In the modern’s world, it’s becoming harder to come with new ideas. In this post, we made a list of 50 music production tips for 2020. Hopefully, you will find your favorites and implement them. So let’s get started.
Follow The Same Template When Making EP Album Or Release
By the “same template” I mean the same processes, techniques, and tricks that you will use during the session. Of course, you can start modifying and changing your style but not in such a short period. Let your listeners know what your sound is all about, and only after some time when you will have a feeling that you cannot surprise them in any way, try to reinvent and modify your style a bit. You will feel great as you made something new and exciting, and also your audience will appreciate that because you are evolving as an artist. But don’t forget to do it gradually.
Search For The Perfect Plugin’s Chain And Make Lots Of Sounds With It
Find the plugins that work well with each other. That will make your sounds definitely more “in the mix”, more consistent and sound professional. Especially great to keep your drums together without distracting your mix with other various types of drums.
Save The “Perfect Chain” Under A New Project
By doing this, you’ll have instant access to your favorite chains so you can access them anytime and construct new sounds with the exact same sound formula. But how do you know if this approach is for you? It’s definitely a good thing If you want to achieve a more consistent sound that you can apply for your future tracks. Simply after you achieve desired sound by using various plugins, just save your project as Drums, Synth, Pads, Sound Design, whatever it could be.
Automate The Levels Of Your Sounds
Your song may sound edgier, more dynamic, and professional. What I’m trying to say is that with this function, you can make the same intervals that are repeating and holding the peace. In that case, you will notice as the tune has more variety and can distract from the other elements. You can also apply some variations between transitions to make it smoother and not so repetitive.
For example, here is Signal’s Drum & Bass track called “Parallax” (Today known as IMANU.) As you can hear in the drop, there is a constant rising volume on the white noise by using this similar automation method.
Make More Versions With The Similar Sounds
Not always, you will know exactly which version will fit perfectly in your mix until you make more similar copies. After that moment, you have more options to choose from, rather than relying on the sound that you believe is great at that particular moment, but later, you can regret it.
Take A Pause For Ten Minutes Between Production Sessions
This is really helpful and practical tip. Did you ever work so hard on your project that it started to become overwhelming, and you were not sure to determine if you will improve or even ruin your mix? If you stuck at some point, and suddenly you cannot continue to work on your project in the right way, take a rest for a while.
For example, – If you will work on your project constantly without any distraction, you will feel like you are only improving it and not making it worse. But it’s an illusion – you can ruin your mix just with few tweaks! When you take a break for ten minutes, you will instantly detect the weak sounds, what ideas were bad. This advice is the same as to take a break and start continuing on that tomorrow. But tomorrow is a new day, and if you want to be consistent, keep it rolling now.
Put The Spectrum Analyzer & Stereo Analyzer On A Master Channel
Just put the Spectrum Analyzer like SPAN or IXL Inspector on your master, so you don’t need to add it on every single channel. Also, If you are using FL Studio, you can use the function in each plugin called “Detached,” which allows you to keep the plugin displayed even if you will apply any changes in your DAW.
As you can see, I added “Stereo Analyzer” and Pinned it to the right corner at the bottom, so every time you’re working on single sounds, you’ll see if the sound has proper correlation and if it’s well balanced. With that said, this will save tons of time and clicks when you need to check the stereo of your sound signal of each channel. (This is a good option if you are using only one monitor):
There are also imaging plugins like Waves Imager or Izotope Imager, but it’s too large to be shown like this.
Make Major Things First, Then Add The Minor Ones Accordingly
Never start your project with details. It will take your lot of time to figure things out, and it will be harder for you to make a proper structure of the project from the beginning.
Restore Older Backup Of Your Project If You Feel Lost
Restore your project in case you feel overwhelmed, and when you are not sure if the changes you applied had any impact on the track. After that, try to make different changes and add the sound layers very carefully. Then compare the new version of your project with the old one. Most of the time, the new version will be better because you were aware of these shortcomings and put the effort to replace them with better sounds.
Try To Get To The “Breakthrough Point” ASAP
The breakthrough point is a state of your project where you made most of your dirty job where you created the main bones of your track with pillar sounds like main drums, synth, bass, sub-bass, melodies. Also, it doesn’t mean that you have to make track structure across the whole track. It means that you have to make some kind of idea or concept that you will develop after this point into something that has a deeper structure.
