TALK IS CHEAP . . .
The people who are giving advice on how to make your own rap music or trap music online are, let’s say . . . funny (For the lack of a better term).
It’s obvious most have never even made a single loop let alone a fully complete and mastered rap track themselves.
Before you ever get any advice on making music (Or anything in life), ask for that person’s results.
Speaking of results . . .
Here is my before sound, or when I tried to learn how to make music on my own.
It’s an EDM track I made back in 2015 (Yeah I got sucked into the EDM hype for a while). It has a good melody but the mix is . . . napalm for your ears.
Before Learning Music Production:
Below is my current sound.
This entire track was finished on March, 2018. It was a culmination of learning from real producers who are currently involved in the industry and are making music for brands like Sony, Armada (Armin Van Buren’s label) and one of them is even Grammy nominated.
Anyways, it’s more of a rap / trap instrumental but just listen to the clarity and overall mix / balance.
After Learning How To Make Music:
The difference as you can hear is night and day.
Super clear and clean mix. A well balanced track.
If you like what you hear, below are the steps on how you can make clear, loud and professional quality music (Regardless of the genre) like this if not better. Trust me, these are not just your average music production tips, this is how you make professional music.
Let’s Get It!
Making music is truly a gift and if it’s something that’s been pulling at your heart strings for a while, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m one of the handful of people on the internet right now that is talking about how to make music and behold . . . actually makes music too.
Here you will learn how to make your own music but more importantly, finally get on the right path to make real professional music.
Keyword is ‘professional’.
Contrary to popular belief, making music is actually quite evergreen.
Which means if you can understand just the “core basics” and fundamental principles of music production, than everything falls in place.
By everything, I literally mean everything.
For example, once you understand the function of decay, attack, low cut, high cut, etc, you can literally use any plugin that has to do with music production. Don’t worry if you don’t understand or have never heard of these terms up until now, you’ll eventually get them all.
In fact, you’ll fall in love with them.
So all you have to do is learn these core basic principles and than just practice. No matter what genre of music you are trying to produce.
It’s like most sports, once you know how to play, it’s all about practicing.
If a guy like me can do it so can you. I personally use to despise the nerdy language used in music production but since I understand it now, I love it.
So who am I?
My name is JB I’m just like you.
A budding trap music producer. I use to make EDM but now I’m totally into rap / trap instrumentals etc. It was my first love anyways.
I’m no expert (At least not while I write this) but the quality of my music (As you heard) has increased dramatically.
All because I finally decided to learn from real experts, instead of trying to figure things out on my own.
Anyways, it’s going to be a long read so make sure the following applies to you.
- You don’t know what DAW means.
- You don’t know what EQing is.
- When you hear someone talking about ‘low pass’ and ‘high pass’, you think they are talking about the highway.
- You think after you download a music software (Ableton, FL Studio, etc) you will be on your way to super stardom.
- You don’t know any of the terms mentioned above but you LOVE music and you think you can make some banging tracks yourself.
If you answered YES to a few of these questions, than this music for beginners guide is definitely for you.
I don’t like beating around the bush so let’s get started.
Best Way To Start Producing Music
As far as I see it, there are 5 main steps to making your own music.
- Pick a music making software aka DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
- Setup a music studio (Don’t worry, it’s a process).
- Learn to mix – Better known as “EQing”.
- Start to use professional quality sounds.
- Master your craft.
If you can get these basics down (The first three), all you need to do is keep practicing and keep learning (Google, Youtube, hiring or working with successful music producers, etc).
Best Music Production Software For Beginners
You know what separates your music ideas from actually manifesting and coming to life?
A solid music making software. Or better known in the industry as DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
What In The World Is A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)?
A DAW is simply a software that allows you create professional music.
If music is your passion than mastery of a professional music production software aka DAW will help you bring those ideas to life.
Plus the more you practice, the sooner you’ll graduate from a beginner to a pro.
Trust me, the learning curve is a year tops if you learn from the pros (People who actually know what they are talking about). Than it’s just about practicing and getting better in areas where you are weak.
The problem is most people try to figure out a DAW themselves and when they can’t find an answer to something, they get frustrated and quit. This is why 99% of people who want to become music producers fail.
Let me tell you something and it’s the absolute truth . . .
As fun and satisfying music production is, if you don’t have the proper knowledge, you will get frustrated and eventually quit.
Especially if you are more “creative” than “technical”.
Let me explain the difference real quick . . .
If you just want to make beats ASAP than you are more “creative”. If you are interested in how a certain sound is created, you are “technical”. I can’t speak for the latter but as someone who falls in the “creative” category, I hated the ‘technical’ side of music. Decay, compression, saturation, etc.
In fact, I quit music production for years and was happy just making ‘beats’ on a FL Studio app on my iPhone.
However, I felt my ‘calling’ was to learn music production properly at the very least. So I decided that instead of trying to figure stuff out on my own, I’m going to learn it from someone who knows their stuff.
