5 music production mistakes you should watch out for

Are you making music production mistakes that you may have never been aware of?

In the video above, iBEENART dropped by our YouTube channel once again to explore five common music production mistakes that can haunt everyone from beginners to veterans. Being aware of these when you’re making music will allow you to improve your creative flow and create clearer and higher-quality sounds.

We’ve also summarized each of the points below, but be sure to make use of the video timestamps provided to dive even deeper and hear their in-DAW applications.

1. Spending too much time looking for sounds

Many producers make the mistake of spending too much time trying to dig up an old snare or 808 one-shot that they used previously. While it can be tempting to gravitate towards what’s familiar, doing this too often can not only eat up valuable time, but also prevent you from expanding your sonic horizons.

If you’re looking to speed up the discovery (or rediscovery) process, consider using a resource like XLN Audio’s XO or Splice Sounds to quickly locate new and old sounds. Even free tools like the ADSR Sample Manager can be far superior alternatives to manually sifting through folders on your desktop.

Go to 0:27 in the video above for more on this tip.

2. Neglecting the power of leveling

When we’re not feeling excited by our productions, many of us might try to engineer interest by going down the rabbit hole of sound design, adding all sorts of intricate effects and automations to our sounds.

This isn’t always a bad thing—but sometimes, the best creative solution is actually much simpler. As a producer, never underestimate the power of simply sticking to your volume faders and adjusting the balance between different sounds. Often times, our initial sounds are already great as-is, and we simply need to turn them up (or down) in the mix a bit.

Go to 1:52 in the video above for more on this tip.

3. Using out-of-key 808s

For decades, the music production community has hotly debated the importance of tuning various drum sounds to match the key of their tracks. Regardless of where you draw the line on this topic, minimally make sure that your 808s aren’t out of key.

There are many ways to streamline writing in-key parts for 808s. The most obvious is to simply do it by ear and eye, loading one-shots into sampler instruments and inputting MIDI as you would for any other part. In the video above, we also explore some interesting techniques that you can try out with tools like Celemony’s Melodyne.

Go to 4:41 in the video above for more on this tip.

4. Having too much going on at once

The expression “less is more” holds true for all sorts of scenarios in music. Yes, it can absolutely be tempting to keep adding track after track to your arrangement, or note after note in your melodies. However, often times using less tracks and focusing on the most important notes will help your music sound clearer, louder, and better.

The mute button is your best friend—don’t be afraid to use it. If you regret the change, it’s easy to add your tracks or regions back into the mix later.

Go to 7:15 in the video above for more on this tip.

5. Overlooking sound selection

Last but not least, never underestimate the importance of effective sound selection. Developing an ear for this won’t happen overnight—but you can expedite the process by using active listening to analyze your favorite music and samples.

Even if you have the world’s greatest melody, it won’t be able to live up to its full potential if it’s conveyed with poor sounds. But, do also know that the opposite is true—even fantastic sounds won’t ‘save’ something that’s compositionally uninspiring.

Go to 9:01 in the video above for more on this tip.

Mistakes are a precursor to growth

If you found that you’ve been making any one of these music production mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. Mistakes are truly a precursor to growth, and all of us make them, both inside and outside of music—what matters is that we recognize them and continually strive to improve.

That said, are there any key mistakes we missed that you’d like to also call out for your peer creators? What other topics in music production would you like to see us cover on the Splice YouTube channel next? Let us know in the comments section of the video.

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May 3, 2022

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.