Mix The Kick & Sub In The Same Harmonics
Harmonics are fundamental frequencies of the sound. To fit your kick well with the bass, you need to check the Spectrum Analyzer (get a free SPAN Stereo Analyzer) and adjust the kick and sub-bass to match these frequencies. A technique that is especially great if you make a track with the non-melodic bassline, so then you can perceive kick and bass to be pretty straightforward.
Here is an example of how perfectly is Kick mixed with the Sub:
Use The Analog EQ Plugin A Lot
This is not a regular EQ plugin. It’s a plugin that adds the color, character and will emphasize your sound in such a different way. Sometimes you’re just guessing what kind of tool or effect it needs to improve the audio.
I can surely tell you that whenever I compared the sound before applying Analog EQ plugin and after that, the audio signal improved immediately.
For such a purpose, there is a Plugin called Master Q2 from PSP. As you can see at the bottom, there is an option “Analog” at the bottom so you can turn it on and hear the delightful difference.
Stop Your Session If You Are Not Creative
You have to feel that you are making and building your track in some way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to see some results, but you have to work on your project to
Find What Drives You
It’s not bad to switch between genres and doing things on your own. You would produce in a specific genre for some time and then realize that it’s a completely different type of music where you want to be. Remember – you can’t fake passion.
Find Grooves Inside Of Your Drum Loops
Do you think that you made really awesome drum loop, but you still think it would sound better? Yes, this is exactly a moment to shift the sample to find that perfect groove that will fit with the rest of your track. If you are FL Studio user, you can use the function “Slip” at the top of your playlist, to shift the sample and keep your sounds playing with melodies, or other beats, whatever it is.
Also, don’t forget to switch to “Events” in the “Snap to Grid” option – this will allow you to shift your samples very smoothly so that you can find exotic or these “hidden” grooves inside your drum loops that you would never hear with other techniques.
Make More Repetitive Intervals With Minimal But Audible Changes
After you find a nice groove within your loop, try to highlight it by shortening the length of your sample/loop and repeating it more often. Sometimes, It doesn’t even need to be looped because you can find only one-shots that you can only use. But why not?
Copy & Paste The Entire Song Sections
Use the Copy & Paste to duplicate part of your tracks to build the structure of your track, then add new sounds and change the variations slightly in new copies. This will make a solid structure for your track, and it won’t sound messy.
Remove Unnecessary Sounds That Don’t Have Any Impact On Your Track
How can you determine what’ are the unnecessary sounds in your project? What are the main aspects to determine that and take action? It’s simple. You have to know what you want and be honest. Just try to be picky – to find the great raw sound, it has to make a great first impression that you will say, “Yeah, this is what I’m looking for” before you will go further with any advanced effect processing.
I’m don’t trying to say that you don’t have to use any effects and play with sound at all. Simply want to say that when you find the perfect sound that matches the peace and fits well in the mix, there is a much higher chance that after applying effects, it will sound way better. Exactly like in Mastering – when mixdown is good, mastering can make your track great. But if your mixdown sux, the master will amplify it.
- Did I make Equalisation properly? When I know that Master Q2 plugin will make the sound warmer bring the analog color, I should really consider to use it.
- Did I use the plugin that I know will make my mix richer and more colorful?
- Is this sound saturated enough?
- Does this sound play with the rest of my track? Does it fit in the mix?
- Is the stereo correlation correct? Is it balanced or panning is broken? If yes,
- Should I keep both sounds playing together or use a more precise one and will make my mix cleaner?
After that, it won’t let you continue working on your project when you will know that you didn’t take every necessary action. Commit that you won’t continue if the sound won’t be perfect in every aspect. If it’s composition, proper mixing, or whatever. Of course, the sound would sound good without any effect processing but think about it. That way, you can determine if your sounds are necessary and if they fit well in your mix.
Learn Your Ears How And When To Use Appropriate Tools & Effects
Let’s say that you really love some specific sound, but you are not sure what specific tools it needs to treat and improve your sound in the right places. It’s one of the most valuable skills in music production. Even though it will take some time for you to recognize what exact plugins you need to use, it’s worth learning.
