How to start and finish writing, recording, and mixing songs
Are you a singer, songwriter, musician, or beatmaker? Have you been dreaming of making it big in the music industry or at least writing and recording a song that people love? Are you passionate about creating and sharing your music with the world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you.
The music industry can be tough. It takes talent, hard work, and some timing to succeed. But even with all of that, many musicians still struggle to get their music finished and released to the world. So, what's holding them back?
Fear of Failure. One of the biggest things that holds musicians back is fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough. It's easy to get caught up in these thoughts and let them paralyze you. But the truth is, the only way to succeed in the music industry is to take risks and put yourself out there. It's not easy, but it's necessary if you want to make it.
Lack of Confidence. Another thing that holds musicians back is a lack of confidence. It's hard to put your heart and soul into your music and then share it with the world. But if you don't believe in yourself and your music, no one else will either. You have to be your own biggest fan and cheerleader.
Not Enough Practice. To be successful in the music industry, you have to put in the work. That means practicing your craft, honing your skills, and constantly improving. It's not enough to have talent. You have to put in the time and effort to become the best you can be.
Not Enough Networking. Networking is a crucial part of the music industry. You have to make connections with other musicians, producers, and industry professionals if you want to succeed. But many musicians struggle with networking. They may not know where to start, or they may be too shy to put themselves out there. But networking is essential if you want to make it in the music industry.
Lack of Persistence. Finally, many musicians give up too soon. They may get discouraged by rejection or setbacks and decide that it's not worth it. But the truth is, persistence is key in the music industry. You have to keep pushing, keep working, and keep believing in yourself and your music.
Learn more about my live online music production course BALANCE: Intro to Music Production
Have you been falling behind in your music career?
It's natural to experience periods of feeling like you're falling behind. Maybe you haven't released new music in a while, or you're not finding the gigs or collaborations you want. Maybe you're not making the progress you expected, and it feels like others are always advancing faster than you.
The music industry is a competitive field, and there's always someone new and talented emerging. But falling behind doesn't have to mean that you're not good enough or that your music isn't worth sharing.
If you're feeling like you're falling behind in your music career, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Take Time to Recharge. First and foremost, it's essential to take care of yourself. Burnout is a real issue in the music industry, and it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget to rest. If you're feeling stuck or burnt out, take some time to recharge your batteries. That could mean taking a break from social media, going on a trip, or just taking some time to focus on self-care.
Set Realistic Goals. Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated and focused, but it's essential to set realistic ones. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of overnight success, but the truth is that it's a rare occurrence. Instead, set achievable goals that push you to improve but are still within reach. Celebrate each small victory along the way, and don't be too hard on yourself if you don't achieve everything right away.
Seek Feedback and Collaborate. One way to get out of a rut is to seek feedback from others. Sometimes, it's hard to see what's holding you back on your own. Getting an outside perspective can help you identify areas to improve and inspire new ideas. Additionally, collaborating with other musicians can bring new energy and creativity to your music.
Always Keep Learning. Music and the music industry are constantly changing, and it's essential to keep up with new developments. Stay informed about the latest genres, sounds, technologies, and even marketing strategies for your social media. Go to workshops, webinars, and conferences to stay on top of your game. Keeping your skills and knowledge up to date can help you stand out and find new opportunities and collaborators.
Read my blog post on: The 3 Key Elements of Music Production: Songs, Sounds & People
Can’t seem to finish your songs?
You might have experienced the frustration of having a great idea for a song, but not being able to finish it. It's a common problem, and it can be discouraging to have so many unfinished songs piling up. But the good news is that there are ways to break through this block and finish your songs.
Here are some tips that might help:
Set a deadline. Deadlines can be a powerful motivator. Choose a date by which you want to finish your song and stick to it. It could be a self-imposed deadline, or you could give yourself a deadline by scheduling a performance or recording session.
Start with a hook or chorus. Sometimes, starting with the chorus or hook of your song can help you build momentum and figure out the direction of the rest of the song.
