5 Steps of Song Production

Can an artist or band record at home and have a hit?

Yes. It may be an obvious answer these days with artists like Drake and Avicii working out of hotels and bedrooms and still having massive hits.

Whether you are producing yourself or using help from the finest, it's an obsessive attention to detail that will keep your tracks interesting and banging in all systems.

If you are producing yourself, I recommend producing in phases or steps as if you had a full team behind you.

Step 1 - The song (writing)


Get a great melody or hook and all of your basic musical ideas down.
Make an effort to have interesting lyrical ideas. They don't have to be super deep or intelligent, just interesting and memorable.

Step 2 - The arrangement

Organize the sections of your song, intro, verse, chorus etc.
Build out your songs with genre appropriate backing track ideas.
Use different instrumentation to make your track more interesting throughout the different sections. Virtual instruments and synths are great for those of us on a budget. If you play live instruments use a decent mic and audio interface, or a recording studio!

Step 3 - The vocal

Although technically part of the arrangement, vocals should get their own step because of their importance to the track.
Spend time on your vocal production. Be sure to have a solid consistent lead vocal throughout the track. Every line of your newly interesting lyrics are important. Also, be sure to add harmony or double/triple your vocal line in specific spots for emphasis on important sections.

Again, use a decent mic(condenser) in a quiet acoustically treated(blankets count) environment, and audio interface. If you have no access to all of the above, check out your local recording studio to lay down your vocals.


Step 4 - The Mix

Before mixing, it's important to get rough levels and panning out of the way.
If it's in your head, possibly add some effects to give the mixer a good idea of what you are going for sonically.

Important: If you are going to mix the album yourself, it's important that you have a quality monitoring environment, as well as quality monitors (speakers).

When I first started mixing I thought all of my mixes were awesome until I played them in my car or on another system. Mixing well just takes experience and time. If you've been doing it awhile, great, you have a significant advantage. If not, saving the final fixes for an overpriced mastering engineer could result in a train wreck.

Step 5 - Mastering

With so many mastering tools available, getting a decent master at home is now possible.
There are many great metering tools, limiters etc.
Still, I caution the DIY method for anyone who is having problems with the bass not hitting hard enough or too much muddiness in their synths or guitars. Using great plugins may clear some of that up, but you are damaging the overall sonic integrity of your song.
If your master is loud and the mix still sounds great, congratulations you're done!
However, if your master sounds weird or doesn't compete sonically with similar songs in your genre then, please go back to step 4.

In conclusion, these are just my opinions and beliefs formed from my personal experience and knowledge. Please do what works best to you. I hope these tips help you in your productions. Best wishes to all of you.



My regards,

Jacob Aaron Miller



  • Default-avatarover 2 years agoby

    Excellent ideas, but what if I'm on a limited budget and little software (tools)? You caution against over-paying a mix engineer. How much should I expect to pay for a good mix?

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