20 sound recording and music production tips
Whether you are a beginner music producer or you know a few things around a studio, these sound recording and music production tips, will help your productivity and results.
In 2019, music gear, sound modules and audio softwares have evolved on a level that will help you produce and master your songs from home.
I believe you are familiar with the term bedroom producers. As long as you can afford a decent PC or Laptop, a pair of headphones and a music production software (free or pro) you will be able to make a track that can hit the charts.
You can check our article Build your home recording studio under $600, and get the full picture of what you will need to start music production.
Music production sessions can last for long, and without any good results, making it time-wasting. It can be extremely difficult, money wasting (if you don’t know where to spend) and it has a big learning curve. It will take you time and experience to achieve notoriety and results that will completely satisfy you.
Being in production and recording mood at all times, can’t just happen.
We have talked with many producers and composers over the past years and we decide to give you a sum up with 20 tips to help you go through…
20 sound recording and music production tips
1.Prepare and organize. It is very important to keep your home recording studio and gear, clean, easily accessible, and comfortable. Your production computer as well must be cleaned by unrelated and unused heavy files. All your music files, tracks, sound libraries, plug-ins, softwares must be well organized and categorized in your PC.
2. Make it a ritual. Everytime you will sit in your studio to record and produce, do everything possible to make yourself as comfy as ever. Prepare your favorite beverage, roll a couple of cigarettes, adjust the proper lighting release yourself from any obligations and get ready to fully dedicate on music.
3. Persistence and patience. Whether you believe you are a talented musician or not, it has little meaning, because persistence and patience will get you there. Learning music theory, harmonies, and sound engineering is not all. You need inventiveness that will come with hard work, experience, and attention to details. Don’t expect to get the best sound on the first recording. You need to make mistakes to be able to learn from them.
Each instrument recording, track, sound editing, effect adding, compression and every other action in your studio must be done carefully with very close attention to the tiniest detail.
4. Build a totally useful sound library. We already mentioned the importance of having your sound libraries organized. You can properly categorize your collections according to the genre, type of sound, key, or anything else you find appropriate. Do not overstuff your computer with music files, tracks, VST plug-ins, or software that you barely or do not use at all. The market of free sound packs, templates, and VSTs can drift you away.
Find here The best free VST plug-ins to start music production right here right now.
5. Get inspired – Listen to different music styles. Many music producers, including myself, they are used to listen to a bunch of different music style to get inspired. Classical music, jazz, and disco are well-known for doing a pretty good job, giving ideas to start music production.
6. Trust your instincts and ideas. If you don’t believe in yourself you will never be able to produce on a pro level. It’s might sound a bit cliche to tell someone to ‘be yourself’ but in music, this is very important. It can happen to get caught in the bubble of trying to just copy others or trying to impress your fans or trying to sign with a label. At the end of the day, you want to produce something that comes from you. And who knows? maybe one day other producers will try to copy you.
7. Stealing is not bad. We hope with our tip above we didn’t discourage you to “steal” music ideas from others. In fact, to many famous producers, will happen to copy an idea from a song that they heard. Or they might use a sample or pre-recorded sound loop in their songs, that has already been used by someone else. Learn to listen to music with an ineffaceable desire to sample the sounds that you hear and recognize.
Stealing music ideas is an art form. Many consider it a necessity for the evolution of music and art. Using loops or copying ideas from other songs, like notes, melodies, chord progressions, or rhythms doesn’t make you a “fake” or bad artist. It’s the end product that counts. Behave on each sound with care, add your personal touch and you will sound 100% original.
8. Social network. Goes without saying that most professions require good social skills. Making friends in the music industry has too many benefits to add on the list. Not only you can get great feedback, but you can work with each, collaborate, share ideas and knowledge about music, instruments etc.. All that will help you adjust better and faster to recording and music production.
9. Accurate studio acoustics. Focus on the room’s acoustics before anything else. It is important to listen to the tracks properly without delays or reverbs might be caused by poor sound isolation and soundproof. If you can hear properly how a track is sounding, it will sound great anywhere. You can find at How to soundproof your room, more details, and budget-friendly materials to achieve the best possible results. If you’re going to make one investment first, it’d be decent monitors and room treatment.
It also makes a huge difference how you position the monitor speakers in your home studio. Triangle form between you and speakers and tweeters on the height level of your ears.
