5 Music Production Myths To Unlearn
From arranging a song to producing the final track, creative and technical possibilities are abundant. Our DAW’s let us do whatever we want to, instantaneously (with the exception of a poor CPU). However, with so many options available, it becomes easy to place focus not on what can be done, but how things should be done. A myth in of itself, here are five music production myths that we had to debunk.
1. There Is A Right Way and Wrong Way
As we all know, producing is a very detail-oriented process. Combining this fact with wanting to create commercial sounding mixes, we naturally assume there are rules to follow…an engrained list of do’s and do not’s. Do not believe this! This line of thinking will give you what can be referred to as artistic tunnel vision, damaging the character of your arrangements and holding you back from creating unique sounds that could set you apart.
Producing, whether it be twiddling with a MIDI sequence or mixing down a drum bus, should be a fun and creative process. There is no such thing as a mistake, so let loose and do some wacky stuff! Even if you think it sounds terrible in the moment, it will give your brain something new to process and could help move a stale track in a direction you wouldn’t have considered. Eventually, little tidbits of this experimentation will grow on you, and you will start to make sounds that no one has ever heard.
2. You Need 3rd Party Plugins To Mix Well
There are many extraordinary 3rd-party audio units out there; however, you must never believe that they will suddenly flip on a light switch to a great mix. In fact, some of the best mixdowns we’ve came across were mixed primarily from stock plugins. If you don’t believe us, watch this studio session with The Chainsmokers.
Again, there are plenty of 3rd party plugs that are amazing and deliver quick results. However, if you can’t achieve a great sound with your stock plugins, you are essentially chasing your losses by using the fancy stuff. Plus, wouldn’t you rather spend your money on some nice sound packs rather than a pricy effect plugin that you can create for free in your DAW? After all, proper sound selection shouldn’t require much processing in the first place.
3. DAW’s Sound Different
Ah, we gotta love this one…
It’s important to debunk this myth because time and time again, someone gets convinced, either from an online community or circle of friends, that their songs will sound better with a different DAW. So, they go out and buy said DAW, enthralled with excitement over their new investment. They soon realize, however, that their tracks sound no different from their old DAW, and potentially even worse due to an unfamiliar workflow.
Do not be this person! Every DAW, from Audacity to Pro Tools, share no difference in the quality of audio it exports. There are no special audio engines or processing algorithms that DAW’s X and Y have that DAW Z does not. The only thing that can make a workstation sound better than another is the person that uses it.
4. The Pros Have A Secret Formula For Great Mixes
You are finishing up your mix and are confident that it is the best mix on the face of the earth. Then, you A/B it with your favorite commercial track and your mix suddenly sounds like garbage. Yes, we have all experienced this letdown, screaming internally, “what are they doing that I’m not doing?” The hard to swallow answer is, well…nothing.
A great, quality mix comes from one thing and one thing only, and that is a sequence of tasteful mixing decisions that are propelled by many years of experience. Although there are tips and techniques that we can and should learn from, the only key to unlocking the door of making great mixes is the time spent mixing. It’s that simple.
5. You Must Know Music Theory To Write Great Songs
To say right off the bat, learning music theory is something we highly encourage. It will extend the scope of your songwriting approach and can help you communicate ideas more coherently when collaborating with other artists. With that out of the way, the notion that comprehending music theory is required for writing great songs is very, very untrue.
Yes, a formal understanding of music is a helpful tool, but the quality and integrity of your music does not depend on it. For example, many cultures throughout history have communicated exclusively through verbal means, without knowing how to read or write. Despite the lack of reading and written skills, they could still express their thoughts and ideas, meaningfully. You get the point.
Of course, you have everything to gain by expanding your knowledge of music theory. But at the end of the day, all you need to write a great song is a pair of ears and your brain. So protect them!
We hope that you found this article to be enlightening! If you want to brush up on your mixing skills, check out these 20 tips for a great mix.