Beat Drop Selected for YouTube NextUp

What is YouTube NextUp?

NextUp is a program designed to nurture and accelerate the next generation of talented Creators on YouTube. Creators with 10K to 100K subscribers were eligible. Hundreds of Creators applied and YouTube selected the 10 finalists that we believed were ready to take their channels to the next level. The selections were made by YouTube staff who work with Creators every day. This is the first time that NextUp has run in Canada.

What happens at NextUp?

NextUp is a 5 day Creator Camp at YouTube Space Toronto, to learn about video production and techniques, access to a YouTube Partner Manager to help guide your channel’s development, $3,200 voucher from YouTube to purchase new production equipment, and extensive networking opportunities with established Creators. 

How did Beat Drop get selected?

We have been posting videos on YouTube for a number of years and see it as an amazing platform to share our love of music production and DJing through educational videos. It has been a tool to inform potential students about our school in Calgary and online. When we were offered a chance to apply for NextUp, we jumped at the opportunity and knew it could be great for our school. Part of the application is to submit one video that encapsulated our channel. We have a wide variety of videos on different topics on our channel, so selecting one video was quite hard. We chose this video from our head DJ Instructor (Canadian Thre3style champ) DJ C-Sik. It explains some high level routine preparation. It's done in a fun way and captures the heart of what Beat Drop is about. The motto of our school is to Inspire and Educate. This video tries to do both.

Our YouTube Journey

We started out on YouTube very slowly, about 5 years ago. One of our first videos we posted was a workshop with French Hip Hop Producer Onra showing off one of his famous beats.

The video production was super lame and you can hear the camera's gears as I zoomed in and out. He was such a nice guy and I wish we knew how to make better videos back then.

Another idea we tried was doing some reviews of gear we were interested in. We got sent some headphones from Urbanears so we decided to try our hand at doing a review video. Again with poor videography skills we tackled the subject, but this time we had a pro to quarterback it. Drew Atlas a local DJ and Radio host worked with instructors, Sandro and Kyle to make this pretty unique review. (Still one of my faves....those outtakes).

A video series that really helped our channel take off was a series of beginner's tutorials for Ableton Live we called Quick Start. It's a really low budget set of tutorials showing beginners how to use Live. Over the years it has helped a lot of people and the playlist has received over a million views. Pretty good for a super niche topic from a small school from Calgary, AB Canada.

A real strength of our school is that all of our instructors are in the music industry in some capacity making a living. We are also surrounded by amazing talent here in Calgary, so we get stoked when we can include them. Here is a YouTube series I started showcasing a unique instrument called the Ableton Push. We called this series "Push Beats". In this video I remixed the Game of Thrones theme song on the Push and then invited my friend and Platinum selling artist Jocelyn Alice to come sing on the track. (her performance is at the 2:55 mark).

Music production technique videos are all over YouTube these days. There is a lot of great content and a lot of content people need to filter out. With YouTube we really want to create content that applies to the modern day producer and is filled with usable knowledge while showcasing what it would be like to come to school here, whether it's online or in Calgary. Below Brandon Smith, one of our instructors, explains some high level synthesis combined with some production techniques.

I'm really excited about where our channel is headed as we place more time and resources towards it. The boom of LIVE video is a real opportunity for a school like ours and one that I see us taking advantage of more in the coming year.

NextUP Creator Camp Opportunity

I will be heading to Toronto from Nov 27 - Dec 2 to attend NextUP Canada.  I am stoked to network and learn for sure, but I'm most excited to meet with a Google YouTube Partner Manager. They are the YouTube ninjas that can help critique our channel and give us feedback to help us become more effective and grow our audience.

While I might be the oldest one of the Youtubers selected for this camp, I know I'm still young enough to learn a lot. My kids think I'm pretty cool now too and think I might get to meet some of their YouTube heroes like DanTDM and Miranda Sings. I told them they have a couple more subscribers than Beat Drop so I might not see them at the camp :) I'm just stoked to hang with other camera and audio nerds talking about creating content and growing our influence on the biggest video platform on earth.