I literally tried a few courses, even got random dudes on craigslist who produced and offered to pay them if they can teach me the basics and long story short, it worked.
Half decent teachers led to better teachers and soon I was being trained by people who’s music repeatedly gets featured on major labels.
This is when things finally started to fall into place.
Now I LOVE the technical side of music making because I finally understand what each technical concept means. More importantly, I know how these concepts will shape the sound that I want to create. It all clicks and it all sticks.
Bottom line, I understand music making. I LOVE IT. The creative side and the technical side.
As a beginner, your job right now should be to download these different DAWs (Don’t worry, almost all of them come with their own demo) and figure out which one is the one you like.
My rule of thumb is use the same DAW that your favorite producer uses as it will motivate you to learn it faster.
This simple concept might not apply to you but definitely helped me out.
This way, you’ll have all the necessary pieces required to create professional music. So all and all, try to play with a DAW first and see if music production is really something you want to get into.
Now let’s see which DAW is right for you.
Choosing The Best Daw Software
Selecting the right DAW is a lot like deciding on what kind of wine you want to have with your dinner. No decision you make will be wrong (Contrary to what some wine connoisseurs might say), but it does help to know which wine goes best with certain foods.
In this case, it all depends on what kind of music you want to make and how your ‘workflow’ is. Workflow just means how do you like to setup thing when you are producing music. It can only be determined after trying out different DAWs.
I started with FL Studio, then jumped to Reason, played around with Pro Tools and then finally settled with Logic Pro.
Don’t worry, it’s a natural part of finding the best music making software for you.
Can You Afford It
DAWs range from a few hundred bucks to more. A DAW is an investment meant to last you as long as a car (Maybe longer with the updates). I’ve been using my DAW for just about three years and will continue to use it (Logic Pro X). Yes when it comes to getting a DAW, you do need to spend some coin. Don’t worry, they are not that expensive.
Also keep in mind that all DAWS (Almost all of them) have a demo that you can download. So feel free to use your ‘Try before you buy’ ninja skill here.
What’s Your Style
The DAWs today are very similar so if you can accomplish one thing on a certain DAW, you can do the same on another. The best way is to try them all out and then stick with one that you like the most. Also, the type of music you want to make matters too.
Begin with a software that makes it FUN for you to produce music. I like Logic Pro X because I’m a visual person. Plus I’m a fan of Apple (I produce on a MacMini and a MacBook Air) so it was easy for me to learn it.
DAW Mastery Is Essential
Once you tried all the major DAWs. Don’t waste your time jumping from one DAW to another.
Stick with the one you like and master it.
The better understanding you have of your DAW, the better you’ll get. With increased confidence in your own abilities, the quality of your music will rise greatly. Plus the speed at which you will start banging out tracks will astonish you.
Now that you have decided to take music seriously, think of yourself as a superhero and your DAW as your weapon.
Master your DAW. One thing I will say is if you like a DAW, stick with it and own it.
Your music will only be good as your knowledge about your DAW. Master your DAW, master your music. It’s simple as that.
Hold off the temptation to switch music making software so that you can really improve.
After all, music production is not just an investment in money, but also time.
So don’t worry. Relax and creating music will come organically. Practice everyday. Create a habit. There are going to great times and lots of crappy times (While making music and in life) but practice, experiment and have fun!
I think the fun part is just part of the process.
Also remember, you’re not on your own . . .
No matter which DAW you choose, you can get support from forums, message boards, and free online tutorials on Youtube. There is tons of info out there. Plus the resources I recommend are absolutely stellar.
The ONLY 4 DAWs that matter
Here are my picks for the top 4 DAWs . . .
Ableton Live by Ableton
#1 DAW in the world (Especially for EDM Producers), Ableton Live was first introduced in 1999 and its popularity has grown since then.
My two cents: Almost EVERY EDM Producer uses Ableton. It’s the MOST used DAW by electronic dance music producers.
Producers that use Ableton:
- Nicky Romero (I’ve seen him use Logic Pro X as well).
- Calvin Harris
- and the list goes on . . .
Logic Pro X by Apple
2nd most used DAW in the world. Logic Pro is an excellent choice of software for Mac users, but unfortunately it is not compatible with PC.
One feature that stands out is the very advanced interface, which involves consolidating (meaning you can stack tracks,) and layering instruments. It also has a mixer that is intuitive and that you can control via plug-in, and a “score editor.”
I am a Logic Pro user and if you are a mac user, there is no better DAW.
Producers that use Logic Pro X:
- Tha Bizzness (Produced Kendric Lamar’s tracks).
- Pharrell Williams
- Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike
- and the list goes on.
My two cents: 2nd most popular DAW in the world. Used my TONS of EDM producers and others. If you are a Mac person, this is the DAW for you.
