10 Production Tips I Wish I Knew When I Started Recording Music

I’ve been writing my own music for over a decade and recording music for almost 2 decades. There is part of me that wishes I could send this letter to “Younger Mat”. But at the same time, the journey is sometimes the destination. This is something my wife, Emily, has to remind me about often.

  1. Check your mix at very low volumes. When you listen quietly you should hear what is most important in the song.
  2. Listen to pop music. Leave your ego at the door. One can learn something from anything. There is something to be said from learning from music that millions of people listen to. You didn’t get in this business to record music for yourself.
  3. Use a sample or a loop. Sampling or looping doesn’t make you any less of an artist. It’s the song that matters. It’s the music. It’s the emotion.
  4. Listen to music you don’t understand or like. I bet you’ll find something in there you like and eventually you may really like that artist.
  5. Use whatever DAW you want to. At the end of the day, it clearly doesn’t matter.
  6. The final song is what is important. Not how it was made or what compressor or preamp you used. The emotion and energy of the song is what’s most important. Find it. Exploit it.
  7. Find a rule. Then break it. Learning the rules are a fundamental. But mastering rules are knowing when to break them.
  8. Don’t worry about analog or digital. The only one who knows the difference is you. Some amazing records were recorded with analog gear. Some amazing records were recorded with digital gear. The song will be good or bad on it’s own.
  9. Pick up a book on music theory. It’s not the end of the world to not read music. Hell, Paul McCartney can’t read a note. But music theory is a language. And you can communicate better knowing some.
  10. Know when to say when. At some point you hit diminishing returns. Recognize that feeling. Embrace that feeling. And move on to something different.