If you are here, it´s very possible that you are going through the process of recording something, then mixing and mastering your songs; maybe you are working on a track, an album or a collab? Or maybe you are a complete beginner starting out your career...
It really doesn’t matter, experienced or not you can be making these mistakes, that won’t allow you to do a better job, improve, and be more creative and professional.
So, today with TopMusicArts, we are going to try to help you all to ensure that you don’t make these mistakes, with these 7 tips about what you have to avoid, no matter what. Always based on our experiences (bad ones and good ones), of our students, and colleagues.
And now let´s start with mistake number one:
#1. Not balancing your music
I know when you first get to creating, producing music, you are starting out, you are new, fresh, and you just start going at it right trying all you can, you are just putting drums over drums and melodies over melodies. And you know you have ideas here and there, and you are just having fun with it, but you are not finding the balance.
Let me give you an example: let’s say to get a new track you set up. You are creating, putting the melody in, putting another melody in, the problem is that now you´ve got three competing melodies going on at the same time and to you, that may sound good at the moment, but when it comes to the balance of the whole song, it´s just overproduced.
If there are too many tracks, too many layers, too much going on and when you get to start thinking about that as a song, a record, a composition, as a whole thing, there may be no room for the songwriter to make a melody with lyrics, or there is no room for other artists to collaborate with you. And these people can´t get their ideas out on top of your composition.
So, that would be what you call overproducing. And you need to actively avoid it. We recommend you all to keep producing new tracks and follow them weekly, that way you can keep an organized way of work, and keep being creative but on new challenges, new songs, new ideas. Not overdoing only one track.
#2. The overuse of effects
When I say effects, I´m talking about plugins in your Tracks. I used to find myself using the same effects on every sound, back then, I had a period in my music production while I would put distortion plugins (for example) on every single thing in a project, so every channel strip would have a distortion plugin. Ending up with overuse of that resource, with muddy sounding results. And that was because I didn´t really know what distortion was good for, I just like the effect that it gave me, but my tracks back then ended up sounding like shit, so I really urge you all to think about the effects you are using on your channel strip, and your sounds and really consider whether or not they have a specific purpose for that specific sound.
Don´t do what I did, in an attempt to better my mix and add a crisp sound maybe, I ended up overusing it too much. Always check with your bypassed signal if it´s really giving you something you need in your track, if it's not adding something you need, then it´s subtracting from it.
#3. Not learning about the business
When I tell you I know so many producers that grind and grind and grind, and finally get their shot, a song pops off with the artist, or they get that placement that actually becomes somewhat successful, and then they don’t know what to do, because they have not set up their business as a music producer.
You have to know how you get paid; you have to know why you get paid; you have to know when you get paid; you have to understand the business around you.
We can go on and on about the importance of setting up a business, but you really need to do the work yourself. For example: when I was just getting started as a music producer, somewhere around a couple of years ago, I tried to find every book I could read about how to get started in the music business, and what did it mean to be a music producer, a composer, a songwriter, an artist, or a manager, lawyer, agent, etc.
All of these things matter when it comes to your business. The best thing that we have right now is the internet and the search engines, and all the answers that you can acquire by just typing it in.
Type in “how does the music producer get paid” or “what is the difference between royalties and publishing” and etc. I promise that if you type these questions in, you are going to get a response to everything you want to know, and more. And things tend to change, so this way you will keep updated.
What we´re trying here is to give you insight because I know too many producers, and they started and they just start cooking up creating, sending their music out, working with artists here and there, and next thing you know they have something going for themselves, and they get jammed up because they don’t know what they’re worth and they don’t even know what they’re supposed to get. Ending up selling your work cheap, or getting scammed, or getting into deals that maybe doesn´t work for you.
All the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years has probably come 95% percent from doing research and then trying that and understanding what might work or whatnot.