FL Studio by Image Line (Also known as Fruity Loops)
Fruity Loops (FL Studio) is a standard DAW by Image-Line’s list of products. It’s known for being one of the best DAW’s for totally new (It was my first DAW) and experts alike. I thought FL Studio was just amateur hour but I’m absolutely baffled and how far along it has come. FL Studio is used by one of the biggest producers of trap music today.
If you don’t mind the childish layout (Which makes it super easy to make beats), you will love it. Best DAW to get started on for sure. That said, I’ve heard of cases where it kind of doesn’t align ‘kicks’ properly for some weird reason but it could be just a glitch.
Too many professional trap producers use this so I’m sure there is a work around for that error or perhaps it’s fixed.
Producers that use FL Studio:
- Partynextdoor (Dude got his name from an FL Studio Plugin – No joke).
- Metro Boomin (Case closed).
- Soulja Boy
- Lex Luger (Enough said).
- Ummet Ozcan
- and the list goes on.
My two cents: Almost all rap bangers are produced by this one. A popular choice for EDM producers too.
Presonus Studio One Daw
One of the latest and possibly one of the most powerful DAW software available today.
There is also a free version of Studio One that is known to be something of a blessing for musicians with low funds. I personally haven’t tried this one and don’t plan to (I’m just working on mastering Logic Pro).
It must be a killer DAW because a lot of producers who use Ableton are switching to this one.
Producers that use Studio One:
- Headhunters (Switched from Ableton).
- Owl City
- Knife Party
- and once again, the list goes on . . .
At the end of the day . . .
All DAWs are great and can do what you want them to. Pick the one that suits your style and stick to it until you master it.
Stick to it and master your DAW.
I want to re-touch on this point as it’s really that important.
Learn the shortcuts. Take an additional class if necessary and if you can master your DAW, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the beat makers that are out there and ready to produce your own music.
All the professionals will tell you ‘master you daw’ and you will master your music. If you don’t, forget about making professional music.
So for now, download demos of these DAWs and start playing around with them. This will help you figure out which one is right for you.
PS: A lot of artists use multiple DAWs. They only do this because they are travelling half the time and work with what they get. If you can master one DAW, your pretty much know them all.
How To Build Your Own Music Studio
Once you start getting a hang of your DAW and have a good idea that making your own music is definitely something you want to do, then it’s time to get a little serious.
It’s time to starting building you home music studio.
Contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t need much to get started and music production is definitely not as complicated as they’ve made it.
If you just want to “make beats”, just download an app on your iPhone or get little children’s casio keyboard and play away.
However, if you are serious about really exploring your music talent and honing your craft, you need to start investing (Even bit by bit) in a proper dedicated space for your music.
All in all, if you have the following, you are pretty much set.
- A Laptop or a Desktop Computer – For obvious reasons.
- A Midi Controller – To ‘play’ or bring your ideas to life.
- Audio Interface – To start making professional music (Most beginner producers have no clue about this).
- Studio Monitors – The real secret on how to make professional music. Needs to connect to your audio interface.
- Microphone (For recording rappers or singers).
I wouldn’t worry about soundproofing at this point because I’ve made tons of of tracks without any of that.
I do have concrete walls in my apartment so that might help but you don’t need all that stuff at this stage.
Just concentrate on making music. Not the fancy stuff.
Here is my personal studio setup:
My Initial Home Recording Studio Equipment
Most of this stuff is from 2017 but I did get a new audio interface and a new microphone in 2018.
- DAW: Logic Pro X
- Computer: Mac Mini and MacBookAir
- Studio Monitors: Neumann KH120 A (This is what I spent the most money on and I explain why later).
- Audio Interface: Tascam 2×2 Audio Interface
- Monitor: Hewlett Packard 21inch
- Wireless Keyboard and Mouse: No Name Windows Keyboard (Yup! Windows keyboard on a Mac).
- MIDI Keyboard: AKAI LPK 25
- Microphone: Audio Technica 2200 USB and Rode NT1-A package.
- Pop filter: Generic
- Studio Desk: Red (Kind of small, need to upgrade)
Now let’s look at each item and why it’s so important. We’ve kind of covered the DAW section so let’s see what would be the ideal computer for the DAW that you want to continue working on and more.
First though . . .
Mac or PC for Music Production
Again this is a personal choice. What do you prefer working on or find easier to use? When I was using Fruity Loops I was on PC. I had no issues whatsoever.
Now I’m using Logic Pro X, I’m using a Mac Mini, Mac Book Air and guess what . . . no issues.
So point is, try different DAWs out and see what works for you.
As a side note, if you are PC person, it’s best to continue on that route and vice versa. I became a Mac person after owning an iPhone for a few years. Soon I started using my sister’s MacBook Pro and that was it!
Bye Bye PC for me . . .
As far as the details go, obviously you want the most powerful computer you can get aka afford but contrary to popular belief, you can get by with a lot less than you think.
Let me share with you the stats of my computers with you.
This is my ‘on the go’ computer. When I’m flying around or staying at a hotel, I use this one. Heck I’ve finished two songs on this so far as well (Static Mixes). This is an awesome computer to have when you are on long flights.
