In this post, we will come up with 30 tips and tricks for music production and hopefully, they will be helpful to you so you can use them in a practice. Let’s dive in!
- 1 1. Make a Single Element First
- 2 2. Don’t Start Working On Next Things Until It’s Great
- 3 3. Stop Producing When It’s Best
- 4 4. Save Project Before Making Significant Changes
- 5 5. Work Only When You Feel Productive
- 6 6. AutoPan is Everything
- 7 7. Effective Approach
- 8 8. Use Short Sounds Often In The Track
- 9 9. Group Drums Together LATER
- 10 10. Order your VSTs Properly in your Plugin’s Chain
- 11 11. Do A/B Testing A Lot
- 12 12. Adjusting Your Mixdown
- 13 13. Pay attention to the stereo placement
- 14 14. Layering Ungrouped Sounds
- 15 15. Create Sample Library That You Will Use Later
- 16 16. Don’t watch the Tutorials, Use Them
- 17 17. Make The Main Outline, Then Details
- 18 18. Add Additional Processing
- 19 19. Avoid The Unwanted Distortion
- 20 20. Believe Your ideas
- 21 21. Ask Others For The Opinion
- 22 22. Experimenting in VSTs
- 23 23. Everything is Relative In Music Production
- 24 24. Publish Music For Free To See The Feedback
- 25 25. Try Different DAW Softwares
- 26 26. Cut your kick
- 27 27. Create The Main Part First
- 28 28. Use Colors
- 29 29. Open New Layers
- 30 30. Make It Thin If You Want Detail
- 31 Conclusion
1. Make a Single Element First
If you decide to start your track with pads, or synths, or even a single kick drum, that doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that you need to create one single piece of sound and start making variations of it. By doing that, you will have more options when your track starts becoming a more complex and essential thing that you’ve created is not enough to evolve your tune.
2. Don’t Start Working On Next Things Until It’s Great
Many people will disagree with this tip. They would say that you need to make a composition first and only after that you have to start working on your mixdown. Well, it’s also an option, but this is better because you know immediately what you can expect from your track and which character you want to add to make it enjoyable, rather than doing this operation in the last stage.
When you decide to mix your track after composition, you will be forced to adjust the sound to each other and make the balance. On the other side, when mixing right after composing of each sound, it will sound way more naturally because there are just a few sounds that you can compare each other, and it’s way more natural to make a pleasant balance of it. This is also a great form of the mindset, where you are not allowed to continue on your track until you have a perfect little piece of the sound.
3. Stop Producing When It’s Best
When you’ve reached the point where you think it couldn’t be better done (at least in that stage of composition), stop composing. You need to hear your tune only after some time. Simply take a break and just go to do anything else. Basically, all you need to do is recalibrate your ears in the form of distractions and letting music production be alone.
It could be hours, or maybe even a day, but remember to do this. When you come back to your project, and you play it again, what will happen quite often is that maybe you will be disappointed and maybe even you will just don’t want to work on it anymore? But that’s the key because it will show you exactly what’s wrong and what’s great.
I don’t say that it will only show you the wrong and useless audio signal, but also you will explore new amazing things which without the relisten you would never realize that and maybe even remove that.
4. Save Project Before Making Significant Changes
It’s obvious to say that you have to save your project quite often. But what you would do if you want to load your previous project but you forgot that you made these massive changes and you don’t have access to your earlier version anymore? Well, in FL Studio, you have a backup folder where you can choose from different versions. There is a slot for 20 saves, but the thing is that you have saved your project under one name so when these 20 slots will be gone, you will not be able to open your previous project because of it.
5. Work Only When You Feel Productive
Some producers still ignoring this tip what may result in too much invested time on your track without any significant outcome. It’s hard to say what time at day is the best for producing, but you can try different hours during the day to find where you are most effective when producing. If you feel like you stuck but still want to produce, read how to overcome writer’s block and get you unstuck.
6. AutoPan is Everything
This process will allow you to create a dynamic environment and bring not just life but the whole dimension to your track. The main feature of this unique auto-panning technique is that you can make your sound oscillate from left to right and adjust the parameters for your needs – change the speed of oscillation, phase offset, amount, type of oscillations (sine, triangle, square, these are just basic.)
The best thing is that you can change the speed to have the same as your project so it will be more “synced” with your tune. But also true is that when you have a very high speed of vibration, it sounds natural and also sounds good. This is a great technique to use if you want to make it wider and not in a clearly defined placement. It’s great to apply for your atmospheric sounds like pads, textures, or maybe synths with minimal vibrations.
