Music production: MIKE Beats from hobby to a career

“When I became a big music fan in seventh grade, I just wanted to understand more of how music is actually made and how we get it delivered from [a] device to our ears,” Redwood alumnus Michael Pratt said.

Pratt is a music producer for various upcoming artists around the Bay Area and has turned his devotion to music into a profession. Uploading his music and beats to YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Music, Pratt has grown from a middle school student who fell in love with beat-making to a producer whose second language is music.

“I started doing a ton of research on how actual digital music was produced, [which] led me to watching YouTube tutorials to find out what a DAW [Digital Housing Workstation] is, which is essentially the housing to where you create your music,” Pratt said.

Michael Pratt

Michael Pratt

Whether it’s taking piano lessons as a kid, admiring artists growing up or applying his own musical talents to create music, Pratt’s experience and involvement in music has contributed to his success and dedication as a producer.

“It all stems back to actually playing [various chords] on the piano, but now I have access to turn that piano melody into basically any sound you can think of,” Pratt said.

Not only has Pratt been able to create a name for himself as a producer by uploading beats on popular music platforms, but he collaborates with various Bay Area artists and Redwood alumni like McKinley Clemons (Willie Mac) and Jordan Jackson (J Jack).

“Originally we started making music because it inspired me. I enjoyed listening to music and just the whole process of creating it, also it was something fun to do at the time,” Clemons said.

After meeting freshman year at Redwood through football practice, Pratt and Clemons found that their individual musical talents could work cohesively. They began working together to record various demo tracks, and in just a few months had released the single “Unified,” which now has almost 400,000 plays on Soundcloud.

After a few months of collaboration, the two continuously became more invested in the music they were releasing. Pratt and McKinley reached the realization that their love for music could potentially turn into a career.  

“I never necessarily had goals to make it my career; in the beginning, it was more just a hobby, and once I realized it was something that I was actually good at and I could start to really pursue we decided to really go after it,” Clemons said.

Once they had started recording and producing together to make a profit, McKinley began filming music videos as well as performing in live shows around the Bay Area. This journey of recording and years spent throughout high school earned Clemons a full scholarship for music to the University of Wisconsin.

“I’ve known Michael for about five years. I reached out to him because I saw him making music with other artists and I thought it was really good,” Jackson said.

Originally seeking to make money off of rapping, Jackson became increasingly involved in recording music, whether it was releasing singles or his full album “Trappin’ in my Sandals.” After spending countless hours in the studio recording, producing and filming for music videos, rapping started to play a more significant role in Jackson’s day-to-day life.

“Rapping is more of a lifestyle at this point,” Jackson said.

Pratt and Jackson posing for a photo

Pratt and Jackson posing for a photo

Even though Pratt emphasizes how producing is one of his favorite things to do, he is also extremely involved in business aspects of the music industry. As he does with many of his new releases, Pratt helped Jackson promote the release of music through social media, aiming to reach as many views and subscribers as possible (typically around 10,000 plays).

Through various business courses, Pratt has developed a strong understanding of the music industry and takes advantage of every opportunity to become more successful in his endeavor. Bringing his laptop almost everywhere he goes, Pratt never fails to find motivation to work any of his various projects. He has developed a website where he is able to sell his tracks and beats to various buyers. He uses his knowledge from The Berklee School of Music business program to help him sell his own personal beats.

“I sell my intellectual property, I’ll create a piece of work and then I’ll distribute it out to either an artist or a label,” Pratt said.

Pratt is able to go through the process of production, distribution and management of the artists concerts seamlessly through his production company First Scratch Entertainment, which operates as an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation).

“[First Scratch Entertainment] allows me to distribute my music with legal protection, from possible lawsuits like copyright infringement,” Pratt said.

Pratt on a business call.

Pratt on a business call.

This has helped Pratt upgrade his producing equipment and get to a place that he has been working towards for years. To those looking to turn their hobby or interest into a career, Pratt said that the most important thing to remember is to stay true to your vision of success and to stay competitive no matter what might get in your way.

“Look to outside sources for help, but never let those outside sources pull you down. Only use them to elevate yourself by furthering your vision,” Pratt said.

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