Co-write. Collaborating with other musicians or songwriters can bring fresh ideas and inspiration to your music. Working with others can also hold you accountable and give you the motivation to finish what you started.
Keep it simple. Don't get bogged down by trying to make your song too complex or perfect. Sometimes, the simplest melodies or lyrics can be the most effective. Focus on the core idea of your song and build from there.
Take breaks. It's essential to take breaks and step away from your work to avoid burnout. Take a walk, listen to music, or do something else you enjoy to give your mind a break. You might be surprised at how a fresh perspective can help you get back on track.
Embrace imperfection. Remember that not every song you write will be a masterpiece. Accepting that imperfection is a part of the creative process can help you let go of the pressure to be perfect and allow yourself to experiment and explore.
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Are you a non-technical musician?
As a non-technical musician, you might feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the technical aspects of music production. However, it's essential to remember that being a non-technical musician doesn't necessarily have to hold you back.
Here are some tips that can help you navigate the world of music production as a non-technical musician:
Find a good producer or engineer. Having a good producer or engineer on your team can make a world of difference. They can help you with the technical aspects of music production and bring your vision to life. Look for someone who understands your sound and style and is willing to work with you to achieve your goals.
Focus on your strengths. As a non-technical musician, you likely have strengths in other areas, such as songwriting, performance, or collaboration. Focus on your strengths and use them to your advantage. You don't have to be an expert in every aspect of music production to create great music.
Learn the basics. While you don't have to be an expert in every technical aspect of music production, learning the basics can be helpful. Take some time to learn about recording techniques, mixing, and mastering. This can give you a better understanding of the process and help you communicate more effectively with your producer or engineer.
Experiment with technology. Technology can be a valuable tool for non-technical musicians. You don't have to be an expert in music software, but experimenting with different programs or tools can help you discover new sounds and create unique music.
Do you know how to use your DAW?
Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have become an essential tool for musicians, songwriters, and producers. Knowing how to use a DAW can be a big task for those who are not tech-savvy. If you're struggling to navigate your DAW, don't worry - you're not alone.
Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your DAW:
Start with the basics. Take some time to learn the basics of your DAW, such as how to create a new project, import audio files, and add effects. Once you have a good grasp of the basics, you can start exploring more advanced features.
Watch tutorials about specific tasks. There are countless tutorials available online that can help you learn how to use your DAW. Whether you prefer video tutorials, written guides, or interactive courses, there are resources available to help you become more comfortable with your DAW.
Experiment with a new effect. Try adding different effects to your tracks, or experiment with different plug-ins. The more you play around with your DAW, the more you'll learn about what it can do.
Use templates. Using templates can be a great way to save time and streamline your workflow. Create templates for common types of projects, such as recording a vocal track, so you don't have to start from scratch every time.
Share your sessions. Collaborating with other musicians or producers who are more experienced with your DAW can be a great way to learn new techniques and tricks. Working with someone who is more comfortable with your DAW can help you overcome any obstacles and become more confident using it.
Check out these FREE music production resources (courses, guides, key commands)
Feeling like an imposter because you never learned the basics?
Feeling like an imposter is a common experience for many musicians, especially those who never received formal training or education. If you're struggling with feelings of inadequacy or impostor syndrome, it's essential to remember that you're not alone.
Here are some tips that can help you overcome imposter syndrome and gain more confidence in your music career:
Accept where you are right now. Accepting where you are in your music career can be a powerful step in overcoming imposter syndrome. Recognize that everyone has to start somewhere, and there is always more to learn. It's okay to be a beginner or to have gaps in your knowledge.
Learn the fundamentals. If you feel like you're missing some of the basics of music theory, vocal technique, synthesis, or songwriting, consider taking some specific lessons or classes. There are many resources available online or in person that can help you fill in any gaps in your knowledge.
Embrace your unique style. Your unique style and perspective are what make your music stand out. Embrace your strengths and use them to your advantage. Remember that there is no one "right" way to make music, and your individuality is what sets you apart.
Focus on your accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings, focus on your accomplishments. Make a list of your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrating your successes can help you build confidence and find some inspiration.