There are plenty of AutoPan plugins like Melda MAutoPan, SoundToys PanMan or StereoSavage by Credland Audio.
7. Effective Approach
It’s not only about when to produce but also how to produce. Try to create the main outline as soon as you can to start layering new sounds. Again – You can start from the intro, but also it could be a drop. Whatever you like and where you feel comfortable and effective and productive, to begin with. Besides that, try to avoid making useless and not very significant things that nobody will award or even notice. You will definitely lose more than gain. Feel free to read this post on how to improve sound and approach as a producer.
8. Use Short Sounds Often In The Track
This is really recommended to do, because short and loud sounds may cause that your track will sound chaotic. It could be a one-shot, or just bass hits, stabs, percussions, whatever. When you decide to add it to your timeline, make sure that you have used these sounds on more sections in your songs, it could be an intro, build-up, drop. These kind of sounds are really great for making little distraction or bringing something special to your intro if you used this sound, especially for the main drop section.
9. Group Drums Together LATER
Try to create perfect single drums and avoid grouping and creating room for your drums in the early stage. This is really important and steps because you want to hype your sound and get the max of it from EACH one piece of the drum. Kicks, snares, claps, hi-hats, percussions, or rides, make them perfect first and mix them correctly by creating a perfect balance with each other. By doing that, you will avoid the fatness that grouping will bring you, and you will have a way better image of what to do with individual drums. Rather than just guessing what to do when everything is just grouped.
10. Order your VSTs Properly in your Plugin’s Chain
Learn how to order your VST plugins in your plugin’s chain for maximum results and avoiding the unwanted compression, distortion, or over EQing. This is the core and engine of your sound. You have to find that perfect chain that will fit great in the mix. Otherwise, you will literally waste the potential. It’s not easy to do when you are starting, but it’s so freaking easy when you start getting into that by re-ordering and making A/B tests. By doing that you will be able to easily recognize what is too much and what is missing there with a couple of clicks. Also, it’s a question of pre-made presets that fits perfectly for particular sounds, and this will drastically speed-up the process of your production.
11. Do A/B Testing A Lot
For example – You have kick drum. Good sounding kick drum that you want to make even better. What will you add as the first plugin? Well, there are plenty of plugins that will change and improve your sound dramatically only when you open the presets. Let’s say you add the passive EQ to your kick.
You will play around with the frequencies, boosting and cutting, and after that, the last thing that you want to do is to do A/B testing where you compare the first version to your latest version. Passive EQs are really pleasant unique equalizers, and after you do A/B, you will quickly realize that it would be hard for you to remove this plugin from your chain.
Then, the next thing you would like to add in your chain is the compressor (because your kick has a peak, not so great body and wasn’t stable to fits in the mix with other instruments.) You will try VCA compressor, but after tweaking, you will realize after A/B that it’s not what you’ve searched for. Then you open Opto compressor and start playing around. In a couple of minutes, you will judge that Opto was a better choice for you.
Do this exactly with any other plugins to get the max of each plugin, but it will also help you to see if you need to use the plugin or not.
12. Adjusting Your Mixdown
Similar to the second tip. Every single mixdown is different, and everything needs a different approach. It means that you just cannot open pre-made presets and use them on each sound. Every track has a different key – that means different frequencies that you will a play with. Try to make your main signal to be in mono to give it the right direction.
When you do this, you are forced to add some space and stereo to bring life to your tune. On the other hand, you can add some percussions that will be super-wide and stand out of the mix. Also, a great thing to do when you have a bass that plays across the whole track, you can try some additional short stabs or also the synth that will have also bigger stereo space than usual. This will definitely remove that boring atmosphere from your mix and make it really interesting.
Again, when you will do A/B by muting and turning stereo wideness on, you will keep the version where it’s turned on because it’s more versatile and dynamic and not just flat, boring thing.
13. Pay attention to the stereo placement
You have to learn how to layout stereo imaging on your individual sounds. There are pre-made presets in plugins that allow you to use it for a specific instrument, but you need to know how to use it in relation with other instruments playing together. By saying that, you have to be careful with stereo placement because what can easily happen is that it will play together in the same stereo position and you will lose that detail for that particular sound.
