Hi, Doctor Nick! - Wedding DJs, Jamming with Ableton, and Building a Career in the Music Industry (When You're Not a Musician)

Without tooting our own horn too loudly, we think that there are some pretty talented folks here at XLR8R. That being said, when it came time to launch a new advice column, we knew that nobody on our staff had a skill set that matched up with Nick Hook. He may not be an actual doctor, but he has more than enough wisdom to step in every Thursday morning and answer questions about music, gear, DJing, travel, production techniques, love, life, and more. Doctor Nick is here to help, so drop him a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com and let the flow of knowledge begin.

Hi. Happy New Year... still. This is a real question: when do you stop saying "Happy New Year" to people? I'm taking a survey. Keep sending questions. We got a bunch of dope ones last week, but we need more, always. Anyways... happy birthday to Just Blaze, too.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I proposed and got engaged in 2012, and now my fianceé and I are working on figuring out the wedding plans. We know it's going to be in her hometown and not the city we live in (they're 400 miles apart), which means asking a friend or two to DJ and MC the reception looks less feasible. Should I still see if a friend/acquaintance would be interested in the gig? How do I let them know it would be fairly low pay, practically volunteer DJing? Do I try to find a local promoter that would want to book them for a night that weekend, especially knowing a few friends have toured through the area several times in the past few years? Do I try to find a local that is on par with who I had in mind? Or do I work out some playlists, plug an iPod into a P.A., and task minimal MC duties to a groomsman? Said playlists would be some standard wedding reception songs, and then add in some newer stuff that we think is fun.

I'll DJ your wedding. Real talk. Problem solved. Just get me there. Feed me some food. Maybe tell one of the bridesmaids I'm dope. And don't say XLR8R never did anything for you. Done. I'm really down. If you don't want me to, I'll answer the question in actual detail.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I began recording music in NI Maschine using Komplete and have become very comfortable with the software/hardware. However, when I play with my band, we route everything through my computer and Ableton. I am a novice in Ableton and I am wanting to enhance my effects or DJ skills and was wondering what you recommend. Currently I am using EQ, Filters, Beat Repeat, and a few Traktor effects through a guitar rig. I feel that I am missing the climax swirls and builds. Any recommendations?

Ayo. I'm just in the studio with some homies. Obey City from the LuckyMe crew is gonna handle this answer.

Respect, you seem to know your computer programs and all that... but you're in a band. You should be creating the swirly climaxes with live band dynamics, not effects. Keep jamming and become super tight—use the human element to your advantage and treat the software as sprinkles on the sundae. Basically, don't use software as a crutch—use it more as additional firepower to the brigade. This goes for all aspects of production. Try to make everything sound as good as possible before treating it with effects.

Hi Doctor Nick,
The more I intern and volunteer my free time to music, the more I want to be a part of it. The only problem is, I'm not a musician. I'm a writer and a journalist. What do you think is the next most logical career to pursue outside of music writing to stay involved with music but also be able to pay rent?
Ruby the Intern

Hi Ruby. The good news is, we aren't musicians either. We just push buttons and pretend we know what we are doing until it sounds good, so you're cool on that.

On a serious note, keep writing, but maybe find some of your friends that make awesome music and offer to help. The thing about all of us is that we are pretty good at disappearing and creating stuff, but then we forget to make email lists or update our Facebook page. Take a few of us and make us more organized and take a few bucks in the process. Maybe one of us crosses over into making things happen and bam, you're our assistant. Then eventually, you have the credentials to try and maybe manage us or take on a new person to manage since you helped build our career. Someone has to become the next Diplo or A-Trak eventually. I keep preaching this, but if you don't keep all of your eggs in one basket, there's no pressure to become the greatest writer, or manager, or whatever other side job to make sure you can support people you believe in. Right now, I'm doing that with a few artists I believe in. I'm working 100% for free, because we have the best time doing it and hopefully, when success swings around, it's all good on the commerce aspect. If not, it's all good too.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.