100+ music production tips from the pros to improve your tracks
Here, we’ve gathered together the very best, most inspiring advice, guidance and knowledge from pros so you can take their ideas and incorporate them into your own productions.
So 2019 then, another year that came and went too soon. If you’re anything like us, you’ll no doubt have numerous abandoned projects, half-finished mixes and sparks of ideas that still sit on that metaphorical shelf, gathering a fine coating of dust as we enter 2020. At MusicTech we strive to encourage and nurture your music-making process, but we also completely understand the hardship involved in developing your skills and career in this industry.
Here, we collect the most vital and motivational advice, tips and general insight from the assortment of people we interviewed this year, as well as a handful of previous tip-givers from previous years who have even more gems to share.
We’ve also got a plethora of tips from our insightful readership, plucked from our monthly studio-based interviews. Your perspective, as with that of our main interviewees, has been grouped according to topic. So sit back and enjoy this inspiring collection of the finest, shiniest pearls of music, studio and production wisdom…
Benn Jordan says “When you’re playing an instrument, you’re doing it in real time and that’s the value of it. If you bring Ableton into a jazz trio and improvise, you can only have it play what you’ve told it to play. So it’s still driven by emotion to an extent, but it’s not live emotion. You have to plan everything, which I have no problem with – that’s a whole other side that’s very important, but acoustic instruments enable you to explore stuff melodically in real time.”
Read more composing tips from Jazzy Jeff, Beatie Wolfe and more here.
Bernard Butler says “My key advice to you is to write with as many people as you can, whoever they are and whatever that may lead to. You have the capacity to learn something from every human and every human situation you encounter and you can take all the good experiences and all the bad and put them into your next song.”
Read more idea generating tips from Luca Bachetti, Alice Ivy and more here.
John Barrett says “I always think you should bed your [guitar] strings in before you come into a recording session. So, change the strings a couple of days before to give them a chance to settle in. Otherwise, you’ll have to sit there tuning up after every take.”
Read more recording tips from Alexander Archer, Steve Mackey and more here.
Mike Hillier says “Patience and a keen ear for detail. Mixing is all about ego and big bold moves. Mastering is the opposite. You have to leave your ego at the door and focus on tiny details. We work in 1/2dB or sometimes even smaller steps, making dozens of changes that, on their own, are almost indiscernible, but together make a good mix into something special.”
Read more mastering tips from Emily Lazar, Mark Pistel and more here.
Amir Amor says “I like using parallel compression, which I learned from Spike Stent. He uses it on vocals too. Everything is double tracked and phase-aligned, so you’re not hearing a directly compressed vocal but a clean vocal and a compressed one below it.”
Read more mastering tips from Andrew Dudman, Chris Bolster and more here.
Matt Warren says “Don’t go out and buy lots of different pieces of expensive equipment at once. Instead, work on a less-is-more approach. This allows a new producer to learn how the equipment works and what it can actually do. Sometimes, it’s not the equipment, but how you use it and how well you know it.”
Read more recording studio tips from Yann Tiersen, Maarten Vorwerk and more here.
Hans Zimmer says “A composer has to always ask that question: ‘Why are we having music here?’ And they need to ask themselves, ‘Why is there an orchestra playing on this scene?’ A composer has to figure that out before they begin making music. When an audience comes into a movie theatre, they want to have an emotional experience. All I’m trying to do, quite seriously, is open the doors that lend themselves to that.”
Read more soundtracking tips from Alev Lenz, Timo Baker and more here.
Steve Aoki says “In the beginning, start cultivating a particular sound you like and get good at that. Build a discipline around a particular sound, whether it’s a genre or subgenre. Build within that group of people and group of producers that produce that kind of sound. The perfect example is SoundCloud. SoundCloud is a great way to build relationships in very, very small communities that are focused on specific kinds of sounds and genres.”
Read more career development tips from Steve Orsborne, Gary Stevenson and more here.
For more tips and tricks check out our Guides page.