Know Yourself Well To Establish Your Artist/brand Identity
You need to establish who you are as a brand to make it easier for people to identify and distinguish you from other artists.
This may be hard for some, but a good way to understand who you are is to establish who you are not. You need to know this to market your music to the right audience. Often times, youll want to reach people who are like you, thats why I say you need to know yourself or have self-awareness. Establishing your brand and identity helps potential fans decide if your music resonates with them. Remember that your music is not for everyone.
Is your brand a static entity? No. I believe your brand or artist identity can evolve and change, just as we normally do as individuals. But its important, especially early in your career, to start with something that is authentically you to build around and commit to it.
Think about your story, angle, hook or nugget that helps you stand out and makes you different. It should be an authentic part of yourself that makes it easy for people to associate and connect with you.
The tricky part is to try and sum up what youre all about in a short line or sentence. Identifying yourself as a female rapper or guitarist from New York is too vague. What can people expect to hear from you? What kind of scenes, subculture, hobbies, lifestyles or interests are you into aside from music?
Approach #: The Deliberate Approach
This is the approach I recommend.
It doesnt matter if you have a coach or mentor. It doesnt matter if youre enrolling in formal education.
This approach functions as an umbrella for all of that.
It features three strategies:
Design a plan/path for learning
First, dont think too long term.
It is helpful to have a long-term vision for yourself as an artist. But if youre new, it adds pressure and can cripple you.
Instead, focus on the next 90 days of your music production journey.
List all the possible skills you could learn.
Sound design, songwriting, melody writing, vocal processing, etc.
Next, choose 1-3 of those skills based on whats important to you.
For instance, if you want to make pop music, then learning sound design is not a high priority, but songwriting is.
If youre also a vocalist, and want to use your own voice in your songs, then vocal processing is important to learn.
Once youve picked 1-3 skills, move on to the next step.
Design a plan/path for learning
Take one of the skills you want to develop and then create a system for it.
Creating a system will encourage action and consistency. Youll make less excuses for avoiding work, and youll focus on whats important.
What does it look like in practice?
Lets say your goal is to hone your melody writing skills .
You could create a system like so:
What do I mean by that?
How Do You Become A Music Producer
Many aspiring producers intern or apprentice with an established music producer as a production assistant. They handle details such as scheduling, emailing, setting up and breaking down gear in the studio, and assisting in sessions. In addition to gaining experience, production assistants are in the position to make key relationships and connections with engineers, studio personnel, and artists. These are the very people who can give an aspiring producer a career break. While most producers at the top of the field are freelance, many work in-house for record labels and recording studios.
One way that you can start gaining music production skills and experience is through Berklee Onlines courses, certificates, bachelors, and masters degree programs. Not only will you gain the hands on experience, from anywhere, but youll make connections with Berklees renowned music production faculty as well as producers from around the world at all stages in the game.
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Experiment With Writing Your First Song
You probably won’t get a full song completed or even one that sounds great yet. But that’s exactly where you want to be. You should be exploring the software, testing out plugins and sounds, and simply learning your way around.
DAWs have a learning curve and more and more features get revealed to you over time, but typically only as you need them. So don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed. Start simple and work with what you know.
That might mean you create a drum loop and then add a melody and bass line to it that are incorrect as far as music theory goes. Who cares? As a beginner you should be having fun, stay excited, and keep learning.
Casting The Film Crew And Getting Equipment
However complicated your shoot is, you’ll need a team. If you have a team, everyone should be clear on what they are responsible to accomplish. Here are some of the roles that you will need to fill:
- Camera person: 1 or more individuals
- Lighting person for any and all indoor shots: 1 individual
- Actor: the number of individuals varies based on what kind of video you seek to create
- Director: 1 individual that everyone clearly acknowledges as in charge
- Band members: this should be obvious, but make sure that all your members are on board and able to commit to their scheduled shooting days
As you build your team, consider their individual needs. If youre shooting through meal times, either provide food or at least remind crew members to bring food and set aside aside time for people to eat. If you are shooting all day, or for several hours, encourage the crew to take breaks.
Ideally, you’ll be able to recruit a team that can provide their own equipment. If you have to get equipment yourself, then you’ll want to get the best that your budget allows. Even though prices have come down in recent years, buying a camera, lights, and gear will still set you back a small fortune.
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Get Rid Of The Low End Junk You Dont Need
This is often referred to High Pass Filtering or low cut.
You dont just have to be limited to a high pass filter, you can also use a shelving filters to essentially turn down the bass volume of a track.
