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Achieving international success with beats produced from home

By Tina Brodal Posted: 10. Jul, 2020

KrissiO og Hakzbeats are online producers and beat makers.

They are young, fearless and part of a new generation of Norwegian online producers, slowly taking over the international music market with their beats.

Often without an established industry network and from a home studio, they produce beats which are used by some of the biggest names in hip hop. They rarely meet the artists they collaborate with; everything happens over the internet, whether they produce and sell beats or are discovered via SoundCloud or YouTube.

One of the producers with this approach is Hakan Akyol aka Hakzbeats, in Bergen. He recently contributed on the production of a song on Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke’s postmortem album “Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon”, an album already topping most charts, expected to debut as # 1 on the Billboard Top 200.

– I have produced quite a lot for P-Flow, however the Pop Smoke song happened quite abruptly. It wasn’t something I necessarily tried very hard to achieve, it just happened, Akyol says to Music Norway.

Was discovered on YouTube
He doesn’t have a studio, management or help from anyone and has done everything himself. Pop Smoke found the Norwegian producer on YouTube, and his team sent him a message. The result of the collaboration was the song “yea yeah” on Pop Smoke’s album.

– I think it’s great to produce for artists as long as I like the music myself. I often have the same “approach” when I make music and make a lot in the same style, but also experiment a lot with different sounds and “vibes”. I think that helps, Akyol says.

Hakan Akyol aka Hakzbeats recently produced a song on Pop Smoke's new album.

Hakzbeats is one of several Norwegian producers that have recently made a name for themselves internationally, and especially in the US. What used to seem like a geographically unattainable dream has now become a reality thanks to the internet and various platforms such as BeatStars, YouTube and social media such as Instagram.

– I do and have done everything myself until recently, but I have been contacted from a number of managements etc after the Pop Smoke song, Akyol says.

Kristoffer Omland aka KrissiO lives off producing and selling his beats online.

BeatStars led to breakthrough
Another online producer with a similar story is Kristoffer Omland aka KrissiO, who produces Hip Hop / Rap and Trap beats. He started on YouTube in 2007 by offering his songs for fun. The breakthrough came in 2015 when he switched to BeatStars.

– You can definitely make a living from producing and selling your music online if you know how to sell your beats. With the right tools you can promote, distribute and automate your process, Omland says.

He has had songs with small and large artists such as: ITSOKTOCRY, Bandingo YGNE, Jordan Soloman, Joyner Lucas, Famous Dex, Boosie Badazz and Lil Xan.

– I work online from home and not physically in studios or other places so the work mostly happens through emails and audio files. If they want to go more in depth we talk on the phone, it creates a better relationship between you as a producer and the artist(s) you work with, Omland says.

Music Norway interviewed Harald Hjermann Sørebø earlier this year, known as PayDay. He is one of the producers behind 6ix9ine’s new single, “Gooba,” and has worked with big names such as NLE Choppa, Megan Thee Stallion, Bad Bunny, Ugly God, Skepta and Octavian. It all started with the online producer selling beats from his home in Bergen, something he has lived off for the past two years. The similarity between Omland, Akyol and Sørebø is that they have built up a name and network online by using the right platforms which means that they can now make a living from producing and selling beats from their own homes.

Vegard Waske from Mandelbaum Management.

– Norway is a hallmark of quality
Manager Vegard Waske from Mandelbaum Management, which represents Cashmere Cat, Bearson, Charlie Cunningham, Digitalism and TRXD, says there are several reasons why Norwegian online producers get international attention.

– The new producers that are emerging do not only make good music. They also have abilities that are perhaps the most important in a world flooded with talent: 1: They have an early instinct for which artists and producers are going to be the next big ones and 2: Have the (online) social skills that make them capable to get into the songs of great artists – in competition with thousands of other producers, Waske says.

– They have first and foremost been very good at building their own networks directly with other producers, artists, managements etc. – in addition to making good beats and hooks – with a dose of Norwegian character.

He believes that producers such as Cashmere Cat and Kygo have contributed to more people opening their eyes to Norway and Norwegian producers.

– Norway is a hallmark of quality. But not only because of the music, but also because people from Norway are considered neat and reliable, Waske says.

Advantageous to have a management on the team
Waske sees that some online producers can do well on their own, but emphasizes that it is an advantage to have someone on the team who has experience with what level production advances / royalties and publishing splits should be at, US contracts / work visas / business standards etc.

– In addition, the competition in the US is fierce, you can quickly become yesterday’s news – then you often need someone on the team who can contribute to the progress of using their network to keep the producer well in the game, Waske says.

He doesn’t hide the fact that the American hip hop industry can be a bit rough around the edges sometimes; often you make the deals and the publishing splits after the song has been released and that can drag on for years.

Waske believes that the reason why Norwegian online producers have received the attention of artists in the US, is a combination of elements.

– I think the key lies first and foremost in these producers’ abilities to maneuver into the right projects. Combined with great beats, good melodies and a dose of Jotunheimen, Waske concludes.

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