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Thread: What defines a skilled producer?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    What defines a skilled producer?

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    Welcome everybody,
    First off, I want to say that I am a complete newbie to producing. I've been on this forum for a while reading some stuff, watching beat making videos etc. The want to be a producer started from my love for music, specifically R&B, soul and hip hop.

    I'm wondering what features does a skilled producer possess? Do I need to know whole lot of various and obscure music that I'd possibly use for sampling or get inspired by? Does a skilled producer listen to all the genres? How much amount of time a typical music producer devotes to listening records? What's ear training? Do producers have trained ears? Do they play all the instruments? Do I need to know the whole music theory? How much time averagely would it take me to start living off the beats, from the very beginning?

    I got lots of questions like that. I've already found out that this forum is a real gem among the producing-themed sites and a wonderful place to ask and learn. I'd be pleased if you shared some knowledge related to my queries and maybe some links to additional tutorials designed for total newbies like me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    South West England
    Thanked 16 Times in 15 Posts
    Hi mate, welcome to the world of producing - long road ahead

    This is a very relative set of questions, and each person will give you different answer depending on how they personally perceive the music industry. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability by my own standard.

    Q: what features does a skilled producer possess?
    A: This is THE most relative question of which you will receive many different answers. For me, there is a priority list of what you need in order to be a "skilled" producer. Included this list is knowledge of music theory, sound engineering (mixing/mastering) etc. HOWEVER, these things (although important) are not highest in my list of priorities. The most important features in my opinion is dedication, perseverance, patience, motivation and ambition. You might not know a lot about music theory or sound engineering - but you can learn. The features listed in bold are not things you can learn, they are things you must already possess and all producers, skilled or amateur, require these.

    Q: Do I need to know who a lot of various/obscure music for sampling/inspiration?
    A: No. Producers draw inspiration from infinite sources, not just music. I, personally, get inspired by mood an emotion. If it's a bright summers day and I'm feeling good I'll (ironically) lock myself in a dark room and producer a feel-good, upbeat track.
    If you're curious about samples - there are millions of free samples out there for you to use. Search some key words like "House Samples" or "Trap Samples" into google or youtube, maybe add the tag "Free" and see what you get. I can suggest some if you'd like.

    Q: Does a skilled producer listen to all genres?
    A: Depends on the person. I listen to all genres of House music, I also listen to lots of Drum and Bass, Hip Hop, R&B, Trap, Glitch, Dubstep, Indie, Rock and many more genres because I enjoy them all. Some of these inspire/influence my music, others do not. Some producers that are expert in their craft may only listen to music similar to that of which they create. I'm not one of those people. There are no boundries to what you can and can't listen too, it doesn't have to affect your production or equally could completely inspire you!

    Q: How much time does a typical producer listen to records?
    A: This is entirely up to you. Listening to lots of music will help you learn and become motivated to produce. When I'm making a track, I often listen to a handful of tracks that are similar to what I want to create to learn methods and copy styles used in the songs that help define that genre. For example; in Future House, drops often start with and include reverse bass notes, double kicks, breaks in the hats, bursts of white noise on new segments and fast offbeat patterns. Listening to music is like doing your homework. Spend as much time as you'd like!

    Q: What is ear training?
    A: Simply being able to identify notes by ear, identify instruments and features within compositions like taking a cake apart to see what ingredients are used to make it. If you're bad at this; don't worry - so was I. You will learn naturally over time, you don't need to dedicate time JUST for ear training, but instead when you listen to music in future make an effort to listen more closely, try to pick out what instruments are playing and think about how you could mimic that in your production software.