High Pass Filter
High pass filtering has been beaten to death and quite frankly Im tired of hearing about it.
You can see tonnes of articles dedicated to this topic if you do a search.
I would add however that I am NOT the type of engineer who high passes EVERYTHING because I feel like its just overkill. To read more about why I feel that way, go here and read my article on it.
A Pair Of Studio Headphones
What is it: Studio headphones are headphones designed for professional work and have specific tunings to meet this goal.
Studio headphones differ from consumer and gaming headphones through their neutral sonic balancing. Essentially, studio headphones seek to output the least colored sounds possible in order for producers to mix their tracks as effectively as possible.
Without knowing what your song actually sounds like, correcting tonal imperfections during a mix-down will only exacerbate them.
Why you need it: For listening to your works in progress, there are two main options: monitors and headphones.
For new producers, headphones are the option you want to take. Studio monitors require substantial modifications to obtain clear sound, as their sounds are colored by factors including the shape of the speaker, the layout of the room they are sitting in, and much much more.
This leaves headphones as the primary option for new producers.
What Are Some Good Options: Two key things to keep in mind are avoid Bluetooth headphones and dont master on style brands like Beats by Dre.
Bluetooth diminishes audio fidelity, and style headphones typically have distorted dynamics. The one advantage to brands like Beats or Skullcandy is for after youve finished mixing, you can hear how your track will sound to the masses. Sennheiser and Audio Technica both make strong entry-level headphones, but the ATH M20X might be the best low-cost option.
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Can You Make Music Without A Midi Keyboard
Yes, you can make music without a MIDI keyboard. Most DAW programs allow you to control your sounds with a built-in virtual keyboard operated by your computers keys. So, if you are new to music production and dont have a MIDI keyboard or youre on a really tight budget, it is possible to make music with just your computer.
However, we highly recommend investing in a MIDI keyboard since they make music production much easier and more efficient!
Network And Be Community Oriented
Your network is your net worth. More often than not, its all about who you know in life, and the music industry is no exception.
One of your first goals should be to develop relationships in your local community and music scenes. You can network in your neighborhood, city and school by knowing the different music venues and establishing relationships with other local artists and people involved in music.
You can also think of it as building a local support group to help you stay motivated.
Of course, you should be doing this online as well as in person. The internet isnt just a place where you find fans. There are networking opportunities, but you just need to know how to approach it. Dont just put up music and going around spamming people to listen to it. Instead, find relevant online communities to be active in and support artists similar to you. This way you can meet other artists to collaborate with and possible industry connections that may help you in the future.
Remember, relationships are key to success in this business, so start developing them locally.
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What Is A Music Producer
A music producer, or record producer, assists an artist with their recording project, bringing their vision to fruition and guiding their sound along the way. Being a music producer is in many ways a strange job. What a producer creates cant be seen. What a producer creates is not even an object. If you zoom all the way out, what a music producer does for a living is this: Vibrate air molecules in such a way that when the air molecules bump up against a human life form, that life form feels something.
Stage : Exponential Learning
Time: 6-24 months
Stage 2 is where the real fun begins. You start getting the hang of things, and every track you make sounds better than the last.
This stage takes a while, typically 1-2 years. For some people, it may be shorter, especially if they have the freedom to put many hours in. For others, it may take longer than two years.
Stage 2 is titled Exponential Learning because thats exactly what happens. You acquire knowledge, develop skills, and improve as a producer at exponential speed.
Heres an illustration :
Its an exciting time in your journey as a producer. Your eyes are opened to the limitless freedom that electronic music production presents. You listen to tracks you made a few weeks earlier and notice how much youve improved since.
During this stage, at least in the early months, youll be improving week on week if you put in the time and effort.
But in order to excel during this stage, youll need to follow these 4 key disciplines:
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Rhythm Is The Pulse Of A Song
Rhythm is a basic aspect of music and a deep subject in its own right.
We covered the basics extensively in our overview, but its worth paying more attention to rhythm since its such a major element of modern music.
Groove and feel can get you a long way, but a solid understanding of rhythm can take you to new places.
Beats are just rhythms represented in the piano roll in your DAW. If you dont know how to arrange a rhythm in your DAW, heres a guide to making your first beat.
You can even bring back some of the human feel in a rhythm using DAW swing.
Standard straight rhythms are the basis for most beats and grooves, but polyrhythms are how you take your rhythmic sense to next level.
Polyrhythms are hybrid grooves that combine different rhythmic patterns together.