For example, if you use the same imaging for hi-hats like on your rides, it would be like one thing playing together instead of hearing as two different sounds. It that scenario it would be better to keep rides wider and have hi-hats less in stereo. So the end, you would easily recognize the rides. Read more detailed post on How To Use Stereo Imaging Correctly.
14. Layering Ungrouped Sounds
If you have really nice clap or snare, and you think that something is missing there, try to add new layers to make them fresher. It’s not professional as much as an acoustic thing. I don’ talking about low/mid/high inserts, but about the natural unbiased insert that brings that final sparkle. You would definitely try it, and make well-known A/B testing to hear the difference.
15. Create Sample Library That You Will Use Later
If you are a producer that has a problem with adding new things to your project while the project is “running,” you would try to make your own library. There are people with different approaches when it comes to adding new sounds to the project. The thing is that if you stuck and cannot continue while other instruments are playing, then you have to clean your head and start being more productive by opening a new project and creating a fresh new sample library.
Also, it doesn’t need to be a sample. You could hunt for new sounds in your VST, and then just save the patch of it and use it later. It’s great if you don’t want to get overwhelmed by too many actions, so you are just making new sounds, and that’s it.
16. Don’t watch the Tutorials, Use Them
If you decide to check the tutorials and spend the whole time watching someone how he did it, it’s not such a good idea. You have to use and practice what you’ve watched. For example, go and watch the 10 minutes long video about how to improve your mixdown and take a few best things from it and applicate it in your workflow. But here is a thing – why only three and not all?
Because you have to check other sources and take the best from others. Just saying that you have to find what’s the best thing and not just doing everything that he does because he is not 100% right in everything. So seek the other tutorials and take other best things that will come to your head to find the best techniques. By doing that, you will create your own mosaic that you will use in a long time.
17. Make The Main Outline, Then Details
Make the bones of your track first; only then start making any other changes. With this attitude, you will be able to determine the character, energy, and also the emotions. These are critical factors to show you the right direction where you want to go. Also, when you have a timeline that has a solid structure, it’s way more effective to start adding new effects across the whole project on different passages than just being stucked in one place. You’ll found very quickly what’s the direction of your track.
18. Add Additional Processing
When you are satisfied with your mix, try to add some additional compression on your bus (also it could be a saturation, or EQing whatever.) What will happen is that most of the times, it will improve final touch, and add a bit more clarity, presence, and verifiable enhancement. Be very careful not to overdo it. Just do the A/B, and if it’s worse, just remove it. You can nothing lose, only gain.
Great VST plugins for this technique are: SPL Vitalizer MK-2 T, DDMF Colour EQ (Unique Free EQ), FabFilter Pro R (Reverb)
19. Avoid The Unwanted Distortion
Just small distortions in early stages can escalate in the significant issues. You will notice it by doing the mastering process, because everything will boost up, and it’s hard to make it clean if it’s already damaged. Rather than that, try to make it more safety and you don’t need to worry about distorting issues later on. Because mastering will highlight these issues and reproduce them.
20. Believe Your ideas
If you are out of your studio and you have some ideas with your track, trust them because they are natural, which means authentic, authentic means original and original means good.
21. Ask Others For The Opinion
It’s generally good to know what’s the level where you are at. If you are very self-critical, it’s not hard for you to hear the real truth when comparing to your idols. But what if not? You need to know real truth before you will continue. Just believe your friends, family, or anybody you trust in, and when they tell you one mistake you doing, this mistake will be the biggest mistake. It would be chaotic or on the other side, monotone production. They will tell you your biggest weakness.
22. Experimenting in VSTs
It’s up to you if you want to check the regular tutorial on how to make any sort of sound. But what’s actually better is to create some new sound adventures where you will explore more than you think. There are plenty of VST instruments where you can start your experiments. You could also use the random button to make instant and unusual results with a whole new breath.
There is a plugin called Glitch 2 including many effects that would be a great for experimenting. Read more about what is Glitch 2 and what you can do with it.
23. Everything is Relative In Music Production
Don’t stick to one belief that there are general rules for everything. For example, in drum & bass genre is kick and snare. Both should have the same loudness. Yes, they should, but it’s not the condition. It’s completely up to producer how he wants to tune to be sound like. Maybe he wants to make liquid funk which is a subgenre of the main genre, and in that case make the kick louder and with more power than the snare. Snare use to be thin and more transparent than kick, but it’s relative.
On the other side, when there is darker or harder subgenre like Neurofunk or Mainstream subgenres, the snare has a most of the times the same loudness as the kick. The same principle applies to any other instruments and relations between them. The point is that you don’t need to worry about connections between sounds each other but rather about the final mixdown.