I just sit and work on my tracks. Makes me feel like a professional DJ / Producer moving from one city to another.
BTW, the flying for me is usually for a vacation or business trip. Not to a massive club in Ibiza somewhere where I’m the headliner.
Not yet 😉
My MacBook Air Stats:
Yes have a look at the RAM. Just 4MB. However, I’ve literally finished full songs on this before transferring the files using the BOX file transfer service or by using my external hard drive if the file was well over 1GB or something.
Okay may be not full songs but I would call it a “static mix” or a “pre-static mix”. A static mix refers to when your track is pretty much complete and just needs to be “polished” and mastered.
Overall, it does a great job.
You can’t use 4gm RAM for mixing and definitely not for mastering but you can bang out solid ‘rough drafts’ of proper tracks on this one for sure.
Good for travelling.
That’s how I use it.
This is my studio computer. This is where i turn those static mixes into professionally mastered tracks.
As you can see, the most RAM I have is at 8MB. Since I’m still at an intermediate stage and can master and stuff, I have no issues with my 8MB Ram. Ofcourse I use Logic’s ‘FREEZE’ feature a lot (Which drastically reduces the load on your computer) but in a perfect world, I would love to have 16mb RAM.
Point is, if you heard my songs, you can check out the quality. It’s freaking professional.
So at the end of the day, work with what you have. Mac or PC isn’t an issue at all. It’s how you use them.
Click below to learn more about each model on Amazon. This should give you a good idea on what’s best for making music at home.
Best Computer Monitor For Music Production
As a beginner, it really shouldn’t matter (As long as your monitor works) but once you actually start getting good, you should definitely look into some options.
Reason is if your music is improving, it means that your workflow is also getting faster and you are producing quality tracks quicker.
The faster you bang out quality tracks, the more you improve and more of your material is out there to be heard.
Makes sense right?
Did you know that Getter (EDM producer) makes a song a day (He announced that on one of his Youtube videos).
Ofcourse he now has the time but that is some serious work ethic. He’s one of the best because he practices like that.
This naturally doesn’t apply to everyone but generally speaking, the more you make, the better you get.
Again this is something that you will figure out as you produce and how your workflow is.
I personally think I should upgrade to another monitor so I can have one view of my mixer and one view of my actual editing window.
This will definitely speed up my workflow.
Or I’m thinking about getting one of those monitors that are longer in length (Width). This could help solve the problem too but I think it might make other stuff kind of difficult (Typing stuff, browsing for sounds, etc).
I’m not sure . . .
I believe they are called ‘Wide Monitors’.
My current monitor is a HP and it does the job but I would love to have another one for sure. It will definitely speed things up.
My Monitor (Amazon link): http://amzn.to/2jfS0NL
Which Wireless Keyboard And Mouse Is Best?
If your computer didn’t come with a keyboard and mouse (Like my MacMini), I suggest you get a decent Keyboard and Mouse combo.
As long as it’s branded, you should be fine. Do not go for the low quality ones because you will be using your keyboard right along with your midi keyboard for a long time. Brands like Logitech, Microsoft and other popular ones should do just fine.
As far as your mouse goes, make sure it’s wireless. As you will already have wires from your Screen, Computer, Studio monitors, etc all around.
The more wire free you can be, the better. Avoid the clutter and keep your studio space clean and clear.
I got mine from a local electronics sttore but here is a nice mouse and keyboard combo on Amazon as well.
PS: Ofcourse if you can get a Mac keyboard for your mac, that would be better but you will do just fine with a PC keyboard on a Mac as well. Get started with what you can get and upgrade later.
A MIDI Controller is basically a keyboard with no built in sounds. The sounds come from within your music software or your DAW.
Like many keyboards, a midi controller comes in various # of keys. I currently have the following and it’s more than enough. I’ve had it for three years and it’s all you need to get to an intermediate stage.
Then it’s up to you to keep it or upgrade to a midi controller with more keys.
A MIDI controller can easily connect to your Laptop or Desktop computer or even through your audio interface. Mine is connected directly to my laptop.
Now although there are artists who don’t use a MIDI controller like DeadMau5 but I think you should get it. In literally a few weeks I started creating any beat that was in my head. Totally love it.
Again it’s not a necessity but if you get the right tools, you’ll make more music and dramatically reduce your own chances of quitting without giving making music a real shot.
In fact, it’s a lot faster to bang out musical ideas on a Keyboard. At least for myself and most of the producers out there (Especially if you are using anything other than Fruity Loops).
The midi keyboard that I started with was the legendary Akai Professional LPK25. Small and works like a charm and best part, it’s easy for most people to spend on. Well when I got it it was a few years back and paid just around $100 bucks for it but still a sweet deal. Plus it’s the best for “On the go” beat making as well.
I’ve taken the Akai to several different cities with me. It’s super lightweight and compact.