Learn How To Hide Other Sounds or Loops
Definitely good to learn this technique. Do you know that feeling when you love some specific loop, but you simply can’t use it because everybody will know that it’s not yours? If you feel this often, it’s time to learn how to adjust and work with the sound to modify it so much that others will have no clue? The changes you may try would vary – You could cut the samples from long loops to minimal and short one-shots and minimize to be recognized. Also, you can repitch the sounds, which seems to be a very basic technique, but after using the right effects, you can create awesome new sounds. Maybe it sounds weird, but you would wonder how many artists are doing that.
Always Have Your Mixdown Backed Up
This is a crucial step. Let’s say that you master your own music. In that case, you can’t rely on the first version of your mastered tune. Yes, sometimes, you can master your track pretty well, but sometimes it doesn’t go so well, and you will need to make another mastering for this track. This happens a LOT where you will need a mixdown. It’s the action of a few minutes and clicks, don’t forget to do that!
Mix Your Kick With Sub Properly
Check this Kick-Sub Phase Alignment tutorial. It’s almost two hours long, but it’s worth it – once you know it, you are all set to apply the knowledge and bring it into practice!
Avoid Professionalism And Learn Through The Mistakes
The title speaks for itself. Remember that you cannot afford to know everything now, because you will never. Rather than that, try to put your time into making music and publishing it to get feedback. Keep in mind that you will learn as you go, and you will constantly improve, so forget to be perfect, it’s not a real. Even if you would have the ability to make things perfect, your fans would never see the progress where you were before and how much you improved the sound after time because you would make tracks with the same quality and same results.
Don’t Follow Others Too Much, Find What You Are Good At
Let’s say that you have found inspiration from some artists. The question is, what’s the chance that you will make something that’s original and also become successful? Yes, there are chances that you can do that. But what if your style is way better than nobody knows yet? You can waste your whole potential where you are good at by inspiring, but in the end, it won’t even be your sound.
Simplify The Process Of Producing Music
Find the shortcuts, follow the same patterns, find what’s your biggest struggles where you have a block, and check the guides and tutorials about it to overcome it, especially if you experience it too often.
Use A Non-Traditional Effects
Maybe you heard about these plugins, but they are not well-known as a Chorus or Flanger. These could be Granular, Frequency Shifter, Ring Modulator, Tremolo, Vibrato, or Comb. MeldaProduction’s CompleteBundle is one of the solutions that cover all of these mentioned. What’s even better is that for each plugin, there is also a Multiband version.
You can make really unusual, exciting, or really unique sounds that are a great choice for your sound design, intros, pauses, transitions, etc.
Don’t Mix On A High Volume
If you can hear the details in your mixdown and your track sounds clean when mixing on low volume, it’s a good sign that it will sound great on high volume as well.
How Do You Make Reverb Kick
Not necessary but useful. To highlight your main drums, even more, you could add more layers with different purposes. Here is how you can make an alternative reverb layer for your kick drum properly:
First, you will need a main dry kick drum. This will be a primary sound signal that should be in Mono (in order to highlight the reverb one)
Second, find another kick that you want to use Reverb with. Keep in mind when applying reverb to make a proper side low-cut in order to avoid phasing issues and negative stereo correlation – optimal 150hz low-cut. To be 100% sure that it doesn’t have any stereo issues, use the Stereo Analyzer (Get a FREE iZotope Imager, IXL Stereo Analyzer, or FREE Flux Stereo tool v3.)
So, in the end, here is the visual side:
*Tip: Additional thing you can do is to add the sidechain. In that case, you can keep the Primary (Mono) kick to start, and in the end, Secondary (Reverbed) will make an atmosphere afterward. You can also check this post How To Make Kick wider Without Correlation Issues.
Use More Layers For The Pillar Drum Shots (Kick, Clap, Snare)
As I said above, you can use the Reverb layer for your kickdrums. But what are the other alternatives? For your main drums, you can use the two layers – First for the punch, and second with focus on the high-end. This applies to Kick and Snare pretty well because these are really impactful. It’s much easier and effective to mix the drums with two layers like this rather than guessing and trying to find a single perfect drum. In the end, you can add as many layers as you wish just make sure it sounds good.
Invest In The Bundle Rather Than Single Plugins
If free plugins no longer meet your requirements, and you want to invest money to buy plugins, rather than that, you should consider buying a bundle from a well-known manufacturer. Plugins are a great way if you are looking just for a specific tool that is missing you when producing. With the bundle, you will get an “all in one” solution from the verified seller (make sure if it’s true) and also because bundles have discounts. Big discounts.