24. Publish Music For Free To See The Feedback
Upload your music to your SoundCloud. Fill in everything correctly, add tags, name of the genre, also don’t forget to add the description of what is your song all about because people love it. If you are a very new producer, it’s a big chance that you will get almost zero attention (maybe not if you have good contacts and relationships.)
But it’s quite likely that your tune will be like a ghost town. Just don’ worry be patient until somebody gives you honest feedback. The best things will start happening when more people start to comment on one place on your waveform.
You will quickly know that this is THAT part that makes you unique and original and which they want to hear more. It could be stabs, short sequences, arpeggios, a mixture of things, anything. When you are sure what it is, build on that. Bring it to them again, make it so stunning that they will want to sign you in the label.
25. Try Different DAW Softwares
Try to work in various DAWs before you stick to the one for a long time. You need to find where you can get your concept fast from your head to your DAW; otherwise, your idea would disappear. Try to work in each for a month or even better – finish one track, and then compare what’s a better option for you, what are the things that it makes easy for you, what’s annoying you, what are the things that some of the DAWs have perfectly done but other don’t. Choose the one that you will use for your next projects.
26. Cut your kick
Did you have a feeling that something is off the grid? Most of the times, it’s not so obvious as much as you can just feel it. It’s not the mistake, but you can improve it by using this technique. If you feel that your kick sound delayed, double-check the position on your grid to fix it. To do that, just cut the part where it sounds empty and replace it.
27. Create The Main Part First
When you start your track with the drop, it means that you start with the hardest part of the track. It will create a primary vision of the track, and you can easily adjust the other elements to this main part but also to perfectly prepare and fit the rest for the drop. It would work for somebody, and maybe wouldn’t, but it’s worth of a try.
28. Use Colors
This would increase your productivity, especially when you know that each instrument has a specific color. Also, the thing to consider is to use the one color for similar instruments (drums, bass, fx, etc.) to don’t overuse too many colors and then being overwhelmed by too many of them.
For example – create one color for similar instruments like hi-hats, rides, and high-end sounds, and then next to the same color for loops & beats that plays the midrange, and so on. This would help you to orientate you better, and you know where is the sound that you are looking for.
29. Open New Layers
When you are not sure that actual change would be better, try to make a new layer. You can keep the original one in the case that after more work you will do in the next layer will not satisfy you. When you make more changes and things, maybe some new audio processing, try to compare each version and keep the better one. This is also good to make new variations of it. It could be re-pitching, changing some details or anything that make it pretty for your music production.
30. Make It Thin If You Want Detail
If you are looking to bring more detail to your track, make your sounds thin first to make it thick later. Not too much, but this would radically increase the detail, and when others are ignoring it, you will stand out of the crowd.
So how you reach that? You can easily do this by doing various things:
1. Transient VST Plugins
A nice little tool that will literally separate your sounds by adding an attack or by decreasing the sustain. Use this plugin, especially when you want to highlight your drums.
2. Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release (ADSR)
By using this technique, you can make your sound thinner and naturally by tweaking the decay and sustain, but also you can use the release if you want to keep that final.
3. Fade Out The Sample
This will remove the muddy part from the sound – In FL Studio, you can adjust it by the knob. But it’s more than sure that all of them will have this functionality. You can also use the automation for the fading out your samples:
Or by using the “Fade Out” Knob in FL Studio:
4. Use The Gate (Noise Gate)
This technique will allow you to adjust your audio signal by changing parameters like – attack, release, threshold, gate open, the gate close, and hold. Also, most of the times, there is an option to choose between Gate and Expander. This is very useful if you will make some heavy processing, but you want to keep some space between sound, so use this right after EQ in your plugin’s chain. Also, it’s great for podcasting to remove unwanted voice by reducing the leakage of sound. The noise gate is also used in the Trance genre a lot.
Also, you can find built-in Noise Gate into FL Studio Limiter:
After you apply these techniques, you have to make some proper audio processing, but in the end, that detail will be there while on the other hand if you don’t do that, records would be a bit muddier and less detailed.
And there you go! Here are our tips that you can use on your music production journey. Feel free to try any of them that would make your music production workflow easier. All of them was made from my head and not just by the research. Enjoy and share in case you like some! Also, feel free to check our 45 tips for unique 46 Unique Tips & Tricks For Electronic Music Production In 2019.
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.