Mitch Lee
Beat Drop




Take advantage of the quality you've come to expect from Beat Drop at a fraction of the cost. Save up to $2,296 with Early Bird pricing on all certificate programs and courses Beat Drop offers. Discounts apply to all Music Production and DJ Certificate Programs, Online courses and courses at our Calgary location. Early Bird is only available for courses starting in the Winter Semester. Act fast, Early Bird pricing ends November 20th 2016. For more information contact or register online.

Live Online Synthesis Workshop with Brandon Smith

Live Online Synthesis Workshop with Brandon Smith

Do you struggle to make thick, evolving bass lines like those made by producers like Noisia? You're not alone. Scores of producers create simple, generic bass lines that sound thin and don't hold the interest of their listeners. In modern dance music heavy, aggressive bass lines dominate the mix and shake the earth. Sadly bass sounds that don’t live up to today’s standard can hurt your music and cost you fans. Fortunately there’s an answer. Modern software synthesizers like Native Instruments’ Massive offer amazing modulation capabilities and can be used to make incredible bass lines. Pair the synthesis power of Massive with Ableton Live’s resampling workflow and the results can be astounding. 

Early Bird Pricing On All Courses Starting Fall 2016

Early Bird Pricing On All Courses Starting Fall 2016

Beat Drop is offering early bird pricing for students registering in courses starting in the Fall 2016 (September) Semester. Early bird pricing is valid for courses online and at our Calgary location. All DJ and producer certificate programs and courses are eligible.  Early bird pricing ends July 11th 2016 so act fast!

Former Beat Drop Student Funk'nRight Wins Dirty Tones DJ Competition

Former Beat Drop Student Funk'nRight Wins Dirty Tones DJ Competition

Last weekend former Beat Drop student, Carsen Kendel aka Funkn'Right, won the 8th Annual Dirty Tones DJ competition. Carsen was enrolled in our DJ Program and successfully completed DJ 101 and Turntablism 101. He joins two other Beat Drop DJ students, Goodbar and Mystique, as winners of the Dirty Tones DJ Competition. Rick Cruz (DJ C-SIK), our head DJ Instructor, sat down with Carsen to learn what it takes to be the Dirty Tones champ and find out what the DJ community means to him.



Beat Drop is offering early bird pricing for students registering for courses beginning Summer 2016 (May). Register now! Early Bird pricing is valid for all certificate programs & courses until February 15th 2016.  Early bird pricing is not available on payment plans.  For more information contact or register online.

Beat Drop Open HousE

Beat Drop Open HousE

Have you ever thought about taking a certificate program or courses at Beat Drop? Come down to our school on December 15th from 7:00 to 9:00PM and see what Beat Drop is offering for the Winter 2016 semester. The Open House will include short talks by our DJ and music production instructors, previews of their classes, a facility tour and Q&A sessions.

Roland AIRA Clinic - Performing Live and Producing in the Studio

Roland AIRA Clinic - Performing Live and Producing in the Studio

Last June Beat Drop played host to drum machine/synth wizard and Roland Senior Product Manager Lyle Crilly.  He spent the afternoon giving us a run through of the history of Roland and an in depth look at how Roland's new AIRA line can be used in the studio and for performance.   In case you missed if we filmed it and uploaded the workshop to our YouTube Channel.

