I’m always looking for recommendations for this newsletter, and today I thought it could be valuable to you if the recommendations came from PRO artists instead of me. Therefore, this is what PRO producers recommend you should start doing right now…
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Focus on being better than your last song, period [Yotto – Anjunadeep]. Especially when you’re developing yourself, your focus should not be to release on your favorite label, or even finding your signature sound. Instead, focus on making your current song better than the last one, and that can happen in multiple ways. After finishing your songs, listen and compare them to your favorite songs, and write down things that you need to improve for your next song. In your next song, focus on improving at least ONE of the listed things to be improved, but I’d focus on ONLY one to avoid getting overwhelmed. Second, don’t forget to get feedback on your song from other producers as they can point out other issues that you’re not able to listen to, or things that you think are a mistake, but are ok to others. Third, eventually, you’ll get stuck, and you’ll need to shake up your game because the methods you’ve been using to get better may not help anymore. So, try collaborating with an artist that you like since it can show you how to fix issues that you have no clue how to fix. Lastly, if even then you’re feeling like you need to improve more, then I’d recommend finding a mentor who can guide you through your development. Essentially, all these methods will provide clues on how you can make your current song better than the last one, which is THE thing you should always focus on.
2. Get in the zone on demand [Ian Kirkpatrick – Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Backstreet Boys]. Instead of waiting for creativity to strike, you must treat your music like something you can pull off on demand in terms of skills and mindset. First of all, learn what gets you in the zone and psyched for making music. For example, whenever I’m not feeling productive, I go to YouTube and watch a motivational video, TED talk, or similar, and that gets me psyched about making music, or I put the songs that made me want to produce back in the day. This will help trigger your productive mindset and make you open your DAW. Now, in terms of skills, whenever I need to create a new song and things are not happening, I pick a preset pack and make a 4-bar loop for every preset. The purpose is to stimulate my creativity by either making something myself or just copying how others write music, and this is what gets me in the zone to create my melodies. When I do this, I don’t care for how they sound… it’s just to make me practice writing and this is something you can do as well. Or, I focus on creating a bassline that I like first instead of chords as the bass will later set the chord progression anyway. Essentially, learn how to get yourself motivated to avoid ‘not feeling like working on music’ and, consequently, fallback to Netflix or any game. This way, you can start getting in the zone on demand and making any 30 minutes you have more productive.
3. Find a vocalist and work closely with them [KSHMR – Krewella, David Guetta, Thomas Gold]. I love this idea because working with a vocalist can teach you a lot. Vocal Mixing, Writing for a vocal, Writing without overstuffing the song since a vocal is coming later… Essentially, working with a vocalist will make you a better songwriter and this will make you produce better songs, and that’s why this tip is so nice. “But, how can I find one?” First, ask around and you’ll likely discover that your friend has a friend who sings, and that could be your starting point. Second, go to YouTube and search for covers of famous songs by unsigned singers typically with less than 5k subscribers. Since these singers are still developing themselves and are not huge, the likelihood of them answering back to you is bigger (that’s how I met all the vocalists I’ve worked with). After you find a vocalist, practice writing a song without a vocalist while knowing that a vocalist will come later as this will force you to make the song ’empty’ since you otherwise can crowd the vocal if you overstuff the song before the vocal comes. Now, ask your vocalist friend for a vocal so you can write on top of it and you’ll then be limited to writing something that matches with the vocal and the rhythm of the vocal. All this will also teach you the importance of a lead for your songs, and that’s crucial for developing amazing songs and developing yourself as a producer. Therefore, start asking for vocalists or go to YouTube to find yourself a vocalist (more info on how to find a vocalist here)
4. Make your music “singable” [Ian Kirkpatrick – Dua Lipa’s producer]. I remember watching a video about songwriting and it mentioned how pop songs are normally “singable” by 2nd and 3rd graders. In other words, these songs are so easy to sing that even young people can understand and sing them. And, we’re not only talking about lyrics here since you can also sing along with a song. Have you ever been to a show where people sang the melody of the song along with the band/artist? That’s what you have to aim for! For electronic music, this will mainly be the theme of your song, and it could be a chord progression like in Delilah by Fred Again, or it can be a melody or even a bassline. So, for your next song, try to sing along with it. Now, ask yourself… is it too complex? If your answer is yes, then consider making it simpler to make it more “singable”. But, if you don’t know if it’s too complex, consider asking a friend to sing along with the song and ask if that was too complex. “Leo, but my songs are complex“. Yes, and they can be, but even complex can be “singable”, and that’s what this is about. When you make something that is not “singable”, people can easily forget it because it’s too hard to interact with it and, therefore, build a connection with it, which are two key things for people to share your music.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What other things can you learn from PRO artists?
1. Chase a feeling instead of a tool [OLIVER – Atlantic, Interscope, Sony]. Always think about “what is the feeling that I’m after” and “what am I trying to accomplish” before you reach out for any tool. In other words, instead of adding VSTs because you want to use them, add VSTs because they are what you need for the feeling you’re after;
2. Find/cultivate a community where you can share your work and give feedback to other people [Marsh -Anjunadeep]. As mentioned before, feedback can be a way to make your songs develop and get better, and finding people who can help you with GOOD feedback is hard, so start building your network of trusted people for feedback as soon as you can (feel free to send us your song);
3. Do what you want to do in your music, without following opinions, trends, or hypes [Ben Böhmer – Anjunadeep]. Trust your instincts and believe in your music. That doesn’t mean you can’t get feedback or can’t rethink your goals, but trust what you’re doing and consistently do it to achieve what you’re aiming for since that’s how you’ll eventually get there