12 simple production hacks every producer needs to know

It’s easier than ever to start producing and DJing in your bedroom, but much more difficult to stand out from the increasingly large crowd. To make things simple, we’ve compiled twelve practical tips from a rollcall of dance music heroes who know their way around a studio. Get started with these golden rules and you’ll be burning up dancefloors like Deadmau5 and Tiga in no time.

#1 Find a buddy

Sub Focus: “I’ve picked up so much from working with other producers over time, even working with your friends or people that aren’t music producers can be beneficial. A bit of constructive criticism is no bad thing when you are refining your sound. I have friends now both in the scene and outside music, whose opinions I have grown to really trust over time.”

#2 Don’t overload on plug-ins and gear

Tommy Trash: “I know so many producers who have no fucking idea what certain plugins do or how to even operate the most basic synths. Guess work is great for experimenting but can also be very time consuming. Learn a few synths and plugs inside out and you’ll get more out of them!”

Sub Focus: “Most people I know with vast amounts of gear never made it as musicians because they didn’t master using it. Much better to master a few bits of kit or get to know a piece of software inside out. Unfortunately there are no ‘magic’ bits of kit that will suddenly improve your songs dramatically, it’s much more about what you do with what you have.”

#3 Separate your time between practising technical and creative skills

What So Not: ”[Creativity and technical ability] are very different things and it’s important to note. You need days where you just write chords or toplines and find or create interesting noises, as well as days where you tweak a kick and bassline for five hours.”

#4 Start out by making edits

Laidback Luke: “This is re-arranging your favorite tracks and switching up the order of the song structure. Maybe try to cut a few notes and beats to make it sound crazier. Move into making mash-ups. This is basically putting two tracks together. Take the beats of one track and put the melody of another track over it. Most common mash-ups are putting an acappella over a track. Mash-ups will make you more aware of EQ-ing and compressing as well as blending elements together. After this you will be ready to try and make bootlegs. After you have mastered this, you’ll be able to start making your own tracks.”

#5 Keep your projects clean and tidy

Jeremy Olander: “This is an important one for me. I always try and keep my projects organized and tidy by naming each individual channel with an appropriate name and group them in specific groups. It makes working so much easier, gives you a great overview of what you’re doing, and lets you focus on the creative process instead of spending time finding your way around a project. Try to make a habit of this.”

#6 Create your own sound bank

What So Not: “Don’t interrupt the creative process. Have a bank of awesome samples and synth patches curated and ready so that you can hammer everything out without getting held up.”

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