For years, I fed myself full of music production tips from fancy music schools and not so fancy music schools.
Learned from famous sound engineers and not-so-famous-but-still-pretty-cool pros.
Studied EQ and compression online and offline.
Played around with reverb, saturation, effects and presets.
Mixed with top notch monitors and dirt cheap headphones.
Listened to everyone who was available and tried everything I could afford.
Now I have 5 music production tips of my own.
These are the all-star of music production tips I’ve received down the years.
They’re all super easy to implement, will make a huge difference to your mixes, and…. perhaps the best part…. 4 out of 5 are free!
Note for seasoned pros…. if you’ve been producing music for a while, chances are you’re already doing this. So you might want to skip this one OR add a couple of your own tips down in the comments section 😉
Music Production Tip #1: A/B-ing
A/B-ing is the practice of comparing your mix to another mix, usually from a commercially successful song in a similar genre.
You can actually do this without spending a dime but, for best results, I recommend investing in the Magic Sample A/B plug-in ($45 at the time of writing).
This is because when you’re comparing the two mixes, it’s important that you compare both at the same loudness level which, when you’re fairly new to music production, can be a little tricky to achieve.
Why is it important that you compare both mixes at the same loudness level? I hear you ask….
Well that’s because our ears are biased in favor of loud. So if one of two mixes is louder, our ears will tend to prefer the loud mix.
Using a plug-in like Magic Sample A/B makes it easy to put both mixes on an equal footing for your ears to compare.
Music Production Tip #2: Check Your Mixes EVERYWHERE
In the car, on the laptop, on a big sound system if you have access to one.
The idea here is that you want to make sure your track sounds good on all the devices people use to listen to music.
This, ultimately, is what mastering is all about BUT…. it never hurts to double check your mix along the way, even BEFORE it goes out for mastering.
This process will help you catch quirks in your mix you wouldn’t have heard in the studio.
Especially if you’re working in a home studio where the sound treatment and monitoring equipment may be limited.
Music Production Tip #3: Listen To Lots Of Music In Your Studio
Not just the music you’re working on but the music you listen to in every day life.
The music you KNOW is supposed to sound a certain way.
This will help you understand how your room sounds.
The idea here is that you know your monitors organically. You know EXACTLY what music is supposed to sound like on those monitors.
When you mix your own music, it will help you FEEL how your music should sound on your monitors or headphones and adjust the mix accordingly.
Music Production Tip #4: Work in Short Bursts
Work in short bursts to keep your ears fresh.
It’s not always possible when you’re on a deadline but I recommend no more than 2 hours straight in the studio.
Preferably with long breaks in between to rest your ears.
The idea here is that you want to avoid going down a rabbit-hole.
You know….. the one where you wake up the next morning, listen back to what you’ve done and your jaw drops because you’re horrified by how bad your tune sounds….
Well, the best way to prevent that from happening is to work in short bursts.
To make sure your ears are always nice and fresh, ready to make the music bright and dynamic instead of dull and flat.
Which brings us to…..
Music Production Tip #5: Keep the Volume Down
When you listen to loud music, your ears tire pretty quickly. Meaning after just a short while in the studio, you can’t hear all the little things happening in the mix.
When you mix with the volume down, your ears are able to stay alert longer and notice what’s working and not working in the mix.
So you can work longer and hear what needs to be fixed to make the mix better.