6 Tips to Learn Music Production Faster
Producing music is no small task and it takes people years to gather together the knowledge and technical skills necessary to produce music at a professional level. If your goal is to turn producing music into your career, it makes sense to suck up as much production information as quickly as possible.
This guide will provide you with six tips to learn music production faster, which you can start to make use of today. None of the suggestions on this list require you to spend any money, so you can save your cash for music production gear instead.
Watch the video version of this blog post, or continue reading below.
1. Write Down Unfamiliar Concepts
Whether or not you remember, there was a point in time that “music production talk” seemed like a foreign language to you; perhaps you’re in this phase right now. Through the process of exposure, you become familiar with music production concepts and learn how they intermingle with one another.
Some music production concepts pop up more frequently than others. For example, compression, reverb, and delay are much hotter topics than audio codecs, flutter echo, and sample multiplexing. It’s easy to let seemingly obscure and convoluted concepts slip past you if you don’t make a point to research them.
Write down concepts you’re unfamiliar with as you hear about them and look them up when you have time; I like to use the Notes app on my iPhone to do this. At first, you may find yourself writing down concepts non-stop. In a few months, you should find that your production vocabulary has expanded.
2. Watch YouTube Tutorials
I attended school for music production and currently make my full-time living as a music producer and audio engineer, but this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on learning. I’m constantly watching music production tutorials on YouTube because they’re such a valuable resource.
There are things on YouTube that you’re never going to learn from a textbook, like how to build a DIY IKEA plate reverb for $100. The best part about YouTube is that it gives everyone with a camera and a microphone a platform to share their ideas. Sometimes the most inventive production techniques come from a kid in their bedroom.
The one issue with YouTube is that since it’s so easy to upload videos, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around; this is why I put together a list of some of the best music production YouTube channels. Subscribe to the channels on the list to populate your YouTube feed with relevant, informed content.
3. Use an RSS Reader
A rich site summary (RSS) reader allows you to view the most recent blog posts published by different music production blogs, all in one spot. Not every website has an RSS feed, but most blogs do. You can compile different RSS feeds to create categorized feeds in your RSS reader, like “Gear Alerts,” “Sound Design,” or “Mixing and Mastering.”
Following music production blogs on social media is great, but their content tends to get drowned out by your uncle posting pictures of his hairless cat. RSS readers allow you to trim the fat and only view hyper-relevant content. If you only have 30 minutes each day to spend learning about music production, RSS readers are one of the most streamlined ways to go about learning.
If you’ve never used an RSS reader before and want to get started, check out “12 of the Best Music Production RSS Feeds.” You’ll learn which RSS reader to use and how to import multiple RSS feeds into your RSS reader at once.
4. Work With Other Artists
Working with other artists, in person, is one of the fastest ways to learn music production. The ability to ask questions and get immediate feedback is invaluable. Watching YouTube video and reading blog posts is great, but there’s nobody around to bounce your ideas off of.
If you’ve never worked with another artist before, the thought of collaborating can be a bit overwhelming. It’s easy to settle into a production routine when working on your own all the time; collaborating with other artists will shake up this routine and push you out of your comfort zone. It’s this awkward, stumbling process that rapidly increases your growth as a producer.
Working with someone of a similar skill level as you is vital. Stepping into the studio with someone of a lower skill turns into more of a teaching lesson than a collaboration, and working with someone significantly beyond your skill does them no favors. Interested in more tips on making your collab sessions run smoothly? Check out “4 Tips to Effectively Collaborate with Music Producers.”
5. Study All Areas of Music Production
Studying all areas of music production will allow you to become a more well-rounded music producer. I recommend focusing your time into:
- Music Theory
- Sound Design
Learning music production is a non-linear process, much like learning to play an instrument. You may learn about music theory one day, recording the next, and mastering the day after that. Even if you take a music production course, they’re often designed to teach you multiple skills in tandem with one another.
When doing client work, you absolutely need to have a well-rounded understanding of music production. For example, a client may send you a song that you can’t fix with mixing plugins. They may have a sound design or arrangement issue that manifests itself as a “muddy” mix. You need to have enough insight into sound design and arrangement that you’re able to tell your client what the root of the problem is.
6. Produce More Music
Learning how to produce music takes everyone a different period of time. The more time you spending producing music, the faster you’ll learn. Keep in mind that this only applies to the actual time you spend writing music and learning about music production.
For example, someone who’s been producing music for three years, but only spends 30 minutes writing songs on the weekends, may not be as far along as someone who’s been producing music for one year for eight hours every day.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. You probably have a friend who has a knack for producing music, but who also slacks off and doesn't spend very much time producing. At first, this friend may seem leaps and bounds ahead of you, but if you remain consistent in your practice, you'll surely excel beyond their natural abilities.
Saying "work harder and longer" is something I'm skeptical to freely toss around. Working 16 hours a day isn't healthy for you and you shouldn't do it. Family, friends, and your physical and mental health are all things that you need to attend to during the week. The music industry isn't going anywhere and it will be there when you get back from the beach with your friends.
Make sure to follow Black Ghost Audio on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date on the latest music production tips and tricks. There’s new content every week, and I don’t want you to miss out.