The music production tips you'll discover below contain a mix of
practical and psychological suggestions to help you advance your music
So, let's just electric slide right into it:
The 15 Music Production Tips:
1. The Producer, Not The Gear, Makes The Music
A producer who doesn't know what he's doing cannot produce
golden sound, even with the best gear on the planet. Give a great
producer even just decent gear and he'll still manage to produce quality
The point? New gear won't make you better. Work on your
super-ninja production skills first! Learn how to use the gear you
have, learn and use different mic techniques, study the basics of
acoustics, computer recording and mixing. Apply this knowledge and
refine it as you go along.
2. Garbage In, Garbage Out
You've probably heard of the fix-it-in-the-mix mentality by now and you also know you should avoid that line from ever entering your mind. Heaping on the effects or compressing the living life out of a track during the mixing stage won't give you the fat sound you lust after.
Focus on always getting down what you need when you track. Add a bit of compression, yes, but leave room for more later on in the mix. Cut out some rumble if you think it's needed but don't remove the entire body of the sound.
The point? Always aim to get the best possible signal down while recording. Don't settle for less-than-great takes.
3. Monkey See, Monkey Do
You learn the most valuable things by watching and talking to other producers.
Advancement through osmosis!
and text-books are good maps, though they don't always show you the
actual territory of the production process. This is where seeing producers at work can pay huge
dividends for your own music production progress.
can now also watch other producers, even some of the pros, provide music
production tips on YouTube and other video sites.
production forums also give you the opportunity to connect
with other producers.
Connect with other producers and talk shop where you can. This is always where you'll
get the best music production tips. Watch and learn how others do it and you'll learn music production
4. S.O.S (Save Obsessively Silly!)
OK, so this one's a bit producer nerdy and maybe obvious too. Pure admin.
Fact: Computer music production is great, no doubt. Computers and software however like to sometimes crash.
plain sucks to get a mix just right, crash and then realize the last
half-hour of your work has vanished into the abyss, never to be heard again. Nice synth patch, bro. Too bad it's gone like, forever!
So, hit save like a hyperactive maniac with O.C.D. drip-fed on steroids. Learn the shortcut. Use the shortcut. Use it often! ;-)
The point? Develop the
save often habit into a compulsion. You may even find yourself hitting the
save shortcut (ctrl+S or cmd+S) while browsing the web. All good. At
least your work will be captured. This is one of those music production
tips you don't want to learn from experience!
5. Close Your Eyes To Open Your Ears
The visual sense takes priority with most of us which means that while your eyes are open the ears are pushed to second place.
visual aspect of computer-based DAWs makes music production much more
of a visual activity, often at the expense of good sound.
point? Close your eyes to make your ears into the top
priority sense. Trust your ears when hunting for a good sound. If it
sounds good to you, it probably is good.
6. Record Dry, Add Effects Later
This one's of the more simple music production tips: You can add all the effects you want in post-production. Removing effects is much harder. Track your effects on a separate channel if you must get them down.
point? Keep your recordings clean on the way in and the
mixing stage will offer many more possibilities for creative work.
7. Order is Freedom
As an artist you may draw inspiration from chaotic environments. This changes the moment you put on your producer cap.
Tidiness, whether it be in your studio, your computer file-system or your DAW session, will allow you to be creative.
point? Keep things tidy so you won't get overwhelmed or
bogged-down with technical issues or searching for files when you want
to be creative or productive.
8. Inspiration Comes When You Work
sit their behinds down every day and work. This is what makes them
pro. They don't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike.
you focus on grows. So, when you focus on music production the
inspiration will arise in that area. Ideas will flow and things will
The point? Work your craft
daily and the Muse will visit you often. Waiting for inspiration is a
My Studio Flow music production workflow course
is designed to help you get into a state of flow more often and produce
music on a consistent basis. Check it out if you want to learn the
mindset, habits and techniques you can apply to produce more tracks,
faster and on a reliable basis.