This should be the ideal beginner MIDI Keyboard for you. I feel only after using this for like a year or so that I need to upgrade to a larger version or a MIDI controller with more keys and a pitch controller (This one doesn’t come with that).
So when you think your music is getting more complex, feel free to upgrade or otherwise, it’s a great way to enter the Midi Keyboard world.
Some things to keep in mind are make sure you get a quality brand again. Brands matter when it comes to music equipment or electronics in general. Akai is phenomenal (Japanese technology right?) and there are few others like KORG, Behringer, etc
Always judge a MIDI keyboard on the following things:
- Must be a brand name – No if’s and but’s about it.
- How stiff are the keys? The more expensive a controller is, the easier on the fingers they are.
- How light it is? The lighter the better. Less load on your music desk.
- Do you need a pitch controller (To do pitch bends) as well?
So at the end of the day, go for quality. Don’t worry though. There are lots of them out there.
PS: Keep in mind, MIDI Keyboards are not Synthesizers. Synthesizers come with built in sounds. MIDI Keyboards control VST or Virtual Synths in your DAW or on your computer. At this point, you just need a MIDI Controller (Midi Keyboard).
Professional Recording Microphone
Now there are several types of microphones but all you need to worry about is the following:
- Is it a condenser microphone.
- Is it XLR powered (Not USB).
There are several types of microphones and each have different uses but when it comes right down to recording, you need a condenser microphone.
XLR vs USB
USB condenser microphones are great for practicing or if you are looking for something portable to quickly record your ideas. As a USB condenser microphone doesn’t require an audio interface. That said, they are not used to record in studios due to background noise, etc.
So for a mic to record at home, you need a XLR Condenser Microphone.
In building my own home music production studio, I’ve found that two things that you shouldn’t be a scrooge about are studio monitors and a microphone. Also if you think about it, it actually makes sense because one is used to input sounds and one is for the output.
Both are the most important part of music producing.
Quality in quality out.
Professional Audio Interface
This little device is what separates the beat making wannabees from the real professional producers.
Have you heard of the phrase “You need the right tools for the right job”? Well welcome to the first professional tool in making professional music.
An audio interface helps you create professional music by doing two main things:
It helps you create audio files (Output) at 192Khz. Which is the quality you hear on the radio, in clubs, festivals, etc.
It XLR outputs to help you connect you studio monitors, your xlr mic and any others instruments to your computer.
External instruments such as:
Today there are lots of Audio Interfaces to choose from.
Now why would I get cheaper audio interface and a different brand all together?
Well when I got my first audio interface, I just wanted to get something that’s proven and did the job. When I got the second one, I had more knowledge about what I needed.
These are the three most important things to consider when getting an audio interface:
- ¼” Output for your studio monitors. A lot of audio interfaces don’t have this. They have the smaller RC inputs for normal speakers.
- One XLR output so you can connect your mic and an instrument (Most have these but it’s always good to check).
- Also the sound quality should be at 192 khz. Very important. As I mentioned, professional tracks need to be at this level.
If these three things are there, you have a decent professional audio interface around and you are good to go.
One thing I would suggest though is always pick a good brand.
Tascam, Behringer, Focusrite, these are all good ones. Also unlike when getting a microphone, you can definitely get a usb powered audio interface. It won’t effect your sound recordings at all.
Selecting Professional Studio Monitors
Now after an audio interface, this is the last piece of professional equipment that you’ve been missing out on.
Studio monitors are the most important part of your home studio. In fact, it will complete your studio (As far as physical parts “hardware” goes). To be frank, you can’t make professional music without studio monitors. Period.
You can have the biggest computer screen, fastest computer, most technically advanced audio interface but if you don’t have the proper studio monitors, your music is going to sound like . . . well not like it’s suppose to.
Studio monitors don’t exaggerate sound like average home speakers or in other words, have a “flat response”. Studio monitors just play the track or the note as it’s suppose to sound without any bells and whistles. So if your track sounds great on studio monitors, it wills sound great everywhere else as well.
It’s simple as that.
Recently, I got the absolute best monitors you can have in a small room. Perfect for apartments. They are small and compact in size and are perfect for trap or EDM producers as the bass on it is perfect.
They are the . . . (Drum roll):
Neuman KH 120 A.
I spent a decent amount on these but I had to. I’m very serious about my music production and like I said, if you can than do it.
As far as the Neumans go, I love them. They have a nice flat response.
Learn How To Mix Music – It’s All About EQing
If you’ve been digging around trying to learn music production on your own. Whether on Google or Youtube, you’ve probably come across EQing.
If you can look at ‘EQing’ from a different angle, it’s basically a fancy word for “mixing”.
Let me explain . . .
Each sound in the entire universe has its own “frequency”.
Below is a an image of a frequency chart. It’s from an EQ plugin that pretty much all the major artists use called FabFilter Pro Q 2.
Notice those numbers at the bottom in white?
20, 50, 100 and so on . . .
