It may sound a little over the top, but I truly believe that music production is one of the most exciting and interesting industries in the world.
The vast majority of the population have a special place in their hearts for music – and I would argue that music production is the driving force behind this.
By overseeing the recording process and making suggestions as required, we as music producers have the capacity to change a song infinitely for the better.
Not to mention as music producers we also have the potential to make our own tracks – to create tunes that really connect with people on an individual level.
If we know what we are doing of course!
Most of us within the industry understand that becoming a music producer isn’t as simple as listening to a few tunes and making a couple of suggestions.
Many of us have undergone some sort of formal training, while also spending thousands of hours honing our craft.
While it is indeed a lengthy process, it is integral to becoming a high-quality music producer who can actually make a difference to the people he works with.
Although in saying that, there are a few things that I believe can help out anyone looking to make it as a music producer.
These points are things that I have learned after spending a lot of time within the industry – and are things that I wish I knew when I first started out.
I hope that by taking the time to read this article you can learn from my mistakes, and become a much better music producer in the process.
1. You can’t fix everything
Within the music production industry, there is what is known as the ‘fix it in the mix’ mentality.
This is ultimately a suggestion that you can create something amazing out of anything that comes in through the door – all you have to do is mix it right.
While this mindset may keep getting your business (in the short term anyway), it is a far cry from a reputable way to produce music.
I believe that the primary role of a music producer is to enhance the natural and organic sound of those that you produce for.
You are meant to improve their sound through some smart suggestions and a little mixing. This will ensure that what someone brings in is still recognizable as their own when they walk out.
Not only is this a much more enjoyable process in its entirety for all parties involved, it also ensures that live artists sound like their recordings.
Now here is the kicker…
If something sounds like trash before you touch it – then don’t touch it!
I hate to think how many hours I wasted trying to improve upon average music. This is not an enjoyable process and something that I wish I learned much earlier in my career.
I should note that even if the track is your own you don’t have to mix it – if you’re not happy with the original sound, throw it out and start again.
Seriously, you will thank me later.
Also, see 6 Pre-Production Tips to Avoid Problems
2. Broaden your musical mindset
We tend to have favorite bands, favorite tunes, and favorite genres.
Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this, but it can result in us becoming a little one dimensional in our music production – the result of which is track after track sounding exactly the same.
As a result, I seriously recommend you take the opportunity to explore different genres of music. Find unique and influential artists from around the world and pay close attention to their specific sounds – and the specific production of their songs.
This will give you the opportunity to learn, grow, and expand as a music producer.
While you might find that there are entire genres of music that you don’t particularly like on a personal level, I can assure you that you will find things about them that you can use in your own production.
This will make you a much better-rounded producer who has the ability to draw influence from a variety of different musical genres.
In short, it will make you much better music producer.
3. Don’t rely on your gear
Each and every week we see new pieces of gear hitting the market – each advertised to produce a sound better than that which came before it.
And my biggest tip?
Try and ignore it all!
Seriously, it doesn’t matter how good your equipment is, if you don’t know what you are doing it doesn’t mean jack.
You will be much better served by taking the time to learn the skills, partaking in a course, or practicing your mixing, than prioritizing new studio equipment.
While a brand new setup is indeed nice, it should come well after you have become a competent producer.
Work on your production skills and you will get quality sounding results no matter what sort of equipment you are using.
Besides, no one wants to be that guy who has all the gear and can’t produce… (trust my personal experience on this one).
4. Find a mentor
Now while getting a formal education in music production is nice, it is a luxury that many of us can’t necessarily afford.
Which is fine – because they don’t teach you everything.
The best way to learn hands down is to gain experience working with an experienced producer.
These guys (and gals) have gone through exactly what you are going through at the moment.
They have made the mistakes, they have taken the courses, and they have practiced more than you could believe – that is why they are so experienced (that is quite obvious, but I think it still holds importance).
By finding a mentor you will have the opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade by someone who has lived it.
As a bonus, most people within the industry are more than happy to help anyone who is interested in the field and willing to learn. Simply ask to do work experience, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who will turn you down.
Although I should make a couple of points around this:
A mentor is a friend!
They are someone who you are willing to help as much as they help you. You should not expect anything from them, and you should give them what you can – the first thing being respect (always).
It is always important to remember that a good mentor is helping you not because they have to but because they want to – and as such, their advice is something that you should never take for granted.
5. Routine is the death of creativity
This may sound a little bit strange at first, but hear me out for a second.
While getting into a solid daily routine can actually be a very large positive when it comes to maximizing productivity, becoming routine with our music production specifically – well that can lead to a huge reduction in creativity.
You see, the songs you work on should never sound the same. While you are likely to have some preferences for musical styles and music production techniques, they shouldn’t be the only ones you use. If you find yourself routinely using the same methods time and time again, I can assure you that you have stalled as a music producer.
Each time you approach a piece of music, take the time to think outside the box. Explore different techniques and really enjoy playing with it.
In the same vein of thought, don’t think that you have to stick to something because you were told it is the correct way to do it. I don’t care what anyone has told you when it comes to music (in any shape or form) there aren’t any rules. Seriously, you can do whatever you want.
So, think outside the box, explore different sounds and techniques, and try to avoid falling into the trap of doing the same things over and over again.
The quality of your production will be much higher as a result.
Bonus Tip: Stay Passionate
I’ll keep this last one short and sweet – while it is a pretty straightforward concept, I genuinely believe that this is the most important point on the entire list.
At times music production can become a bit of a grind.
We can easily lose sight of why it is we chose music production as a career, in which we let it become just a job.
Falling into these thought patterns can have some seriously negative implications for our productivity, our creativity, and the overall quality of our final product.
Try and take a bit of time each day to just play around with the music.
Remember that you chose to have a crack at this industry because you love it, not because you wanted a stable job.
Music production is a far cry from an easy gig.
It takes hard work, dedication, and a deep passion for what you are doing to make a career out of it.
In saying that, once you have put in the effort required to see results, it can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding jobs in existence.
The five tips outlined in this article should help the beginner find his feet and get his career underway.
Each of these points are things that I wish I learned a lot sooner in my career than I did – it would have honestly made my life so much easier (and my production so much better).
Learn from my mistakes – and stay passionate.
You might also like to read 2 Simple Tips To Become A Better Music Producer