Getting The Most Out of Your Hardware Part 1: Syncing A Drum Machine to Ableton

By Brandon Smith

Judging by the number of modular synths, drum machines, effect units and other lovely knob and button-laden things at this year's NAMM show, it's clear that hardware music technology isn't going anywhere.  Producing music entirely "in the box" (i.e. with a computer in a DAW environment) is now common and widely accepted.  People 20 or 30 years ago would have been amazed that you can do all that stuff on a computer - let alone a personal computer.  Yet there are now more modular synth manufacturers around today than there were in the 60s and 70s, when names like Moog, Arp and Buchla were at the cutting edge.  So why would more manufacturers be making hardware when you can just do everything on a computer now?  These may be contributing factors:

1) Hardware is cheaper and easier to manufacture than ever before which makes owning gear nowadays comparatively far more affordable than in the past (owning a modular synth in the late 60s was akin to buying a luxury car).

2) Some people prefer the tactile "feel" of an instrument.  Even "in-the-box" productions require outboard MIDI controllers, speakers etc. to interface with the people making the productions.  Computers can't read our minds.  Yet......

3) While the software emulations of things like Minimoogs and other classic synths are getting quite good, there is a lot of variation in sound and feel with the real Minis out there.  They were made for a decade.  Therefore, a 1971 Mini won't behave exactly like on made in 1980.  Individual instrument quirks can be important to musicians - analogous to a guitar player who really likes the feel of the neck or the tone on a particular guitar.

4) Inspiration.  With everything conveniently at your fingertips it's all too easy to fire up Massive and start cruising through the list of presets until you find something that's close-ish to what you want.  Then you mess around with parameters trying to make the sound more like what you hear in your head.   It's not any easier making sounds from scratch on a hardware synth - in fact it's usually harder.  But eventually one gets sick of all the presets and wants the inspiration that may come more naturally on and instrument with limitation - but has lots of character.  It seems counter intuitive, but sometimes we can be the most creative by limiting our tools of expression.

5) Sound.  Kind of stating the obvious here, but people wouldn't go through all this hassle if the sounds weren't worth it.

So how does one use a hardware instrument within DAWs like Ableton?  It depends on what the instrument is, how old it is, and how you intend on fitting it into your productions. Of course the most obvious way to incorporate a hardware is to just record the audio into Ableton.  Sometimes there's something to be said for a sloppy, un-quantized synth line played by hand and recorded direct.  If it's an old synth that has no means of MIDI or CV control recording the audio output may be your only option. If it's a pre-MIDI drum machine there might not be any way to "clock" or control its tempo externally.  If that's the case its probably best to sample a pattern and loop it.  Ableton's "Slice To MIDI" feature makes it easy to break down cheesy preset drum machine patterns into their constituent parts and re-sequence them in the box.  If it's a more modern machine with MIDI you can opt to tempo or "MIDI clock sync" it.  That way you still get the "feel" of the drum machine's own sequencer, just running in sync with Ableton. MIDI-equipped machines usually have the ability to trigger the individual sounds using MIDI notes, so patterns can be sequenced directly from the computer that way as well.  There are lots of possibilities.  Below is an example of a setup where the computer is controlling a Roland TR-8 through USB.  The MIDI out of the TR-8 is going into the MIDI in on the Oberheim DX, which is a much older machine from the 80s and only has MIDI.  The DX is being "slaved" by the TR-8 (they could both be used that way without a computer).  However in this instance, they are both slaved by the computer which controls the master tempo and start/stop via USB.  Sync has to be enabled in Ableton's MIDI preferences for this to work properly.

 It can be really frustrating to get your gear to work the way you think it should work.   It doesn't help that MIDI has been around for over 30 years, and USB is only now starting to replace it.  Very often outboard synths/drum machines won't sync properly or at all on your first try (make sure you are using the correct sync mode in your DAW’s preferences).  Learn how to do a factory reset procedure on your gear (usually by holding a combination of buttons and powering the unit on and off) in case you get into a mode and can't get back out.  Again, this is why reading the manual is a good idea. Luckily the latest hardware boom comes complete with devices designed to make our lives easier - marrying  the old with the new.  One such device is Roland's SBX-1 (see below). It can also hook up to a computer via USB and drive multiple drum machines/synths/grooveboxes through its 2 MIDI outs.  For pre-MIDI machines it features "DIN Sync" which is an older proprietary system that Roland used back in the day for syncing and start/stop messages.  The ubiquitous Roland 808 and Jupiter 8 both have it.  The SBX-1 can also convert MIDI messages into CV and gate signals to drive old analog synths and modulars.  Gotta love mixing the new with the old!

