Developing your music production skills enough to make professional-sounding music takes years of dedication and hard work. But there are effective ways to make this process a lot faster. There is a learning curve involved in making arrangements that hook listeners, interesting sound selection, and crystal-clear mixing and mastering. You generally learn step-by-step by discovering things as you spend time in the studio. But to shortcut the process and put your learning on a fast-track, the best thing to do is referencing professional material. This technique can help you avoid spending years in the studio, trying to discover all the secrets yourself.
In this article, we will outline the steps you can take today to make professional music much faster.
But before we begin, you need to know the fundamentals of what makes a track sound professional.
The Key Areas You Must Develop
Making your music sound professional comes down to applying advanced, creative techniques and skills. It involves removing things that sound bad, amplifying what sounds good, while crafting strong hooks and melodies in exciting arrangements. Detail work also plays a significant part in making your track sound professional. When you make your track detailed, filled with layers, automations, and surprises, it works to increase the level of professionalism in your track. In comparison, shallow sounds, little effect work, no automations, and no surprises can make your track sound amateurish and flat.
To make your music sound professional...
Develop yourself in these five key areas:
- Sound selection
You might think that there’s a lot to learn here. I’m not going to lie, there is. The good news, however, is that you can drastically shorten the time it takes to develop a professional sound. You just need the right tools.
And remember what I previously wrote, making your music sound professional is about applying advanced creative techniques and skills. Typically (and in most cases), you'd learn these skills on your own after a lot of trial and error, including a lot of searching on Google.
If I were to put these techniques in front of you, for you to copy and follow, what would happen?
Recipe To Professional Music
Like baking a cake and following the recipe, if you do exactly as a professional music producer does, you’d get a professional sounding track.
Therefore, the best way to get a professional sound in your music is to learn from experts. Use the tools that are available and study them diligently. You can then apply the same on your music with fantastic results once you understand why and when to apply the techniques.
So it’s up to you. You can either spend years learning the ins and outs of music production. Or, take the fast-lane approach and follow the techniques of professionals, which you can then take even further.
But what are some practical ways you can learn to make professional music faster?
What is a template? Imagine you want to learn how to build your synthesizers from scratch. I could give you an advanced blueprint and say, "Hey, follow this." Chances are, though, it would be tough without some experience in electrical science.
A much better way is to give you the finished synthesizer that you can inspect, with all parts and detailed instructions on how to build every piece.
The above is what a template is.
A template is a finished music project of a professionally arranged, mixed, and mastered track that you open in your DAW. It allows you to see how the synths create sounds, how the arrangement looks, effect chains plus mixing and mastering techniques. You'll see precisely how an expert producer does things and why.
And because you can bypass all effects, you hear what the plugins do, while also being able to change things up yourself and hear the results instantly.
Templates are a fantastic tool to learn from the best producers. It instantly lets you in on production secrets which you can directly copy and translate in your music. Secrets and tricks that take years of solo studio work to discover.
Just open template, play, follow, copy, and learn. Simple as that.
Learn From Courses
If you want to learn anything in life, what do you do? Well, sometimes, you try it out yourself and see if you can manage. But the best thing to do when you want to learn something is to take a course.
Imagine you want to learn how to play guitar. It will most likely sound terrible if you strum on the strings and randomly place your fingers on the guitar's neck. Your neighbors might think you've completely lost it, and you probably won't feel that great about your ability.
But if someone shows you exactly where to place your fingers to form chords, you’d be able to play several chords in just a matter of hours. These chords put together could then develop into songs, which you then could sing to (if your voice allows it). Boom, you're a singer-songwriter.
A course gives you a finished structure to follow. The teacher takes you from point A to point B clearly, explaining all the techniques, tips, and tricks as you go along. Great courses improve your learnability, with an optimized outline and persistence to make sure you understand and can apply all key steps.
Music production courses are no different. Taking a course is the best way forward if you want to learn how to produce music or how to produce better music.
Why Following Experts Works
What both templates and courses have in common is that you learn from and follow expert music producers. What the experts have learned in their years spent in the studio (often upwards of 10+ years dedicated studio time) is ready for you to use.
Following an expert music producer works because it gives you instant access to the tricks of the trade, the secrets in music production. The key to making your tracks sound professional is also to understand why you do certain things in the studio.
Templates will show you this by allowing you to deconstruct every part of the track, including every sound.
Courses will show you this also, including detailed explanations to all steps.
A great thing about music production courses is that they often have project templates included. The whole professional track that the producer created is there with you, as you follow along with the course. Having the template makes you understand every decision that the producer has made, and lets you play around freely with their creation.
Beginner producer? Read this.
Are you a beginner producer looking to fast-track your way to making professional-sounding music?
A complete course taking you from beginner to professional is the best starting point for you.
We have this, right here:
Beginner Course Start To Finish
Intermediate producer? Read this.
Are you an intermediate producer who is comfortable in Ableton, but feel that your music is not up to professional standards yet?
Studying templates is a great way to progress. By dissecting the works of others, you’ll get new ideas, get an instant flow of creativity, and see how an expert’s producer's techniques make your track shine.
Check this professional template out:
Sunset Vibes Melodic House Pack
Click here for more information.
There are also many courses for you to learn from as an intermediate. A great way to develop a professional sound is by learning a different genre.
For example, if you produce techno, you might look at producing house music. This new input can help you apply new techniques and charge you with new creativity, opening doors to your new, improved sound.
See our melodic house course below:
Melodic House Start To Finish
Click here for more information.
Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish producer and copywriter, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing music, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.