Be Inspired This almost goes without saying, but inspiration is what’s going to drive you forward to create new music. It’s important that you keep your ears fresh by listening to the sounds from the past, present, and future. Want to create music for tomorrow’s generation? Make sure you listen to music that came before your time, so you understand the roots of where the genres you like came from. Listen to music from all genres and keep an open mind. There’s good music in every genre, so learn to appreciate a variety of styles and artists that you can draw inspiration from.
Work With What You’ve Got
Although it’s tempting to rack up your credit cards buying every synth, plug-in and sample pack that’s out there, it’s better to learn to produce with a few simple tools. Despite what advertising will tell you, you don’t actually need every new gadget that comes out. It’s far better to work with one synth, a couple plug-ins, one DAW and really learn how to fully utilize them. It will take time to learn new pieces of equipment and truly master them. Many legendary producers create the majority of their sounds using one or two plug-ins or synths or create drums using just one drum machine. Choose your studio arsenal wisely and commit to learning how to use what you’ve got.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment during a session and create multiple tracks and busses. Creative chaos is normal, but it will be easier to work on the track again if you spend a few minutes labeling and organizing your session. During or after the session, organize tracks by labeling them and coloring audio files. A clearly labeled session becomes more important if you plan on collaborating with other artists or passing your session along for someone else to mix. It’s especially important if you’re recording; you can label takes as you go and keep notes about which takes were the good ones. If you’re editing a previously recorded session, try color-coding the audio parts according to the quality of the takes, e.g., the best takes are blue, second best takes green, etc. You can also color-code tracks according to their fundamental frequencies, i.e., Kick drums are red, snares are blue, etc. Create and try implementing a system that works for you.
Look & Listen
Read and watch a lot of good quality content about production. There are so many resources available online and offline for producers, and it’s easier than ever to access information about music production. Depending on how you enjoy learning, you can either choose to watch or read. AskVideo offers a variety of high-quality courses on almost every DAW available, including Logic, Ableton Live, and ProTools.
You can also learn about new plug-ins and study how to produce specific genres by watching tutorial videos created by talented producers. AskVideo can teach you to learn use cutting edge hardware like Maschine in online Masterclasses that you can view on your own schedule. With over 798 courses, 42,720 tutorials, it’s an affordable way to access good quality music production tutorials. YouTube is another excellent resource, but since tutorials on YouTube can be created by anyone, there’s a lot of ‘sifting’ that you’ll have to do to find good quality content. It’s likely you’ll find a video about how to create any sound on YouTube, there’ll be one video about the topic that’s good, one that’s mediocre and one that’s not so good. It’s up to you to differentiate between them which is why AskVideo is the choice for tens of thousands of music producers.
Analyze Your Favorite Artist’s Work
The only real way to become better at producing a style is to learn from the masters of that sound.
Have a favorite producer or two? Study their work in great detail, analyze the types of sounds they used and how their tracks are laid out. A good way to start producing is to try to re-create tracks, which will teach you a lot about sound design and give you more knowledge about song structure and arrangement. You might even want to copy their tracks in the session and ‘A/B’ the tracks, switching back and forth between the song you’re working on and the original track. While you don’t want to copy someone else’s sound forever, it’s a valuable experience to learn to create contemporary sounding productions by imitating another producer’s work.
Learn Sound Design
There are many great plug-ins that are out there with amazing sounding presets. While presets can provide a solid starting point for songs, it’s a good idea for producers to learn the basic principles of sound design and synthesis. Not sure where to start? Try to find a basic hardware or software synthesizer, with one or two oscillators. Learn what the different types of waveforms sound like, how sounds are created and how to make a couple custom patches you can work with.
Collaborate With Other Producers
One of the best ways to learn about producing music is to collaborate with other producers. Every producer will work differently than you, which will open you up to new ideas and workflows. It’s best to collaborate with producers who are better than you, as they will be able to teach you new techniques that will advance your skills. If you’re able to, try to hang with the generation of producers who came before you; they created the genres that you aspire to make! If you’re lucky enough to be able to be in touch with them, ask them some questions about how they made their music. If you’re really fortunate, you might be able to sit in on one of their sessions, make a track with them or maybe they will even give you a big break! Anything is possible when you open doors for yourself.
It goes without being said, but practice really does make perfect. Get into a routine of creating beats on a daily basis and try to create a studio schedule for yourself. You’re going to need to create some space in your life so you have time to work on productions. For example, you might set aside a few hours in the morning to create music, or maybe it’s best for you to work on tracks every day after dinner. Producing music will become easier over time if you’re disciplined in your approach and have strong ideas about what you want to create. Remember to always back up your work to an external HD or the cloud and finish your tracks to the best of your ability. Producing music is a lifelong journey… it’s a craft that will give back to you if you put in your best effort!