How To Get Better at Music Production | Decibel Peak Academy

how to get better at music production - decibel peak academy

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The most difficult part is getting started… If you want to get better at music production, you’re going to need discipline. You got the job and you start TODAY. You’re the music producer and everyone’s counting on you to deliver. Do you accept your mission?

The best way to get better at music production is to MAKE MUSIC everyday. I’m not saying you need to deliver everyday, but you want to keep yourself busy. How should you be practicing music production though? That’s what you came to find out… I’m glad that you found this article because we’ll be covering some revolutionary strategies to SUPERCHARGE your music production skills. I know you’ll find some unique approaches to music production in this article, but you’ll also find some common sense. If you’re ready to take your music production skills to the next level, keep reading.

The first thing music producers do EVERYDAY

I can’t speak for the masses, but where I come from, music producers are MUSICIANS. If you can’t even play an instrument, then you need to take care of that first.

The first thing music producers do EVERYDAY is pick up an instrument!

Just put on your favourite track and play along… It’ll feel great, I promise.

Sometimes, I start my day by practicing an instrument that ISN’T familiar to me (like drums). I like to remind myself that I’m starting from “ground-zero” each day.

I don’t care if you think you’re the best. In the morning, YOU’RE A BEGINNER!!

The goal isn’t to get anything accomplished (although you most likely will), it’s simply to get your mind in the right space before work. It’ll set the tone for the rest of the day.

If you’ve been producing music for long enough, you know that every project is a new challenge.

The more you think you’ve got “everything figured out” the quicker you’ll give up when something isn’t as easy as it was yesterday. I’ve been there too many times…

So before opening up your DAW, pick up an instrument and play.

Google Calendar: Make it your best friend

“I’ll make music later, I promise”. How many times have YOU broken that promise? It’s really easy to procrastinate on goals we never actually set.

Think about it… Would you flake on your 100$/h studio session?

That’s what I thought, so why should your home studio be any different?

If you’re really having trouble, just pretend it’s costing you that much. However, I’m going to recommend that you definitely SCHEDULE some time in your own studio.

If you’re old-fashioned, you can use that over-priced calendar you bought on VistaPrint, but Google Calendar works just as well (and it’s FREE).

I don’t care if it’s just an hour per day. Start with something!

I personally book myself from 10:00AM – 02:00PM, but find what works for you.

Lastly, make sure that your phone and/or computer is connected to that calendar app. That way, it’ll give you notifications so that we make sure you’re never late for work again!

YouTube: It’s for TUTORIALS ONLY

How many times have you found yourself on YouTube and wondering, “What am I even doing here?”. Well, I’m here to remind you that you were looking for TUTORIALS.

That’s probably what you SHOULD be watching, but you also WANT to get better. Right?

Even during your scheduled studio time, you may need to look up some information. I personally think the best way to learn is apply what you learn right away.

If you ever get road-blocked, don’t worry! I’m sure someone has the answer on YouTube.

If that doesn’t turn out to be true, well… You can always contact me and I’ll gladly make something to help you out.

Keep in mind that there are also many other sources of knowledge in the form of:

  • Online Courses
  • eBooks
  • Articles
  • Social Media

Just be careful when it comes to social media though… Remember WHY you’re there!

LinkedIn has some pretty interesting courses, but for the most part, YouTube is KING.

Stop LISTENING to music. Start WATCHING music

99.9% of music producers don’t work for major labels.

Most music producers make music for:

  • Television
  • Film
  • Trailer
  • Commercial
  • Video Game

What do you notice about these forms of media? What do they have in common?

If you answered “entertainment”, you’re partly right. If you noticed that music producers are mostly making music for visual media, then you’re 100% correct!

That being said, why are you still listening to music on Spotify?

I’m not saying to completely stop, but your “musical diet” should consist mostly of what we refer to as “production music”.

To be completely honest though, I actually prefer production music most of the time now!

I still listen to “normal” music, but there’s something that captivates me about production music. The quality is oftentimes much better and the craftsmanship is ON POINT!

Do you know how difficult it is to produce music for trailers? STUDY THEM.

It’s much more difficult than Justin Bieber’s next hit, I can tell you that!

If none of that interests you, then you probably need to reconsider your new job. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but the musical economy isn’t the same as it was back in the day.

If you’re not serving the needs of clients with big budgets, then who are you serving?

Music streaming services most likely WON’T pay your bills. Let me know if I’m wrong though!

No projects? No problem!

One of the biggest difficulties for music producers is getting their first gig. It can get discouraging especially when you don’t know where to find it, but remember this one thing…

YOU’RE SELF-EMPLOYED!

