Every music producer wants to have that extra edge to create something extraordinary that will live forever in the hearts and souls of music lovers. In this article, you will learn about 46 music production tips for 2020.
Whether you’re experiencing an episode of writer’s block or you want some tips on getting your A-game back, we’ve got you covered.
We have compiled 46 tips from personal experiences and a few from several music production gurus we follow to put you ahead of the pack.
1. Never Resample Your Audio Signal With The Side Chain Turned On
Re-sampling is the turning of sound (you may have just created, for example, with a soft synth and long FX chain) back into an audio sample. Avoid re-sampling your audio signal with the side chain turned on for best results.
2. Learn How to Work Faster
The faster you’re able to work, the more work you’ll be able to do.
3. Avoid Over-Processing
Avoid over-processing of audio with VST Plug-Ins, over-compression, And over-saturation.
Do your songs seem dull and lifeless? It might be that you’re over-using your plug-in processing. This is something that every mixer should be careful not to do. Here are a few tips to show you how.
- Record quality tracks by using the appropriate mic
- Use the solo button conservatively
- Compress with a light touch
4. Avoid Over-Clipping while Re-Sampling Audio Signals
Audio clipping is what happens when you push the gain of a signal past the capabilities of the gear handling that signal. Clipping can occur in digital and analog realms alike, but digital clipping sounds different from analog clipping.
The effect of clipping in both cases is distortion, but the nature of the distortion is different depending on the process.
Analog clipping adds complex harmonic distortions that sound different depending on the analog processor. In other words, distorting tape will sound different from distorting tubes, solid-state amplifiers, and so on.
5. Use Free VST Plugins
Don’t be too worried when using Free VST’s. There are many free VST Plugins available in the market you can use to improve your music production experience. Some of them are great and maybe even better than ones for sale.
6. Use A Stereo Analyzer From The Start
Imagine you have 50% or your track done, and everything sounds good.
However, when you open your stereo analyzer, you notice that it is not balanced and the phase is jumping from one side to another. Use this tool to avoid phasing issues from the beginning. Read more about Stereo Imaging.
7. Be Consistent While Producing
Consistency is Key. Don’t try to implement a ton of different things at the same time. Stick to one style and see how it goes without changing it before its completion. This one is more of a general tip than a production tip. By doing this, you will see growth in your fanbase, which will create more potential for a bigger audience.
8. Use more saturation Plugins for your audio
This process will make your sound fat and bring some warmth and color to your tracks. Your mix will sound more consistent and professional.
9. Shape your ears while composing music
You should stick to one source of audio, whether studio headphones or studio monitors. The idea behind it is that you’ll start hearing things that you may have never heard.
10. Mixing in mono is not necessary
You can always use A/B testing to understand how the audio signal sounds before bringing it into mono and removing its natural stereo image.
11. Compare your music with others
Comparing your music with others to gauge your growth isn’t such a bad thing. The critical thing to remember is that you should never copy them to keep your music unique. Instead, strive to be original and create your path and sound that is distinct to your brand.
12. Don’t Add Anything On Master Bus While You Are Mixing
It sounds obvious, but unfortunately, there are a couple of guys still doing it. The downside for doing this is that you might confuse your ears into thinking your mix is bad, while the culprit is your master bus. There are some exceptions, such as a spectrum analyzer, a stereo analyzer (Free Plugins), and a sampler (For example Edison in FL Studio), however. Try to avoid adding other things that may affect your sound.
13. It Isn’t About Hardware Gear
In music production, it is not what you have that matters, but what you can do with it. You can make professional music with software, a mouse, a keyboard, and a pair of headphones. It’s not hardware equipment that makes the difference.
14. Imagine The Stereo Field of the Whole Track
The more things you have on the timeline of your DAW, the more you will need to adjust the stereo field of each instrument to keep it in phase. The thing that plays a significant role in phasing is the low-end, especially sub-bass and kick. Make sure you are in the safe spot by being “In Phase”, as other audio systems may reveal problems with sound.