Produce As If You Go Live (Twitch)
Can you imagine how fantastic it must be to visualize that people are watching you as you producing? Try to suggest to yourself that there are a lot of eyeballs that are currently waiting for your next step or action. This automatically turns you into a state of being responsible and more serious about doing the following actions.. think about that!
If You Want To Work On A Collab Use The Soundcloud
If you’d like to work with somebody on mutual work, Soundcloud is a great platform for it. First, you can start with comments, shares, or likes. Write honest feedback, what do you think about his song, and maybe you will hear back from him soon. Of course, this might be true, but keep in mind that you have to be at least at the same level in terms of “Name”; otherwise, it’s all groundless.
There are many reasons why collaborations are a great way to expose yourself and get new fans to embrace new fans (those that love the artist that you are working with). The next crucial reason is that you can start making music twice as fast as you would if you produce alone.
Consider Your Genre
Sometimes you will feel a lot of struggle when trying to be consistent and creative when producing. But maybe this is the time to try to change the genre and create something new that you never made before! Maybe this will become your primary genre, who knows?
Forget Making Money From The Beginning
It’s a fact. It’s not only in the music. When you really want to make a living by music, you want to test yourself. First, you need things like – Your inner passion, feedback of others, and you have to be driven by creativity and curiosity. When you meet these criteria, you can try to think about that further.
Don’t get me wrong.. you don’t even need to sell your music. You can have your own Youtube channel, and making live producing sessions, but you have to meet the criteria above. Just do what you love, and that’s it.
Understanding Basics Will Allow You To Know The Hard Things
ADSR envelopes, using automation clips, LFO, panning, leveling, etc. that’s all basic functions. Isn’t that? But what makes the song so good and complicated in the end? It’s a process. The process of applying steps one by one and understanding them. That makes hard things to be hard.
Forget to use the samples that you made months back and don’t have the quality of your actual knowledge. Forget that; it would be a step back for you as it would decrease the quality even if the rest of your track is in great shape.
Try To Work On Multiple Tracks Simultaneously
Various factors would increase the productivity and consistency of producing music. The main thing is to determine what works best for you. But how do you find it out? One of the things you would try is to work on multiple projects at once. So when you feel not so productive with the first one, you would switch to another tune and continue achieving your goals.
Find Your Favorite Plugin Presets
One of the most useful shortcuts when producing music. Just go through your favorite plugin, and what you will find is professionally designed presets ready to use. You don’t even need to make a single tweak.
A great technique to have complete control over your sound by splitting your bands to lows, mids, and highs.
Noise Gate To Remove Ambience & Reverb
Noise Gate plugin is an audio noise reduction tool that has the ability to remove the atmospheric or ambient sounds naturally. This is great if you want to need additional space and remove the atmosphere without affecting the source sound.
So what’s the point to add the long reverb when I will remove it with Noise Gate? It keeps your mix merged and more straightforward. Producers are using this technique a lot in their drops to clean the sound and remove unwanted noise.
Noise Gate is similar to Transient Shaping Plugins, but the difference is that the Transient plugin doesn’t make such natural results and would sound bad when you try to use it instead of a Noise Gate plugin.
What is Noise Gate used for: Main Drum Group, Single Drums, In Trance Genre For Synths, Vocals, Guitars, Effects, and Bass.
Check out one of the best Noise Gate plugins out there FabFilter Pro G (Gate/Expander.) You can choose for a 30-day trial to see if it’s right for you!
Here is a video on how you can correct the Kick Drum:
Learn How To Use DAW Tools Effectively
This is more important than you may think. Just imagine how you can treat the sound with various tools like an ADSR envelope, cutting sample length, reversing it, adjusting panning, repitching, crossfading, and all that stuff without adding a single plugin. It doesn’t mean that you won’t add plugins at all, but try to think what you would do at first with the raw sound before you reach for the effect plugins. This can give you an advantage as you don’t need to come back later when you start working with the effects.
Make it Unique But Keep It Sound Professional
It’s easy to say but hard to do, especially nowadays. These two are just double kill as people are seeking for new stuff all the time. If you give them uniqueness and quality in one package, you will get new and which is the most important RAVE Fans.
