7 Mistakes Every Producer Makes
There’s no better way to become a great producer than to go through the process of trial and error. As with anything, it’s how we learn. However, there are certain mistakes that many producers aren’t sure they’re making, meaning they never end up learning from them.
Those mistakes end up in a vicious cycle, stopping you from getting above your plateau as a producer.
To keep you from snowballing into that vicious cycle, we want to talk about 7 common mistakes that every producer makes so you can improve your production process!
#1 Processing Without Intention
Just because some guy on YouTube told you to compress your vocals by 3-6dB with a 4:1 ratio using an 1176-style compressor does NOT mean you have to. The ONLY reason you should ever process any sounds is that you have a goal in mind.
I can’t stress the importance enough of being intentional with your processing. In doing so, you’ll craft clearer, more exciting mixes and free up the CPU usage on your computer.
I understand that it can be tempting to reach for plugins in the early stages of your production, though I urge you to try and craft the song first before you start loading up every track with EQs, compressors, and effects.
#2 Misusing a Brickwall Limiter for Volume
Producers who stick brickwall limiters on their master busses early on are typically compensating for lack of production experience. Yes, it can be painful knowing that your song isn’t as Earth-shatteringly loud as the tracks you’re listening to on Spotify, so you add a limiter to compensate.
However, the only thing you do when adding a limiter is limit (no pun intended) your post-production work, as you completely squish the dynamics.
Once a limiter is added to a mix, it can be incredibly difficult to reverse the damage. As a word of advice, it’s best to avoid using a limiter on your master bus altogether unless you’re mastering your track.
If ooey-gooey glue is what you’re looking for, I recommend using a compressor on your master buss with a small ratio (2:1)on
#3 Not Considering Sound Choice
A painter looking to recreate a realistic interpretation of the sky would want to use the right colors and textures to elicit a mood. A sunset would need warm reds and purples to create a sense of relaxation, while a painting of a sunny beach day would require some bright blues with some white speckles for distant clouds.
As a producer, you have near-infinite options for ‘colors’ and ‘textures.’ However, just like a great painter, you need to use the right colors and textures to create the proper mood for the listener. For example, you wouldn’t want to use a punchy, high-energy kick drum in a warm, intimate acoustic track.
This is where choosing the sounds you use in your production comes into play. I see SO many producers make poor choices when it comes to picking sounds and samples and then trying to bring them to life with processing.
Why not just save yourself some time and get the sounds right from the beginning?
Of course, it can be quite overwhelming trying to find the right sounds with so many options out there. Luckily, you can narrow down your options by referencing your favorite tracks.
Make sure to check out our video about extracting samples from any track! It’s the best way to get access to your favorite samples from your favorite songs!
#5 Not Taking Advantage of Referencing
If you’re not referencing other tracks, you’re missing out.
I get it. The artist inside you is telling you to light some candles, put on some mood lighting, and just “go with the flow” until something incredible comes out. And yes, that can sometimes work, though most of the time, you spend hours without direction trying to conjure up arrangement and production ideas out of thin air to no avail.
Referencing can present you with ideas for sound choices and arrangement ideas. I often reference tracks I love during the pre-production phase, taking note of the vibe, sound choices, compositional structure, rhythms, and production tricks I hear in my reference. If you already have a track going without a reference, at least make use of referencing during the mixing phase.
Referencing during the mixing phase can help you achieve the proper balance between your production elements, giving your mix that commercial sheen that it needs to stand up to professionally mixed and mastered tracks.
#6 Not Getting Rid of Unnecessary Low-End
There’s nothing that says “amateur mix” quite like a muddy, indistinct low-end. No, Meghan Trainor, it’s not “all about that bass.” (apologies for the dated reference, but you get the point!)
No matter what kind of music you’re mixing, it’s important to give your low-frequency instruments room to breathe. Now, I’m not saying go and high-pass every track in your mix right off the bat. Remember what I said about processing with intention?
What I’m saying is listen to your low-end and ask what needs to be there and what doesn’t. Does that massive sawtooth synth need energy below 100Hz? Maybe the low-end of your vocal is masking your kick.
Getting rid of unnecessary low-end can clear up space and give you more headroom. Use tools like EQ and sidechain compression to give you kick and bass their own space.
#7 Not Checking Mixes In Mono
There are so many playback mediums these days that it’s safe to assume your music will be played on just about any kind of system at one point, whether it’s a smartphone, a club system, or a car stereo. However, many systems sum stereo mixes to mono, which can be disastrous if some of the sounds or production techniques you used don’t translate in a mono setting.
Using chorusing, stereo spreading, doubling, and the Haas effect in stereo mixes can be tons of fun. Unfortunately, that effect that sounds super cool in headphones might completely cancel out when played back on a mono club system.
Before you finish your mix, make sure to check it in mono to see if it holds up.
How Long Does It Take To Record a Song?
The amount of time it takes to record a song varies. It can sometimes take someone an hour at most to record a song, though, for more complex arrangements, the recording process can take a day or more. The more live instruments you record, the longer the process will take.
Recording a single vocal pass for a track might only take you ten minutes. However, if you choose to record harmonies, stacks, and group vocals, you could spend hours exclusively tracking vocals. To reduce the time it takes to record a song in the studio, make sure you rehearse your parts so that you’re comfortable before going in.
What Are The 5 Stages of Music Production?
The five stages of music production include:
Of course, you may subscribe to the belief that some of these stages go hand-in-hand. I won’t lie. There are many times I mix while producing or arrange while I come up with compositional ideas. However, it can be helpful to narrow your focus and put yourself in the mindset of a composer when composing or mix engineer when mixing, so you don’t get distracted or make poor choices.
Final Thoughts - How To Become a Better Producer
Becoming a great producer takes years of practice and dedication. But, of course, trying to become a great music producer on your own without the proper resources can make the journey long and frustrating. While some producers are self-taught, anyone would agree that one of the best ways to enhance your skills is to take a course.
Luckily, we have tons of great FL Studio Courses to help you along your production journey. Don’t hesitate