Surround yourself with a community. Surrounding yourself with a supportive community can help you overcome imposter syndrome. Seek out other musicians or music professionals who are encouraging and supportive, and avoid those who are overly critical or always negative.
Learn how to mix songs with part one of my live online course: BALANCE - Part I: Mixing & DAW
Do your mixes sound muddy and quiet?
Mixing is an essential part of the music production process, and getting your mixes to sound clear and polished can be a challenge. If you find that your mixes sound muddy and quiet, there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your mix:
Learn how to use EQ. EQ is a powerful tool for adjusting the frequency balance of your mix. If your mix sounds muddy, try using an EQ to cut out some of the sub or lower-mid frequencies on some of the individual tracks. This can help create more space in the mix and make individual elements sound clearer.
Learn how to use compression. Compression can help even out the levels of different elements in your mix, making them sound more consistent. Use compression on individual tracks and the overall mix to create a more polished and professional sound.
Learn how to use panning. Panning can help create a sense of space in your mix. Try panning different elements to the left, center, right, center-right, or center-left to create a sense of depth and width.
Learn how to use reverb and delay. Reverb and delay can help create a sense of time, space, depth, and dimension in your mix. Use them on individual tracks to create a more immersive listening experience.
Watch your levels. Make sure that the levels of each element in your mix are balanced. If one element is too loud, it can overpower the other tracks in the mix and create an unbalanced sound.
Master your mix. Mastering is the final step in the music production process and can help make your mix sound polished and professional. Consider hiring a professional mastering engineer or learning how to master your own mixes.
Do your vocals sound unprofessional?
Vocals are often the central focus of a song, and getting them to sound loud and clear is essential to creating a professional-sounding production. If you find that your vocals sound unprofessional, there are a few things you can do to improve their quality:
Record in a quiet space. Recording in a quiet space is essential to achieving a clean and professional vocal recording. Make sure to find a space with minimal background noise and use soundproofing materials to reduce unwanted noise.
Use a high-quality microphone. A high-quality microphone can make a significant difference in the quality of your vocal recordings. Consider investing in a high-quality condenser microphone or a dynamic microphone that is well-suited to your vocal style.
Use proper microphone technique. Proper microphone technique is essential to achieving a clean and clear vocal recording. Make sure to position the microphone correctly and use pop filters to reduce plosives (blasts of air caused by some hard consonants like Ps and Ks).
Practice good vocal technique. Make sure to warm up your voice before recording and use proper breathing and vocal control techniques to achieve a clear and expressive performance.
Use processing and effects. Vocal production techniques enhance the quality of your vocal recordings. Use EQ to adjust the frequency balance of your vocals, compression to even out the levels, and reverb and delay to create a sense of space and depth.
Stack your vocal recordings. After you record and composite a master lead vocal from some takes you can try stacking more takes on top of it to get a bigger sound. Doubling, tripling, and quadrupling the lead vocal can sound amazing if you sing it close enough to the composite lead.
Are your sounds just stock and boring?
If you find that your music sounds basic and unoriginal, it may be time to start exploring new sounds and techniques to enhance your production. Here are a few tips to help you create more unique and interesting sounds in your music:
Experiment with sound design. Creating your own sounds through sound design is a great way to add unique and interesting elements to your music. Learn how to adjust parameters on synthesizers, sample libraries, and audio effects to create new sounds and textures that are specific to your production.
Use effects creatively. Effects can be used creatively to transform the sounds in your production. Try experimenting with distortion, filters, delay, reverb, and other effects to add new and interesting elements to your music.
Incorporate live instrumentation. Incorporating live instruments like guitars, drums, or piano, can add a new level of organic warmth and texture to your production. Even if you don't play these instruments yourself, consider collaborating with other musicians to bring their talents into your production.
Record and use custom samples. Samples can be a great source of inspiration for your music, but don't limit yourself to the same samples that everyone else is using. Look for unusual and unique samples that can add new and interesting elements to your production. You can even use your phone to record them.
