As an emerging musician looking to ‘break on through to the other side,’ as Jim Morrison would put it, you might feel overwhelmed with all the things that go into creating, recording, producing, and marketing music, especially if you don’t have the backing of a label or a manager. If your budget is tight, you’ll have to do a lot of these things on your own, and that can be both a blessing and a curse.
The good news is that there are plenty of resources and tools nowadays that emerging artists can use to create professional-sounding music from the comfort of their own home. One added advantage of handling every part of the process yourself is that you have control over the quality of your songs, the level of production, the way you choose to promote your music, and everything else. That can set you up as an established, committed, fully-rounded artist, and you’ll build skills that will serve you throughout your career.
If you’re looking to take control over your own music and maybe even generate regular income streams from music production, then this is the right place to get started. We’ve rounded up 10 crucial tips that will help you set yourself up as a skilled music producer, and elevate your music to a professional level to catch the ear of your target audience.
1. Record everything
The first thing you need to do is to remember to record everything. This means any tune, any chord progression, any lyrics that pop into your head; always have a way to record ideas that come to you when you least expect them. Whether you’re at home in your studio, or on the road somewhere, use your phone, use pen and paper, use whatever you have at your disposal to hold on to that idea and not lose it. Whenever you’re jamming at home or in the studio, record it just in case: you never know when magic will strike, and you’ll want to be prepared for it.
2. Never stop learning
This goes without saying, but one thing every emerging or established artist should keep in mind is that the music industry is ever-changing, so you need to always be open to learn and try new techniques, new tools, new genres, to keep your music fresh and relevant. Audiences are changing their taste fast nowadays, and you never know what will go viral next and completely overhaul the state of the music business. Keep your eyes peeled for what’s happening in the industry, check out trends and charts, what’s happening on social media, and always be exploring new production tools and resources that can help you take your career to the next level.
3. Change things up
Another crucial tip to keep in mind when getting started producing your own music is to not get stuck doing the same thing over and over again. Music production is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, and the same production technique won’t work on all of your songs. It can be tempting to work with one ‘template’ and apply it to most of your songs for the purpose of cost-effectiveness and time-effectiveness, but changing things up can really boost your chances of success. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try out different things when it comes to music production. Check out what other producers are doing and get inspired, and feel free to reinvent yourself when you feel like you need it.
4. Create the right environment
One of the most important things you need to do as a beginner music producer is to create the right environment for the task. If you’re booking time in a professional recording studio, the acoustics and everything else will already be set up, so you won’t have to worry about any of that. But if you’re setting up a home studio, be sure to utilize that space to fuel inspiration and focus. Eliminate distractions, like devices or televisions, try to isolate the space if you need more quiet, dim the lights and get comfortable. The production studio needs to be a safe, quiet space where you can fully focus on the task you’re working on, without distractions or interruptions.
5. Don’t overcomplicate things
One mistake that all beginner producers tend to make is to overthink, overcomplicate, and overproduce. Out of a desire to bring your music to the highest possible quality, you might be tempted to keep producing, to keep tweaking and perfecting and finessing, and that’s understandable, but you also have to know when to stop. You will always feel the need to go back and tweak an old song, but you have to know when to let it go and accept that there is no such thing as a perfect track. Overproducing a song can even cause it to sound less authentic, and flat, so try not to overdo it. If you can’t figure out the right balance, remember to take frequent breaks to clear your head, and don’t overcomplicate things - fans love authenticity.
6. Keep expanding and adapting your skills
It never hurts to explore all the tools and resources that technology has to offer nowadays. Even if you’re a die-hard analog-only fan and love doing things ‘old school,’ you can still use the internet to research innovative and efficient ways to produce and mix songs to create something original. There are endless resources for beginner producers nowadays that you can research to see how you can improve your skills. Do your best to become proficient using DAWs (digital audio workstations) and familiarize yourself with audio processing techniques. Don’t be afraid to experiment with things like AI music generators, for those moments of writer’s block or simply to test out melodies or chord progressions. Never stop innovating and adapting to the current needs of your audience and the industry, because that’s how you stay relevant.