Roland Sync box.png

Find out more about the TR-8 and the rest of Roland's AIRA line-up on June 13th, 2015 at Beat Drop.  The Roland AIRA Clinic runs from 1 - 3 PM, is hosted by Lyle Crilly and it's totally free. 



On Saturday, June 14, Beat Drop will be running our monthly Ableton Live Quick Start course.  From 10 AM to 5 PM Sandro Petrillo will be be providing an in-depth look at Ableton's fundamentals.  This is an excellent opportunity to get a head start on producing music with Ableton Live and is aimed at those who have never used the program before.  By the end of the course you should have a solid idea of how the program functions and will have plenty of ways to bring your musical ideas to life.

RBMA 2014 - TOKYO!!!

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Red Bull Music Academy applications are due in approx. 8 days!!! SO it's time to get to a printer, grab your favorite HB pencil (maybe a 2H if you're into something a bit harder... we at Beat Drop understand the importance of stationary in every day life... ) and get that thing filled out! It's multiple pages long and we don't recommend leaving it until the last minute. Best to really read through, answer the questions that instantly pop for you then return to those that you may have passed over. 

In many ways the academy is an AMAZING tool to add to your arsenal, from learning from some of the most talented up and coming artists and working in world class studios, to networking with some of the most prominent movers and shakers in the scene. Now, there are only a limited number of spots available, and it's quite few in respect to the size of this planet; so pour your heart out, send in your best material and have at it! Following is a couple blurbs from their website: 

"The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-travelling series of music workshops and festivals: a platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape."

"Two groups of 30 selected participants – producers, vocalists, DJs, instrumentalists and all-round musical mavericks from around the world – come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of recording sessions, lectures by musical luminaries, collaborations and performances in the city’s best clubs and music halls. If you can imagine a place that’s equal parts science lab, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Kraftwerk’s home studio, you’re halfway there.

The Academy began back in 1998, and has been traversing the globe since: from Berlin to Cape Town, São Paulo, Barcelona, London, Toronto, New York and beyond. In 2014, the Academy will be held in Tokyo, Japan."

If you're interested in applying (and we REALLY think you should!) here's the


Bass Coast Tickets in Stock at Beat Drop!!!

"A group of ambitious creatives with a common love of underground arts.

Bass Coast was Co-Founded in 2009 by Liz Thomson, Andrea graham (the Librarian) and Andrea Helleman. The Bass Coast crew has several more core members who have been with us from before day 1! It is only with the ever growing crew of managers and volunteers that we are able to meet and expand our goals each year. We are all Bass Coast. It’s our festival. It’s our coast. It’s our culture."

Needless to say, Bass Coast is a largely influential, amazingly curated weekend of festivities. Beat Drops Sandro Petrillo is a regular attendee that has had the opportunity of playing sets on their stages throughout the transformation, "The festival has truly evolved into an amazing MUST GO event during my summer time. From the beginning in their Squamish chapter to now moving to their new location in Merrit BC, it's been an enormously valuable experience for me. So much talent to feed off of, great friendships have blossomed on the grounds and just purely great energy has come from it - I'll be going for years to come!" says Petrillo. 

They have a fairly grass roots approach to their branding and the way that they spread the word, it's really been a treat to see people's facebook profile pictures change in such a wave as soon as that Bass Coast team uploads a new version. Attendees are loyal, and for good reason!

We have a handful of tickets (50) for the festival available in our store here at Beat Drop. They're $240 each and they're going to go quick, so hurry on down and grab yours! (you must be 19+ years of age to purchase)

Bass Coast Official Website
acebook Group