Moving from Beginner to Intermediate Music Producer
Word Count: 1049
Time to Read: 00:04:11
The biggest challenge for a wanna-be music producer is moving from novice to beginner to an intermediate music producer to advanced. Music producers should not hold to this fact as a measurement. It is a self-assessment to gauge where you stand.
So, what is this blog post all about? The “measurement” I talk about may vary from person to person, but it should give you some idea of the level you are in the music production process. Sometimes, the slow pace of self-development goes unnoticed. It’s not a surprise when one tries their best to concentrate on the goal, they should focus on just that rather than trying to understand where they stand.
However, during the journey, self-observation is a trait not all of us have. While this measurement is necessary but not important. This post will help you gauge your level and where you stand.
Why does the level vary?
Some of you may have substantially built your experiences during the early years. Perhaps, some of you may be even professionally trained. Unfortunately, some of us aren’t as fortunate and tend to build our experiences in the latter part of our years.
I seriously started producing music from 2019 onwards. It’s been five years since I have learnt something about music theory, about my DAW – Cakewalk by Bandlab and the VST plugins.
The learning process never stops even when you reach a level that David Guetta, Post Malone, Fineas, etc. are at. I am sure even their learning process is on going.
As a beginner, I had no idea how to start a song, let alone finish it! It took me a lot of time to understand how things work the way they do. It is especially difficult when you have no background in music, do not have anyone to mentor you or seek in-person assitance.
The most important about starting a song was the hook. I learnt the hook is not that important. It depends on the genre and gives the listener a ‘heads-up’ on what to expect as the song progresses. Each and every song is different.
I later realised that you should make a song on your terms and not let the market, trends or audiences decide how your song should be. As a music producer, beginner or otherwise, you should understand that the song you create must sound good to you. Everything should be in-sync with the beats, chords, melodies, vocals, etc.
If you like what you created, there will be millions on Earth who will like it too.
Identifying the “intermediate” in you:
When does one become an intermediate music producer? As a beginner, I had to make do with what I had. This action meant focusing the least on sound design and using whatever preset I have in the VSTs and plugins. I took my time to learn things. I could hardly work over the weekdays and do more work over the weekends.
How do you know when you are an intermediate music producer? There is no clear answer to this question. So, I will share my experience on my transition from a beginner to intermediate.
An intermediate music producer is someone who gets deeper into things. Starting a song and ending it becomes second knowledge. Making your song better and meeting or surpassing your expectations comes next. The idea rests how to make the song or track better, rather leaving it at it is because of your lack of experience.
It entails diving deeper into the functionality of the VST and plugins. Now, I want to know how to make sound design-although I keep it subtle to make sure that I don’t spend too much time on it.
It meant doing little to the ADSR settings on the plugins. This time I want to make my synths sound different or rather unique-sounding. I haven’t yet diverted all my attention towards unique sound creation. But, the confidence of starting and ending your songs confidently gains prominence. You will notice it.
I also want to know how a particular VST works. For instance, I use Podolski as my go-to Arp. Earlier, I made do with the presets. Now, I get into the nitty-gritty controls of how things work. In other words, how to make the preset arp better or come up with something of my own.
I have also experimented with automation. It was something that I had to avoid, simply because it was intimidating. Now, I have to desire to make the track sound more professional. Automation is one of way of stepping away from the intimidation.
Remember, my goal here is to start and finish my song in the shortest possible time. So, I will take whatever “short-cuts”, i.e. making sure I do not spend unproductive time on things I need not focus on. What I mean by this is time-consuming sound design. Yes, I will look into sound design after I am an advanced music producer. Right now, I am putting enough energy to complete my song.
I am going with the flow and relying more on my heart to make music and on my mind to come up with ideas. I am yet to reach that point when I can materialise my thoughts: create beats when my mind conjures them.
I create songs by starting with the chords and slowly progressing with the melodies. Beats come in gradually. Some of you may make beats first and then gradually build your songs. It is subjective based on the genres or sub-genres you are into. It also depends on your strengths – what you are comfortable with and how you translate your efforts into actions.
There is no fixed way, method or structure for how a song should be made. This flexibility is immensely helpful for producers who are just starting. This guide should be all it takes to progress deeper and recognise one’s progress. I have come a long way and I am enjoying the journey.
I enjoy the confidence of knowing how I struggled from a blank slate to the intermediate producer that I have come to be. I am curious about where my journey would take me next.
The destination is clearly visible, and the road is not easy, but I will get there and so will you.