The last couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with a newbie beat maker, he had sent me a beat to work on because he wanted a more professional feel to it, so I worked on the track and i sent it back to him.
This got me thinking about how I got started in the music production game and the numerous encounters I’ve had with professionals.
I’ve learnt a lot over the years and I created this as a resource you could use to take your production of beats to the next level.
I hope you’ll utilize the tips I share here and use them in your production.
Tip 1: Pick a niche
One of the things you need to figure out is where you fit in because there are a lot of people out there that are doing exactly what you’re doing that is why it is really important that you find your niche.
Finding your niche will allow you to separate yourself from the pack and excel in a particular area where you generally know you can do well.
Finding your niche means figuring out what genre or what kind of beats you like and the kind beats you enjoy making.
You then go all in on these tracks and make them your thing, because it is much easier to excel and become a professional at something you enjoy doing.
Tip 2: Learn how to build loops and melodies
This is a skill you definitely need to learn and develop over time. You need to have the ability to make and build out loops. This is different from making complete beats because you tend to approach making loops differently.
You need to be able to come up with catchy melodies that can get people hooked easily. This is the simple fact that makes peoples beats sound professional.
So learn this skill or partner up with somebody that can build great loops and learn from them.
Tip 3: Focus and avoid distractions
One of the things that negatively affect my beat making process is being around too many distractions whilst I work.
Hence I try to do away with the distractions and just focus on what I’m working on at the time.
You need to understand that making beats is an art and it has to be treated as such. So turn that phone off, turn that TV off and lock into your process and just create.
What sets the professionals apart is their ability to focus during their work hours and do other activities in their resting time.
Change your routine to perfect your craft.
Tip 4: Learn Mixing and Mastering
Mixing and mastering are essential skills and they will put you over the top. Most beat makers don’t focus on this part as much as they should, as a matter of fact they tend to ignore it and just focus on the beat making itself.
The fact is nothing beats a good mix and master, most properly mixed beats will sound good and professional even when they are not complex beats.
A clean and balanced mix will give you a professional edge.
LEARN HOW TO MIX AND MASTER BEATS.
Tip 5: Stay inspired
Beat block is something that is really common in the beat making community; therefore you need to make sure you have the fuel to be able to make good beats consistently.
In my case I have a process, whenever I find myself unable to make beats I watch videos of my favorite producers making beats and giving out wisdom while they work. This inspires me and gives me the fuel I need to tap into my core and make great music.
The fuel in this case is inspiration, tap into your core, and find what motivates you to do what you do.
Find the inspiration that drives you to be better, to make better music and to sound as good as a chart topping beat makers and producers. Use this inspiration to excel and improve your craft.
Tip 6: Use free resources to improve your sound library
There are lots of websites that give out freebies.
The struggle for a newbie producer is money most of the times. I’m here to tell you that; they are a lot of sites offering free sounds that you can use in your beats.
Take advantage of these sites, get as much of these freebies as you can and arm yourself.
Build out your sound library so that you have a variety of sounds to work with when making your beats.
Most of these sounds being offered for free are music industry standard. Take advantage while you can.
Instagram is a good place to find such websites, most of the time the only catch is to provide an email address to said sites and then receive a free kit. One prominent site that does this really well is Cymatics.
Tip 7: use live instrumentation
Live instrumentation is a thing of beauty.
Using good live instruments in your beats is a great way to sound more professional, the truth is you can tell a lot about a producer by listening to the sounds that they choose to use in their music, and as far as authenticity goes, live instrumentation is a good bet.
Record some live instruments, or invest in some good instrument players. Use the sounds you come up with in your music and it will stand out easily.
You can also outsource on this.
Tip 8: Be Unique
One of the many things that make professional producers stand out with their music is their ability to implement themselves in a track.
What do I mean?
They have their own signature styles that we recognize them by and they run with it all the time. This sets them apart from any other producer.
Find your unique style of making beats, add your own flavor to your tracks.
