Updated: Aug 28, 2020
How to achieve a high-quality track? Why don't my tracks sound outstanding like professionals?
I wish I knew many things I didn't know when I started my music production journey just about 11 years ago, unfortunately, there weren't many resources to learn from and internet wasn't as big as right now. Still, there are some tips and tricks nobody tells you when they provide you with feedback! Today we are going to cover the most common mistakes music producers make in their beginner to mid-career stages.
Your First 5 Years Producing Music is Your Learning Phase
Take it or leave it, your ears take time to learn, develop, and improve. Over the years you will start recognizing how specific and small details you didn't pay attention to that matter A LOT! So take your time and don't rush, don't get disappointed, and most important is NEVER quit!
All of the big names with 100's of thousands or even millions of followers have fallen into the same circle you feel trapped into, even Armin van Buuren, Aly & Fila, Markus Schulz, Gareth Emery and many others from the biggest names in the Trance music scene were stuck in the beginning of their career. The key to success here is to be persistent and focus on your goals.
You aren't going to make it to a big label in your first 2 years at least, unless you get professional mixing and mastering service, your learning curve and hearing abilities will need a couple more years so you can break through the fierce competition in the EDM and Trance Music industry so you can get signed to a decent label and get great support.
Instead, focus on improving your talent and skill-set if you crave success.
Production and Mixing tips that will help you at the beginning of your career
What am I doing wrong so that my music sound very far from professional? Today we are going to tackle some of the most difficult obstacles that dramatically affect your production and mix-down quality.
1. What Does It Do? Why Do I Need to Use It?
It's a simple formula, you shouldn't know how a trick/technique is done first. If you use a button/VST without knowing what is the purpose of it and what is the reason you want to use it for, you will probably end up with a messy song. Trust me! Knowledge is power and the more you know the more creative and out-of-the-box artist you will be. Don't be afraid to experiment, in fact, many of the greatest ideas and biggest hits came from random messing with buttons, notes, and automation. Trying out new things will definitely expand your skill-set instead of just doing the same thing every time and wonder why you are making no progress.
2. Don't over-process your sounds
Really, if a sample/preset doesn't sound great from the beginning and you feel ahhh I've done everything, and still I can't make it sound right in the mix, replace it with another sound. Most professionals tend to not over-process sounds. You want your tracks to sound natural and not over-processed/compressed or too much overwhelmed with elements because this is exactly how a fresh and clean mix is made, which is exactly our next point.
3. More is less
Simply, the more elements/layers you add to your track, the more crowded it becomes, the harder it will be to mix and achieve a clean sound. We aren't saying that you shouldn't layer your sounds, actually, you should and we are going to talk about this later in the article, but try not to add too many elements especially the ones that are playing on the same frequency so you can have room and not need a lot of compression to let your mix-down breath. This way you allow your main elements to capture the focus and not to be drowning into so many layers and sounds.
4. Compression and It's Pain!
Try not to use it, unless it's really really needed! In your early stages, you will most likely not know what you are doing with a compressor. Compressors can turn your mix-down into absolute banger and clean IF you know what you are doing. We agree there are some elements that usually need compression such as Instruments (Piano, Guitar, etc...) and Vocals, but other than this focus on the content and do your best to put along elements that work just fine together without compressing them. We are not encouraging you to not learn compression, just take it easy and don't compress everything. We know you are doing it because we were there! : )
5. Start Learning Sound Design Immediately!
Believe it or not, you will never achieve a unique sound signature without knowing what are the structures of sound, and more importantly, knowing how to create a sound that you have in your head from scratch. Learning sound design is the key to making your artist name to stand out from the crowd as you build your sound signature. It will also help you a lot to achieve that big sound by adding layers without/or with minimal usage of compression, which is what we will talk about in the next point.
6. Layering Your Sounds
We know, we mentioned earlier not to overcrowd your tracks with elements. But also, if your sounds are not layered, your tracks will most likely sound like an amateur and will be far from being on the professional level compared to what is out in the market. It's a complicated equation where most of the time you have to sacrifice some of your elements/sounds you used to achieve a clean mixdown. This is why learning sound design is very important, sound designing will help you fill the gaps of a sound by adding more layers to your current bassline, leads, pads, drums, and many more elements to flavor it with the edginess and groove you want without having to over-process your sounds. It's a little complicated equation for beginners in the music production industry but over time you are going to significantly dominate this skill. Also, we will be writing detailed articles and making videos to help you out on this specific topic so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and social channels to stay updated : )
7. Recreate/Remix Tracks/Songs/Sounds You Love!
This is a very practical and proven way to leverage your skills. You have an idol and want to make the same style and add your own signature to it. Try your best to get to the closest to the sound of your favorite song. This way you allow yourself to train your ear to create and sound design the sounds which inspire you and on the way of doing that you are learning new techniques to find your own unique signature sound. It will take a while, but don't give up and keep trying!
8. Invest in Yourself!
This is the last point we are going to talk about. Most of us started producing music in their bedroom, with a low-budget computer/speakers/headphones. It's no shame for anyone!
In fact, the biggest names in the scene revealed their career stories to the public and you'd be surprised where they are today.
Today there are many resources to learn from on the internet and if you find a good opportunity that you could invest in yourself to become a better producer/musician, DO NOT let it go!
Some ways to invest in your career would be:
Buying a decent sound system (Studio Monitors, Headphones, and a Soundcard).
Getting Acoustic Treatment for your studio space.
Reading articles, watching tutorials, etc ...
Buying Professional DAW Project Templates (This is going to scale your learning curve rapidly if you use it for the right purpose, which is learning and developing your skills so you can see and hear which techniques were used to process sounds and how to achieve a high-quality track). You can check out our carefully handcrafted produced templates here.
Using Professional Mixing and Mastering service. (I wish I have used this at the beginning of my career while I learn, to build my artist name and audience, it's a great way if you still feel that you need more time to learn and improve but want to get your name out there).
And final advice, you MUST dedicate time every day to practice, learn, and develop your hearing abilities. You are not going to make a banger track every day, but believe me, even if you think you created a bad idea you still learned something new and trained your ears because if you can hear how bad is your idea then you're on the right direction!