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Guest Post: 5 Tips for Aspiring Producers From Mark Mendes

Saturday, December 14, 2013


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All right, so there are literally thousands of producers today. That is why it is vital to have a plan if you want to succeed. The moment you stop working towards your goal, another producer (just as good as you or better) will take your place. Just last week I heard Tommy Trash mention this very same idea; and it’s the truth. With this in mind, I have developed a concise list of invaluable advice.

 1. Get your head on straight.

Seriously, you may think you know what you’re doing, but do you really? I’m not even referring to music production here. I’m talking about your goals. What is your goal? Do you want to DJ at festivals in front of thousands of people? Break through commercial radio? Make underground techno on prestige labels and create a live show? Or perhaps, you simply want to produce music on your spare time as a means of relaxation. Regardless of your answer, learn that you must have a goal. Without a goal, no progress can be made in a clear direction. Choose a goal that you feel strongly about inside of you, because you will need to be fueled by passion. Only once you determine your goal you can begin working backwards to achieve it. Always have the end in sight.

 2. Quality over quantity.

You only need one really good song to get your name ‘noticed’ in the industry. Make a lot of different loops and melodies and leave them for a few days.  When you go back to listen to them, see if any stick out. If not, don’t work on them just to have ‘a song’.  If you do create an awesome melody (after many trials most likely), use it as a foundation and work from there. It’s really easy to make a mediocre song, but in many cases it’s the producers that give a ‘little more’ or that ‘special something’ who get recognition.

 3. Develop your own sound.

This happens naturally. I have spent countless hours in the past crafting sounds and fx; some of which have become staples in my productions. Spend time initially to create amazing sounds and fx instead of grabbing that typical VST-Synth preset that sounds like every generic EDM song. Don’t know how?  Either did I, so I learned from reading hundreds of producer magazines like FutureMusic and making literally hundreds of ideas that I never released.  Once you have your created own good sounds, the trick is to reuse these in new productions. By doing this, you are effectively going to have a distinct sound that can be recognized by others. Just be careful to only use the really amazing parts/sounds to avoid sounding boring and repetitive.

 4. Essential Producer Tips

This is the fun part! This is a list off the top of my head of basic things that will help new producers bring productions to the next level. I. Don’t use the built-in DAW EQ! Use a high-end VST EQ on anything you want to boost. II. Keep your bass and Kick in mono, or put the bass 400hz and below in mono. III. Entire master 120hz mono! You can do this with any mono maker plugin or stereo tools. IV. Mix kick and bass first, then everything else. V. Less is more, and easier to work with. It’s better to have a track with 5 amazing sounds instead of 50 confusing ones. VI. Pay attention to clarity and quality. Listen to well-produced songs; you’ll notice they are clear. Start with clear sounds from the beginning. If a kick or synth or anything sounds boring, it probably is. VII. Sidechain almost everything, if not everything. Nicky Romero’s Kickstarter is really good for this. VIII. Focus on having a fresh track with a nice melody and groove. A lot of labels (including Starter) are willing to mix down it down for you if the track is good.

5. Analyze problems.

This is important. It’s great to make random loops and cool sounds but in the end you need to have a completed song that works well in a club (if that’s your goal). Listen to your song and compare them to your favorite tracks. Are they loud enough? Does the kick come out? Is a synth sticking out too much? Write down all of these. Then go through each one individually and find a way to fix it. It doesn’t matter how you fix it, just find a way to do it! If you are having trouble fixing it, don’t leave it. Google it, ask for help from a producer friend, or maybe replace the sound; whatever works. By solving these small problems you’ll end up with a much better result. When you have a great track, send me a tweet or Facebook message! :) -Mark Mendes

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