15. Make Drums First Even From Drop
It is always a good idea to start with your drum beats.
Why do you ask?
Well, starting with your drum beats or loops can speed up the process of coming up with the basic structure of your song, as drums are the essential elements that create structure and other ideas. Once you have made your drums, you can start to add new instruments and sounds. In the case that you want to be different and unique with your production,you might begin with other instruments.
16. Take A Rest With Production
If you notice that you’re losing your creative spirit, that’s an indication that you need to take a break. It is better to take constant breaks than work continuously for too long.
17. Use Transient Processing on Your Drums
Using transient peaks, especially on the kick, snare & clap, is a good thing.
Transients create a high amplitude, short-duration sound at the beginning of a track that improves attack on the drums.
18. Using Opto Compression on Drums
Opto compression may help you to bring consistency to a sound while removing edginess. This type of compression is great for the drum room bus, though also for the single drums. Here is why:
19. Stack attack on drums
Try to avoid the attack issues, especially on drums. The more precise your attacks will be, the better quality your track will have.
20. Make your tracks available for FREE download
When just starting out, you should make your first tracks freely downloadable from the Internet. At first, you need to collect your followers, subscribers, and fans. It’s a great way to get attention. There is a website called Theartistunion.com, which is connected to Soundcloud. Here, you can ask people for comments, shares, and likes on your tracks in exchange for the free downloads.
Isn’t it great?
21. Make things that others ignore
Stand out from the crowd by doing things that others aren’t doing. Your unique sounds and style will bring you fans. It’s that simple.
22. You Can Use Samples From Others
It is often said that good artists copy, but the best artists steal. You can use sample tracks from other artists, but always make sure to change them in a way that they are not identical to the original format.
23. Stop checking tutorials, listen to tracks
A lot of music producers rely too much on the visuals that appear on the screen and settings and ignore what their ears are telling them.
Sometimes it’s better to dim the lights, shut off your monitor and listen to the tracks. It sounds simple, but this trick can help you understand where your gaps are.
24. Recognize what you want
Don’t add too many things to the timeline at once, but work on a little piece of sound like a maniac. This will give you the ultimate results.
25. Be inspired by other people’s tracks
You can be inspired by the best, even steal the ideas from them, BUT when you turn the idea on its back and then people will say wtf, as it shows that you’re super unique.
26. Create Headroom For Your Drums
Giving your drums good headroom will make them louder.
Compression plays a significant role here and you should always use multi-band compression in combination with a saturator, passive EQ, and exciter.
- Drumroom’s Chain
27. Use the Mute button as often as possible
This will usually happen when new VST effects have been added. Just train your ears with a mute button to recognize what is missing and what’s extra.
28. NEVER Resample From one Project Then Open New a One Because Of CPU
You should avoid this because you will lose the chance to make little tweaks that you would do in the source project.
29. Don’t Re-Sample Everything
It’s not good to do re-sampling very often, especially if you want to make tweaks in your source VST Plugin.
30. Don’t Overthink while producing
When you’re composing, just compose. When mixing or mastering, just mix and master respectively. The critical thing is to concentrate on one thing at a time and not mix things up. Check out Sulex’s post where he explains how to effectively start, develop and finish a drum & bass track (it also applies to other genres)
31. Become a Great Producer
Nowadays, there are tons of producers, composers, and artists, with the same signature of sound on of every single track in their production.
If you don’t want to be part of it, make your tracks in a different way that will you stand out amongst them.
Sometimes you might start with the intro, a drop or just play around with the sound to create something unique from nothing.
32. You Must Feel Comfortable With Your Environment
You can’t create music if you feel uncomfortable in your environment. Spend time and get to know your environment. It usually takes a bit of time before you get used to the way the musical instruments within the studio harmonize together.
Remember, the more comfortable you’re within your music recording space, the more creative you’ll be.