This really goes back to finding your niche. If Rnb is your niche then figure out a way to sound unique and separate yourself from the pack.
For example, Mike Will Made It has a signature sound; he can switch between genres without losing his unique touch to the record. That is what makes him a professional that is what makes his beats sound professional. He has mastered the game and brought his own unique elements to the battlefield.
Another great example of a producer that has an authentic signature is Decap. His beats are unique because he uses custom made kicks that are hard-hitting and crisp.
Find what makes you unique and let it be heard in your beats.
Tip 9: Practice, practice, practice
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Small consistent efforts always accumulate to bigger results.
Stay practicing and working on your craft, that’s the only way you improve. Every professional was once an apprentice, it’s no different in your case.
Develop some good beat making habits and exercises to help you further your skill. An example of a beat making exercise is trying to remake a certain beat that you’ve heard. Try and mimic the drum pattern, try and mimic the chord progressions.
It’s only in trying that we become better at making beats.
Make this a routine and practice practice practice. You’ll notice a great difference in your beats when you make practicing a habit.
Tip 10: Get the right Equipment
The truth is you don’t need a lot of complicated equipment for beat making but It really pays off to invest in some good software and hardware.
Make it your mission to get yourself some great tools to use in your beat making. Start small; find you a laptop or PC with some pretty good specs. I recommend 8Gigabytes of ram, and a quad core processor, the faster the better.
Get yourself an audio Interface and some studio monitors too.
If you can’t afford studio monitors or an audio interface you can invest in some good beat making head phones.
You’d be surprised at how getting equipment will impact your beats positively. Improved Sonics will definitely motivate you to work harder.
Get the right equipment.
Tip 11: Listen to beats
You want to sound like a professional? Listen to a lot of beats and not only one genre; you could really learn a lot about compositions by just listening to a variety of beats.
I’ve been making beats for years now but I still make reference playlists every month just so I can learn more.
Create a reference playlist of your favorite beats, listen to them over and over again; learn what the producers do, listen to how they use drums, listen to how they use snares, pay attention to every little detail. The more you listen to these beats, the more you improve your production ear.
Producers in the music industry are creatives; you’ll get stunned every now and again by a song that you hear, learn from this.
What makes them different?
What makes them special?
These are the two most important questions that you should ask your self during your listening sessions.
Tip 12: Pay attention to drums
Drum patterns make the vibe of the song; they make up the bounce of the song.
Spend some time on your drums make sure they sit well with the other sounds you’ve used, make them crisp and clean.
I once watched a Just Blaze interview and he said; he revisits his drum pattern after he feels like he’s done with the beat. He does this to make sure they are perfect for the particular beat he is trying to make.
This is great advice! I’m glad I wrote that point down when I watched that interview. This advice gave me a great idea. This idea is basically trying a variety of drum patterns after I finish making the melodies of the beat.
This gives me perspective about what could work and what won’t work with the particular beat.
You can also try this technique with your drums.
Tip 13: Learn how to structure your beats
The structure of your beat is really important, you could have a great sounding beat but if it is structured poorly, it will sound pretty amateurish and not well thought.
Remember Tip 11?
When listening to beats, you will be listening for how their structured as well, this will give you perspective about general structuring of beats.
Great beat structuring will improve the listening experience of the listener when they play your beat and your beat will sound a whole lot more professional if it is structured well.
Tip 14: Try and make your beats sound as the commercial songs do
This all comes down to how good of an ear you develop overtime as you listen to different kinds of music. Trust me your ear will develop, and you can use this to make your beats better.
This is the “type beat” era and most artists nowadays will associate what kind of track they want with a commercially successful artist, that is why you need to make sure that you work smart and develop the right skills that will work in this day and age.
Your beats will sound more professional if you have that commercial sound intent attached to it as you create, so try as much as possible to create industry standard beats.
You can do this by trying to make “type beats”, consider this a beat exercise and do it as much as you can.