When you play a sound or hit a note, whatever frequency is represented by that sound will be shown here.
Sound or audio is measured in hertz.
That’s what these numbers are. 20 Herts, 50 hertz and so on.
For example, and 808’s frequency will look similar to this:
Your main lead might look like this
So EQing is making sure these sounds (Or more depending on your track) mix perfectly.
In other words, when you whole track is being played, if you did your job mixing aka EQing properly, you should be able to hear each instrument clearly even if they are playing at the same time.
That’s EQing in a nutshell.
EQing is all about ‘mixing’ these frequencies (Different instruments) together.
If this makes sense to you, you’re already halfway there.
Name of the game is making ‘clean’ sounding professional tracks.
Next time you listen to your favorite artist, try to identify each sound in the track.
Doesn’t everything sound crystal clear? Even with so many sounds playing at the same time?
Learning how to EQ will get you there.
It is the so called ‘secret’ that separates the wannabe beat makers from the rest.
So many of us can make great beats and loops but if it doesn’t sound professional and clean, than you’re just another chump who makes beats, not full on tracks.
Anyone can make a beat, but the goal is to make professional crystal clear sounding audio tracks.
EQing will get you there.
How To Make Your Music Sound Professional
Once you start mixing fairly clean tracks, it’s time to get your sound game right.
This is definitely a professional music production secret.
Where are you getting your kicks, your snares, your sounds from?
The higher quality sounds you use the more pro your music is going to sound like.
If you use crappy sound samples from just anywhere, your tracks / songs will sound amateur.
So where do your favorite artists like KSHMR, Big Head On The Beat (Lil Pump’s Producer), San Holo, and more get there sounds form?
SPLICE – The Place For Quality Music Samples
Splice is not only a resource for the artists out there but the same artists are adding their own sounds to their database. Yeah that’s unheard of but Splice is pulling it off.
It’s actually my one “go to” place for high quality professional sounds. You can even find some cool samples there.
Download the most high quality sounds (All the pros use this service), interact with other artists (Professionals as well) and enjoy tons of tutorials, articles on making your music better.
I would love to get into the details but once you login, you can figure it out.
Splice is a total gem for all professional music producers.
I would like to see them add more sounds on a faster basis though.
I felt like I didn’t need them after trying them out for a solid 90 days.
So I hope they add more new fresh sounds regularly.
Other places for sound banks that I frequent (Plus other famous artists as well):
Make Professional Music By Mastering Your Craft
At this stage, you are probably making professional or close to professional sounding music. It is also at this stage where you find what “specific” things you need to focus on and simply ‘practice’ to keep getting better.
Or better yet, find someone who is already a master of that specific issue.
If you can learn from a pro without breaking the bank, go for it.
Just make sure the guy or girl is someone who is good.
Once these issues are resolve, just dive in and never look back.
Become a master at your craft.
Practice, learn and seek out professionals who can take you to where you want to be faster.
Anyways, I hope by sharing my own personal experience with music production, it helped shed some light on which direction you should be heading as well.
Common Questions Related To Music Production
Am I too old to produce music?
I can’t speak for others but when I asked myself this question like a million times, I realized something . . .
What I’m actually asking is ‘Can I make a living off of my music?”.
The answer is HELL YES!
You can make a living through music as a:
- Music Producer.
- Audio Engineer.
- Producer of audio samples (That producers can use for their tracks, etc).
- Soundtrack producer like Hans Zimmer or one my favorites Ramin Djawadi (Mr. Brooks)/
- Making music for commercials.
- Youtube intro or outro music maker (You’ll be surprised how many people need music for their Youtube videos).
- The list goes on . . .
I think you get the idea.
So believe it or not, if you’re good and people like your music, you can find a way to monetize it.
The great news is if people hate your music, you can STILL make money from it by teaching people how to make music (As long as you are good at describing concepts, etc).
If you suck (I’m referring to your taste in music), you can always teach on Youtube, etc. No offence to Youtube music teachers but man some of the music these guys make isn’t even fit for a 8 Bit video game from the 80s.
When I first got started, almost immediately I started getting up and coming rappers offering me money for my beats on Facebook. I never took it seriously for reasons like fear of monetizing my passion (Fear of success perhaps?), etc but several years later (At the present moment), I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Now that I think about it, I guess when you ask your self am I too old? It’s also a reflection of your self esteem and lack of personal belief in yourself.
So are you too old for making music?
Well if you can still create music that people want than you’ll do just fine. If you are an artist or inspiring artist (Rapper or Singer) and if you look young and can make relevant music, than you have nothing to worry about.
At least that’s how I feel now.
As you age though, your body does too so keeping it in check would be a challenge. However, if you love making music, you’ll do whatever is necessary to continue living that dream. We’re blessed to live in a very incredible time in history where you can literally look 10 – 20 years younger just by taking care of your diet alone.