Do Not Underestimate The Power of FREE Plugins
They are awesome companies out there that are offering premium plugins and bundles. But on the flip side, they also offer FREE alternative plugins that are extremely popular amongst artists. Just to give you some examples, and all of them are bundles!! Melda Free FXBundle, Blue Cat’s FreewarePack, Dead Duck Free Effects Bundle, Splice’s Plugins list, etc.
And that’s just a fraction of the free stuff!
Don’t Buy Analog Synth – Try Its Software Version First
As the title says, you may consider doing this before will pay lots of cash for one piece of software. Instead, you can try a subscription for one month for a few bucks and test all various kinds of instruments and Softwares with unlimited access. The perfect example of this is Rolandcloud.com, where you can get instant access to their catalog (There is a 30-days Trial for this offer). The worth of mention are System 8 VST Version, Jupiter 8, JV-1080 Software Synth, SH-101, and a lot of other instruments.
There are lots of other brands with similar offers; I mentioned Rolandcloud just for the sake of the post.
First Aid For Thin Drums – Tape Saturation Plugin
Did you ever feel like your drums sound perfect, but there is no “Weight”? This is the time to use the Tape on your channel. It will add the color, weight, and emphasize the audio signal.
If you are looking for a FREE alternative, you should definitely try “Cassette” by Dan Worrall.
However, If you prefer Premium Plugins, for me, the number one is the Waves Kramer Tape, which is very versatile (great for mixing as well as for mastering). There are also a lot of other quality Tape Plugins, for example, u-He Satin or Slate VTM.
It’s About DAW
Keep in mind that it’s not about what hardware you are using. Well, when it comes to Studio Headphones or Studio Monitors, this can increase the quality of your sound as it reproduces the audio signal very precisely if it’s quality. But in the end, it’s just transferring the sound signal, and most important is the project that you are working on in your DAW. With that said, you can create an awesome track by using cheap headphones as same as a cheap track with an awesome pair of monitors! Keep in mind your DAW as a priority.
Take Off Your Studio Headphones
If you feel comfortable spending your time by making music with Studio Headphones rather than using Studio Monitors, that’s completely fine. But it’s good to take a rest for a while to have the proper decision. Do this for a long time, and you will see the increase in the quality of your sound.
Don’t Worry to use Acapellas in Your Tracks
Many producers underrate this. Maybe it’s because they are waiting for “perfect timing” and hope that one day some of the singers will ask them to do a collab. In case you want to expose yourself more, you should definitely start using acapellas in your songs that match your genre. Of course, you don’t have to use raw vocals or hooks, but give it time and play with it until it fits into the mix. Also, forget to use any mainstream acapellas from well-known names – Use them only in the case that you want to do a remix of the song (if it’s even available for download.) Then it’s a wise decision.
In addition to that, maybe this will resonates with the well-known singers, and you will have a much better chance of working with them because music connects!
Let Your Drums Breath
If you like to link your drums into one channel to create Room and bring the atmosphere, you can do so. But remember to adding plugins very carefully as it can break your sound easily. Just start adding plugins one by one but add new plugins only when it sounds great. The most common problems are too much compression, over EQing, over-saturation. It also depends on how heavy and how much weight your single drums are. If it’s too heavy, you should avoid doing any significant processing on the main Drumbus as it will result most likely in distorting or sound “too rough,” so keep it natural.
Stop Being “Bedroom Producer” – Become a DJ
This is probably the most valuable and most important tip in this list, even when it’s nothing about music production at all.
So what’s going on? Music production is half of the success IF ever. It’s definitely one of the main factors that will help you in your music career. To be more further, it’s like a portfolio or some kind of proof that you are a musician that is worthy of attention, and you love what you are doing. But it’s only half of the truth. If you want to make a living by music, become a DJ if you’re making electronic music.
Can you imagine how fantastic that feels when club owners will start sending you invites to play locally? You can create a good name, and as you will gain some recognition, you will be able to expand even more after time.
You don’t even need your own DJ gear to get started. Just go out and ask people if you could. Send messages to relevant clubs in your area that’s focused on the main genre like you.
And remember – if your production is awesome or decent, at least, you don’t even need to ask them to do so. They will ask you first and send you an invitation.