10 Mistakes Amateur Producers Commonly Make
If you made one of these blunders early in your career then you are not alone. Here are ten of the most common mistakes made by beginning music producers.
Like anything else it takes a lot of effort to get into the music industry and then to make a lasting impression. Just like nailing that big job interview, aspiring DJ’s and music producers make a lot of the same errors when they begin. Unless you are lucky enough to find a mentor who tells you how to do everything right the first time, it is likely that producers will lapse at some point early in the game.
1. Muddy audio from using too many SFX
A lot of people think that the way to make their tracks sound louder (and therefore more professional) is to pile on a lot of plugins and special effects. Show some discretion. Too many compressors, amplifiers and filters will make your track sound muddy and weird. Pay attention to the levels of each instrument in the track because certain sounds clash together making it sound just awful. If you want that booming audio the major labels make then maybe you should hire a professional engineer to master your songs.
2. Recording on substandard equipment
If you are serious about making music then a cheap computer microphone for making phone calls is not going to cut it. If you use shoddy studio monitors to playback your track it will not sound the same as it does on a nightclub sound system or the radio. Of course you should be economical, especially if you are not making any money yet. At the same time you want your music to sound good on both headphones and speakers.
3. Buying a lot of fancy DJ gear
Anyone that thinks they need thousands of dollars to start DJing is wrong. The fanciest mixer in the world is not going to make you a better DJ before you are ready to use it. The presence of too many knobs and dials in front of you can be intimidating. It is better to learn the basics on a generic piece of audio equipment — although you don’t want to go too cheap as it causes the opposite kind of problem. Assuming you have the rhythm, common sense and soul, you can produce a groundbreaking song using a keyboard synthesizer and some DJ software you pay for by the month.
4. Not knowing about music theory
DJ’s take a lot of jokes about how they only press play. But obviously if you want to produce original songs then it helps to have some knowledge of music theory. Otherwise you only have your instincts when arranging all those samples and patches onto the track. It also helps to take a class in audio engineering because — as anyone that has read the technical specifications knows — in-depth music production is a really complicated science that uses hard to understand words. At least watch an instructional video.
5. Biting a famous DJ’s style
Taking inspiration or a sample to remix is one thing. But if you try to act like another artist it will seem fake, especially if you are imitating someone that everybody knows like DJ Shadow or Diplo. All you can be is yourself so don’t be that DJ. Unfortunately stealing another artist’s name or song will not make you a better producer. But they might sue you for copyright infringement, blast you on Twitter or write a song about what a copycat you are. Then you will be super bummed because they were one of your favorite musical acts.
6. Not marketing their product
Creating music is two-fold including production and promotion. No one can hear your music if they don’t know about it. There is a small chance that a key influencer may happen upon your track on the internet, then press play, listen to the whole thing and love it. But with literally millions of songs being uploaded per day you shouldn’t bet on it. It’s a good idea to play some live shows and build a local fanbase in addition to email marketing efforts. Do some research and make sure that interested parties can actually help you.
7. Getting ahead of themselves
Don’t send the first thing you make to all of your favorite record labels before you’re ready. Music industry people can spot low-grade audio faster than you can say, “Play my tape.” If they actually notice the email, click the link and listen to your music, there is a chance you will make a bad first impression. Then they might stop responding to you altogether. Your only saving grace is that thousands of novice producers do this all the time.
8. Not having a website or social media profiles
When a music blogger writes about a new song the first thing they do is research the artist online. If they cannot find any information about you on a website or social media profile then it makes their job harder. They may decide you are not professional and move on to the next new tune of the day. Since music is spread digitally now you better have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that fans and professionals can use to get a hold of you. Another common mistake is having an ambiguous name that it is impossible to Google because of interference from a more popular topic.
9. Trying too hard on social media
Many DJ’s miss the point about music entirely and start out by creating a website and taking pictures. Unless you are a model that also DJ’s then press shots should not be the first thing you do. Furthermore stop worrying about how many followers liked your selfie or the number of plays on your mix. No one has time for that! A lot of industry reps buy social media interactions, so the numbers are not that important in the early stages. Concentrate on composing a top quality product instead of spamming friends and family.
10. Listening to the haters
It’s not easy getting into the music industry. There is an astounding amount of competition. Almost no one notices you until you are already famous. And sometimes people accuse you of being thirsty, broke or a poser. The worst mistake an hopeful producer can make is to give up to early because someone told them they would never make it. You don’t need to be a celebrity to be a professional. You should make music because you love it. There will be even more haters and trolls if you do become well known.
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