When you figure out what your worth is, you will know when somebody’s taking advantage of you, and you’ll know exactly what type of deals you should be taking for yourself, whether they’ll be somewhat good or somewhat iffy. You’ll make that choice and you will be better off, maybe doing that, in that way. So keep your eyes and ear open, know your stuff, and keep yourself informed and updated.
#4. Don’t half-ass your track
I used to have as my tracks so when I say half-ass, I mean labeling my track in my head as finished, wrapping it up and just getting it out there. I used to be in a mentality where I would finish my tracks really quick, not necessarily in a good way, so my mistake with this was that I didn’t really take the time to actually get your ears off the track for a bit, maybe take a day off and then come back and listen to it again. I would just work on a track until I thought it sounded somewhat finished and then in my head I would automatically kind of label it as finished.
That way when I opened up the project again I would be like “ok, this is finished”, so I’m really urging you guys to take some time off, take a day off, come back to the project, open it up again and going into the track again with a mentality that it still needs work, because let’s face it, it is very rare as a producer that you finish a track in one session. It´s known that you experience some fatigue from too many hours mixing, so take some time off your daw, and get back at it fresh and rested.
It sounds like a dumb thing but it can have a positive impact on your work if you can control yourself this way, and when you are getting nowhere, just get away from your project.
And if you are interested in knowing more about what to do when you need to get distance from your daw and still be productive you can check our article about how to Improve your music while being away from your DAW
#5. Less is more
Less is more, so, it really is! I used to make a lot of tracks in my productions like different sounds would come in like “they are all over the place” I mean, that was back before I really implemented the whole less is more thinking, don’t get me wrong. You could do really complex stuff that sounds amazing, but not a lot of people are good at that, especially if you are in the learning process, so use fewer tracks and really focus on the core elements in your production. You may have different sounds fluttering coming in, and this is horrible, so we recommend you all to think a lot about this less is more "rule", and apply it!
Focus on the main elements of your song, getting them to sound good first, and after you have it figured out, you can focus on the deep sound like you could put in little based apps in there, and little snare fields and all that, but really focus on less is more.
#6. Your gear is not the key
This is about the gear or software that you use may not actually improve your sound. I am talking about using gear or software without really knowing when it is good for and I gotta come clean. I used to do this a lot, for example, back when tada life the Swedish producers came out with that plugin called sausage fattener like I had no idea what it did, I just put it on every single track in my production and it is something that I have been doing a lot over the years, and I really really really can’t stress enough that you guys need to learn the basics before you go and use high-end plugins, because well, basically, you have no idea what they do, I was using really complex plugins before I actually knew what compressing a queuing limiting all that was, so I really urge you guys to look into the basics of plugins and production before you actually start to dig into the whole advanced section.
So, learn how to EQ, compress, limit, master, all of those techniques properly before you actually go into the more advanced plugins or purchasing new gear that you may not really need.
#7. Mastering won’t fix your mix
Now, this is really important. In one of them may be the worst mistake that I made as a producer was thinking that mastering is some kind of magic process that will magically, save your mix, which it won’t, so I used to think that my tracks would be saved and like magically enhanced and sounding as good as the other guys by just sending it off to mastering, and I was like “ok, I’m trying to get this track mastered, so it will sound way better”. No! Now I really need to put an emphasis on this: mixing is key, mastering is just polishing up your mix.
Now you really want to focus on learning how to mi properly. I’m going to be honest with you guys. It is taking me more than five years to actually learn how to mix properly and I still don’t do the mixing in all of my tracks as I mix down a lot of the harder stuff, but the more RB popular stuff I’m still not doing my old mix. I’m still learning how to actually do proper vocals and go proper like pop mix dance. It is really important to know that a mastering engineer whether or not he is the best in the world, can’t save your mix if it is terrible. So, really know the difference between mixing and mastering learning how to mix down properly before you go thinking that mastering is going to save your production.
Now I hope you guys enjoyed the article. If you have any mistakes you made or still making as a producer, comment down below and let us know, we are going to be reading all of your comments.