I bet that title drew you in, huh?
As I was working on my post schedule for this week, I became distracted and ventured over to a few of my favorite production forums, more specifically – the feedback section of them.
The most common theme that stood out to me was the desire to have a professional sounding track.
I thought I’d compile a list of steps to help you achieve this. But, If you’re expecting to be able to produce a polished, professional, and perfect sounding track right after reading this post, then unfortunately you’ve missed the point!
Step 1 – Realise the Amount of Work Involved
The first step is to realise that success doesn’t happen overnight. Professionally produced tracks take years to create.
But I can produce a track in 5 hours?
Let me rephrase, it takes years to get to a point where you can produce professional sounding tracks.
Production takes time. If you’re looking for a quick and easy ride, this isn’t it. Just like an instrument, music production involves hours of effort, practice, and study. I can’t pick up a violin and start playing the Paganini Concerto No.2, just like a 2 week old producer can’t create a song the same standard as Madeon, who’s been composing music since the age of 11.
That’s step 1. Still want to stick around?
Note: There are people who are naturally talented and are able to get to a high level of skill in a very short matter of time. These are an exception to the rule.
Step 2 – Actually Put in the Hours
If you produce simply as a hobby and leisurely activity, whether it’s to relax and reduce stress or just have a bit of fun – then this may not apply to you. Some are perfectly content with just being able to put ideas into music, which is absolutely fine, and that’s what it’s all about.
On the other hand, if you want to have tracks that an compete on a professional level and be recognized for your work, then you’re going to have to consciously put in effort. Practice, in my opinion, should be consistent.
It must be said that if producing starts feeling like a chore to you, then you might be over-doing it. We all get into production because it’s enjoyable, and it should stay that way. It might not necessarily be easy all the time, but it should be enjoyable.
The Chef Analogy
I remember reading a Reddit comment a few months ago addressing this. The OP asked how to produce better tracks. Most of the answers were in reference to ideas like mixing or sound design, which are indeed both important and the basis to having a professional sounding track. Though, the reply that really stood out to me used analogy to state a very important point that I think all of us should understand.
Let’s say that I’m a chef, hypothetically. I’ve been cooking and preparing food for 15 years now – you could say I’ve put in the hours, the sweat (not into the food), and the study. You come to me wanting to learn how to cut onions, so I teach you. I teach you the proper technique, I share a ‘insider’ tips that I’ve learnt myself over the years, and you learn. You learn how to cut onions pretty well, probably a little better than the average onion cutter after a few hours of practice.
Yet, I can cut twice as fast as you. Why? Because I’ve been doing it for 15 years!
You can know all the theory, the reasons behind everything, concepts, ideas, etc. But what’s the point if they’re not put into practice?
Step 3 – Be Prepared for Rejection
Failure always leads to success if one keeps at it. If you know of any producer who’s made professional sounding tracks his whole life, then please let me know.
There’ll be many times where you think you’ve made the best thing on earth. Eagerly, you’ll show the internet, awaiting the praise and positive comments. What happens instead? You get the negative, spiteful comments about how bad your mix sounds, or the lack of creativity in the production.
It’s merely a sign to keep going. Take the negative feedback (with a grain of salt), study it, and use it to progress. This is the final step.
Not working? Repeat. Again and again.
This post isn’t meant to be discouraging at all. In fact the intention is to encourage and motivate. If it was that easy I’d have been done with it years ago and this blog probably wouldn’t exist.
I’d like to point out that this is mainly a response to those who get discouraged from their work not sounding up to par. It can be reassuring to know that it takes a lot of time to get to a particular point. So if you feel personally that your work just isn’t great, then just remember that everyone has to start somewhere. The chef has to deal with a few years of cutting onions slowly, and the violin player has to spend time practicing the basics.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know below.