Music production isn’t easy. It needs theoretical knowledge, technical skills, imagination, creativity, moderation, an understanding of the artist, and much more. It’s an arduous and absolutely essential job that – even within the industry itself – often isn’t given the necessary recognition. That’s why we’ve decided to give music production the attention it deserves and have put together our top 10 tips for producing a track. You may also be interested in how to draft a press release or find out what the best programs are for making a beat.
1. Have The Right Equipment
When we say ‘right’ we don’t necessarily mean expensive. We’re referring to both the quality of the equipment and that it meets your needs as a producer. The fundamental thing is balance and that everything works within the same range.
The best quality software and hardware won’t perform well if the acoustics are poor. You can get the best devices on the market, but they won’t deliver if their location in your studio isn’t correct. Sometimes it’s not about having many elements, but about perfectly mastering the ones you already have.
You don’t have to invest a lot of money to find equipment used by professional studios for your home studio. For example, the Apollo Twin X Audio Interface from Universal Audio costs around $1,000 but with this, you can be sure that all of your productions will be of the highest quality possible. Investing in good quality equipment is investing in your future.
Use wave reflectors for the microphone if you don’t have a recording booth. You should also use closed-back headphones for recording and open-back headphones for mixing and mastering. The difference between the two is in the construction of their ear pads.
The first prevents sound from escaping, making the listening experience more intense and immersive which allows you to focus on the details. The second headphones let the sound escape and expand the hearing panorama which provides a hearing experience closer to reality.
2. Structure The Track
Having an outline with the entire structure of the track that you’re going to produce is really useful. It may seem simple but knowing where the verses are, when you want the climax to come, or how many times the chorus will be repeated will help you a lot.
Take a few minutes to sketch out a simple outline that lists the most important elements you want to incorporate. And of course, always bear in mind that there might be changes and modifications!
3. Do Your Research
When you master certain team devices, techniques, and effects, it’s easy to fall into the habit of using them over and over again – and there’s nothing worse than a boring, predictable production without surprises.
We recommend researching new plugins and continuing to learn new techniques. Every day new devices come onto the market, new techniques are discovered and trends are created. Don’t miss out because you haven’t stayed up to date!
4. Beware of Compressors and Mastering
When it comes to compressors, we always say the same thing: use them but do it in a subtle way. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a mix with a lack of dynamic range.
And it’s the same when mastering and adjusting parameters. It’s better to make some subtle fixes than to leave the master excessively compressed. About -12 LUFS ensures you don’t lose dynamic range. There’s currently a tendency to stretch the master to the maximum without worrying about the quality of the final result. That’s where your work as a sound engineer comes in.
You can respect the opinions and comments of others but your intuition and experience will help you make the right choice when it comes to mastering.
OK, so this seems like an obvious tip for producing a track but how you listen is really important. We recommend listening to your track on different devices at different volumes. Most people listening to your song will do it on non-professional equipment, in different situations, and with different noise levels.
Knowing how your track is going to sound in different contexts will allow you to discover and fix any problems you weren’t aware of.
Rest should be one of the fundamental parts of any creative process. Resting at the right time helps to clear the mind and to overcome any creative blockages. As a producer, it’s also really important that you look after your ears – after all, they’re the most important tool you have. We don’t need to tell you how devastating the consequences of hearing loss or the development of tinnitus can be.
7. Recognize Limitations
Knowing your own limitations can be a big advantage. The best way to learn new things is to ask professionals for advice and help. By recognizing that you don’t know everything, you’ll be able to continuously grow and improve.
This one, too, may seem a little obvious or simplistic but it’s worth mentioning if it prevents you from losing all the work you’ve done in a day because you forgot to save it. Technology is our best friend but sometimes it can behave more like an enemy. You never know when the computer may crash, decide not to turn on or the power goes out.
In any of these situations, having the most recently saved copy of your track will allow you to breathe easily. Of course, in addition to making copies on the computer itself, we recommend that you have others on hard drives (yes, more than one)!
It doesn’t matter if you’re just trying out new things or playing around, save it, as you never know what might come out of it or when you might need it. It’s really important to organize everything you save into folders so that you can easily find them whenever you need them!
9. Keep an Open Mind
It’s good that you know what genres, styles, and artists you like to listen to. But as a producer, we recommend that you listen to new music from various genres to be aware of what new production and mix & master techniques are trending. You never know where that knowledge might lead you or the experience you may gain from it. Remember, knowledge is power.
Music is your passion, don’t forget that just because it’s also your job. Routine, day-to-day life, commitments, and deadlines can all make it harder to remember why you started. Make sure you set aside time a day, a week, or a month to simply enjoy, play, and experiment, without any expectations. Do it just for the pleasure of making music.