I wish making better tracks was a simple and easy process of just developing your skills, but, after a while, you’ll realize you have all the skills you need to make a killer tune, and the sooner you realize what I’m about to say, the quicker it will be for you to start making awesome tunes
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Focus on writing a good song more than on your mixing. As producers, we obsess over making sure that the mixing is perfect, often spending more time mixing our song than developing the actual composition and arrangement of the song, but this is completely wrong. Is not that the sound design or mixing of the song is not important, but that’s not what makes a killer song. You don’t often hear regular listeners saying “That’s an amazing mix and master”, right? You hear them saying “What an awesome track”, and that’s how you should view your song. An awesome idea with an average mix will always beat a bad idea with an amazing mix simply because the idea is better. While your mixing and mastering can enhance your idea, they shouldn’t be the sole focus as they won’t make or break your song. You need to focus on writing killer tracks, and for this, I do a few things: (1) write your ideas with the same elements so you can compare which ideas are better, regardless of the sound design. For example, you can do this by writing your songs using only three elements – kick, piano, and bass – to ensure that the foundation of the idea is solid before you start sound designing it. Lastly, (2) you need to constantly practice your composition, which takes us to our next point.
2. Constantly practice writing new songs and make this a habit. The best way to write amazing songs is to write thousands of ideas and only choose the best ones to develop. When you’re developing your skills as a producer, you do need to also focus on finishing the songs until the end to make sure that you (1) acquire the habit of finishing tracks and (2) develop your skills by practicing all areas of music production until the end (Composition, arrangement, sound design, mixing and mastering). However, simply finishing tracks won’t necessarily make you a better composer, as composing differs from producing a song, right? Therefore, to generate better ideas, you need to actively develop your composition skills, and you can do this in these ways: (1) set aside 30 mins to 1h every week to focus on writing ideas. You’re not going to develop the song… you’re only going to develop an idea and the moment you say “YES, this is it”, move to the next idea; (2) Practice writing like other artists to understand their writing styles. For example, what if you did a lead like Yotto? Now, what if you did the same lead as Meduza?, And so on; (3) Focus on writing the things that you struggle with the most. For example, if you’re struggling with leads, try writing 5-10 leads for the same chord progression, and then move to a different chord progression and do the same until you’re comfortable with it. As said before, the more you practice writing, the better your ideas, and, eventually, your songs, will become.
3. Write songs that would impress your desired label, not ones that simply add to what they already have. One of the most common things I see labels saying to producers, including myself, is that a song sounds too much like someone else. For example, how many times haven’t you heard the classic ‘Anyma Shot’ in melodic techno songs? Or, how many times have you heard songs that sound really close to Lane 8, or Ben Bohmer? Now, why should Afterlife or Anjunadeep sign a song that sounds close to what they already have in their roster, when they could simply focus on their current artists? In a way, what are you bringing to this label that they don’t have? If you make songs that are exactly what a label releases, it might even work and it might get you signed, but you could end up making songs that are ‘on average’ what the label likes, but it will be hard to make a hit trying to make just ‘average’. You need to always try to push your limits a little bit more to be able to always stay fresh and attractive to your listeners, and that’s how they will end up loving you. Therefore, whenever you’re working on a song and you want to sign with Label X, try to make something in your song that Label X is not expecting. Don’t go too far off as this might be too much, but don’t go too similar or you could end up sounding like what they already have. Instead, make something that they will feel that fits with what they are releasing while also bringing something new, and that’s how you will move forward as an artist.
4. Take the pressure out of yourself when writing new songs. If you’re trying to make a good song, the more you pressure yourself, the harder it will be for you to come up with something. That happens because with pressure comes stress and anxiety, which are creativity barriers and, therefore, could make you (1) just conform to what is safe since you will want to make something that works and end up making something generic or (2) freeze and end up frustrated while trying to tackle this task, which can end up affecting your motivation and leave you frustrated. Instead, you should focus on creating an environment that helps you feel less pressure when writing since it could help you write better songs. This happens because, with less stress and anxiety, you enhance your chances of getting in a creative flow, which enhances your creativity and, thus, your ability to write better music. But, how to take the pressure away from yourself? (1) Write at least 2 melodies per week as this will leave you with 104 ideas per year to choose from, while also keeping your creative momentum sharp for when you need to write more ideas in the future; (2) Don’t be afraid to write bad music. The more you fear not writing a good song, the more you’re adding pressure on yourself. In addition, if you’re constantly writing songs, you don’t need to always be perfect all the time. By generating two ideas per week, you need a 10% success rate to release 10 songs during the year.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
How else can you make your songs better in 2024?
1. Practice and master sound design to give life to your songs: By knowing sound design, you’ll be able to elevate your ideas into amazing songs as, sometimes, the song can be about a cool sound design. Don’t feel afraid to use presets, but knowing sound design will help you turn presets into your unique sounds.
2. Practice Mixing and mastering by working on tracks from friends: The more mix and master you do, the better you’ll get at it, and a way to work on more mix and master than what you alone could do for your songs is asking your friends to mix and master their songs. This can make you mix and master your songs better in the future and, eventually, it can also become a way to make money for you.
3. Practice cohesively arranging your ideas into songs: You’ll need to make your ideas develop and grow along the song, and even the best idea can end up repetitive if you don’t move your song. Therefore, make sure to also practice getting out of an 8-bar loop into a song, which is something you can see me doing here.