Music production: Essential advice

We hear some top studio insight from across the ICMP community... 

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Music production is an essential part of the creative process. 

With technology now ever advancing and evolving, creative music production can take many forms, across a range of media and in a variety of places - whether it be within a laptop, mobile device or in a dedicated studio space such as those on site at ICMP.  

We’ve already explored the seven stages of music production but here are some essential pieces of advice from ICMP students, tutors and alumni on getting the most out of your recording experiences…

Learn from the best 

Go into the past and learn from the greats. Listen to those amazing old records and dissect what made them great, and study who produced them. 

At the same time, don’t be afraid to seek out more current music producers, like Calvin Harris or Mark Ronson. Steal from everybody, but do it with respect and humility, then pass it on. 

Jonathan Milanes, BA Songwriting alumna 

Look for opportunities 

You need to be proactive in this industry as it is a lot about the things you make happen, not the things that happen to you. So be ready for any chance or opportunity that emerges - this means, train yourself to be as good as you can and don't ever stop learning. Train your ears too - this means to critically listen to some music on a daily basis.

Nik Georgiev, BA Creative Music Production tutor 

Be yourself as a producer and don’t try to fit in

So many things stopped me before. Seeing (mostly guys) have so much gear, talk about how many plug-ins they have and hearing how little money they have left because of how expensive they are, saying they spend15 hours a day working on a bass line or that they finish tracks in a day mixed and mastered, etc. It all REALLY put me off for a long time. 

I thought perhaps I "wasn't built" to be one and that I'm better off just collaborating. How very wrong I was! All producers are different - and yes, I've done the 15 hours thing - but you don't always have to have the best gear or the best set-up."

We forget that production, although incredibly techy - it's just a way of expressing creativity.

A lot of that is through feelings, emotions, and your truth, your message. Especially to women or non-binary or trans people who are really underrepresented, we can take up space and be who we are in this world, we don't have to be like others. If you can be honest - then that's the most important thing for me. Bring who you are to what you are as a producer, then the rest *will* follow

Sha Supangan, aka crazylittleasian, BA Songwriting student 

Produce as many songs as possible

I have no idea how many unfinished demos I have on my hard drives. 99% of them will never be released, but I keep them because every few sessions I discover something new. It could be a mixing technique or a chain of effects that creates a tone I like. Whatever it is, that is how I learn, and is a practice I'd recommend to anyone who wants to become a producer.

Krzysztof Kessler, BA Creative Music Production student

Listen to Krzysztof's 'Break the Chains' feat Ella Eliza. 

Collaborate 

Work with others! Collaborating is so important, I wish I’d done more of this when I was younger, but I was always of the mindset I wanted to do everything myself. This is a trap young producers can fall into, but working with others can improve the overall quality of a project. 

James Rees, BA Creative Music Production Programme Leader 

Collaborate with different producers and artists. Everyone has a different approach to production, so work with producers who make music that you would like to make, observe and learn from them. Learn to work with and for different people. 

Krzysztof Kessler, BA Creative Music Production student 

Be open to different tech and different styles 

I would advise new producers to be open to working with all types of DAW and collaborate with as many people as you can. I personally use equally ProTools, Ableton and Logic and I am open to collaborating with a wide range of artists from different music backgrounds, even if I’m driven by indie/rock with electronic influences.

Ary Amato, BA Creative Music Production student 

Try not to limit yourself to just one genre or style. Work with different types of music or artists when you can. The speciality and focus of one particular genre will become more obvious later on, but initially you want to get as much experience as you can with a wide range of music."

This will help as production techniques evolve, which they always do. Music is always changing. What is popular now will not be in 2 or 3 years. You need to keep your finger on the pulse and up to date with as much current music as you can.

Charlie Thomas, BA Creative Music Production tutor

Don’t be precious 

Don’t be precious about your ideas. Sometimes you will suggest things that you may LOVE, but others may not. This is not a reflection on you or your abilities, it may just not be what the artist was imagining, or they might not agree it fits with the project. This will happen all the time so don’t take it personally. It’s always for the good of the song, not the ego.

Charlie Thomas, BA Creative Music Production tutor

Listen to produced music in different settings

Go listen to live music and get involved in organising live events. When they return of course. But that’s why music exists.

You need to make sure you invest time in production but also try to be a user of the music, be curious, study, and collaborate, read books and remember that there is always a younger kid that can do what you do faster and better. In the end we are not doing nothing new. Music production has existed for a long time and there is always someone that can teach us something new.

Marcello Ruggiu, Ableton Live and BA Creative Music Production tutor

Main photo by Maxwell Hunt on Unsplash

Great producers change the way the world listens

If you’re looking to turn heads with your own unique production style, ICMP’s pioneering approach to music education will provide everything you need. Our Music Production students all benefit from fully equipped Audient recording studios, Mac Labs, world-class gear, an exceptional team of tutors, masterclasses, exclusive events, collaborative opportunities, and a curriculum that covers studio and live work, engineering, composition, advanced skills, business, and professional development.

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

Production Courses
by Jim Ottewill
August 18, 2020
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