Music industry these days is bigger than ever. There are millions of opportunities out there, and it's easier than ever to start producing. However, how to start making beats, to begin with? Honestly, it's not that hard, but there are a few things to note.
First, I would suggest actually “listening” to music.
What I mean by that is don't just nod your head to the beat, but try to deconstruct it into elements. Every beat is made of a melody, drums, FXs, and a lot more. In the beginning, it's not going to be easy, but you will be able to notice little elements of the melody or the drum pattern instantaneously as you practice.
Sometimes it gets annoying because you can't even listen to music properly and instead try to separate your favourite songs into a number of elements. This practice is definitely worth your time, and it doesn't really take much work or dedication to do this. Simply listen “carefully” to each song while at the car or working out.
Second, learn how to count bars/sequencing.
If you've previously looked into music theory, you would remember that knowing a track's structure is crucial. Everyone can distinguish verse from a chorus, but can you tell how drum pattern changes in verse every four bars for example?
As time goes, you will start noticing variations and implementing them into your own tracks to create variance and unique patterns.
Third, make sure you have all the equipment ready.
- Do you have a PC or a Laptop?
- Which operating system are you using?
- What DAWs look more appealing to you?
- Do you need any extra samples or plugins?
- Do you have at least a pair of studio headphones?
- Are you going to record anything or just use samples?
And these are just a few questions that you need to ask yourself.
For example, you may want to use Logic but have a Windows OS. You either buy a Mac or pick another digital audio workstation. What do you do if you want to play with Omnisphere but can't afford it? You either spend countless hours looking for a crack (which I discourage) or move on to a cheaper or free alternative.
As you progress, you will start compromising and finding your ways around arising issues.
You don't need the best set up to start!
Last, don't try to learn it all.
It doesn't matter how many hours of tutorials you've watched. If you don't implement what you've learned watching the tutorials into your own beats, you won't get far.
For example, let's talk about mastering a beat when you are done.
You find this fantastic tutorial where a producer uses eight different plugins in a particular order and with unique settings. The video is about an hour long, and you follow his steps without thinking much about what's going on and boom… Your beat sounds a lot better, and you feel like a real sound engineer.
Next week you get a little busy and barely manage to make a single beat. When it comes to the mastering part again, you can't even remember the eight plugins the guy used, not speaking of settings. Sound familiar? Well, that's because you have to practice doing the same thing over and over until you can do it with your eyes closed.
Look at Metro Boomin for example.
Firstly, that's what he does for a living, and he is one of the biggest influencers in the industry as of now. Therefore, he is more than welcome to use the best plugin and gear and experiment with the sounds more than an average producer can.
Moreover, let's not forget that he has an entire team of sound engineers and other producers working with him. What comes out of his computer is not even close to the song we end up listening to.
Why am I telling you this?
Simply because I don't want anyone to get discouraged because your tracks don't sound quite as good. However, you do still need a lot of experience.
Remember, it's not all about the gear.
Anyways, let's get to the process of producing beats.
How To Start Making Beats?
When you are just starting, it's easy to get distracted and start “playing” with sounds. You may find yourself tweaking the BPM (beats per minute) setting, adding a loud and “huge” kick and a quiet snare, etc.
You can't be all artsy, because then it won't be a commercial radio quality beat, but a bunch of sounds stack on the top of each other. Later on, as time goes by, you may try to experiment, but in the beginning, it's best to follow the generally accepted rules.
To start, you create a few loops.
Okay, let's go over what loops are real quick. Loops are just repetitive music sections that you will eventually put together. You will usually see them as four, eight, and sixteen bar loops. Depending on if it's a drum pattern, melody, or just a couple of effects (FXs), you will see the lengths of the section change.
With drum patters, this would've been a little boring. That's why you would usually change hi-hats patterns up and add toms, claps, or something unique here and there. Effects may act as a part of the melody or as a transition between the verse and hook, the verse and bridge, the bridge and hook, etc. You got the main idea.
Where To Start When Making Beats?
I remember myself researching this for quite a while, and I still don't have the definite answer. The thing is you should really do it the way you feel it should be done.