33. A Good Technique
Modern music production technology can provide anyone with the resources to compose a track. It isn’t so much about your finger skills on the various instruments, but how good you are with the relevant applications.
34. Honest Feedback
So, you think your music is hot because your friends told you?
You need to get someone who tells you the truth about your music and not one who is only interested in telling you what you want to hear.
A lot of people surround themselves with yes men who avoid telling them the truth about their sound so as not to hurt their feelings. Unfortunately, this only leads to contributing to the growth of their sound.
35. Keep an Open Mind
Always keep an open mind when working to find the right fit.
This might be a preset or something that you created yourself. The preset may have sounded like a good idea initially, but as you moved forward, you realize that those presets were so full of effects that they didn’t sit right with your music.
36. Mix It Up With Some Unusual Sound Sources
Have you ever tried playing the Guitar with techno tracks? It’s a lot of fun and it provides a texture that’s not heard in that style of music.
Spice up your recordings by mixing them up with a variety of unusual and unique sounds. Breathing and whispering can produce some unusual sounds. The most crucial element that you need to be creative is to never stop experimenting with various objects.
37. Occasionally Refer Back To Your First Few Mixes
When you reach version 123 of a track, it may be a good idea to go back to your first few mixes.
This allows you to reconnect with your first intuitive mix and gets you back to your rhythm.
Collaborating with people who work in different music genres provides you with numerous musical insights across the board.
I have also found out that young people get many fresh ideas and styles, which can inspire you to come up with something special.
39. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The ability to know when it isn’t working and to quit is what separates average and excellent music producers. Sometimes you have to let go when it isn’t working.
In 2015, I was trying to mix my very first track and I spent a couple of months doing it (three months to be exact). I was trying to synchronize the tracks and balance the drums, though in reality, I was trying to compensate for a track that wasn’t so good.
40. Music Shouldn’t Define Your Genre Labels
Don’t let your music be defined by a genre. It doesn’t have to belong to a specific genre. While growing up, I was exposed to folk music from my dad, church music from my mum, and my older brother had the RnB groove all over him.
I guess my music has been influenced by all these genres, possibly even giving birth to a new genre.
41. Getting Your Melody
Can’t seem to get a melody? Here’s the deal.
One simple and effective way to find your melody is to take your drum midi and put it into your melody channel. Once that is done, you’ll be able to get your melody and continue to change the groove as you see fit.
42. Use a Reverb or Convolution Reverb a lot
Using a reverb can push elements towards the back of the soundstage.
Do you still want to keep the sound in the front?
Simply increase the amount of pre-delay on the sound to detach the sound from its reverb and retain your elements at the forefront.
43. You Can’t Install Everything
You don’t need a ton of plugins to make your music great. All you need is a few to use on a daily basis. Plugins don’t result in the unique and original production. It’s the production itself.
Just find the ones that you like and focus only on the composition of your production. This will also make you the go-to guy in your particular niche.
44.Lay Down Your Musical Elements First
I have found this approach to be extremely useful. Lay down the musical elements of your track before attempting to jot down any basslines.
This is because the musical elements will guide you in finding a bassline, ensuring that they all fit together nicely.
45. Save Your Project Often And Consider Backup
During the session in your DAW software, it’s important to save your project to make sure that everything is right. We often forget to do this before it’s too late. It’s only one click.
46. Be Yourself
People are bored from the same tunes that sound almost identical. Yes, it’s hard to create something new and unique, but if you figure it out how to do that and make it quality, then you will soar.
I know we have all been there. You have the ideas and the words in your head, but somehow you can’t seem to put them on a track. Perhaps, you have a fantastic music production system, but you wish someone would give you some pointers on how to fully optimize your beats.
That was the motivation behind this post. It was my way of reaching out to fellow music producers and sharing tips that have made me who I am today and I hope that you’ve learned something of value.
Keep making music; keep exploring.
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.