Sei sulla pagina 1di 32

INSIDE TACTICS

From Pro Music


Producers

CREATIVE
STRATEGIES
FOR FINISHING
MORE MUSIC
By Keith Mills
About the Author 2

I have been fortunate enough to spend most of my life in and


around the electronic music scene. As an accomplished sound
engineer, I have had the unique pleasure of working on everything
from acoustic recordings to dance floor ready monsters.

However, the area I’ve always been most fascinated with is the
difficult task of taking our enthusiasm and ideas and turning them
into a finished product.

Have you ever started making a track only to have the creative
process killed by technical perfection? Learning the tools and
techniques is essential but let me ask you, do you think it’s more
important to know how to use a compressor or how to structure an
arrangement? Would you rather know how to layer snares or write
captivating music?

It’s so often the quest for technical perfection that stands in the
way of making great music!

Hi… I’m Keith Mil s Since founding Quantize Courses in 2009, I have worked closely
with over 3,000 producers and musicians who are passionate
about taking their music to the next level.

This experience, coupled with fanatical research and a deep


exploration of my own creative challenges, has helped me to
understand and demystify the areas we most need to focus on to
NON-COPYWRITE NOTICE
get results.
The entirety of this eBook is original. With the Finish More Music System, I teach exactly how to overcome
The author would like to state it’s totally fine for individuals to share this eBook with those nightmare creative hurdles and how to find the perfect balance
others, either as a printed book or online. However, please do not alter the contents
in any way or use them as your own.
between creativity and technicality so that you can finish more and
better music ready to release and share with the world.
Introduction 3

Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music

In my experience of teaching over 3000 producers in the last 10 So what is it that makes pro producers prolific? How do they
years, I have not come across anybody who isn’t able to write consistently improve and evolve their sound?
really, really good music.
It’s simple. They have a way of operating that not only enhances
However I do find a lot of people give up or stagnate with their their creativity, but also ensures they finish quality tracks on a
music because of self-doubt. It’s a real shame to hear producers regular basis.
saying things like: “I’m not sure I’m cut out for this” or “I’m not
As John Cleese once said “Creativity is not a talent it’s a way of
sure I’m creative enough”or “I’m not sure I can feel the music.”
operating“...
These kind of statements are rarely true and usually stifle creativity
and stop you from writing and finishing your best music. And a way of operating can be learned, practiced and refined.
It’s my personal belief that anyone can write great music with the right In this E-book I have compiled top tips and tricks from the pro’s
approach. Over the last few years I have had the privilege of talking that they believe help them to finish more and better music each
to many professional producers who make a full time living with time they sit down to write.
their music. Inside of my Finish More Music Community we regularly
I hope you enjoy it and helps you to take some positive steps
deliver live masterclasses and interviews with top music producers
forward with your music.
to dig into their own musical journey, workflow techniques, and their
best tips for becoming a professional music producer.
Coldharbour Recordings
Regenerate Records
Blackhole Recordings
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 5

Generating a strong core musical theme is the base on which an


entire track is built.

A strong melody, bassline or hook is key to making your music

“Create the main theme


memorable, so this should be your core focus at the very start of
your production process.

The more you practice writing theme ideas, the stronger they will
become over time. A high quality theme will carry the track and first, and practice,
make the process of arrangement much easier to complete.

Bjorn Akesson is an established trance producer who has zero


practice, practice!”
musical training, yet writes killer and infectious melodies in his
music. We caught up with him during a pro interview to discuss
his approach to writing music...

BJORN AKESSON

“Start with the main theme first. Learn melodies just by


practice, practice, practice… One of the best tips that I can
say is just write a lot! Just sit there write melody after melody
even if you’re not inspired just write and write and write
because eventually it’s going to sound better and better…”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Perc Trax
Tresor Records
EarToGround Records
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 7

I believe it is critical during the early stages of writing a piece of


music that producers surrender to the creative process.

By playing, experimenting and exploring you are likely to come

“Generate a bunch
up with a range of more innovative, exciting and interesting ideas.
This also takes the pressure off of having to come up with a killer
idea straight away.

Once these ideas have been generated, you can then move of ideas, then pick
forward with your strongest idea and develop that into a full
arrangement the best one”
I discussed workflow tips with Manni Dee and he takes a similar
approach when he is in the studio…

MANNIE DEE

“An essential part of the process is experimentation…. I


experiment and generate ideas, then take a subtractive
approach to match the idea in my head… Then
everything just falls into place, but this only happens with
experimentation and through sitting down devoting time to
making noise and sounds”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC



The way to get good
ideas is to get lots of
ideas and throw the
bad ones away
— Linus Pauling

Figure
Bpitch
Be As One
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 10

Focussing on the right things and taking the biggest steps first in
your production process will enable you to finish more tracks at a
faster pace.

