Producer and YouTuber Ocean has had a very strong 2020 so far. Since hitting 100k subscribers on his YouTube channel in December 2019 he’s more than doubled his following in under six months with his subscriber count now sitting well above 200,000.
Ocean’s beats cover the spectrum from chill lo-fi to hard hitting trap, and his videos provide a useful insight into his creative process. His channel is packed with collab breakdowns, producer challenges, sample flips and loads more beat making goodness.
Despite his success as a producer, Ocean didn’t always dream of being a musician. “I think I’ve always been into music, but I didn’t really take it seriously until way later down in life.” He tells me from his Manchester studio.
“There was a time where I thought I wanted to be an MMA fighter so I was training every day. To recover you have a lot of time during the day where you’re not doing much, so I started listening to more trap and pop music.”
The spark kind of just came from falling in love with music again. That put the thought in my mind - I was like “okay, maybe I can make music like this. Maybe I can make a beat.”
I downloaded Logic Pro X, made my first beat and just decided to dedicate a lot of time to it. I feel like it's one of those things where if you put in the time and consistency then you’ll get good at it.
All through YouTube tutorials. There weren't that many on logic pro, so I used to watch a lot of FL Studio ones, and then adapt what they were saying for Logic Pro X. I kinda had to figure it out, but Youtube definitely helped.
Hmm, that took a long time. I was doing YouTube for about a year and a half to two years before I started making money off it, and even then it wasn’t a lot to live off. It was really gradual, like really slow, and then things started to grow.
It took me a long time to get to 10,000 subs, but then once I did get there I started growing a lot quicker, and as I was growing quicker, money was coming in more. So I'd say, a year and a half to two years before I started making money off it.
Yeah, it was full time. It wasn’t paying me full time, but it was still my full time gig if that makes sense. That's what my mind was on, that's what I was doing. I was trying to make videos and I knew that there was going to be a long period of time before anything happened, so this is the time where I just need to figure things out. I was a cameraphobe, I didn't like being in front of the camera. I felt mad awkward, my presentation was mad off. I knew that I needed to find my voice, find the confidence to be in front of the camera, figure out how to edit and be faster at it. That was kind of like the mindset in the beginning, just figuring it out.
It feels good to see the channel grow and people enjoying the content and engaging, not gonna lie. I remember the days when I’d upload a video and only get like 10 views, or 20 views and I’d be like “damn what did I do wrong?” it felt like you’re not talking to anyone. There’s no comments in the comments section, no one to really engage with so there’s no reason why you should continue apart from the fact that you feel like one day it’ll pay off. So it feels good that finally it's happening. I'm grateful that it is growing and people are liking the content.
This is probably the most cliche one but I think it's the most important one: consistency. You have to be consistent on YouTube, you have to always be making content, making videos. It doesn’t even have to be an everyday thing but let's say you decide to make a video every week. As long as you stick to that one every week, that's consistent, and that will help you grow. As you keep doing that, YouTube will start to push you a bit more.
A lot of people have this mindset of trying to play the YouTube algorithm. There are tricks that you can do, but it’s not as important as just trying to make the best content
I think a lot of people have this mindset of trying to play the YouTube algorithm. There are tricks that you can do, but it’s not as important as just trying to make the best content that you can in terms of quality, in terms of just making it fun to watch and engaging or giving value. If you can make good content then more people by nature will watch it, and the more people watch it the more YouTube will promote it. So I think that should be a key focus as well. That's something I'm always thinking in the back of my head, how can I make this better, how can I improve my videos and make it more watchable?
Usually when I put out a video I do the whole process in a day. I film earlier in the day, edit it later on and then put it out. The days when I’m not filming and making a video are the days that I have time for actually sitting down and making beats, or sitting down and making a sample pack, whatever it is. It’s usually a day on, day off between videos and other stuff, or maybe a day on with videos and then a few days off doing stuff around it.
Hmm, I feel like sometimes I am much more of a YouTuber because some weeks I probably spend more time editing videos than I do actually sitting down and making beats. But at the same time if I don’t make the music, then I don’t have the YouTube channel… they’re both connected.
I feel like YouTube has definitely made it easier for me in terms of opportunities to work with artists, for sure.
I put out a song called I Feel A Way with Lattz who’s a talented artist out of Peterborough in England. It’s doing well, I think it’s got like 100k views on Youtube in 2 weeks which is really good because it’s independently released on his platform, that’s been fun. He literally just hit me up and we worked remotely - it was all during lockdown.
I’ve got some other stuff lined up in the background that hasn’t been released yet, I’m working with a few drill artists in the UK.
I did a collaboration on Youtube which was really fun, I did 4 producers 1 sample. I felt like we all had very different styles, so flipping that sample in our own unique ways was interesting to see.
Uhhhh, honestly everyone. I guess my dream collabs would be with Skepta or Chip. I feel like if I produce with Drake one day, then I’m done.
Yeah, I’ve done what I needed to do now, I can chill a bit… but Nah that would be a great one. I’m honestly open to work with anyone, but I feel Skepta would definitely be a dream collab.
Not as much as I should do, I know I should be reaching out a lot more, but when it comes to the importance of things for me building my own personal brand comes first at the moment.
I’m always trying to improve. I don’t feel like I'm anywhere near where I want to be in terms of the quality of my music, so I do spend a lot of time learning music theory and learning chord progressions. I always ask myself how can I make my samples better? How can I make the bounce of my drums better? I spend a lot of time just trying to improve.
I couldn’t tell you really where it comes from, maybe it comes from my competitive nature. Music isn’t something that you win or lose at, there’s not really any rules to it, but I’m always trying to be better than I was - it’s a small competition with myself.
In a way I do treat music like going to the gym...I'm just putting in the reps so I can be better.
In a way I do treat it like going to the gym, if you want to get fit you have to just go to the gym and put your time in and you’ll see the results. So that’s what I’m doing, I'm just putting in the reps so I can be better. I’m definitely motivated by progress, I don't wanna be making the same kind of samples I was making 6 months ago - you gotta evolve, you gotta put in your time.
One thing that’s useful is really understanding the DAW that you’re working in. I work in Logic Pro X and I've figured out most of the shortcuts that I like to use and my go to plugins. I’m kind of known for using Ultrabeat, it’s not the easiest way to program drums and it’s not the quickest way, but I've got it down so it fits smoothly into my workflow. I think finding your own workflow within your DAW and being efficient with it is really important.
In terms of music stuff, knowing scales and the chords within the scales or how to play a major 7th or invert a chord has benefited me a lot - music theory can definitely help.
Before I was doing music production, I was doing marketing. Nothing formal but I used to just hustle online. I used to sell t-shirts, I used to sell products through Amazon, I used to do email marketing for clients, so I've kind of dabbled in all these digital marketing things and I think that’s definitely given me a foundation of how to build my music business.
Oh yeah, 100%. There was a time where I spent all day working with a client building out a sales funnel for him, and I was just really unhappy. I saw the YouTube wave emerging online, I started seeing these videos pop up and I realized like “oh there’s a lane here”, people are watching these videos. I was thinking that if I don’t do this now, I'm just gonna miss this opportunity.
I’m definitely going to be working a lot more with artists in the future, and making that content more on my channel. More behind the scenes stuff, working with artists, making songs.
In the next 5 years I definitely want to hit a million subscribers, and start getting placements with major artists. I also want to work with a core group of artists and build them up, helping them find their sound whilst I’m finding mine, coming together just to make some really good music. I’d also like to release my own music in the future, but that’s further down the line.