7. Learn professional music production techniques
It’s crucial that you do your best to learn and master professional music production techniques, to make sure your songs reach their full quality potential. Immerse yourself in online tutorials, workshops, and courses from reputable sources to learn about digital audio workstations (DAWs), sound design, music mixing, recording, and mastering. Apply the things you learn on existing tracks, or create remixes and experiment with demos. Another tip is to attempt to ‘deconstruct’ tracks from your favorite artists and try to figure out what music production tools and techniques they used, and try to replicate that in your own work.
8. Explore different music genres
One thing that often constitutes a roadblock for newcomer artists and producers is that they get stuck in what they think is ‘their genre.’ Nowadays, genres are no longer easily defined, and you don’t need to feel constrained and try to fit in a certain genre to be successful and ‘true’ to who you are as an artist. The only way to grow and expand your skills as a musician and a producer is to experiment with different genres. Look at what producers and artists are doing in genres totally different from yours, and see if there’s something there that triggers your creativity. Perhaps you’ll learn a new technique or a new way or mixing a track that will give you that boost you need to elevate your songs to the next level. As they say, think outside the genre box and keep an open mind.
9. Work with other artists and producers
Sometimes the best way to learn the basics of professional music production and the ins and outs of the business is through collaborating with other artists or even better, working with established producers. You can learn many things and ‘tools of the trade’ simply by observing the way they work, their process, the tools and equipment they use, and use that as a starting point. Besides picking up different tricks and strategies to expand your music production skills, you’ll also forge industry connections that can prove incredibly valuable in the long run. Working with artists in different genres or producers who do things differently can also help you unlock your creativity and explore new opportunities to bring your music to top-notch quality.
10. Get feedback
Last but not least, if you still can’t find the confidence in your music production, recording, mixing, or songwriting skills, and you’re unsure whether you’re headed in the right direction, why not get pointed feedback from industry professionals? On the Xposure Music platform, you can get personalized one-on-one feedback from music industry pros, from A&Rs and executives to producers and major label managers. They’ve got the expertise and the experience to recognize talent and potential, and they can guide you in the right direction in a constructive manner.
Another good option is to get feedback from fellow artists or other producers or music business pros that you already know, to see what they think. But we don’t advise asking for this crucial feedback from friends or family, because they can often be biased and unable to give an objective opinion. It’s always better to get feedback from someone in the business, as they have a trained ear.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get good at music production?
To excel in music production, immerse yourself in learning the fundamentals of music theory, digital audio workstations (DAWs), and audio processing techniques. Dedicate time to practice regularly, experimenting with different genres and styles to develop your unique sound. Seek feedback from experienced producers and be open to constructive criticism. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technology in the industry, and never stop exploring new ideas and refining your skills. Persistence, patience, and a passion for music will be key in your journey to becoming proficient in music production.
Is music production easy?
Music production is not inherently easy, as it involves a combination of technical skills and artistic creativity. Additionally, achieving a professional-sounding result requires experience and a keen ear for detail. However, with dedication, practice, and a genuine passion for music, individuals can gradually make the process more manageable and rewarding as they gain proficiency and confidence in their abilities.
Can music production be self-taught?
Yes, music production can be self-taught. With the abundance of online resources, tutorials, and communities dedicated to music production, aspiring producers have the opportunity to learn and hone their skills independently. Many successful music producers started their journeys by self-teaching, experimenting with DAWs, and continuously seeking knowledge from various sources. Self-taught musicians can develop their unique styles and creative approaches, as long as they remain disciplined, patient, and open to learning from both successes and mistakes. While formal education can be beneficial, self-guided learning can be a viable path to becoming proficient in music production.
Want to learn more about music production from true professionals?
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