In addition, as a former club / event promoter who helped bring artists likes Beanie Man, Gareth Emery, Tinie Tempah, Stromae and more to for their first ever gig in the Middle East, I can further confirm from a real life perspective, that you are not ‘too’ old for music.
Rockstars are still touring (Well in their 60s and above), best rappers today are in the age range of early 30s (Drake) and close to 50 (Snoop Dogg) and I can go on and on. In fact, Snoop Dogg was quoted as saying that they need to raise the age of what an “O.G” is suppose to be. This is when he was well in his 40s.
As I said earlier, if you look young and are young at heart aka relevant (Still aware of the newest freshest artists in your genre), don’t worry about age.
When you ask yourself am I tool old for music or too old for something, you are basically approaching the situation from ‘survival mode’.
Making music isn’t about survival. It’s about being creative.
Always has and always will be.
If someone finds your creativity entertaining or valuable enough, they won’t mind paying for it.
Now obviously it depends on what kind of music you make and the genre but I hope I made my point.
You are only too old to produce music when you just don’t feel like music is your thing anymore. When you feel like it’s not your thing anymore. Until that time arrives, don’t put silly limitations on yourself and just make music.
However, if you feel that you are too ‘old’ that people won’t pay you for your music, maybe you shouldn’t be doing music in the first place. Maybe you ‘thought’ that it’s what you wanted to do.
Maybe you wanted to get in the game for your ego or other things (Girls, Fame, etc) rather than the music itself.
Nothing wrong with that either but if you’re doing it for a career aka money, than it’s not you who decides if you’re too old or not, it’s the market.
However, from what’ I’ve found is the millennial generation really isn’t so age focused as the previous generation was. They use to call rap a young man’s game but now it’s just pop music.
The last 4 out of 5 new artists at the 2018 Billboard awards were all rappers. Even every other commercial today has a rap or trap beat behind it.
Bottom line is, Skill (Your music) + Value (Where your music fits in) = A career in music.
To be honest, it’s not about age anymore, especially with the millennial generation, it’s more about if your music is good or not.
Most people’s music just sucks.
Instead of accepting this, they start coming up with excuses like “Oh I’m too old” or “Rap is a young man’s game, etc”, “nobody listens to metal anymore” and the list goes on.
The truth is your music sucks. However, if you still want to be around music as it’s still what you’re passionate about, just start teaching it.
Also remember, all this is just my opinion based on my life experience.
At the end of the day, you know exactly what you need to do.
The question is do you have the guts to go for it?
Do music producers with a diploma get paid more?
Depends. If you’re working for yourself it doesn’t matter if you have a diploma or not. However, if you’re looking to work in a music studio as an engineer, most likely, the head producer will pick someone with a degree.
Just because it kind of guarantees that you know your stuff and it would be easier for them to work / communicate with you. Of course anything is possible but in this situation an audio engineering diploma or something along those lines would only help.
Are there different kinds of music producers?
Absolutely. There are no two music producers that are alike. What would be the point of that right? In fact an EDM producer like Martin Garrix can’t mix a trap record like Zaytoven or vice versa. If you want to be a great producer, you need to master your genre. Although it’s possible to master two genres, it’s better to be an expert at one than average at more than one.
Are there multiple ways to produce music
There are infinite ways of producing music. Back in our caveman days, all we had were rocks and sticks. Can you imagine how those beats sounded?
So making music and especially how you make them is truly dependant on your imagination and creativity. DAWs are here to help you but they are just tools.
Also if you think about it, making music is just another way of saying “creating” sounds. To create sounds, there are literally no rules. There are definitely some principles like doing things in the same key, etc but no rules at all. That is what’s absolutely amazing about creating music. The incredible freedom.
Are music producers composers?
Technically no but they can be. A composer is someone who writes music using musical notes. However, sometime in the industry you might hear someone refer to a music producer as a ‘composer’ but they are two different things. It is possible though to have a music producer that knows how to compose.
Can girls become a music producer?
Of course.Today there are more famous female producers (Especially in the rap game) than ever. Some are even artists as well. Grimes, WondaGirl and a few others. Did you know Missy Elliot produced her own beats as well at some point? So don’t put any limitations on yourself. Just create girl!
Can I be a music producer and recording engineer?
First let’s define what a music producer and a recording engineer does.
A music producer makes the beat or the track and a recording engineer basically adds the finishing touches on it (Additional mixing / mastering).
A recording engineer’s job is to make sure that your track is ready on a professional level.
So to answer your question, a big yes. In fact many producers learn recording engineering so they can properly mix and master their own tracks. Today you can create a beat, mix it and master it all on a single. DAW (Music software).
Can I make any money producing music?
I wish I can answer this but I haven’t made any money yet . . .
That’s because I’m somewhat in progress. However, I’ve had this one guy who offered to buy a beat I made.
So can you make any money with music? Well from what I know, these are the ways to do it:
- Sell your own beats.
- Make your own complete songs.
- Get your beat in a commercial.
