The good news is that producing high quality music is super possible.
The bad news is that there are millions of tiny aspects that need to be taken into account to produce high quality music.
Most of these aspects are so small, but together, they can really make a substantial difference.
That’s because the quality of every individual part all adds up and turns into a professional sounding production.
Most producers stop improving their production when they get at a decent level because they are comfortable with where their at. They don’t bother to learn all these small yet significant details.
This is caused from thinking “it’s good enough”.
A common problem with many producers is that they get good at production in the first couple years and then slowly hit a plateau where they stop improving.
If you can get past this plateau, you’ll be ahead of a lot of other producers who never get over their writer’s block.
This article goes over 5 important producer tips, practices, and habits that you should master, which will help you get past your plateau.
The first habit that will highly benefit you in the long run is organization. Always label and group your sounds right from the start.
It’s often one of the most overlooked producer tips, yet it’s seriously important, because it could decide two things:
- If you actually finish a song
- How good the song actually turns out to be.
When you’re working on a song, it’s common to get really into a flow when you first start off.
But when you’re half way into the song, and there’s no sense of organization, you’ll have a hard time finishing the track to the end.
Why does this matter so much?
Well, because producing music is essentially just organizing a collection of sounds in a particular way to form a greater whole.
So, although most of your production appeals to your hearing sense, don’t underestimate the visual portion of production.
Keeping all the tracks labeled and color coded will help you visualize the song and see the cohesiveness of your project.
This is extremely beneficial to save you a lot of time and allow your creativity to flow without being blocked by a messy unorganized project file.
This also comes into play when collaborating. Would you like it if someone you collaborated with sent you a project file that has no labeled tracks and color organization? Everything would be a mess, and it would be an uninspiring platform to work in.
If you’re confused about how to go about organizing everything, take a look at one of the free Cymatics project files.
You can already see the song structure is laid out by time markers, all the sounds are organized into their own groups, and everything neatly color coded.
If you want to download this nicely organized project file, click here.
2. Sound Design
Sound design is the root of an amazing production, so mastering this skill is crucial!
A great way to improve your sound design skills is to go into our presets and reverse engineer as many as you can. A huge benefit of presets (that is often overlooked) is that they are an incredible learning resource.
You might not be able to understand it on the first or second try, but once you finally get it, you’ll be able to understand sound design to a greater extent.
Deconstructing a preset is like taking a car engine apart and putting it back together. If you do it enough times, you’ll eventually learn what all the parts do, how they work and how you can customize them.
- Find a preset you’d like to learn how to make
- Open up another instance of Serum and start rebuilding the patch from scratch.
- Reference back to the original preset and copy the settings one by one.
This will help you discover techniques you might have never thought of before and drastically improve the way you approach sound design.
If you’re a beginner sound designer and want to get started on your journey, you can download our 30 Day Beginner’s Sound Design Guide.
Or, if you’re a bit more advanced, download our Advanced Sound Design Guide to level up even more!
This is one of the most overlooked concepts.
Experimenting with automation changed the game for Tascione (one of the Cymatics’ Sound Designers).
With his latest track, he experimented with automation and came up with a crazy sound.
Even though the rest of the experiment didn’t sound good, he had one golden nugget that took over the rest of his song.
This is so important because automation is something that will bring your sound design to a whole new dimension and movement.
If you don’t know how to begin experimenting with automation, then automate anything and everything. That’s how you’ll find those gold gems.
But if you want some inspiration on what to automate, look into our free project files (go to the Ableton, Logic, or FL Studio tabs).
You’ll see how so many elements are automated.
Seriously, most of the awesome sounds you hear today are made by accident, from experimentation.
Often times, producers don’t just think of a crazy bass out of thin air and make it exactly the same way.
They just go into the synth and start testing out different ideas and experiments, because they know that eventually they’ll make a cool sound…
The exact same thing can happen with automation, and that’s why it is such an important skill to master!
Bonus producer tips: try automating different parameters in your synths (for example, your bass line) while your song is playing. You may accidentally bump in to something insane! Also, try to automate elements in your song that you wouldn’t normally automate!
Have you ever gotten lost in a track or an entire EP/Album?
The songwriting and structure flows so well that there is never a part that seems out of place.
Well, making a track sound great and well mixed is only one piece of the puzzle. What pulls the listener in is the whole structure.
There are a couple of great ways to improve your songwriting and structure.
- Reverse Engineer Structures: Collect a few of your most listened-to tracks and analyze their structure. Drag them into your DAW and create markers whenever a structural change occurs. This is a great way of visualizing the song and breaking it down to it’s bare skeleton. One song that I have spent dozens of hours studying is Flume’s “You & Me” remix. This song has such a great and listenable song structure so it is perfect to analyze.
- Learning from Project Files: Looking at a complete project file offers so much information right off the bat. Before even opening any of the tracks and looking at the processing and automation, you can see the neatly organized structure markers that layout the map of the song.
One important thing to keep in mind is to practice the things that you like.
Many producers chase after a sound that already exists. Innovating something new is much more valuable than replicating something someone else did.
Learn about songwriting and structures, but don’t just settle there. Get inspired by them and create your own unique songwriting style!
The only way you can stand out is by being unique and creative.
5. Mixing & Mastering
Before you even think about mixing or mastering a tune, be 100% sure that you’ve chosen the best samples possible for every sound.
Don’t let anything go unnoticed.
Everything from the hi-hats to the type of FX used: use only the best of the best.
Doing so, will make mixing and master a whole lot easier.
You may have heard the saying “you can’t polish a turd.”
Well this is so true and that should always be kept in mind!
If you find yourself tweaking a sample with a ton of EQ and processing right off the bat, maybe it’s better to choose a different sample closer to what you’re going for.
Once you’ve gotten this part done, that’s amazing!
But having good samples is only one piece of the puzzle. The hard part is putting them in the right places. Every sample should have its own place in the mix and composition.
The sample has to be placed in a way that makes your whole song cohesive and flow really well.
You should train and develop your ear to hear whether your sounds are in the right place.
Ask yourself: “What sound should I use here and why am I putting it here?“
If you want to learn more about mixing, check out this blog I wrote: 11 Simple Mixing Tips You Need To Know!
If you can master these 5 steps, your productions will increase tenfold and you’ll learn a lot along the way.
Always be aware if you hit a plateau and try to get past that point as quick as possible.
Keep learning more about your craft and you’ll be ahead of everyone else.
I hope these producer tips helped you and that your songs will be leveled up!
Got anymore great tips for producers? Leave a comment below and let us know!