Take a look at this photograph. If you’re on Facebook and you produce music, there’s a good chance you’ll have seen that face sometime in the past few months.
If you haven’t, his name is Niko Kotoulas. To borrow the words of Troy McClure from The Simpsons, “you may remember me from such the MIDI pack adverts that seem to endlessly loop around on social media”.
He usually sells thousands of MIDI files for as little as $27 and makes blowhard, swaggering claims to the effect that his pack will change your life. The professionals use them, and so should you, he says.
I actually blogged a while ago on my own thoughts about MIDI packs. I know there’s a lot of more, shall we say, purist producers who think that the likes of Kotoulas somehow denigrate the integrity in music.
For some reason, they think everyone should learn about chords, scales, keys, harmony and everything else the way they did – which mostly appears to be through expensive professional lessons that they hated as a child. But why does it have to be that way?
Have they never stopped down from their pompous pulpit and thought about this? The ways that people learn are changing. Many courses exist online now that allow you to learn this stuff at your own pace.
Sure, Kotoulas uses some pretty lazy slogans to lure you in – telling people that he’s learnt music theory so that you don’t have to – but these are just marketing pitches at the end of the day. Anyone can make music to a certain level, but if you want to get ahead, you have to be prepared to learn more about how to make the music.
But when push comes to shove – I think Niko Kotoulas has worked out one thing that many others haven’t. Namely that he can make more money from selling those MIDI files than he could from most of the tracks that he’d be able to finish and release with those files. They’re more valuable in the hands of others than his own.
And that, in my opinion, makes him just a little bit of a genius.