I've been writing/recording music for around 15 years now, and have been mixing as a side-gig for around 5 years. I wanted to share some of my experiences and philosophy on music production, largely because I see a lot of people on this sub who seem very defeated by the process of making and releasing music. All of the info contained below has been discussed over the years, I just figured it would be helpful for people to have it in one place.
Determine priorities. Are you making this music for yourself and your own self-enjoyment, or are you trying to target a direct market/demographic? This seems like an obvious question, but it's one you should really consider, as it's going to influence almost every part of the creative process.
Determine what brings out the best creativity in you. Maybe it's working on a song per week, maybe it's experiencing life for a few months and then bringing those experiences into your creativity.
Don't get caught up in the doing things the "right way." This is something I struggled with. If you're someone who likes to research the best gear, plugins, etc. it can be easy to get carried away, i.e. "Man I wish I could have a realistic sounding orchestra on this part, guess I gotta buy the $500 VST pack." Sound is sound. And if you're trying to differientate yourself from the pack, it may be helpful to determine a creative solution anyways, as it'll produce a different sound/feel/whatever. Many of the "mistakes" I've made in this area have resulted in some of the more interesting things I've done in a recording or mix.
Don't skimp on the arrangement. The best mix in the world won't save a bad arrangement. If you have a bass line that's a bunch of 16th notes, and a sparkly clean guitar line, but then find that you'd have to high-pass the hell out of the bass to make the guitar sound work, maybe re-work the bass line.
Use (your own) templates. It saves massive amounts of time, helps achieve a more conistent sound across tracks, and should hopefully improve your creative process since you'll have more of an ability to just pick up the instrument and get the melody down.
Be critical of your writing; you can think "If someone else made this, would I bother listening to it?" If the answer is no, work on it. Sometimes you'll write something that sounds alright, but then realize it follows a super basic scale. On the opposite end of this, simple doesn't equal bad by any means; if it sounds like it fits the style or passage, then it does.
If you're playing an instrument, don't just practice or learn songs; jam too. Play around and find how the pieces of what you like fit into what you're going for. You'll then take that knowledge into your writing.
Don't get too worked up on mastering to "standard" practices. This may be different if you're trying to reach as large of an audience as possible (such as mainstream pop music). But especially nowadays, some really popular and influential music is mastered in a way that's technically atrocious, but still fits the vibe. Some of the punk-rap that's popular uses the mastering stage to intentionally distort the entire track, in order to create a vibe. On the other hand, if you have a jazz/funk track, it's alright for it to be a couple of db quieter than normal. Streaming services, Bandcamp, Soundcloud etc. all normalize the volume of tracks by default (though there will still be some variety between tracks). However, play your final mastered track on headphones, a hifi system, and a car, at minimum.
Other bits: - Mix in mono, when possible. You can switch to stereo to test out stereo effects, guitar double tracking or whatever, but then continue in mono until ready for mixdown/export. - When mixing/mastering, take breaks for your ears every so often. When you're listening critically, you'll probably turn up your volume more than needed.
Hi everyone, I’ve been producing my own music for about a year now, and I finally feel like I’m getting good enough to perform some of my work. I don’t know what to expect at all, when it comes to performing live. Can anyone give me some pointers on what to look out for? i haven’t really rehearsed for my show either because I don’t really know how… except by singing my songs and remembering my lyrics. I kinda T-Pain the ever loving s**t out of my vocals, so there’s that too lol. thanks a million!