10 tips to help improve your music productions
I have been producing now for a little over 14 years, and along the way I have made plenty of mistakes and have been through many challenges of which I have learnt important lessons from which helped me become a better producer . 14 years ago technology and the internet were not as advanced as they are today. If I needed help with an production task or I didn’t know how to do a certain ‘thing’ I was pretty much screwed. It was basically trial and error and this would mean having to take loads of time in order to execute one simple task or having to call a friend who could possibly help me with my query or I would have to troubleshoot something myself. Having learnt so much from my past examples, allow me to share with you my personal 10 tips to help you become a better producer and to help make things allot easier & smoother in the studio.
1. Protect and take better care of your ears
This is by far the most overlooked tip when it comes to music production. It’s quite simple , and logical, if you can’t hear , you can’t produce. Your ears are THE most important part when it comes to producing music. You can have the best monitors in the world built in the most sound treated studio ever created by man , but this does not mean a damn thing if your ears are damaged or not properly taken care of
2. Know your surroundings
There’s simply only two ways when it comes to mixing and/producing , you either do it on studio monitors or on your headphones.
If you’re working on studio monitors always be mindful of your studio acoustic treatment. If you don’t have any sound treatment it would be best to either start to invest into this or if you can’t afford any sound treatment , then you should be mindful of how your monitors sound in retrospect of what your productions ‘really’ sound like. Take also into consideration , if your monitors have it , EQ settings on the back/front of certain monitors that can be adjusted according to your studio and placement of said monitors.
If you’re mixing on headphones, again you need heed attention to how these headphones make your tracks sound in comparison to how they would sound on a ‘big rig’ system or radio or whatever. Knowing how your tracks sound in your studio environment , is the second most important thing in music production , next to taking care of your ears.
3. Mentally prepare
Before every studio session I am always ‘ in the zone’ . Mentally preparing myself, by this notion I mean putting myself in a state of mind whereby I am relaxed and musically motivated and feeling creative and ready to start producing. Music production , IMO , is not something that can be forced upon. You have to be in the right frame of mind. If I am working on a track and after a few minutes if I get frustrated or if I’m not ‘feeling’ the track I will either step out of the studio and take a short break or I’ll simply start a new project or stop producing for the day all together. I found that if I took my time with a track that the end result would come out better. Sometimes something as small as changing your environment for a short period can make all the difference in motivating yourself .
4. Read blogs
There is never a limit to just how much one can learn, especially when it comes to music production. This industry is ever evolving and growing. There are so many new methods, techniques, etc … coming out each and every day. Take full advantage of the internet, cos well …. its free ….. Do a few Google searches and find & follow some music production internet sites who are always blogging , writing reviews, etc…
A few that come to mind are :
5. Download podcasts
If your anything like me and have a long commute to and from work , that means you have a lot of traveling time to make use of. Find and download some of your favourite ‘production tip’ oriented podcasts. Again this is another great way to make use of time used to learn, improve or hone your production skills whilst stuck in traffic or catching that train ride.
A few to mention are :
6. Sign-up to audio software/hardware manufacturers
Not a lot of people do this , but I promise you this is a must. Firstly by signing up to newsletters from your favourite music software/hardware manufacturers puts you in the front seat of ‘happenings’ and ‘know hows’ .
Firstly as an advantage you’ll hear all about the latest gear being released, when it comes to specials you’ll be the first to hear about it ( this comes very useful when it comes to BLACK FRIDAY specials ). Allot of these companies are also sending out video tutorials and sharing great information and tips on production. The ARTURIA weekly newsletters are always packed with useful information and videos with some fantastic tips & tricks .Another great advantage is that sometimes these companies send out FREE software to those who sign up , a great example is that of the company WAVES. Since signing up I have received 2 FREE top quality plug-ins.
Companies to sign up to
7. Download free software
There is an abundance of FREE software out there on the internet . A simple Google search will bring you thousands upon thousands of results of FREE software available for you to download and try. This is really fantastic for those who are just starting music production as you can search the net and try many different VSTs, plug-ins and even DAWs . Checkout my blog post about the new products coming from Native Instruments , including free software vsts, plug-ins and more .
Obviously not all FREE music software VSTs or plug-ins are great , but giving a few to try at first and sifting through the bad ones will help you uncover some true gems. This is a great idea to save money and possibly invest that money that you have saved into acoustic treatment or maybe another piece of hardware/software.
8. Follow the pro’s
Social media nowadays has made it so much easier to learn from, and in some cases even get in touch, with your favourite producers. Hop on Instagram/Facebook and start ‘following’ your favourite producers today. In most cases you can get an inside look at their studio and learn a thing or two. They will usually post pictures from inside their studios, or show off certain software/hardware gear and even post videos of tracks currently being produced. Allot of the producers are also doing ‘Ask me anything’ days or putting put useful tips on their pages. Why not even dropping them a comment or sending them an email if you have an enquiries, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that allot answer back .
9. Don’t master your own tracks
Unless you have trained in this, have vast experience in this and/or have the necessary gear to make ‘proper’ mastering , then my best advice would be to send your finished tracks off to a professional who can master your tracks properly. Mastering , IMO, is a genre all on its own and should not be adopted lightly. Professional mastering engineers have had years of experience in this field and have extensive knowledge through some seriously difficult studies. You can get mastering done for as little as $10 dollars per track, which can be done by highly qualified professionals with the experience, know-how and gear to make your final tracks sound amazing.
This is a small price to pay for what can in reality make or break your finished track that you have worked so hard on.
I personally get mine mastered by SE Studios .
10. Do what you love
Produce tracks that you love and you would play in your sets. Don’t listen to anyone who criticizes you and block all that negativity out and just focus on producing your own kick-ass tracks. Always be original in what you do and always remember to trust, be honest and believe in yourself . Its through your own self belief and trust that you can excel as a great producer.