First and foremost, as a music producer you need to listen to loads of music in a daily basis. That is both for pleasure and for learning purposes. If you are one of those people that music makes them feel bored and tired quickly, then the profession of the music producer might not be suitable for you.
You have to enjoy every aspect of music, be able to talk long hours about it, having fun learning about every single detail of the records and individual songs you listen to and discuss them with other people with the same interests as you.
When the thing you love and respect the most becomes your job, it is one most important facts that will make your work enjoyable for you, and will help you keep high creativity levels. That said, it is not necessary to attend school in order to become a music producer. Here is what you need to do:
How to become a music producer without school
The main step to becoming a music producer is to buy the appropriate equipment. Considering you want to become an electronic or hip hop producer some the main hardware and software music equipment you may want to acquire in the beginning are listed below:
What music equipment you need
1 – Hardware
- Studio monitors
- Audio interface
- Midi keyboard
- Drum pad controllers
- DJ controllers
2 – Software
- Digital Audio Workstation
- VST plugins
As obvious, you need to make an investment appropriate to your budget limitations, but believe us it is well worth it. These equipment will make their money back fast considering the amount of time they will be used when creating your music productions.
Learning how to use them will take some time and daily practice, but the results will be rewarding as time goes by.
Search and analyze the music you listen to
As mentioned above, when you know what genres of music you enjoy listening to, it becomes a little easier to find out what kind of music you like creating. You can achieve that by searching and analyzing every subgenre, record and song to find out what are the key factors that make this kind of music pleasant for you.
Paying close attention to the details will help you determine the techniques that were used to create each song, practice on them and try to achieve similar results. Do not forget that the most successful artists in every music genre where great musicians, and you can obtain many valuable skills by listening and analyzing their music.
Train your ears
As a music producer, you need to train your ears so that you are able to recognize the main details that you want to implement on your own beats and instrumentals.
What this means, is that you need to focus on sounds, styles, song structures, special effects, audio mixing and mastering techniques that well known music producers use and try to work your way on becoming as good as they are.
For example, you may listen to a beat that has a great drum loop. What you need to do is listen to how the kicks, hats and snares are placed in the beat, try to understand the kinds of sounds (for instance if they are smooth or crunchy), listen carefully to the amount of echoes or delay effects applied, and recognize if any other percussion sounds were used as well.
This way, you can analyze every sound or loop in the song and try to replicate it in your own way next time you create a beat. After lots of practice, you will be able to create the loops and sounds you want much easier than in the beginning, and you will be more satisfied with your overall results.
Remember to create music constantly. Consistency is the key when it comes to improvement and every music producer should create music as often as he can, taking of course the appropriate time to relax and refresh his perspective.
There is no golden rule here, as all producers have their own unique schedule to follow, but keep in mind that staying away from the studio environment and music creation for two long may result in losing your pace and becoming rusty music-wise.
Keep a steady schedule either it is making music every day or once a week so that you do not easily what you learn during the periods that you work on your songs.
Compare and adjust
Do not be afraid to compare your music to other similar songs or music productions. You need to be able to identify your weaknesses, study and learn what you are not familiar with and apply your knowledge to your music productions.
As mentioned above you can learn pretty much anything if you google search about it, so you will have no problem finding a relevant tutorial.
For instance, if you thing that your song or instrumental is not properly mixed, you can either search for and audio mixing service, or a tutorial video on how to mix your own music productions. To be sure of the current results of your songs, you must compare them with mainstream songs that qualify for the industry standards.
You can check the bass and kick compression levels, if your track is warm and loud enough, the widening levels the equalization and much more.
Compare all those aspects to a relevant song of the same music genre and adjust the parts of your production that you think that need correction. Small changes lead to fascinating results and you will get better the more you practice.
Learn audio mixing & mastering
Mixing and mastering are essential tools for beatmakers and music producers.
Mixing is the process of improving end enhancing multiple sounds (track-outs) and combining them to become a complete audio track. During the mixing process, we enhance or reduce volume, frequency and dynamics levels so that we can clean our song and make it sound better.
Effects such as reverb, echoes and delays, filtering and pitch correction and many more can also be applied.
Mastering is the final process of a mixed song so that we can properly prepare it for distribution. The purpose of the audio mastering is to unify the sound of a whole record so that all songs sound similar considering volume levels, loudness and warmth.
It is also the process where the sound engineer makes the final corrections that were not done properly during the mixing process, such us post equalization, dynamics processing and compressing, widening and finally limiting.
As a music producer, it always good to be familiar with mixing and mastering as they will help you improve the overall sound of your beats and instrumentals and will result in more satisfying music creations.
Improve your music skills
You might want to think to improve your music skills any way possible. From learning how to play a musical instrument to buying a new package of high quality loops or sounds or by studying about audio mixing and mastering.
Every day is a new chance to acquire new skills and improve your music production skills. There is always room for new knowledge and there are plenty of e-books, guides and video tutorials for you to find what you are looking for.
When the time is right and you have the appropriate budget available, you might also consider upgrading your equipment by purchasing new, more advanced ones for better sound quality and more flexible ways of working on your music projects.
Test your music
Apart from practice and consistency, one thing that will help you have a better perspective and as a result improve your sound is by testing your music every way possible.
To achieve this, you can gather your friends and let them listen to your projects and ask them for their honest and objective opinion, or you can organize small live events and play your music to them live. After you finish your live show, you can interact with the audience and ask for their opinion. People love participating and sharing their views.
What is more, you can upload your music on social media and especially youtube and make it known to as many people as possible. You can then keep tracks of comments and gather statistics and opinions so that you have a clearer view.
You can apply all these methods to identify which parts of your music productions work better with people and which not, so you can focus on the good parts and improve the negative ones.
Network and relationships
Networking and relationships with other artists – both of the same genre and not – are a crucial thing to consider. When interacting with people who have similar occupations as you, you can exchange ideas about future projects, solve any problems you may have considering music, and start conversations that may end up mind changing.
In addition, this is the best way for opportunities to come up. Getting to know people of the same profession can sometimes lead to meeting people with bigger or smaller influences in your field that may be able to help you network further more.
Being creative is the obvious thing for a music producer and any kind of artists, but sometimes we tend to forget it and deviate, especially when we succeed.
Having a unique style and being authentic is one of the most important parts of art, as originality is highly respected by the audience and makes people want to interact and share your music more.
Even when everyone things you have succeeded, you have to be willing to find new ways to surprise your listeners so that you can maintain your style and songs fresh and up to date, in order to compete with new artists that emerge every day.