As electronic music continues to grow in popularity, more and more people are turning to digital audio workstations (DAWs) and synthesizers to create their own music. While this can be a rewarding and fulfilling process, it’s easy to make mistakes that can ruin a track or make it sound worse than it could. Here are some common mistakes that I have struggled with when starting out, and that you should strive to avoid when producing electronic music.
Lacking a creative direction
It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your track before you start creating it. This will help you stay focused and avoid wasting time on ideas that don’t fit with your overall concept. Having a clear concept can also help you choose the right sounds and effects to use in your track, which can make a big difference in the final product. It’s good to have an initial phase that you use just to gather ideas or to experiment with different instruments, but once you have decided on the fundamentals for your song you should try and focus on the goal that you have set for yourself at the beginning.
Expecting your first song to sound perfect
You may be trying out music production because of a producer you really like, or because you’d like to create a song or a particular sound you enjoy. However, even though it may look simpler than learning how to play an instrument, composing electronic music is complicated and the songs that top the charts are the result of years of practice and honing one’s skills. Do not set the bar too high for your first song, go with the flow and don’t put too much pressure on you if your song does not sound great. Get it out there, everybody started from somewhere!
Underestimating the difference a good mix makes
The mix is one of the most important aspects of a track, and it’s easy to overlook it in the excitement of creating new music. Be sure to spend time balancing levels, equalizing frequencies, and panning elements to create a cohesive sound. It can be helpful to reference other tracks or use a frequency analyzer to help you get a sense of how your mix compares to professional releases. If you want to keep it simple, start from the volume of each different instrument: making sure there is a good balance between the drum and the bass, or between a vocal and a lead instrument is the first step to make your songs sound great.
Ignoring the importance of a good arrangement
The arrangement of your track plays a huge role in how it sounds and feels. Be sure to spend time on the arrangement to create a sense of flow and structure. This can involve adding or removing elements, changing the order of sections, and experimenting with different transitional techniques.
A way to make sure your arrangement sounds good is to give it a solid basic structure: alternate verses with choruses, while changing a few instruments or effects in each different section. This can help you create a song that while sounding familiar is not boring to listen to.
Spend some time to work on transitions between different sections of your song: while it can be difficult to transition quickly from a powerful chorus to a relatively quiet second verse, it is definitely worth it to make sure that there is cohesion and that all sections work well together and help you tell a story.
When you finally find a catchy melody, you’d like to reuse it throughout the song. While it may work in certain scenarios (around the world, around the world…), it can be helpful to alternate repetitions of the same melody with variations of the same. It does not need to be complicated: changing a few notes or adding an effect can make an instrument or a whole section of your song sound interesting.
Skipping the mastering process
Mastering is the final step in the production process, and it’s important to give your tracks the proper attention they deserve. Skipping the mastering process can result in a track that sounds unfinished or poorly balanced. Mastering involves optimizing the overall level and frequency balance of your track, as well as applying any necessary effects to bring it up to industry standards. Guess what: many producers do not do their own mastering, but actually outsource it to a mixing and mastering engineer. Mastering is an art that takes ages to perfect, so don’t worry if you want to rely on a professional.
Not saving and backing up your work
It’s essential to save and back up your work frequently to avoid losing progress due to technical issues. How many times have I lost a catchy melody because my computer crashed! And no matter how hard you try, it will always feel like it doesn’t sound as good as the version you lost. It’s also a good idea to save multiple versions of your track as you work on it, in case you need to go back to a previous version for any reason. Using Dropbox, Google Drive or any other cloud storage with a versioning system is a great idea to keep your songs safe!
Not experimenting and trying new things
One of the best things about producing electronic music is the endless possibilities it offers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new sounds, techniques, and ideas. This can help you find your own unique style and bring freshness to your tracks. Many of the established producers on the scene today wouldn’t be there if they didn’t try something different, so don’t stick to the norm!
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can produce electronic music that is polished and professional. Your first track will most likely not sound great, but practice makes perfect! Keep up the good work and you will notice your improvement with every new track you release.