How to Become Talented at Music Production

Welcome to Motivation Monday! This is a weekly post meant to inspire, motivate, and provide discussion on topics including artist success stories, applying science to production, the philosophy of success, and my personal experiences with making music.

Do you want to become talented at music production?

Do you want to feel confident going into your DAW, to create amazing songs, and for tons of people to hear your music?

Then I have some news for you…

Because in order to get talent, you first need to develop skill.

The difference between the two words is subtle, but very important.

You see, “talent” refers to someone’s innate ability or potential for doing something.

But “skill” is the learned ability to do something well, with expertise.

When people watch amazing artists like Kaskade, Zedd, Armin van Buuren, Illenium, and others, we tend to nonchalantly say “Oh, they’re so talented!”

But when we ascribe the word “talent” to them, it’s really a devaluation of all of the time, effort, and work ethic they put into their craft.

It’s true, for instance, that Zedd grew up in a musical family. He probably had a certain degree of natural talent for making and playing music.

But he worked hard as a starving artist for seven years in his native Germany before finally making it big in EDM.

It wasn’t his innate talent that made him successful.

It was developing his skills that made him successful!

So if you want to become talented at music production, you first need to shift your mindset.

The word “talent” stirs up feelings of wanting to show off in front of others. Also, you may feel unmotivated to practice and create music if you think you don’t have innate talent.

It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All these are false notions that should be removed, for they will poison your mind with unnecessary toxicity and self-doubt.

What you should focus on instead is building your ability in the technical skills of music production.

To become "talented" at music production, you need to focus on developing skills.

So what are the skills we’re talking about here?

Well, in music production, there are two main branches of technical skills to focus on: composition and engineering.

Musical composition refers to the creation of sound, and audio engineering refers to the modification of sound.

For example, the notes for the chords, bass, and melody are all part of composition. The mixing and mastering are on the engineering side. Sound design is a bit of a combination of both.

Topics for Developing Your Musical Skills

Here are some topics of musical composition and audio engineering to dive into in order to develop your skills

Composition Topics:

  • Scales - The major, minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales are the most common to focus on for EDM

  • Chords - Learn about intervals, major and minor chords, and chord progressions

  • Melody - What creates catchy, interesting sequences of notes? How can we keep listeners tuned into our music and keep them coming back for more?

  • Harmony - Combining chords and melody together to create great music

  • Rhythm - Catchy rhythms, epic basslines and drops, buildups, breakdowns, etc.

  • Dynamics - How loud or soft the music is. Silence, volume, and filters.

  • Structure & Arrangement - How to layer your chords, bass, drums, and melodies so that they sound good together. How to arrange the long-form structure of your track in a cohesive way so that people are engaged and know what is happening.

Audio Engineering Topics:

  • Equalization (EQ) - Boosting or attenuating specific bands of the frequency spectrum

  • Compression - Volume automation to control peaks in audio. Sidechain compression especially is a must-have skill to use when producing EDM

  • Synthesis - Modulation, filtering, oscillators, synthesizers

  • Mixing - Utilizing the above techniques to fix errors and bring out the best in the sound of instruments and the overall mix. Mixing is about a high-level view of the music; it’s about bringing everything together so that the listener can hear everything the way the artist intends.

  • Mastering - Bringing the song to a commercial loudness and preparing it for final release. Mastering is about the final touches at the end of the production process.

If you'd like to get some free learning guides to start building your skills, visit the FREE section of the website by clicking here.

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