You might not think of it as production, but musicians spend a lot of time making music. From writing new songs to practicing and recording old ones, musicians have their hands full with tasks that fall under the “production” umbrella.
Making music requires many different skills and techniques, which is why so many musicians double as producers in addition to writers, singers, guitarists, or drummers. As you pursue your career as a musician, understanding the different stages of production can help you hone your skills and focus on where you need to invest more time and energy.
If you’ve dreamed of working in music production as a career, you probably have a good idea of what all those terms mean. However, diving into the world of producing music can be slightly overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the many different elements that go into making music as a producer and how you can be successful in this fast-paced industry.
Writing new songs
Writing songs will always be the first step in music production, and it’s often the part that inspires the most creativity and inspiration. There are many different ways to go about writing new songs, and you’ll want to find a process that works best for you and your musical style.
Here are some common songwriting strategies:
As the name implies, this is a process for coming up with ideas and writing them down in one place.
This is an especially useful technique if you’re a solo artist or creating a new song in a style that isn’t your specialty.
Defining a topic or mood
This is an excellent way to get the creative juices flowing.
Defining a challenge or prompt
This can help you get out of your head and focus on a specific topic or mood.
Flash of inspiration
Sometimes the best songs come to you all at once, like a lightning bolt from the sky.
Outlining a concept
This is a good approach for songwriters who like to plan out their ideas in advance, or for bands who write music together.
Research and observation
While not everyone writes music about something specific, it can be helpful to write about something that interests you.
Writing from life
Taking personal experiences and emotions and turning them into songs can be an effective way to make writing more personal and meaningful for you.
If you’re stuck on coming up with new material, you can try writing about a song you love and trying to deconstruct what makes it work so well.
Writing on a whim
Sometimes the best songs come out of nowhere, so don’t get too hung up on planning everything out and letting the creative process unfold naturally.
For many artists, the process of making music truly begins at the recording stage. A recording is a digital representation of a song, capturing all the different sounds, instruments, and vocals in one static file. The quality of your recordings will impact the overall quality of your music, and you’ll want to ensure that your recordings are high-quality.
Here are some best practices for recording your music:
Choose a good location
Recording in a room where you’re likely to be distracted by noise from outside is a poor choice.
Set a limit on retakes
It’s tempting to keep going until you’re satisfied with a single take, but re-doing a portion of a song over and over again can be counter-productive.
Invest in quality recording equipment
Poor-quality equipment can cause problems with your recordings, so it’s worth it to spend a little extra on higher-end equipment.
Record multiple takes
It’s difficult to nail a perfect take on the first try, so recording multiple takes will allow you to choose the best performance.
Use editing software
You’ll likely want to make minor adjustments to your recordings using editing software, like fixing small mistakes or even tuning instruments slightly.
Use software to mix and master your recordings
Mixing and mastering your recordings will help you balance the overall sound of your songs and prepare them for distribution.
Mixing and mastering
Mixing and mastering are two steps that come after recording and before distributing your music.
The job of mixing is to balance the different sounds in your songs—like vocals, guitars, drums, and synthesizers—and make them sound clear and balanced.
The job of mastering is to prepare your songs for distribution, like adding metadata and creating a consistent volume level.
Here are some tips for mixing and mastering:
Ask for feedback
You may not have the necessary experience and perspective to mix and master your own music.
You don’t want to change too much about your songs and make them sound unnatural.
Be consistent with your mixes
If you’re recording and mixing a few different songs at once, you want them to sound consistent so they can be easily identified as part of a single album.
Choose a style and stay consistent
If you’re creating a new album, you’ll want your songs to sound like they belong together.
Listen to your songs on different speakers
Your mix should sound good regardless of what type of speaker you’re listening to.
Get help from an audio engineer
Mixing and mastering are both very complicated processes that require professional equipment and expertise.
Producing music videos
If you’re creating a new song, you may also want to create a music video to promote it and help bring your song to life. While shooting a music video may seem like an obvious choice for artists whose musical style calls for visual imagery, many musicians still don’t create music videos.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a music video:
You don’t want your music video to be so fast-paced that it’s difficult to follow.