It seems complicated at first, but our in-depth explanation makes it easy to bring polyrhythms into your songwriting.
Legal Stuff And Sample Clearance
Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but all the techniques and resources weve covered so far have a condition in their use, and that condition is that you must legally have the right to use that audio.
I left this part to last because otherwise, I would have to mention it a hundred times over, but it does need to be considered and its something youve most likely about heard before.
If you plan on releasing a track with a sample you dont have rights to, you risk legal trouble and you technically are infringing copyright. So, you might be thinking, Simple, how do I get the rights to use it?
Well, its a complicated, timely, and costly process that often ends up in nothing happening, which is why a lot of artists sample anyway, preferring to ask for forgiveness and not permission.
I cant recommend this strategy, but the chances are that you probably wont get caught if you do this, unless you make a lot of money from the use of the sample. Furthermore, depending on how you use the sample is another matter, which well unpack a bit more now.
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Chords Are How Notes Work Together
Once you have the basis for building theory knowledge, you can dive into the pillars of musical practice.
The relationship between the pitch of two tones is known as an interval. The type of intervals contained inside a chord determine its chord quality.
You might already be familiar with major and minorthe two basic chord qualities. But theres much more to discover.
The way the pitches combine within the structure of a chord and the way different chords interact with one another are defining parts of a songs identity.
Putting chords together in sequences is one of the basic parts of songwriting. A musically pleasing sequence of chords is called a chord progression.
Learning how to build individual chords and arrange them together is a skill you can improve by learning music theory.
To do it well youll have to learn several concepts that deal with chords.
Release The Power Of Your Pc Or Mac
Rather like Clark Kent, your computer has a dual identity. On the one hand, it can be used for everyday tasks such as sending email, browsing the internet and watching videos of skateboarding cats, but on the other, its a creative powerhouse that can help you to make pro-quality music.
Whether youve got a Mac or PC – it doesnt really matter – releasing your computers music-making potential doesnt have to be costly or difficult. You could easily start creating choons with nothing more than a few free pieces of software, but if youre willing to add one or two other bits of kit to your setup as well, youll definitely feel the benefit.
What follows is a guide to some of the gear that an aspiring computer musician should consider investing in. Not all of it is essential, but these are the basic building blocks of any computer-based home studio setup.
For a whole magazine’s worth of beginner-friendly tutorials, tips and gear advice check out the latest Computer Music Special – The Complete Beginner’s Guide – which is on sale now.
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Build Leverage Through Value To Get What You Need
Sometimes it can take that one popular tastemaker, blogger, playlister or influencer to get you the publicity and exposure you need to get your career going. These are basically people who have a large audience of followers and can get your name out there to accelerate the growth of your fan base. Assuming, of course, that you have really good music that is worthy of attention.
For most artists, a random request to these individuals asking for promotion will often get ignored. So how do you get their attention? Think about whats in it for them. How does talking about you or promoting your music benefit them?
Unless you know them or have connections, industry people are less likely to do you any favors just out the goodness of their hearts. No matter how good you think you are, dont ever feel like you are entitled, especially if you havent proven yourself yet.
Its important to understand what value you possess as an artist and how you can leverage it to get others to talk about you and promote your music. If youre just starting, you wont have leverage so you will need to provide value first.
In todays music industry, value usually starts with offering your music for free to build a following.
The value you possess could be that you have really good music that makes influencers look good in front of their audience for discovering you.
The Funnest Ways To Learn Music Production
Putting in serious study and practice doesn’t have to be hard and boring. With music production it’s actually a blast. When you get sick of trying to invent new ideas right out of your own brain there are a few things you can do to keep it interesting and turn up new techniques.
Remakes – I recommend first and foremost to try to remake songs you like. That means figuring out their key, chord progressions, orchestration and arrangement, and recreating it the best you can. You can usually find acapella tracks, too, though I recommend performing the vocals yourself.
Remixes – Another fun method is to create remixes of songs you enjoy. Again, you can use an acapella and even time-stretch it to target a different tempo. Taking songs you’re familiar with and turning them into something completely different is a blast.
Challenges – Finally, I love to create music production challenges. For instance, I once challenged myself to make a children’s music EP album from only FL Studio stock sounds, only in major keys, and it had to be in the genre of world music. I learned a ton from that and the songs were great.
The more you restrict the parameters during challenges, the more creative you have to be, which forces you to expand your thinking and your arsenal of techniques. You end up having to study new genres that have a lot to teach you.
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