Tip 15: Learn music theory
This will really help you in your beat making.
Music theory is really over looked by a lot of beat makers, but understanding music theory will really help you in making melodies and making loops. Understanding how chords are formed and how other music theory concepts apply is really important in this business.
I honestly wish I had learnt music theory in my earlier days as a producer, it would have made a huge difference, but I only started to learn music theory after 2 years of constant beat making with no theory knowledge.
My advice is, invest in a music theory course or find somebody that can teach you.
Tip 16: Use a professional tag for you beats
This point may not necessarily apply to everyone, but for those that prefer to have a producer tag in the beat make sure your tag is on point. A good tag will make your work sound more professional and it will separate you from the rest, so invest in a good tag.
If you’re not in a position to make one yourself, you can have one made.
You can use sites like:
- Voice Tag Gods
- Chelsea voice tags
- Modern producers
Any of these websites can offer you a great deal on a custom professional producer tag.
Tip 17: Take advantage of YouTube
YouTube is a great resource if you are trying to learn and take your production game to the next level and what makes it really awesome is that, it is totally FREE.
Take advantage of this great resource and use it to the max.
The great thing about YouTube is you can look for specific areas that you feel you need to improve in, and you will be able to find all sorts of helpful content to help you up your game.
Of all the tools and tips I recommend in this article, YouTube is certainly one of the most important, it can help you a lot. Please utilize it to its fullest extent.
Tip 18: Collaborate
Collaborating is an extremely useful skill to possess and develop especially if you want to excel in beat making. You can learn a lot by collaborating with different people.
Collaborating with highly skilled people will definitely have the end product sounding professional but the key here is to communicate with the person you’re collaborating with and make sure you learn something from them.
One of the important things about collaboration is that it will add to your experience and sometimes may even give you inspiration to stay the course and keep working.
So collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.
Tip 19: Quality over quantity, Always!
Work on a few beats at a time and make sure that they sound great, even if it means spending more time on them.
Make sure they sound commercially ready and if you feel the need to have another produce work on the beat then by all means let them work on it.
What you need is quality not quantity.
So take your time and work on your beats.
Tip 20: Use online resources that can help you
Loops have become a popular thing; almost everyone I know is using them in their beat making or song compositions.
Some of the best loops online are made by the most professional of producers in the industry and you can use this to your advantage. Using loops is a shortcut to making professional industry standard beats and it will make your beats sound better and professional if you use the right loops.
Some of the sites that offer loops and other exciting tools on sale are:
- Prime loops
- Producer loops
- Sound Oracle
My personality favorite on these sites above is Splice and Cymatics, it’s a great resource. Invest a couple of dollars in some good sound kits and loop kits.
Splice is known for its great community of loop makers and sound designers, it’s worth checking out.
Cymatics have a wide range of loops across genres and they also have free downloads which you can get on their website. I’d recommend you get as many of these free downloads as you can so that you can build your sound library.
Looperman is also a great website for loops, it can link you to all sorts of loop makers around the world and most of these producers are willing to collaborate, which is perfect.
Tip 21: Follow your favorite producer
This is really for inspiration sake. Most producers these days have online social media accounts set up as well as their YouTube channels.
These producers are always giving out important and informative tips that can be beneficial to you, so it pays to at least follow some of the producers you look up to.
Also subscribe to YouTube channels like Producer Grind or Deconstructed, a lot of producers are featured on those platforms and you could learn a lot from watching these interviews and beat break downs.
Tip 22: Keep your ear to the ground
This is really important in this line of work; always keep an ear out for new plugins, new sound kits, new loop kits and new software that you can use in your beat making.
Research on the famous tools that are being used by the professionals, acquire these tools and use them in your music.
Research new plugins that can work in your DAW, research preset packs that are being sold or being given out for free. Use this information to your advantage and excel.
It pays to keep your ear to the ground and to learn the tricks of the trade