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37 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner In Electronic Music Production: My Top 5

When starting out in electronic music production, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the wealth of information and resources available to you. Every beginner will go through this initial learning phase and will develop their knowledge through trial and error. The length of time this process can take before someone might no longer consider themselves a beginner can vary from person to person.

Looking back on when I first started, there were a lot of mistakes I made and bad habits that stuck in a lot of the earlier tracks I created. I recently wrote an eBook which covers the

37 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner In Electronic Music Production. Free Ebook By SOTA Sounds

You can get this completely free. I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance as I know for a fact it would have saved my hrs of time in those early days while I was still figuring things out.

But for those, short of time, I thought I would compile my top 5 most important music production tips from the Ebook for beginners.

1. Prioritise High-Quality Sound Selection

If I were ranking these tips in order of importance, this would be one of the highest. One of the main issues that I instantly hear on many of my earliest tracks and those of beginners today is that the sound quality just isn't there.

A lot of producers will often choose the first sample they hear and drop it into their tracks, thinking that effects/mixing will definitely make that sound better. Before we even think about these areas, we should focus on sample selection and making sure each sound we use is high-quality from the get-go. As the saying goes “you can’t polish a turd”. No amount of additional processing can fix a bad sample so it’s best just to save yourself the effort and find a better one.

2. Watching Tutorials Can Be Great... But Put This Learning Into Practise

Tutorials can be an excellent tool for learning electronic music production. With the ability to search for niche topics and gain inspiration from unexpected sources, it's easy to see why they're so popular.

However, many producers make the mistake of getting lost in a cycle of watching tutorial after tutorial without actually implementing what they've learned. Simply watching a tutorial and moving on can lead to forgetfulness and a lack of progress.

To make the most of your learning, it's important to put what you've learned into practice. Rather than just watching a tutorial straight through, try to create something while following the tips provided. For example, if you learn a new mixing technique, open up a project and try it out for yourself. Or, if you watch a sound design tutorial, recreate the synth patch on your own. By actively applying what you've learned, you'll retain the information better and see real progress in your productions.

3. Stop Chasing New Plugins & Resources

Something I'm sure nearly every producer does at some point is obsessing over the next shiny toy to help them take their music to the next level. While it's tempting to constantly search for new plugins, samples, and other resources, don't let this become a form of procrastination from actually making music or one of your excuses why your music isn't good. Yes, plugins are useful devices, but what is more beneficial is knowing how to use these tools.

Become familiar with your existing tools and then look elsewhere once you understand what you actually need. Note that for every new tool you add to your library, there will be also an additional learning curve to navigate.

Bonus advice - Adding too many resources can actually impact your workflow as you won't know where to find them when you need them. To prevent this, don't just download every free plugin and sample pack you come across. Stick to what you actually think you need. Make sure to keep your sound library organised and well-maintained to avoid slowing down your creative process.

4. Finish Those Tracks. Use Reference Tracks To Help You.

Something I think everyone needs reminding of is to finish those tracks. I'll admit I am one of those people that has a back catalog of loops that have been left unfinished for various reasons. The process is tough, but believe me when I say it feels so much better seeing an idea right through to the end. Even if that idea sounds terrible, just by going beyond the loop-building stage, you will learn something that you didn't know before.

Referencing is a practice which involves taking influence from other examples of similar work to inspire, not copy, aspects of your own. We all have our own influences who encouraged us to start making music in the first place, but we can also use professionally released tracks to help us through the music-writing process. There are many ways you can use a reference track:

1. Arrangement - build your loop using a workable structure

2. Fill Gaps - see what is missing compared with a pro track

3. Mixdowns/Mastering - compare the quality difference between your music and theirs.

5. Learn The "Rules" So You Can Break Them + Don't Be Afraid To Experiment

As you learn more about electronic music production you will likely become aware of certain habits or "rules" that different producers do within their own practice and encourage as the so-called best way to do things. Generally speaking, these are good practises to follow/ habits to get into, but these should be seen as "unofficial rules" that are there to guide & influence decisions, which can of course be broken.

Some producers actually believe there are no set rules in music production as this places limitations on your creativity. If you take the example of artists like Aphex Twin or Four Tet, many of those sonic results, wouldn't have been possible if they had just stuck to the generic rules that everyone preaches. As another example, one common bit of advice is to keep the low-end clean, but tell that to the producer who first discovered the "techno rumble."

Familiarise yourself with these norms, and then try to break away from them.

A somewhat similar point to before relates to not just following trends and carving out your own style. I think we can all agree that a lot of electronic music falls into the trap of being overly repetitive, unoriginal, or something emotionless made to appeal to the masses with no unique taste of the creator really evident in there.

It's always good to start your learning journey with some form of inspiration and a general idea of what kind of music you are interested in making and where you can really focus your efforts, but my advice would be to stay open-minded on this front.

Watch tutorials on everything from DnB to House to hip-hop to give you that inspiration which can arise anywhere. Listen to many forms of music and take your favourite bits from each. Do everything with the idea of being unique and experiment at will. Most importantly, remove any expectations you might have or pressures you might give yourself, and create purely the music you want to make.

Bonus Tip. Prioritise Workflow

You may have heard about workflow. It is something that I preach a lot these days, but also something I should have prioritised much sooner in my production journey. Workflow is essentially the ability to work efficiently (at a relatively fast pace & a high standard). This is something which is particularly important when it comes to writing music as we very often have limited time to do so.

It may take some time, but as you begin to recognise your usual habits and common processes, try to set up automated systems which reduce those repetitive tasks and help you spend your time elsewhere. Some examples of where you might begin could include saving your presets, reusing sounds in another project, minimising the amount of sample folders you have to look through, and more...

You can also set up a default Ableton Template to help you dive into the process of writing music much quicker. I did a tutorial on this, which you can watch below.

And that concludes my 5 best pieces of advice for beginner producers.

For more value like this, be sure to Download our FREE 37 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner eBook from here. If you're slightly more advanced and find yourself reading this, feel free to let us know, what was the number 1 tip that changed the game for you?


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