A love of music often flows into a love of creating music for an audience.
It might start as learning a specific instrument or even a range of instruments. However, over time you’ll likely find yourself falling into the creative wormhole that is music production. The part of the music making process where you actually piece the music together 1 step at a time.
Music producers are the brains behind the composition of instrumentals & mixing wizardry for some of the world’s largest music artists. A typical day in the life of a producer would include anything from creating melodies & tweaking chord progressions, to recording the vocals laid down by music artists or creating an in-depth spacious mix.
So if the idea of becoming a music producer resonates with you, then you may want to read on as we reveal 3 of the most required skills you’ll need to get started…
Skill 1: Be Eager To Learn
As with most creative endeavours, becoming a music producer requires you to dedicate a good deal of time to studying the craft. Greatness doesn’t just appear overnight!
A good place to start would be having a look into how to learn music production online. Aside from music industry blogs & YouTube tutorials, there’s also a bunch of courses out there that make it super easy to get your hands on the most relevant knowledge all in one place. Plus, with it being online, it can be replayed as many times as you want, whenever you want.
It’s through doing research like this, that you should begin to not only grasp the basics, but also start to get a feel for your own personal style of production – i.e. develop your musical ear, which in turn becomes your USP. Something that should do a lot to encourage artists to reach out to you & propose a collaboration.
Research aside, it’s also advisable that you get hands-on. Volunteering in the industry is a great way to (A) get more acquainted with the tech used in music production & (B) start to grow your network. An invaluable tool in what ids still very much a people based industry. You can be the best producer in the world, but if you can’t network, there’s little hope… harsh, but true.
What’s more, you don’t need an official qualification to have a career in music production. The main requirement is a good musical ear & a solid understanding of music theory. Saying that, taking up additional studies would never be a bad idea. It’s more just a question of how you like to learn – do you learn better being taught? Or finding out yourself through trial & error?
Find this out & you should be able to make the most decision for you going forward.
Skill 2: Hunt down the best basic Equipment
When producing music, investing in the best production equipment is a must. Don’t debate it!
And what’s more, before investing so much as a penny into such equipment, you need to be sure you’ve done thorough research. This should be not only into the equipment itself, but also how certain types of equipment are used + the theory behind why.
So with that in mind, here’s some of the essential parts of production equipment that you’d be wise to invest in when starting your production journey…
- A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) – This is a necessity. Top put it short, this is the software where you will arrange, edit & even create the majority of your music. Think of it as a processor. Every sound, sample & effect either has to go through or be applied within the DAW, so you need to make sure the one you buy gels with your workflow. Top studios will use high-end DAWs like Pro Tools that as a beginner may be on the expensive side. Logic Pro which is a one-off purchase or Cakewalk which is free, may be a better bet as a beginner. If you’re the ‘on the go’ type you’ll also be pleased to know that the majority of DAWs also function on tablets & smartphones as well as desktop PCs/ Macs.
- Your MIDI controller – A midi controller is like an Xbox controller for music producers. It determines how you as a producer interact with your DAW & to some extent, the quality of what you make. Most MIDI keyboards feature a set of at least 25 keys (of various weights), a set of RGB drum pads for finger drumming & a bunch of assignable controls that allow you to alter settings in your DAW without using your mouse. Try & produce music without a MIDI controller & the finished product is likely to be lacking expression. MIDI keyboards are velocity sensitive for that very reason!
- A pair of studio-grade headphones – Mixing & mastering is a HUGE part of becoming a producer! In which case, having a reliable pair of referencing headphones never goes a miss. Unlike normal headphones, these are specifically designed not to change the quality of the sound – in other words, be honest to the recording so that you can clearly find imperfections & iron them out when mixing. Plus, if your studio space isn’t what you’d call tranquil, then they also double as a great noise-blocker.
Skill 3: Learn to fail
Sounds counterintuitive, but for the most part, it’s true.
See, much like any creative career, becoming a music producer isn’t some automatic box-ticking exercise that you’re going to master 1st time round – oh no! You’re going to create a LOT of awful compositions & do your fair share of bad mixes, but… that’s the whole point. Because as counterintuitive as it sounds, learning to create is actually what’s going to make you improve.
Each time you make something that perhaps doesn’t sound the best, don’t delete it – instead analyse it. Look into the composition, melody & the effects you’ve used to uncover why it’s turned out the way it has. Have you used too much reverb? Do you need to tweak your headphone setup? Are your chord progressions a bit dry?
Put a finger on this & you can then take action to adjust your work, which should prevent you from making the same hiccup in the future. All because instead of throwing in the towel, you embraced your mistake & learned from it.
BONUS: Become a people’s person
Music aside, if you want to get anywhere in the industry you need to make sure you have good people skills. That’s a must.
Because at the end of the day, it’s your style of communication that’s (A) going to get you the opportunity to work with artists & start earning those all-important royalties. (B) allow you to network with fellow producers & gain valuable contacts. And (C) build yourself a credible online brand.
If this is something you struggle with, we’d advise searching for a mentor