That means if there’s no work coming in this month, you better keep yourself busy. The best way to do that is to create your own projects.

I was in that situation not long ago, so I started making “Faux Commercials”.

Yes, that meant I had to learn how to edit video while trying to become better at music production. You know what though?

That was actually the ONE THING that improved my skills the most!

Instead of wondering where your music would fit or how you would even go about pitching your music to clients, well… NOW YOU CAN SHOW THEM!

That’ll also demonstrate your understanding of the ENTIRE CREATIVE PROCESS.

How many music producers are clueless about the visual aspect of their craft? MANY.

You’ll distinguish yourself from the others by proving that you know how to run the entire production/assembly-line. I still produce these “Faux Commercials” and you can visit our YouTube channel to see what I’m talking about.

It became part of my creative and promotional strategy.

I sometimes use these projects to inspire new music or find a home for old music.

I also learned that music isn’t just auditory, it’s visual! I highly encourage learning how to edit video while improving your music production skills.

If you’re looking for some assistance with that, let me guide you through the process.

Learn NEW genres/style and use reference tracks

It’s okay to try something new. Sometimes, that leads us to our greatest breakthroughs!

If you’re getting bored of producing the same genre of music, then it’s time to do just that.

One of the best parts of the music licensing industry is that there are SO MANY genres of music to work with. The possibilities are endless and there’s always a need.

If you want to get better at music production, you’ll want to be aware of industry trends.

The best way to go about doing that is to study the music catalogs of production music libraries. You’ll find out about genres you never even knew existed!

You’ll also be making sure that the genre in question is (or was) in demand.

I highly encourage you to start with an album and use 1-2 tracks as reference material.

Start familiarizing yourself with that genre’s:

  • Instrumentation
  • Structure
  • Vocabulary
  • Techniques

By imitating what you hear, you’ll be developing your ears which is your #1 assetin this industry.

If you want to become better at music production, you’ll definitely want to know how to work with reference tracks. Make them your TEACHER!

When your clients will ask you to create something VERY specific, you’ll be able to nail it.

When you hear something in your head, it’ll be that much easier to make it happen.

I can’t stress how important working with reference tracks is for music producers. It’s literally how you develop the “muscle” associated with music production.

Keep exploring, but remember to stay FOCUSED

I remember being told that I had to specialize in ONE genre. I always hated the idea of being limited to one (or two) musical genres, but it’s not terrible advice.

However, I think it’s still important to explore new musical ideas.

Even if it’s just to get it out of your system, just create 1-2 tracks before committing to anything.

That being said, I think it’s still important to specialize in something before trying to do EVERYTHING. It’s highly probable that you won’t be good at everything.

At least not at the beginning!

Before moving onto something new, make sure you’ve mastered what you’re already working on. Once you’ve established yourself in one genre/style and created a high-quality portfolio to reflect that, then you can think about the next musical challenge.

If you’re still not sure WHAT your specialty is, try creating one track in multiple genres.

Once you determine your strengths, make sure you stay focused on them.

Whenever you have some time on-hand though, I totally encourage you to work on as many musical genres as possible. You’ll most likely learn something from each one!

However, remember that it’s much more difficult to commit to something.

The thrill of novelty is temporary, so make sure your intentions are pure before taking action.

Tomorrow, I invite you to implement ONE of these strategies

Once again, it can seem exciting at first, but trying all of these techniques at once can quickly result in overwhelm. You need to introduce things into your regiment slowly (but surely).

I think the most important one is booking studio time.

If you can start committing to that for at least ONE WEEK, I guarantee improvements.

Just walk into your home studio everyday with that “beginner’s mindset”. If you don’t have time to learn, then you don’t have time to earn (I just made that up).

What I mean is that you’ll constantly be learning on the job, so get used to it!

People come to you with problems and you need to present them with solutions.

That’s why I suggested creating your own projects/problems. You’ll see that implementing your music with video isn’t as simple as it sounds.

You need to understand things from the perspective of your clients. That’s what’ll make you become the best music producer in town!

As they say… Fake it ‘til you make it. Or as I say… Make it ‘til you fake it!

Seriously though, I put so much work into those “Faux Commercials” that the projects I’ve actually worked on seem FAKE.

It actually resulted in somewhat of an existential crisis…

ANYWAY, music producers work for themselves at the end of the day and at the start of the new day, I hope you’ll accept your new position as the music producer of wherever you live.

If you want to get better at music production, MAKE IT YOU JOB!

I hope that you enjoyed this article. If you need any assistance along the way, you can leave us a comment and/or schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with me.

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