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Top 5 Tips for New Music Producers

These are five tips I would have found useful when I first started producing beats.

Just as a preface to the article, I'd like to say this may not be applicable to every type of music producer. I'll be offering tips based on what I have learned personally and hope they will help as many people as possible. This also only serves as some tips I personally know, not a complete or exhaustive cheat sheet. This guide also assumes you already own a DAW.

1. Use Looperman

This was a great springboard for me to be making beats straight away. I often struggled with understanding how drums would work in a piece. When I initially started I couldn't quite grasp how drums should work in relationship to the rest of the instruments.This is where Looperman helps, as it has a variety of royalty free loops uploaded by users which can really help out when you are struggling with different elements of a song and allows you to search for key you want the sample in, the type of instrument or even the BPM of the sample you want to use.

The search parameters on Looperman.

2. Watch Tutorials

This one is particularly self explanatory, but a lot of my friends who start making music don't adhere to this. I think some people might find it 'detrimental' to their creative process. The important thing to remember whilst watching these tutorials is to think of them as tools to give you a toolset and a language to interact with your chosen DAW and not a guide as to specifically how to make music. I find the YouTube channel Internet Money to be particularly useful for my own style of production. The great thing about youtube is there is so much useful content for all styles that you are bound to find something that would help you. It's also worth mentioning in this section that I find Genius' series deconstructing beats with the producers really interesting and inspiring although not as thorough as I would want them to be. I feel that they are still worth a watch however so I have linked one here.

3. Perseverance

This may seem obvious, but I feel this is something you will constantly need to remind yourself whilst you start out. I once heard that it takes around 10 thousand hours to master a skill and this is something that I believe. So don't be deterred when you don't achieve the sound you have in your head instantaneously because eventually you will work out a way to get to that point. A good way to reassure yourself when you are feeling like you are about to resign is to look into those you aspire and read specifically about how they have failed or how they used to sound terrible. One story I like to think about is how Nirvana say that they used to sound absolutely terrible when they first started out making music (I can't find a link for this off the top of my head which is why I haven't included one), which I find comforting. You can do this with a lot of famous artists, just do a quick Google search and read about them.

4. Learning How to Use Sample Based Synths

A great way to find richer sounds that come preset on your DAW. For Logic Pro X, this would be the EXS24 sampler. I really like using this because you can manipulate the pitch of individual samples to effectively create your own synths easily. It's not particularly intuitive to use, so again, I would refer to using a guide to understanding exactly how to use it before you implement it. Personally, I'm particularly tone deaf when it comes to samples, so if you can't work out what note to use, I find the free software called KeyFinder very useful.

5. Be clever with how you create your overall sound.

Don't look at your productions like a collection of individual sounds, as when you bounce your project it will sound like a collection of individual sounds rather than one cohesive song. This was a problem I struggled to grasp for a long time. Be precise with how you add sound to a piece. Constantly ask your question "Am I making the song better by implementing this change?" If the answer ultimately is no, don't do it. If you are using silence or a minimal production style, make sure this sounds deliberate and not like you just could not think of a sound that would fit in that space. Conversely, don't just add a sound to make the production sound "fuller" because this can often create a sound that sounds muddy and unrefined. Lastly, think about your overall mix; it's great to get studio monitors if you can afford them but if you can't listen to your mix on multiple sound systems to make sure it sounds good on all of them, and most importantly, make sure your levels are correct and nothing is distorted.

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