10. Studio equipment. Each home recording studio is unique. So many choices of recording tools, synthesizers, keyboards, speakers, headphones, software, virtual instruments and many more. Each home recording studio is unique. Make your purchases worth it, do your research, watch video tutorials, and only if it completely fits your needs, then add it to your collection.
11. Invest in yourself. Except for your precious time, you should also start to invest in your musical knowledge and skills. Take a masterclass, watch production and recording tutorials by the masters and devote to constantly improve. If you find a music tool, software or plug-in that you believe that will make a difference in your productions, then start saving money.
12. Proper Recording. Try to make sure your recording is as clear and perfect as possible. You can fix some mistakes with audio effects in the production phase, but with a correct recording, it will make things much easier. Set-up a good studio microphone if you do not own one check The best studio microphones under $300, and connect it to your sound card. Great importance is also the quality of your audio interface. Find The best audio interfaces under $200, for more details. Your PC or Laptop’s integrated sound card is not enough to cover the needs of a music producer.
13. Mixing and Mastering your tracks. A well-arranged piece of music will easily mix itself. Get the arrangement right and you’ve done a big step. We have said that your music needs to stand out, but it also needs to fit into the world. Remember that the plan is to have your music into people’s playlists, so you don’t want it to sound weaker than what’s around in the music scene. Do your homework before you master. Compression is a good start but also very dangerous to distort your tracks if you overdo it.
The basic idea of mastering is to listen to your track and find its strengths and weaknesses. Then add the edditing tools such as EQ and Compressor until you balance frequencies and dynamic to the desirable level.
14. Equipment isn’t everything. Sure, sometimes the expensive stuff sounds great, but you can make incredible sounding music, with a tiny budget and cheap-gear, in your room. Stop creating problems for yourself by thinking that some new expensive tool will fix your music. It will be amazing to have a $2000 synthesizer or an expensive analog compressor, but if you do not understand and know how to properly adjust and manipulate all parameters, you will totally fail.
15. Finish what you have started. Put finishing Music above everything. Set deadlines and make sure you follow them. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you are finishing a song in a week or two. It all depends of course on your skills, experience, and focus on the job.
I understand that during the production or recording of a song, you might have an idea for melody or drums that will work perfectly in another project. Save it as a preset, make a note or save it in your DAW, but try to not leave your current track aside and start another one.
16. Mastering is not for everyone. If your tracks sound better after mastering, then you did a good job. If it sounds the same or worse, you probably need have someone else do it. As a beginner producer, it’s ok to fail and at some point is better to focus exclusively on the production and writing of a track. Give your work to a professional mixing and mastering engineer who is skilled to make a huge difference.
17. Record everything. It’s really easy to be unique when you record your own sounds. If you record the clapping of your hands, the “movement” of the sea or nature, there will be no one in the entire world with exactly the same sounds. Recorders, microphones, and audio workstations are cheaper than ever. A nice recording setup can lead to great things.
18. Try new techniques and experiment. During the compositional process, you should commonly ask yourself questions such as:
-How this will sound like?
-If I just did this, what would happen to the sound?
-I will add this unconventional plug-in to see what happens.
You should try to approach things differently and challenge yourself to learn every day something new. Even if you fail to bring some good results, at least you will know what not to do the next time.
You will have to experiment with music a lot in order to discover your own unique sound. When you record vocals, synths or guitar, then spend a day or two trying to manipulate and stretch the sound to its limits.
19. Be prepared. For the love of god please, do a back-up of your material, projects, music, sounds, and libraries NOW! Be prepared in case of an emergency as you don’t want to lose months or years worth of work. Furthermore, you could also have back-up instruments. An audio interface, a studio microphone or extra cables could be useful in case something gets damaged or more sound sources plan to enter your studio. In fact, you can never be too safe.
20. There is no time off. It’s all about being passionate. When you’re waking up in the morning, you’re reading manuals or tutorials and websites about music production. You’re listening to music and thinking about it from a production standpoint. Give 100% of yourself to music. This is the biggest tip you will learn today. Music production is a full time job.
There is always more to learn. So, don’t give up, continue working on what you love the most, and you will succeed. Sound recording, audio engineering, and music production are not skills you can get after a course, some lessons or with just a few years of experience.
In case you are a beginner in music production check How to become a producer.
If you have any music production or recording tips for our readers, feel free to share it on the comment section below.