Learning music production takes a LOT of time. If I could change my past, these are the things that I would do differently and that I recommend you do to learn faster as well.
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Prioritize producing music rather than only learning, but also set some time to solely focus on learning. If you want to develop yourself in music production, the best way is to invest a significant amount of time into it, and there’s literally no way out. It’s not something that you can take any shortcuts with if you really want to make your own music (wink, wink) and it requires a lot of practice, and also a lot of learning. Therefore, (1) invest an insane amount of hours into your music and make it a habit. Even if it’s 30 min per day, that is far more effective than producing for 3h30m once per week because it promotes consistency and aids knowledge retention; (2) Enhance your skills and broaden your knowledge by utilizing online tutorials or courses, but put at most 30% of your time into learning, and the rest into practice; (3) Shift your mindset to work on quantity rather than quality first as it will lead you to better quality in your music along the way. When you focus on quality, you can end up having worse results as being a perfectionist can lead you to overthinking and never finishing your songs. (4) Finish your songs, even if they suck. Only when you finish something you can compare it with another one and say “It’s better, or worse than my previous one”. In addition, this will help you get in the mindset of finishing tracks, and that’s crucial for developing your skills as it forces you to produce more songs rather than just one perfect song every 6 months. (5) Lastly, compile a list of issues identified through self-review or external feedback, and focus on fixing them for your next song, as this will help you improve your current skills. Essentially, learning is important because it’s a way to fix what is not working and expand on what is already working, but without action, your learning goes to waste, so focus on producing more than learning.
2. Start copying other producers to improve your skills! Especially when you’re learning to produce, there are a few things you can do while copying artists to learn more and faster: (1) Copy start-to-finish tutorials and try to understand the reasoning behind every move in the song. These concepts are equally important as the steps to create a song because when you’re producing by yourself, understanding the concepts and the whys of which step will help you make your own decisions without copying other producers; (2) Pick a song you like, place it on the first channel in the DAW, and just create an empty midi clip for every element you spot. The goal is not to recreate the sounds, but to practice your ability to spot the elements that are in the song and how often new elements are introduced in your ideal song. This will help you develop your arrangement skills, which will help you avoid getting stuck as you will have a ‘template’ of what elements you can add next for every part of the song and how often you need to add more elements; (3) Now that you’ve done the midi clips, try adding the sounds in them to understand the types of sounds from samples and synths you will need to do what your ideal song is doing. This is the time you’ll try to recreate the midi progressions to also understand how they are created, their rhythm, etc (PRO TIP: Warp the song and slow it down to half the tempo, or slower, to understand which notes are being played). All these things are elements you need to add, the pace at which you need to add them, how the melody and the bass progress, how to achieve balance among the sounds you have, how to select the best and the correct sounds, and that will help you avoid getting stuck without knowing what to do next and, essentially, make better tracks.
3. Invest in education and knowledge more than what you invest in plugins. For every dollar you invest in plugins or sample/preset packs, invest 2/3x more in music education because that’s what will take you forward faster than anything. Plugins are nice, yes, but if you don’t know how to build a song or how to mix your song, they are just tools that will rarely deliver what you need. “Ok, but what kinds of education should I invest in?” (1) Learn the basics of music theory for free in this course over here (I did it already and it’s pretty good); (2) Buy Project Files or download free ones in your genre to understand how producers are shaping their songs and developing their sounds; (3) Buy Online courses from companies like Production Music Live, EDMPROD, and many others for a broader knowledge on how you can develop your music production skills. (4) Invest in 1-on-1 lessons as they can provide in-depth solutions for your particular situation and also correct mistakes you’re making in your projects, which is something that any online course won’t be able to spot. The more in-depth the course, the more specialized to your needs your learning will be, and, therefore, the faster you will grow. Therefore, before any analog gear, fancy mixing plugin, or anything else, invest in professional learning as this is what will speed up your skills more than anything. By the way, we give 1-on-1 lessons, but we can also recommend other teachers depending on your needs.
4. Focus on mastering one genre, don’t limit yourself to producing just that genre. When you’re starting out, producing multiple genres can be a bit confusing because music production is already pretty hard on its own. For example, can you imagine trying to learn Japanese, Chinese, English, and Russian all at once? Therefore, during your early years, focus on mastering one genre until the point you feel comfortable in making a full track. Then, expand your horizons by trying ‘sister genres’, which are close to your genre, but still different enough that it will require you to learn new skills and techniques. For example, if you’re a Melodic House producer, try producing Progressive House as it will expose you to making darker club tracks and more aggressive tracks, which are techniques that you can later implement in your own Melodic House songs to make them more unique. In addition, this approach can aid in discovering your unique sound, as exposure to new musical elements could inspire you to develop your signature sound. Thirdly, and most importantly, it expands your knowledge and makes you a better producer, eventually finding better ways to fix your issues for your current problems since you’ll be exposed to new problems that will require new and different solutions. Lastly, it prepares you for eventual genre changes in the industry, which can leave you behind if you don’t adapt fast. Therefore, make sure to master your own genre, but don’t forget to try other genres as well to expand your knowledge.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What other techniques can help you speed up your learning journey in music?
1. Collaborate with other producers: Collaborating with other producers can be really helpful since it will expose you to a different way of working, skills and styles, which essentially can be really beneficial to you if you take advantage of it. For example, that’s how I learned how to properly sidechain and you can learn more over here about collabs;
2. Hire Audio Engineers to mix and master your songs. Hire someone to mix and master your song while also doing your own version of it so you can compare them and learn from them. For example, try to understand the different decisions the engineer took that you liked and incorporate them into your next mix and master;
3. Study everything that there is to study. Don’t neglect music theory, arrangement, composition, or even mix and master, even if you don’t plan to mix and master your own song. Some mix and master decisions will help you avoid wasting time and energy with elements that will be faded by an engineer in the mix. Or, mix and master can open up space for you to add more elements to your song, so even if you don’t plan to be a pro in it, learn the basics as it will help you a lot.