and recommended by many artists and producers.

But even after 30 years, I have to say that my passion to create dance music and share my knowledge has never wained. I now run a recording studio and concentrate on ghost production, helping aspiring DJ’s and artists reach their goals and dreams. And while quite a few tutorial sites have sprung up over the past 15 years DMP has maintained a strong presence in the market. Ghost production has given me the opportunity to travel the world and work with a lot of producers, and I will continue to share my knowledge via my books, videos, and seminars.

2018 and the future. 

Dance Music Production has grown from an idea to a reality. I have teamed up with Alex who has a business background and as a team, we intend to take DMP into the next 15 years. We have moved to a subscription service as we feel this offers a better service. The Dance Music Academy is starting to take shape with seminars planned and new courses.

All that leaves me to say is it has been an amazing journey so far for me and DMP, and I’m looking forward to the following 15 years.

I hope you will join us on that journey.

Dance Music Production is committed to maintaining high educational standards and business practices.