Find a concept that ties in with your song
Your video should be a natural extension of your song and reflect the same message and style.
Have a budget
Shooting a music video simply because you think it’s necessary can drain your financial resources.
Make sure you have the necessary equipment and skills
You don’t want to end up with a poor-quality video because you don’t have the proper equipment or skills to shoot it properly.
Making music is hard — there’s a lot that goes into creating an original track from start to finish. Every stage of production has the potential to be creative and exciting, and each step plays an important role in shaping your final product.
As the saying goes, you gotta spend money to make money. When it comes to a career in the music industry, that means investing time and resources in recording, promoting, and distributing your music. The tricky part is knowing exactly where and how to invest your resources.
Releasing your music
Releasing your music is one of the most exciting parts of being an independent musician, but it can also be one of the most nerve-wracking. There are so many things to think about when you’re getting ready to release a song. Do you have the money for studio time? Where can you host your song? How will people find out about it? The list goes on and on.
Read on for insider tips and tricks from industry professionals who have years of experience releasing songs themselves.
Know Your Audience
Who are the people who would be most interested in your song? If you’re not sure, that’s okay. You’ll figure it out along the way. As you build your fanbase, you’ll get a better sense of who your main listeners are.
That will help you decide on the best release strategy for your next single. It’s important to know your audience because it will help you decide where to release your song. For example, if you have a song that talks about mental health, you might want to find a platform that caters to people who are interested in that topic. Find out what your audience listens to and make a mental note of it. That will come in handy when you’re ready to release a new song.
You’ll know exactly where to send it to reach the most people who will love it. That said, you should never try to force your music on anyone. You’ll only turn people off from your music and yourself as an artist. Focus on making music that you love and the rest will come naturally. It’s about quality, not quantity.
Choose the Right Platform for Your Song
Every music platform has its own set of rules when it comes to releasing a song. Some may not allow certain types of songs. Some may not allow certain genres or certain lyrics. Before you decide where to release your song, make sure you know the rules and regulations of each platform.
When deciding where to release your song, think about the audience you want to reach. You may want to release your song on all major streaming sites, or you may want to focus on one. You may want to release your song on a paid-for download site like iTunes or Amazon. Or you may want to release your song on a free streaming site like SoundCloud or YouTube.
You may want to release multiple songs on one platform. Or you may want to release one song on multiple platforms. The choice is completely up to you, but you’ll want to pick the right platform for each song.
Add Some Professionally Produced Elements
Before you release your song, you can add some professionally produced elements that will make the song sound more polished. Things like vocal effects, background sounds, and even a simple pre-chorus will make a big difference.
There are tons of free or cheap audio editing programs that you can use to add some professionally produced elements to your song. You can also hire someone to add some professionally produced elements for you.
If you add some professionally produced elements to your song before you release it, people will be more likely to listen to it. They’ll think, “Wow, this song is great! I wonder how much work went into creating it. Maybe I should listen to the whole thing!” Make your song as easy to listen to as possible.
When Can You Release It?
You can release your song at any point in time, but if you want to make the most amount of sales or streams, you’ll want to release your song during the right season. We’ve created a guide to help you decide when you should release your song based on its genre.
- Pop: Winter and summer are the best times to release a pop song. Rock – Spring and summer are the best times to release a rock song.
- Country: Autumn and winter are the best times to release a country song. EDM: Summer is the best time to release an EDM song.
- Hip-Hop: Autumn and winter are the best times to release a hip-hop song.
- Electronic: Winter and summer are the best times to release an electronic song.
Releasing your song is one of the most exciting parts of being an independent musician. Once you’ve released your song, make sure you let your fans know so they can listen to and support you.
The music industry is a fast-paced environment where nothing stays the same for long. Trends change, new artists emerge and old artists fall back into obscurity all in a matter of weeks. In order to stay relevant and continue making music, producers need to adapt quickly and be able to pivot based on changing market conditions.
Understanding the different stages of production will help you get started on planning out your own career and how best to achieve your goals in this field. Whether you’re writing new songs or creating a music video, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best practices to produce high-quality work.