I’ve been working hard on my producing skills over the last month, and I’ve come to a few quick things that have really helped my productions shine:
1. Pick a unifying theme
That doesn’t have to be a specific musical phrase- it could be a sound, an effect, or a bass lick. By picking a subtle theme, the whole piece will tie together so much more.
2. Think small
The mark of a really great producer is one that can decide what’s most important, and then remove almost everything else. Do the “cut” test with your production by removing one element at a time to see if the production loses something significant without it. If it’s a marginal loss, keep it out.
3. Produce backward
Work on the last chorus first, then simply remove parts for the first and 2nd choruses. You’ll save time, and help the song build intelligently.
4. Spend 90% of your time on the vocals and builds
Getting a great vocal performance will make or break your song, and the builds will keep audiences interested. Harmonies can also put a song over the top. Make sure to get harmony takes, even if you don’t end up using them.
5. Sleep on it
Take at least 8 hours away from the project, then listen to it with fresh ears. This will help you fight familiarity bias (listening too many times), and your ears will be less fatigued.