Every music producer has his/her own workflow.
Some start with drums because they like adding some rhythm before working on a melody. Others love adding the mood of the song with some chord progressions of a piano or another synth. And then they go for the drums and the main melody.
Some also think about how vocals would sound on the track and how to blend them into the melody or the drum patterns. As you can see, there is no such thing as “one formula that works for everyone.”
What To Avoid When Making Beats?
When you feel like you are going to make this one perfect beat finally, you may overdo it. What do I mean by that? Simple. You either add too many elements or stuff the samples you have with a bunch of unnecessary effects.
Beatmakers who know at least a little bit about music production will just rip you apart if you ever decide to put it on social media. Moreover, there is a very high chance that you will never sell a single beat that no one can put vocals on because all the frequency ranges are already maxed out.
Don't worry about this too much. Just remember that you are not inventing the wheel by putting a load of effects on your beat. You are pretty much doing the opposite.
How To Start Making Beats With Drums?
The workflow here is pretty simple. As hip-hop and rap has become popular, producers started focusing on drums a lot more than they used to. These days melody can be overly simple and effortless, and lyrics don't need to make much sense if you have a fire beat with “groovy” drums.
In most cases, you would start with a kick and a snare as the main elements to create a basic pattern. Then you can “spice it up” with hi-hats, toms, or any other percussions to make a proper drum loop. After the drums are done, you may want to start adding the lead melody, chord progressions, and a bass line.
How To Start Making Beats With A Melody?
On the other hand, some beatmakers have this amazing melody in their head that they want to recreate in their DAW with a sound generator. It's usually the lead melody that will define the entire track. After that, the rest of the song is built around this particular melody.
Quite often these songs are not the clubs bangers but rather something with sweet lyrics you would actually listen to. After the lead melody, they would move to chords and percussions. Or a bass line. It really depends on the workflow.
Once you've been beatmaking for a while, you will find the perfect workflow for you.
How To Start Recording?
If you plan on just beatmaking and selling your beats on BeatStar, you are good to go. Most people who buy or lease beats will record the vocals, mix, and then master your beat. However, if you are trying to record yourself or an artist, you there are a few more things you should do.
If you use a $20 mic, you can't expect much from it. At least look at $100-$200 budget microphones.
Second, make sure you lower the outside noises as much as possible.
No matter how good the cardioid pattern on your mic is, you will get a lot of unnecessary buzz in your recording. And I don't mean room isolation. It's costly and hard to do. Just make sure nobody is doing their laundry or yelling when the recording is in the process. Simple as that.
Third, record miltiple takes.
If the singer screwed up at the end of the chorus, you don't have to delete the take right away. The first part of the chorus, in this case, may be better than in the other take. Anyways, you got the idea. Then you cut them up and put the best parts of each take together to create the “ultimate vocal.” That's how most of your favourite songs are recorded.
How To Get Your Song To The Radio Quality?
You've probably heard of mixing and mastering here and there but do you know what it involves?
What Does Mixing A Track Mean?
All it is is adjusting the volumes and panning, so each element of the beat has its own “space.” However, it will probably take you years to train your ear to recognize sounds in each and every frequency range. And then you have to decide if it's “too much,” “not enough,” or “just right.”
Letting a professional mix your track would be your best bet, but you can give it a shot. As time goes by and you practice more and more, you'll be fine doing it yourself.
Now What Does Mastering A Track Mean?
Mastering tends to be the last stage of producing a song. Moreover, it's one of the most complicated steps. You need to know how to master to do this. The easiest thing to do would be to slam the limiter, so your song is as loud as physically possible.
This may be funny, but some beginners still do this. There are a million of ways to master a track with different variations of plugins and settings. You can either hire someone or ask a buddy with more experience what his set up is etc. These days you can find pretty much anything on social media platforms, so this shouldn't be a problem.
This is nothing more than a beginners' guide about beat making. It will take you months if not years to start feeling comfortable with the DAWs, plugins, song structure, recording, mixing, mastering, and a lot more.
You can't wake up one day and draw a Mona Lisa if you've never tried drawing and painting. Same applies to music production.