9. Gimme a Break!
ears and brain need a little R&R or they cross over a threshold
where they start to shut out incoming signals. No, I've not
scientifically verified this. I'm sure the papers must be out there in
some academic journal. ;-)
point? Take regular breaks every 15 to 20 minutes to
avoid brain-fry and cloth-ears, especially when mixing. This will save
your ears, give you more perspective and boost your output.
10. Many Paths To The Grail
great final mix is all that matters to a good music producer. It's
what you work towards at every step of the music production process. How
you get to the holy grail is up to you.
point? Rules are for robots. You'll develop your own
techniques and work-flow. Use what you have to produce an excellent
track and it won't matter how you did it. What matters is only what it
sounds like when you press play.
11. Increase Control With Groups
Newer producers will often route all channels into the stereo out or master bus directly. Now, while there's nothing that says you cannot do this it's also not the best solution for creating a good mix because it reduces the control you have.
A better strategy is to create sub-mixes of groups of tracks and then run those sub-mixes to your master channel or even into two more sub-mixes before you send to the master channel.
An example might be to run your kick and bass into one sub-mix, drums and percussion into another, synths and other tonal instruments into another group and vocals into it's own group. How you do this will depend on your style and preferred workflow. The main idea is to group together sounds and instruments you can process together with compression, saturation or other effects to achieve cohesion and balance.
The image below demonstrates the basic idea:
The point? Grouping similar instruments or sounds together gives you greater control over the signal that eventually hits the master bus. This means you can process groups to glue them together or control dynamics and even add parallel processing to your group tracks.
12. Understand the Importance of Distortion
Distortion may bring to mind guitar overdrive or fuzz pedals. Note that these types are obvious or extreme distortion that are useful but by far not the only uses for distortion in music production and mixing.
Experienced producers know that distortion and it's more subtle sister, saturation, can be used in many ways to achieve a better sounding track or mix.
The basic idea here is that distortion introduces more harmonics into your sound which helps with achieving a louder mix and better balance in many cases.
Try using heavy distortion or saturation in parallel to add body or bite to a track or instrument without destroying the original sound. You can EQ and compress your distorted channel and then simply blend it in with the original channel to get the sound you want.
The point? Distortion is one of the most useful tools you have to get better and louder mixes. Learn to master the art of distortion and you'll hear the difference in your tracks.
13. Restrictions Breed Creativity
Modern music production is all about options and, as you know by now, there's no lack of options when it comes to DAWs and plugins. It's so easy to have tons of different synths going, load up yet another loop or sample, add another track to the production or load up another effect or processor in your chain.
How about restricting yourself to only 16 tracks? Can you make an entire dance track with just one good synth? How about just one sample? They say that necessity is the mother of invention and this is definitely the case when it comes to music production.
The point? Impose restrictions on yourself as a challenge and see what happens. You may just be pleasantly surprised with what happens.
14. Keep It Simple at Every Step
A good quality production will become complex no matter what you do. So, to over-complicate things, especially early on in the process can lead to overwhelm later on. The idea is to get to 80%-90% done as soon as possible and then fine-tune and finesse the track to a polished finished mix or master.
The point? The simpler you keep the production process at each step of the way the faster and easier it'll be to get the job done. Finished tracks are what it's all about and anything that helps you finish faster and more works to your advantage.
15. The Hump Turns Into A Snowball
reach stages where you'll feel stuck and like you're making no
progress. You'll see other producers make it look easy and doubt your
own ability to ever do it well.
This is natural. Most producers
go through this process. The ones who make it are the ones who ignore
their doubts and fears and push on.
point? Persist. You will reach a point where you can
produce like a pro. The hump you're pushing up against will reach a
peak and start to go down, causing a snowball of good results. Keep
growing, pay your dues and soon you'll be the one who makes it look
I hope these music production tips help you along your way.
Be sure to sign up for the Renegade Report to know when I add new music production
tips to RenegadeProducer.com.