    Q: Do producers play all the instruments?
    A: Not at all, but it certainly helps. I, personally, do not play any instruments. I have piano/guitar lessons when I was younger but never pursued them. Today I have only a basic knowledge of piano. Almost every single instrument in the world can be sampled somewhere on the internet using patches for plugins or downloadable sound samples and manipulated into compositions using DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation; FLStudio, Ableton, etc)

    Q: Do I need to know music theory?
    A: No, but again, it certainly helps a lot. You do not need to go to school/college/university or have qualifications in music to make music. When I started out, I knew nothing about music. This is something else you learn as you go along, but knowing the basics is still important. You can start by youtubing "Circle of Fifths" "Piano Scales" and related subjects to get you started. It's a lot simpler once you get started.

    Q: How long until I can start making a living off of beats?
    A: Depends, you could be a natural and get noticed quite early - or it could take years. I personally have been producing now for around 2-3 years and I don't expect to be making any money myself for another 5 or so years, but I'm okay with that. If you are in it purely for the money then this isn't the right line of work for you - it takes time and dedication and you need to really love what you do.

    I hope these answers were helpful; please feel free to fire anything else my way
    Good luck!

    EDIT: Get on youtube and search for "SeamlessR" - he does, by far, THE most amazing tutorials ever. He does a lot of videos talking about the industry, labels, self promoting and other helpful thought-provoking things and I think you will really benefit from this. Also, if you have the money to splash out, he also gives 1-on-1 lessons for about $75 USD/hour.
    Last edited by ZaneT; 08-29-2015 at 04:25 PM.

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Los Angeles
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
    what makes you a good producer is the sound you make. you need your own sound that sounds different from everyone else. its as simple as imagining it and doing it. learning instruments helps ALOT for producers. i learned drums when i was 9 and the following years i learned other instruments like the guitar and bass. i used to play in a church band with my brothers and we moved onto genres like hardcore and death metal before we actually got into underground hip hop. i never went to school or anything, trained ears? that sounds like being able to tell whether a note is on key or not(being able to tune a guitar without a tuner) helps when producing because when you make a beat by sampling,you pick out the notes you want(chopping) and certain notes sound wrong (off-key) so knowing your key helps you put together what you want.

    about what you listen to is up to you. you are influencd by the music you love. im open to all genres except country **** that shit. and mostly anything mainstream im against. i love hardcore and i love underground hip hop. dub is cool
    i spend soo much time listening to my own music, not because i want to but because i have to. ill listen to a song 100 times before its dropped thats what we all deal with

    you dont need trained ears you dont need to play instruments in fact nowadays yu dont need to know anything except counting bars. but that shit helps a ton being a musician

    about making money i never expected anything for my music ive been making beats since i was 12 and ive seen alot of ppl selling their cheap ass beats for 50-100 dollars to a cheap ass rapper who drops a cheap ass mixtape no one wants to hear. if you about the money then **** you. go work somewhere else. same with fame.. i save all my beats for mixtapes im gonna drop with my rappers or future collaborations with other artists. i do this cuz i love sick asss beats and they wont make themselves..

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Vallejo, California
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    There are two types of producers, with two extremes that vary. A producer can be someone who just calls the shots but doesn't play any instruments or knows how to use any hard/soft ware. They just tell the musicians how they want them to play to get the sound that they want. They can also be telling the singer/rapper how to deliver or even be involved in the song writing. That's the industry definition of a producer. What most people who are starting out call a producer is really a beat maker or composer/writer. Someone who just creates the music.

    I'm wondering what features does a skilled producer possess?
    Can be any of the following: Composing, arranging, instrument playing, sound design, mixing, etc.

    Do I need to know whole lot of various and obscure music that I'd possibly use for sampling or get inspired by?
    Not all producers sample.

    Does a skilled producer listen to all the genres?
    It helps.

    How much amount of time a typical music producer devotes to listening records?
    If you love music then you love music, its just something you do for enjoyment.

    What's ear training?
    Being able to identify notes by ear.

    Do producers have trained ears?
    Not all.

    Do they play all the instruments?
    Not all.

    Do I need to know the whole music theory?
    It helps.

    How much time averagely would it take me to start living off the beats, from the very beginning?
    Depends on how much your cost of living is and how much disposable income you want to have.

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