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In this article, we are going to talk about mistakes that novice African music producers can avoid : Congratulations for chosing this new challenge!
You’ve come to the right place if you just start producing. Having been there as a beginner producer, I think I could list the mistakes that you can escape in order to be as successful as possible in music production.
These 5 points will allow you to get off to a good start in music production if you’re a novice, or to correct a few things about the way you work if you’re an advanced music producer.
I know, you’re going to tell me to succeed, I have to copy the others at the beginning, right? Um, I agree with you and also… disagree. Even if you are discouraged (I was), I think it’s important that you should create in any case follow a guideline and do what it looks like to you. I think it can pay off in the long run!
Haitian-born music producer Kaytranada, whose fame started via the Soundcloud platform, in the video below made by Redbull, explains in an interview : the importance of having your own sound. The first remix of Kaytranada that caught my attention was Teedra Moses’ “Be your Girl” (by the way, a very good R&B singer to discover or rediscover).
And what we can take out of it is that from the beginning, Kaytranada has worked on his own sound imprinted with future beats, disco, samples, the sidechain compressor effect and many other elements of his own : his trademark is established.
2. Lack of Mastering on your beat
This second mistake doesn’t have to exist in your studio workflow : a mastering is a term referring to the fact that after the final mix of a beat, we optimize its volume so that it is equal to the standards defined in the music industry. So, for example, when you listen to your beat on a cell phone or in the car, the difference in volume will be almost invisible!
As a result, I think you have understood the importance of mastering your beats before releasing them : do your best. But, you should NEVER SKIP this step if you want to evolve and be taken seriously in your career as a music producer.
For a Mastering to start, use your compressors, limit, equalizer and choose a mastered reference beat so that you can use it as the basis for the final volume of your mastering. However, if you can’t do it yourself, even after watching long hours of tutorials on Youtube, I have a free solution to share with you for instant mastering : online algorithmic mastering softwares.
An online mastering software is an entity created via an algorithm where a mixed beat is automatically mastered via this algorithm in order to give at best an acceptable mastering so that your song is ready to be shared in WAV or MP3. A lot of new softwares of this type has appeared on the web in the last few years and has helped a lot of music producers, DJs or independent artists to achieve their personal goals for a very affordable price.
It is my favorite online mastering service which is becoming more and more powerful over the years : they actually also offer music distribution and samples library services. However, the free LANDR’s version only offers 3 masterings, which I’m sure you’ll appreciate.
On the other hand, if you really want unlimited quality instant mastering for free, there are 2 other amazing solutions :
Also a free online DAW really worth exploring. It is also a community, a growing platform that was created by a mathematician with a passion for music : Kuok Meng Ru.
The least known, but not the least effective : SCHNALZ offers instant mastering with really acceptable sound quality.
Other paid sites also offer mastering services. Feel free to have a look:
- Emastered : created by grammy award-winning sound engineers
- Aria : created by a music enthusiast
- Imusician : platform also offering music distribution on streaming platforms and the creation of your music in CDs or Vinyl (which could be nice for Bandcamp users)
- Ianknowles : created by an independent music producer who has collaborated on music projects from the Major Sony and BMG labels
- Abbey Road mastering: created by one of the biggest famous recording studio of the world.
3. Low-quality samples
A sample can be a piece of drums or snare that you will choose to compose your music. It can also be a part of a melody that you will use to rearrange it to your liking.The samples have a primordial role on the final rendering of the instrumental tone. Choosing to use quality samples even before you start composing can have a very positive effect on the perception of your work.
That’s right! Even if you want to become the next J Dilla and making vintage beats, you have to choose your samples carefully : the samples you will use to structure your rhythm are also the most important. Of course if it’s a lo-fi beat, don’t consider this part of the article. For starters, you can download high-quality samples for free from great sites like Freedrumkits or Looperman.
4. Not learning an instrument
Having learned to play a musical instrument myself from the age of 5 (first the flute and then the piano), I believe that learning to play an instrument at any age develops creativity and awakens the brain. Whether it’s through free tutorials on Youtube or lessons with a teacher : go for it!
You don’t have to become a virtuoso (if you do, I encourage you to), just to know the basics in order to develop your music production performances.
5. Neglecting collaboration
If you want to make yourself known, you have to overcome the fear of being robbed or copying your beats. Isn’t it time you shared all the finished beats that sleep in your hard drive? Collaborating with other producers or artists you’ve enjoyed, even if they’re not well-known, can take you further than you think!
I have met producers in my life who have collaborated with famous rappers, just because they have the audacity to give their beats under a USB key during a showcase! Or others who managed to work with Pop stars, thanks to a childhood friend with whom they collaborated from time to time. Personally, my track so far that has the most streams on Spotify is the result of a collaboration.
What do you think is the most common mistake a beginning producer make? Tell us everything in comments.
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