“Break out of
Focussing on the small details first such as mixdown tweaks and
technical details can lead to procrastination, self doubt and boredom.
These interruptions to creative flow are the death of many great ideas.

Creativity loves speed. The arrangement can be daunting but the the loop”
more times you push through it, the more fun and exciting it becomes.

Shlomi Aber knows this better than anyone and is a prolific pro
producer who has tonnes of releases on labels such as Bpitch and
Be At One.

In an interview with the Finish More Music community he said...

SHLOMI ABER

“Don’t fuss about the quality of your first loop...Get out


of the loop and get your track to a point where you can
dance to it...then change your small details later. Get to the
arrangement and move forward”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Cin Cin
17 Steps
Aus Music
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 12

Nowadays we have so many choices available to us.

From which DAW to use, to the seemingly endless sample libraries


filling up your harddrive, to the newest and coolest plugins coming

“Set limitations to
into the market. This can lead to a huge amount of complexity and
overwhelm that distracts you from getting the job done, finishing
your music and becoming a better music producer as a result.

Bwana, is one of the fastest and most prolific producers I have enhance your workflow
ever met. He has had a string of releases on labels such as 17
steps and Cin Cin. and become a prolific
And if you’ve ever seen his ‘against the clock’ 10 minute challenge,
you will see how super fast he is when he is creating. His secret? producer”
Limitations…

BWANA

”I only own 1 VST and use Ableton stock plugins for all my
productions… For me it is all about finishing the track.
I am, learning from it, and becoming a better, more prolific
producer as a result.“

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


“Creativity
loves speed
— Keith Mills

Label Owner at JOOF Recordings
JOOF Mantra
JOOF Aura
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 15

It’s very easy to look towards the artists and music that inspire you
and say to yourself “that’s what I want my sound to be like”

I see this all the time with my students when they aspire to be like a

“Being truly original is


producer, then struggle to finish music as they can’t emulate the sound
and quality of that artists work. They become demotivated, suffer
severe cases of creative block, and struggle to finish music regularly.

Ultimately they are trying to emulate another artists work, and being true to yourself”
when their creative muse arrives, they resist this inspiration and
stop themselves from moving forward with their ideas.

JOOF, a legend in the progressive, trance and techno scene


agrees and has this to say about comparing yourself to others and
seeking the popular sound of the moment:

JOOF

“Don’t follow the fad fashion. Be yourself and display


yourself within your music. Pursue what you love. not what
is the next fashion trend...I don’t have creative rules. I use
inspiration from touring, other artists, other music etc. and I
picture in my head what I want to do, then get in the studio
and create”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Decoy Records
Affin
A_Files
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 17

Every artist seeks to refine and identify their ‘own original sound’ in
their music.

However there is a huge myth amongst the producer community

“Using loops & presets


that you need to create all of your sounds from scratch and using
things like synth presets is cheating and being unoriginal.

This simply isn’t true. Use the tools at your disposal to finish your
tracks and bring your ideas to life. The more tracks you finish, the isn’t cheating”
more your skill level increases and then you’ll be able to create
your own sounds quickly and build your own identity.

I used to produce alongside established techno producer Chris


Page and we both embrace the same philosophy around creating
your sound and identity as a producer.

CHRIS PAGE

“What I tend to do is find a preset that has an element I like,


then go to town on it… Evolve presets to learn sound design
and create your own soundbanks for quick and easy use. It’s
all about getting quick results, and in time you will create
your own sonic identity”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


“ You don’t need to
find your sound, your
sound finds you.
— Keith Mills

FJAAK
Indigo Aera
Sampled Detroit
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 20

If your sample library is anything like mine, there is a huge amount


of choice available.

When I am in creative flow I want to find my sounds, samples and

“Organise your VST


VST’s quickly and efficiently. Trawling through endless banks and
folders very quickly kills the vibe and leaves a session feeling flat.

It doesn’t take long to build a structure that is meaningful to you


and fast for you to navigate. I recommend starting small and then and sample library”
growing your library as you identify the sounds you need to create
your own musical style.

When I was talking with Techno veteran Claude Young Jr, he put it
very simply…”get your shit together!”

CLAUDE YOUNG JR

“The one thing I have found is most important, if you’re


going to begin to produce is to spend a day or even a week
organising your sample and VST library…. I think it’s very
important to have a library of your own synthesizers and
samplers broken down into groups for easy access… the
most important thing to keep your creative flow going is to
get your tools organised”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Label Owner at Fossil Archive
Rekids
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 22

As you can probably tell, my ultimate philosophy towards


becoming a better music producer is to get into the habit of
consistently finishing tracks.

