Nowadays, music production has become easily adopted by musicians who are now able to produce their own records or at least edit and mix well enough to get them sounding how they want them to.
This is especially common in rap music which is spearheaded by great acts like Kanye West who are able to rap and produce their own records aswell as those of others.
This then brings up the most commonly asked question, which is;
“Is producing harder than rapping?”
Producing music is definitely harder and more complex compared to rapping. With rapping, you need fewer skills that you can easily grasp….but with music production, you need a lot of specific knowledge, experience and lot of practice. This is why it takes years for people to get a good handle on producing while it may take only a few months to learn the basics of rapping.
With that said let’s get into some skills that you need to learn for production.
One of the things that make music production harder than rapping is the fact that you need intensive ear training to get good at it.
Ear training is basically sharpening your ears to be able to catch the subtle things that would be normally be missed by an untrained ear. This in itself cannot be learnt in a month…. it requires hard work on your part and desire to have a good grasp on sound and how it is perceived.
Plus, you’ll need to develop a basic understanding of music with regard to instrumentation and vocal performances because they work hand in hand.
Learning and understanding this may be easier for somebody with a bit of background in music…. but for somebody that doesn’t really know anything about music, learning this can take a considerable amount of time.
Music production like any other craft has the basics that make up the core concepts of everything. These basics are the foundation that can get you started.
To learn these music production basics you need to be on the job and working…. only practical experience can yield the necessary result.
This is another reason why music production is a more complicated path than rapping…. because with rapping, you could probably learn so much by listening to some great hiphop songs but the same cannot be said for music production.
You also need a good solid understanding of various music production equipment to be able to effectively produce records.
This is not at all an easy task and will mostly mean practicing with various equipment which is not cheap to get.
Recording is another aspect of production that deals with ensuring that the best vocal takes are recorded. This may seem simple when you read about it but trust that it is a more complex process.
You need to be able to learn what a good recording take sounds like, you need to be able to spot subtle mistakes that cannot otherwise be noticed by the average listener,
you also need to employ good recording techniques that can help the artist deliver good vocals.
Everything listed above can only be learnt through experience and hours or putting in the work.
The process that comes after recording is a process called editing. With editing you’re basically picking the best vocal takes, cleaning them up, lining them up and ensuring that they are recorded right.
This editing process of music production is quite technical and requires a good ear and a hands on approach to get the best possible vocals on which further processing can be accomplished.
Editing requires having knowledge of good recording techniques, a trained ear, good understanding of a Digital Audio Workstation and the ability to take good takes and make good super takes …..
this is commonly referred to as comping, I have a more detailed article regarding comping and you can check out here if you want to understand it further.
Mixing is the process in which the edited vocals are loaded into a digital audio Workstation and further processed to make sure they are in line and actually blend well with all other counterparts to the mix.
With mixing, it basically means what it says. You mix all elements of a track so they blend well and become more cohesive and well balanced enough to express a complete and proper meaning.
This is not easy at all and requires a lot of practice with various mixing tools such as EQ, compression, delay, saturation, reverb, transient processing, limiting etc…
Each of these individual elements has to be understood and learnt if you’re to carry out your job effectively as a music producer.
Mastering is the processing of a mix to its highest possible quality in readiness for distribution.
Most music producers will agree with me when I say mastering is just an extension of the mixing process because you’ll essentially use the same tools to do these two not-so-different processes.
Mastering requires a really subtle touch and ear training.
Producing music is certainly more difficult than rapping because production involves a lot more complex process as compared to rapping which is usually good writing and technique.
Of course this is not to say you can become a successful rapper in a week…. but it is to say you’ll spend less time to learn how to rap than you would learning how to produce music.