Take inspiration from different genres. Listening to different genres of music while writing and recording your beats and songs can help to inspire new sounds and styles in your production. Listen to music outside of your usual genres and take note of the unique instruments or techniques that you hear.
Have you learned about synthesis?
Learning synthesis is an essential skill for any electronic music producer or sound designer. Synthesis involves creating and manipulating sounds using electronic instruments, and it can be used to create a wide variety of sounds, from simple bass lines to complex textures and atmospheres. Here are some tips to help you learn synthesis:
Understand the basics of sound. Before diving into synthesis, it's important to understand the basic characteristics of a soundwave. Learn about waveforms, wavelength, amplitude, frequency, and other fundamental sound concepts to help you understand how synthesis works.
Choose your synthesis method. There are many different types of synthesis, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Choose a synthesis method that suits your needs and workflow. Common synthesis methods include subtractive synthesis, FM synthesis, granular synthesis, and wavetable synthesis.
Experiment with presets. Most synthesizers come with a range of presets that demonstrate their capabilities. Experiment with these presets to get a sense of what the synthesizer can do, and use them as a starting point for creating your own sounds. Someone spent hours designing those presets so you might as well try them.
Learn to program your own sounds. Once you're familiar with the basics of synthesis and the capabilities of your synthesizer, start programming your own sounds. Experiment with different parameters like oscillators, filters, and envelopes to create unique sounds that suit your music.
Practice regularly. As with any skill, regular practice is essential for improving your synthesis skills. Practice programming different types of sounds and experimenting with different synthesis methods to expand your knowledge and skills.
Are your songs not getting the reaction you want?
It may be time to reassess your approach and make some changes to your songwriting, mixing, production and/or social media promotion strategy. Here are a few tips to help you get a better reaction to your songs:
Get feedback from others. Feedback from other musicians, producers, and fans can be invaluable in improving your production and promoting your music. Share your music with others and ask for honest feedback and suggestions for improvement. Join a music-making community if you can.
Promote your music effectively. Promoting your music is essential to getting the exposure and attention you need to build a fan base on social media. Find music blogs, music-making communities, and other online platforms to promote your music and connect with fans.
Collaborate with other artists. Teaming up with other artists can help you expand your fan base and gain new exposure for your music. Look for other artists with a similar sound or style and consider collaborating on a project or performance.
Perform live. Performing live is a great way to connect with fans and gain new exposure for your music. Look for local venues, open mics, and other opportunities to perform live and showcase your music.
Update your songwriting and mixing skills. Improving your songwriting and production skills can help you create music that is more engaging and memorable. Consider taking classes or workshops on music production, sound design, and mixing to improve your skills.
Keep creating and experimenting. The most important thing you can do to get a better reaction to your music is to keep creating and experimenting. Don't be afraid to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone. With persistence and dedication, you can create music that resonates with your audience and gets the reaction you want.
Do you just not know where to begin with music production?
If you're new to music production and don't know where to begin, it can be overwhelming to navigate the vast array of tools, techniques, and software available. However, with the right guidance and resources, you can begin your journey into music production and start creating your own music. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Choose your software. The first step in music production is to choose your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). There are many different DAWs to choose from, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider researching and testing different DAWs to find one that suits your needs and workflow.
Get the right hardware. Having the right equipment is essential for creating quality music. This can include a computer, audio interface, MIDI controller, and headphones or speakers. Do your research and invest in equipment that fits your needs and budget.
Learn the fundamentals. Once you've chosen your DAW and some hardware, it's important to learn the basics of music production. Familiarize yourself with concepts like MIDI, sampling, mixing, and mastering. There are many online resources, tutorials, and classes available that can help you learn these skills.
I'm Futch, a music production coach who offers free content and a free Ableton Live online course and even a complete 27-class beginner to intermediate Live Online Intro to Music Production course, with live online group classes and a community of users. Learn mixing, recording, editing, vocal production, sound design and how to write and produce songs that make people move and get a reaction!
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Futch - Music Production Coach and Ableton Certified Trainer
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