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Student Spotlight: Thomas Irwin (Sony, Spinnin’ Records, Dharma & Warner)

Here at Point Blank, we pride ourselves on the success of our students. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to success stories and that’s why we publish a monthly Student Success feature. For this instalment, we are shining a spotlight on the London Point Blank degree student, Thomas Irwin. He specialises in uplifting EDM and has released music with some of the world’s most well-respected labels, with his tracks amassing millions of plays on Spotify alone.

Point Blank’s Thomas Irwin has worked with many labels around the globe, including Sony, Spinnin’, Dharma, Warner and more and received a BBC introducing top 10 uploads for the year 2019. As well as churning out hits, the young artist has also performed at venues both in London and around the world, including debuting at the prestigious Ministry of Sound and fabric London soon after. It’s fitting that after Irwin’s debut at Ministry of Sound, he received bookings to play at festivals around Europe.

In April 2022, Irwin represented Point Blank at the International Music Summit Ibiza where he hosted a masterclass on making music and his experiences in the industry. The producer and DJ is currently studying the Point Blank BA (Hons) Music Production & DJ Performance Degree (3 Years) in London. Find out more about Thomas Irwin and what you can expect to learn on our flagship degree courses below.

Hey Thomas, for those who aren’t familiar with you, could you give us an intro?

Sure! Well, I’m Thomas a British producer, songwriter and DJ. I’m from a place up north called Doncaster and I moved to London in 2020. I make electronic dance music but I love to fuse other influences and genres into my work.

You’ve worked with an impressive number of major labels, including Sony, Spinnin’ Records, Dharma and Warner. How did you secure these opportunities?

I started super small, releasing independently, then on tiny labels before moving on to bigger ones. The doorway to bigger labels opened up when I started writing a track called ‘The Lion’. I got in touch with an artist who already had a lot of releases with bigger labels and asked if he wanted to work with me on it. Through this contact, the track was signed to Dharma. This got me some good contacts but the truth is, the music has to do most of the speaking. Having the phone number of an A&R won’t get you signed without having a song that works for the label.

You recently released the track, ‘In The Mood (feat. The High)’. Could you tell us a bit about how the song came together?

To be honest, ‘In The Mood’ came together really quickly – the initial idea anyway. I was in a session with The High and I presented a few ideas I had for a modern swing on the iconic ‘Samba De Janeiro’ anthem. The high picked up the guitar and we started writing melody and lyrical ideas. 20 mins later we had a song.

Do you have any go-to plugins or production techniques you think our readers should try

I think too many people sleep on using reference tracks. Not only can reference tracks be used for structure and arrangement comparisons but you can critically analyse specific frequencies to hear what’s going on and apply professional techniques to your own music. I’ve had experiences where a drop I made sounded a little thin, then after referencing a Martin Garrix song, I found he used a really wide bass layer around 100Hz. I could then apply this to my own drop. I use a great plugin called ADPTR Metric AB for referencing. You’re able to A/B your music and references with one button.

You’ve been making big waves on Spotify, with many of your songs racking up hundreds of thousands of streams – congratulations! Do you have any advice for our readers on getting playlisted and upping their streaming game?

Yes! First of all, getting solid contacts in the playlist curation world can help so much, although it can seem intimidating to manually go through playlists to try to find the email/contact details of the curator. I’ve used tools like Playlisthunter or Playlistradar and had great experiences. The tools create a spreadsheet with multiple pages of playlist curator contact info and you’re then able to send emails to multiple curators, presenting your music. In the past, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to send upwards of 350 emails on release night to playlist curators.

You’re currently being managed by one of Point Blank’s Music Industry Management Degree students. How important do you think this type of collaboration is?

Yes, I actually met my manager through Point Blank! He was taking a short course and I saw him reply to a post on the student forum. His profile photo was him standing with a Sony Music billboard, so I reached out as he looked important haha. We’ve now been working together for over a year. I think getting a manager is so important when it comes to taking your career professionally. Having someone with contacts and knowledge by your side through all the steps in your career is super helpful. Also, negotiation is a huge part of the business side of the music industry and personally, the dynamic completely shifts when you’re not negotiating on your own.

You recently represented Point Blank at IMS Ibiza 2022 with a presentation and performed at fabric for our Music Futures event (Thank You!) How beneficial do you think these educational opportunities are for up-and-coming artists?

Thomas Irwin Delivering His Excellent IMS Ibiza Masterclass

Being able to speak at IMS Ibiza and play at Point Blank’s Music Futures event at fabric London are such beautiful memories, which I’m very grateful for. For up-and-coming artists, taking every opportunity is so important whether it’s performing, presenting or networking and the fact Point Blank gave me these opportunities is game-changing. In Ibiza, I was able to sit down and chat with labels who otherwise I would only be able to contact via email and being able to put fabric down on your music CV is a really impressive feat, especially for booking agents.

How did you discover Point Blank?

I was attending a previous university which wasn’t offering too much in terms of opportunities and networking and I knew I had to look elsewhere for the sake of my career and future – so I researched the best music universities in the country. I recognised Point Blank from the YouTube tutorials but once I discovered Point Blank offers degree-level courses and I read about the alumni, I was sold. Having the chance to live in London is also a no-brainer.

From your experience studying here, what’s something you’d tell someone just about to embark on their degree at Point Blank?

I would say meet and connect with as many people as you can. In theory, you’re about to be a full-time musician for a few years, everything outside of class is music and everything in class is music. Take full advantage of this and make contacts everywhere you can.

Are there any things that really stand out from studying a degree course with Point Blank?

Point Blank’s Pioneer DJ-Sponsored Studio

I’d say there are two things – the facilities and the people. If you’re a DJ, going into Studio 4, which is sponsored by Pioneer DJ, is like going into a sweet shop as a kid. The fact that it’s bookable for students is a superb touch. In terms of people, all my fellow students and friends are in the same boat. We all want to progress and make waves in the industry. Being part of a collective where you can ask friends for feedback, ask tutors to listen to a mix and collaborate with peers is great.

What’s in the pipeline? Are there any other interesting projects (personal or professional) you’re working on that you can tell us about?

I’ve actually just got back from a writing trip in Stockholm, which was so sick! There is one track that I can’t wait to release in the near future. Myself, The High and the incredible R&B artist ROZZZQWEEN created this beautiful song that could be one of my favourite tracks I’ve worked on to date! It’s called ‘Take Me Back To Church’ and fuses dance, soul and R&B.

Socials: Spotify / Instagram / Website

Successes such as these are common among our students and alumni. We can teach you how to DJ like the best of them at any of our schools. If you’d like to learn how to produce, then we can build your skills from the ground up with our range of degree programmes. For more information, you can contact us here.

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