This is obviously an article for beginners. I’d like to give a little advice to those n00bs out there (because we all started out as n00bs, no shame in it) who dream of being the next StrangeFlow! …Ok, so that might not be your dream. Maybe you want to be the next Skrillex or Moby or some other famous musician? Ok, that’s also fine.
Anyway, the point is, your first track is probably going to suck. I could be wrong, it could be the craziest thing ever; but, unless you have a decent amount of experience in music – if you’re still new at it, then the first sound you make probably isn’t going to be that great. And, that’s fine! Even if you’re relying entirely on complex samples you didn’t alter whatsoever – well, then you’re just going to sound cookie cutter and boring, and that’s arguably even worse!
So, what’s the point of this article? Am I trying to discourage you? No, of course not! You should make that first shitty track and learn what you’re doing with it! My first few tracks were god-awful – and even if you’re first track isn’t terrible, you’ll still know it was your first track, later on, as you progress in skill and develop style.
A lot of folks over-plan everything for their first track, when, really, what they SHOULD be doing is figuring out where they’re going during the process of writing their first track. And yes, obviously, it’s never a bad idea to do your homework and figure out where you want to go, to a minor degree, but my basic point is this: you shouldn’t expect your first groove to be the best groove of your career. There’s a 99.9% chance it will NOT be your best. So, try out some things; figure out what you enjoy, and see what you might be good at. Gauge your potential.
Do NOT expect to put your very first track on your first album.
Now, this advice might prove wrong if your track turns out better than you thought, but don’t anticipate gold upon your first try. Don’t take two months on it, either. It’s not going to sound as epic and awesome as you thought it would. Plus, if you take too long, you’ll likely lose track of what your original ideas were, to begin with… Not that you should know EVERYTHING about the track beforehand, but just having a general idea is best. Remember that – a GENERAL idea.
Also, you shouldn’t take longer than a week to cut the track. Ideally, it should take less time than that. Seriously. I know your first song will probably be a big deal for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that – and, in fact, that’s great. It should be a big deal, this is your introduction into the wonderful world of music production! But you should consider your first track like a rough draft for some of your future tunes.
Remember, if your first jam really sucks, what’s the big deal? It’s your first tune, and at least you didn’t spend three months on it. Besides, you don’t need to show it to anybody, if you don’t want to. Though, you’ll probably be playing it non-stop for about a week. Again, nothing wrong with that, either; you should be proud that you were able to accomplish what most people don’t know how to do, and don’t have the patience to figure out.
I’m not saying you need to rush through every song you do, but trust me when I say this – you can plan things out much better (and go into crazy amounts of planning) once you know where you stand. Maybe you’ll start making an electro tune and it’ll come out as hip hop. Or, vice versa. That type of thing has happened to me, and it’s happened to most musicians who aren’t afraid to experiment a little bit.
Also, don’t get caught up in fake-professionalism, taking hours trying to figure out which is a better use of your time – the 808 snare or some jungle sample you stole from a Venetian Snares track. Make two tracks, one with each! Bing bang! Now you got two versions, the ‘real’ version, and the ‘alternative’ version!
Just get it done, and don’t spend three days tweaking some 6Blocc wobble patch in Massive! If you really want to do that, do it next time. I’ve heard so many new tracks by completely-new producers who go on rants about all the time they took on some minor preset (getting it just perfect, spending crazy amounts of time getting it juuuust right, etc) and then I’ll listen to their track, and the preset will be decent, but I’ll think, “goddamn, that’s a shitty beat… It’s not ambitious at all; he was going for a basic dubstep beat, and it’s mediocre and quantized incorrectly!”
If this helps, here’s an obtuse piece of advice that many will surely take offense to – all electronic music can be over-simplistically put into two camps, rhythmically: house, and hip hop.
Yes, it’s insane to say something like that, isn’t it? Electro has nothing to do with house, and there’s no hip hop in it at all, is there? Listen to the beat. Does it have that stomping boom….boom…boom…boom sound? It does, doesn’t it? Exactly. House.
With that last comment, I can expect at least a little bit of hate in the comments. Ha! But that’s Ok… If I can survive an onslaught of fickle readers when I release an article about Rolling Stone magazine falling out of relevancy, I can survive anger from a hip hop vs. house point of view ;)
Back to the point, why is it helpful to debate the hip hop vs. house thing in the first place? Well, it might help to know what direction you’re going into, as an artist, for one thing. If you really hate the house vs. hip hop thing, then go on making music without it – but all I’m saying is, if you’re going to make a certain style of music, it can’t hurt to know where your chosen genre stems from, so you can do some homework and figure out how best to make your particular style of music even better.
Example: So you want to make grime? Why the hell wouldn’t you want to listen to a ton of hip hop, then? British hip hop & rap, and American hip hop & rap.
So, there you have it… I don’t mean to come off as angry, I just wanted to express some basic points that I wish someone would’ve told me when I was beginning electronic music. Beginners still make these same classic mistakes, and it’s not the end of the world, but you’d think some n00bs would have better information about the whole thing – especially when you consider how many people are making edm these days. Ten years ago, everyone around me called my music techno, even though I was making weird / annoying hip hop remixes of big band tunes. But, eventually, my music got a whole lot better, and culture progressed a lot, too. Now, anyone who thinks electronic music is all just techno really just isn’t paying attention to music culture. Ah, but once again, as I always do, I’m digressing about music culture… The point I’m trying to make is this – your first track won’t be gold, and that’s Ok – just get it done, and then figure out what you want to do in music, and go for it! End of rant.