“Finish everything
Simplify your creative process, focus on the big wins first, and see
each track through to the end.

When you rinse and repeat, your skills in music composition,


song arrangement, and technical knowledge will grow immensely you start”
leading to high quality tracks.

Roberto is a huge underground music producer and label owner,


selling out nights at world famous clubs such as Fabric in London.

Over time he has built up his skills by consistently finishing music.


When we spoke he said...

ROBERTO

“I Work on one track at a time and everything I start, I finish.


That was my rule at the start and I learnt so much about the
process of finishing. Don’t over process sounds at the early
stage. Get the idea down then work on the details later”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC



A self-respecting artist
must not fold his hands
on the pretext that he is
not in the mood
— Tchaikovsky

Token
Machine Label
Dystopian
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 25

Being a professional music producer comes with its own range of


external pressures that can affect creativity.

Pressure from fans, labels, promotors, agents and managers will

“Stay true to
all build up over time and all of this can mount up and leave you
sitting in your studio worrying and not making progress with your
music.

I believe it’s important to establish the reasons you love to write your vision”
music very early on in your journey. This will keep you grounded
and give you a single point of focus when you step into the studio

Phase, a top techno DJ & producer who has played at amazing


venues such as Berghain had this to say about dealing with
external pressures when creating his next big hit….

Ø [PHASE]

“I want people to like my music, but I can’t think about that


during the creative process…. I have to decide when I feel
it is finished and then others can make their judgment on it.
I can’t think about what people will think about it when I’m
making it. As an artist you are expressing something, yet at
the same time you can’t let other pressures influence you
negatively. So stay true to your vision”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Coldharbour Recordings
Regenerate Records
Blackhole Recordings
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 27

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to do it all, and do
it all at once. Build your own fanbase, conquer Facebook, design
all your sounds and master all of your tracks.

“You don’t need to


In everything I’ve seen, hands down the most important area to
focus on is music composition. Focus on finishing tracks, creating
themes and moving the dance floor with your arrangement.
Balance this with some fundamental mixdown skills and you’ll
progress very quickly. When the time is right there are plenty of
master every skill”
people available to do all the other stuff for you. Trying to do it all
at once leads to stress, overwhelm and painfully slow progress.

Dex has a simple philosophy about how he focuses on creating


and finishing his tracks one at a time, then outsourcing other parts
of the production process to the experts.

DEX

“Know when the track is finished and outsource it to your


mastering engineer…. Your focus should be on creating and
becoming great at music making over any technical, business
or marketing skills that can be given to someone else”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Hot Creations
ViVa
Suara
Creative Strategies for Finishing More Music 29

In this day and age we have more opportunities to connect than


ever before and it’s madness to go it alone.

Running the Finish More Music community I see on a daily basis

The power of community


the huge advantage in surrounding yourself with like minded
individuals who share the same passion for music.

Having a network of fellow producers who you trust to discuss


ideas with, get quality feedback on your music, and open doors to and finding a network of
knowledge and expertise that you didn’t know existed is essential
for growing quickly. like minded people
Engaging with fellow producers, label managers and promoters
will also elevate your career when you are ready to take centre
stage and share your music with the world.

Mark Jenkyns is a full time DJ and Producer and has this keen
advice for networking with people inside the industry…

Bonus tip
MARK JENKYNS

“Get out into the clubs and and meet the DJ’s / Promoters.
Put yourself out there and make contact with other
producers and mentors who can help you. Surrounding
yourself with the right people is essential in this industry”

CREATIVE STRATEGIES FOR FINISHING MORE MUSIC


Thank You 30

THANK YOU

I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this eBook and it serves as Please get in touch if you have any tips you would like to share or
a constant source of ideas to help simplify and streamline your have any suggestions for subjects you would like to see more tips on.
creative process
If you are driven to refine your workflow, focus on the right areas
If this book has been helpful, please give me a shout on twitter (@ to move you forward with your music, and network with a super
finishmoremusic) or just click here for an automatic tweet… positive group of like minded producers, I think you will love my
Finish More Music Community.

l CLICK HERE TO TWEET Also please join me on Instagram where you’ll find a constant
source of tips, tricks and video tutorials about everything music
and thanks for sharing :-) production. If you would like to drop me an email please feel free:
keith@finishmoremusic.com.


Tune in to the Finish More Music Podcast

Weekly shows on:


www.finishmoremusic.com