Don't leave your production skills to chance!
full responsibility for every aspect of your music production education
and career, right now. You're in business for yourself from the get-go
and this won't change as long as you're in music.
You need to
find out what you need to learn and do and then learn and do it. Repeat
this over and over again. It's an ongoing process throughout your
career, one you can always improve on.
Opportunities will come
and so will breaks. You have to however be ready and prepared to pursue
these opportunities or they will pass you by. So, focus on your craft,
hone your studio chops and get the work done. You have no time to waste
if your aim is to become a great music producer.
What you need to know as a music producer:
Music production is your craft and should of course be your
top priority as a music producer. Electronic music production has a rich history which it's good to be familiar with in a general sense. The areas of knowledge you need to
cover and the practice needed to develop your skills reach far and wide.
of course don't need to know everything there is to know, which is an
impossible feat, as you can imagine. How deep you go in each area will
depend on your preferences, strengths and weaknesses.
production, as with most things, follows the Pareto Principle which
predicts that 20% of your knowledge and activities will create 80% of
the wanted results. The trick is to find the 20% and focus on that.
Here are the areas you'll need to consider should you want to be an electronic music producer:
The Music Producer's Skill-Stack
1. Music & Production Tools
- Music studio software: Digital audio workstations and plug-ins.
- Music studio equipment: Monitors, outboard gear, microphones,
pre-amps and DI boxes, audio-interfaces and MIDI controllers.
- Musical instruments: Guitar, keyboard or drums. *Optional but recommended*
2. Music & Production Theory
- Basic music theory: Time signatures, beats & bars, notes, scales, intervals, chords, chord progressions.
- Basic arrangement theory: Song structures, sections, lyrics and melody.
production theory: Audio, MIDI, synth programming, equalization, reverb, compression,
gating, delay, phasing, distortion, editing, programming, mixing.
3. Music & Production Practice
- The production process: Conception / Writing / Composing / Recording / Arranging / Editing / Mixing and Mastering.
- Music production exercises: Listening to music, ear training, song and mix analysis.
"What's the best way to learn music production?"
Check out this post on how to start learning music production in 5 steps and the best ways to learn the skills you need to become an expert producer.
My suggestion here is to get a little studio setup should you not have
one already. This can be done for very little money and doesn't need to
be stuffed with high-end gear and tons of studio toys to start off
with. You can always improve your setup as you move along and your
So, get your basic studio together and take
some time to study the manuals of your gear and software. Open your DAW
and play around to learn how to do the various things you need to do.
Work with audio, work with MIDI, learn to program your synths for
various instruments and how to use samplers, play around with effects
and other plugins, make some drum loops.
You also want to learn about writing music, recording music, mixing music and the production process with the help of tutorial sites, articles and tips you'll find on the Web.
You can visit online producer forums to ask questions about specific topics you want help with.
Next, study some basic
music theory and production theory when you're not at play in your DAW.
You want to build your skill level to the point where you can create a
basic 8 to 16 bar loop and make it sound decent. Then, study popular
song arrangements and develop your first fully-arranged track. Copy the
arrangement of other tracks you like to get a feel for what works and
what doesn't. Keep doing this until you have a well-arranged track.
work on your mix-down knowledge and skills to finalize the track for
mastering. Study the mixing theory and tools and apply what you learn
to your sessions. The goal is to get to your first finished track.
you are able to finish a few decent tracks you've gone from clueless to
competent. Continue to finish tracks and improve with each track you
Do this long enough and in the right way and you will become
masterful at music production.You have many great resources available to help you learn all about production without the need to go into debt.
So, to recap, these are stages you'll pass through...
Clueless - "What's this button do?" - The DAW scares you, the only bars
you know about are the ones that serve up liquor, music theory =
hieroglyphics and frustration is your middle name.
B. Competent -
"Like my track bro?" - You're able to finish decent tracks on a
consistent basis, you've got the basic music and production theory and
practice down, you're starting to have some fun.
C. Masterful - "I'd
like to thank my parents, my fans my team and Vishnu for this award..."
You get mad respect for your productions and smoke cigars with other
tux-wearing celebrities. Well, at least the first part!
production craft is your own Mount Everest to climb. Life is full of
obligations, demands for your time and surprises. The road you need to
travel to get great at music production is long.
How you respond to
this challenge is what will make the difference between success and
You must do everything in your power to move from a clueless to
a competent to a masterful music producer or accept that it's just a
hobby reserved for your spare time.
At first your taste will be great and your competence will lack. This will frustrate you over and over, UNTIL...
one day you find yourself on the other side of the hump, closer to
satisfying your own taste in music. Ira Glass said it best...