Are you a music producer who wants to make better music? You're not alone. Almost every producer feels this way. We always want to get better, and that includes polishing up our sonic creations to become more fulfilled and make our fans happier.
But don't worry. In this article, we will share five tips on how to make better music, giving you great insight into the things you can do to improve your music production starting right now.
1. Don’t “Fix It” With EQ
Our first tip on how to make better music is to make sure your sound is excellent before even thinking about using an equalizer. This is something that many producers forget about. Rather than making a sound fit your mix and sound great from the start, the sound is equalized into submission — kind of like trying to force in a circle block in a square shape.
The best producers use minimal equalization in their pre-mixing stages. Instead, they think in terms of frequencies. For example, rather than removing the low frequencies in a low-octave sound, they use a higher octave or different sound, changing the frequency response automatically to fit better in the mix.
Choose Sounds Wisely
With this mindset, you also start getting ideas on what sounds you can use. If your track lacks mid-range tones, you can create or choose a mid-range dominant synth sounds, played in notes that highlights this spectrum.
If you think in terms of choosing sounds that fit in the entirety of your frequency range, instead of trying to force sounds to sit well in the mix – you will make better music as a result. It will be a lot easier to arrange, mix, and master. And your music will sound so much better as a result.
2. Use Excellent Samples
Samples are a great way to get inspiration, find creativity, and make better music. But there is a critical aspect that mustn’t be overlooked – excellent samples equals better music.
Sure, there’s a particular attraction to lower quality, gritty samples. In some tracks, they work perfectly to introduce a nostalgic, analog feel into your production. But if you only use low-quality samples, your tracks will more than likely suffer.
Preferably, you want to use post-processing to lower the sample's quality, if that's an element you desire in your music. You can achieve this type of sound with the bit reduction effect. By applying downsampling on a high-quality sample, the result is much cleaner, like a remastered version of an old song.
However, the issue isn’t just about sound quality – poor samples are often very uninspiring, flat, and overly processed. Most of the time, they are simply a pain to work with.
Make It Hassle-Free
Rather than spending time trying to fit a lousy sample into your otherwise excellent production, you can take that pain away using excellent samples. Sounds made by professional musicians are made to fit your music and are hassle-free to work with. That’s what you want.
Deep Premium Vol.4 Drum Sample Pack is a no-BS drum sample pack with the highest sound quality, designed to fit right into your production, whether you’re producing a house, techno, or pop track.
Because drums are the essential foundation of almost all genres, it’s vital that you use drum samples and loops are up to par.
3. Make Professional Arrangements
Our third tip on how to make better music is to make professional arrangements. Arrangements mean how a track is outlined – what instruments and sounds you use, and how it's laid out.
The truth of the matter is, with fantastic arrangements, you can get away with quite mediocre music. Not that you want to create mediocre music – but excellent arrangements take your track to a whole new level. And it can be what takes a track from good to fantastic.
Making excellent arrangement is about moving the listener through an evolving journey, with a release, tension, and exciting contrast. You must include highs and lows, introducing more lively parts as well as calmer. For you to succeed in making professional arrangements, you need to structure your track in a way that makes sense.
The Perfect Starting Point
Like the old saying, "rules are meant to be broken" – it's the same in song arrangements. But if you’ve never thought much about structuring your tracks, a great starting point is learning the basics first.
You can take your favorite reference track in your DAW, match the tempo (BPM), and map out the different parts in color-coded blocks. This helps you analyze what works and how you can excellently structure your track.
The fastest way to learn professional arrangements is with an arrangement course that teaches you how to take a simple 8-bar loop and transform it into a world-class arrangement.
4. Educate Yourself
As with anything in life, to get better at something – education is always an excellent idea. The same is correct for music production. By learning techniques, tips and tricks, methods, and getting insights from teachers with a great deal of experience, you make better music.
How do you educate yourself in music production? The first thing you need to do is to develop an always-be-learning mindset. You need to start absorbing information like you a sponge, seeking it out like you’re thirsty to become a master.
Information is everywhere. There are tons of free resources online, including videos on YouTube. You can also approach learning proactively by analyzing your favorite music. Like explained before, breaking down and laying out the arrangements in your favorite songs works wonders to learn what works in terms of structure.
Analyze Your Favorite Tracks
When you listen to music, start to think about the sounds you hear. Listen to what instruments are there and what characteristics the track has. See if you can map out mixing techniques – and hear the different panning used. Learn how sounds complement each other and how effects are used to increase emotion.
If you want to take the fast-lane approach to make better music, the best way is to do a dedicated course showing you all the steps in your desired areas. For example, you can learn how to do professional mixing and mastering in start-to-finish courses. You can quickly learn how to write better melodies and how to do sound design in Serum.
A typical course takes around five hours to complete, and at that time, you have gained music production experience that would typically take years to achieve.
5. Create Better Mixes
There’s no denying it; better mixes make better music. With an interesting use of effects, a depth you can almost touch, a booming low-end, and crystal-clear trebles, your track becomes a pleasure to listen to. With excellent mixing skills, you can transform your track from flat to sonic brilliance in a breeze. But you must know-how.
A great start to learning how to create better mixes is to follow step four in this article – educate yourself, preferably with a course. In the Mixing A Track From Start To Finish course, for example, you learn workflow and techniques for making all your tracks shine. And other than a good set of ears – having someone show you how to mix is pretty much all you need.
But as explained in our first tip, Don’t “Fix It” With EQ, you want to make sure your track is close to flawless from the start. Sure, mixing you can make average tracks sound better, but an excellent foundation gives you much better results. And as a bonus, with excellent sound selection, arrangements, and minimal pre-mixing equalization, the mixing job will be a piece of cake as most of the work already is done.
So there you have it. Five tips on how to make better music.
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Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.