- Work on a soundtrack.
- Co-produce a track
And basically wherever people need new music.
Can I produce music if I don’t listen to much?
If you’re an artist, this might be a great thing as you won’t be influenced by other people’s taste. So yes you can definitely produce music without listening to other people’s music. However, where you want to be is at a happy medium. Where you listen to the tracks you like but at the same time, you are not completely influenced by them.
Can I produce music with one monitor and headphones?
Yes. However, you can’t mix it properly. Music is made on two channels. Left and Right. Whatever sound you hear from the middle is referred to as the center or ‘Mono’. This is referred to as the ‘stereo field’.
So as you can see, if you are just using one speaker to mix, your mix won’t sound right at all. In fact, it would be a massive pain in the you know what if you tried to mix any track this way.
I actually did something similar and Milk N Cooks who reviewed my track on their Facebook said it’s the worst mix they’ve ever heard. Don’t worry though, I’m still alive here and making music. Lesson learned :). They give honest feedback though as the very first track I submitted got a 80% rating from them.
So yeah, improve on feedback and never take anything personal 🙂
Can I produce music with studio headphones?
You can definitely produce music with studio recording headphones on but you can’t mix on them. Reason is recording headphones or even your everyday speakers have their own algorithms that re-produce sound a certain way. Bose headphones may sound different than Beats By Dre and so on.
So you can definitely make beats on your headphones but to properly mix the (So your track sounds the same everywhere else), you need studio monitors. Studio monitors simply ‘echo’ the sound you put through them which produces the most accurate version of your track.
Bottom line, if your track sounds professional on your studio monitors, your track will sound great everywhere else as well. Especially the clubs or live venues where it matters the most.
Can music producers be fired?
Well just like any job, if you are working for someone as a ‘music producer’, yes you can be fired. If you’re running your own studio or own boss than nobody can fire you.
Can you be a music producer with Logic Pro X?
Yes. Logic Pro X is a professional DAW (I use it as well). Check out other famous music producers that use Logic Pro X as their main DAW.
Can you make a living as a music producer?
You can make a living doing anything. As long as that ‘anything’ is something other people want as well. Money is another word for ‘Marketplace’s desire’. If the marketplace desires your product, you chances of making a living doing or making that specific thing (Music in this case) is extremely high.
Can you produce music for free?
Yes. Thanks to the demos of professional DAWs like Ableton, Logic Pro X and a few more, you can simply download a free demo and start producing music. You can even download their respectable apps for free. This is a great way to start producing music for free and once you start getting good, get the full version.
Can you produce music on an Alienware computers?
Yes. All you need to do is install a DAW. The brand or type of a computer doesn’t matter. All you need is a proper DAW. Just make sure you have about 8MB of RAM (That’s a minimum by the way).
Can you produce music with Ableton Lite?
Absolutely. In fact Ableton, is the most used DAW by professionals. Especially in the EDM world.
Can you produce music with apple headphones?
Absolutely. However, you can’t ‘mix’ it on headphones. To ‘mix’ music properly, you need studio monitors.
Do I need a lot of RAM for producing rock music?
You need a lot of ram to produce any kind of music. I’ve found that you can get away with 4mb ram on a mac but to mix, you need to double that. With PC it’s probably 8mb of RAM to produce and 16mb to mix. So if you have 16 megabyte of RAM on a Mac, you’ll be set for a long time. If you have 32 megabyte RAM on a PC, you’ll be good to go there as well. So bottom line, the more RAM the better. Especially when you get into mixing and mastering. As it takes a lot of heavy duty plugins to master tracks properly and they naturally require a lot of ram.
Do movie music producers use loops?
Long story short, everyone uses loops. In fact using loops is an essential part of the creative process of making beats. Some producers think that using loops is “cheating” but that is just a perception. Rap music was started by ‘looping’ sections from existing songs way back from new york which we now call ‘sampling’. So yeah not just music producers in the movies use loops but pretty much every rap producers that is out there. Don’t put limitations on yourself. Just be free and make music. Just don’t steal and make money off of someone’s work. That’s not cool and will only hurt you the most in the end. Why steal when you can work together right?
Do music producers use presets?
Another major misconception is that if you use presets, you’re not a real producer.
It’s unfortunate how much ignorance can be found in the music production world. Everyone uses presets. In fact some of Lil Pump’s new tracks were 90% made from presets.
As I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter where the sound comes from. As long as you didn’t steal it without the artist’s permission and if it sounds good, you’re good to go as well.
Do music producers work for record labels?
Yes. Some producers even have deals where they can release tracks on their own if they like. Other producers have multiple deals with various record labels. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you negotiate. Any kind of deal is possible. Just make sure you read and understand the contract and offer in hand as there are a lot of horror stories as well.
Do record studios produce music for acapella singers?
Generally speaking yes. Record studios have various in house or ‘ghost’ producers that they hire on a regular basis to help out singers or rappers. It’s a norm in the industry.