The Beginner Electronic Dance Music Production Guide
Electronic dance music, or EDM, is very easy to create as long as you have the right tools, technology, and a good training guide. Here, you'll get to know what your options are and how to make sure you release quality electronic music to the world. Anyone can make electronic music, it just takes time to learn how to.
You Don't Have To Be a Pro To Start
A lot of people think that you have to be born with the knowledge and talent to become a producer of electronic music.
When you look at professional artists, you tend to see them only making good music. Why are they able to do that and you're only able to write simple songs?
The answer is that you don't see them composing music for hundreds of hours before they ever get a hit. What you see is the marketing they put forth and their best work. If you were to dig through their old songs, chances are you'd see some that were just like you would make right now. Nobody is born an expert, but experts can be made through a lot of time and practice.
Get Software That Helps You Make Music
There are a ton of great options when it comes to making electronic music. Ableton Live is one such program that many current and aspiring artists use. The ones you're going to want to get generally are the ones that let you play with synthesizers. Most of them work by letting you design loops that you then stack onto each other to complete your song. You need to learn how to design, at the very least:
- Drum Tracks
- Bass Tracks
- Melody Tracks
Most also have effects so that you can add reverb or other things to a sound to make it unique. Downloading plugins for your DAW (for example, Ableton Live) can expand the possible sounds you can create.
- Using only stock sounds and loops to design beats may seem like a good idea, but it won't get you that far.
Creating great EDM is about being creative and not doing exactly what someone else is doing. When you listen to the big names in electronic music production, if you were to hear a new song from one of them at random you could probably pick out who it is.
The really good artists put their own spin on what they do and it makes them have a signature sound. You need to build up to that, but first it can help to just play around with it and see what you come up with just for practice.
Finding Tutorials That Work
Online, there are tutorials for everything. The text tutorials are great, but you may want to go with the ones that have images if you're learning to use software. You also should comb through the manuals that come with your program.
- Buying a program allows you to refer to the manual which can offer valuable information.
- Videos are another good way to become knowledgeable about the subject, and there are ones you can pay for that go way more in depth than what you get free online.
- If you’re willing to spend some dollars, you can also consider enrolling in an electronic music production school such as Dubspot, Pyramind, or Musicboxx (if you’re in Canada). They offer lessons and courses that can teach you the basics of producing your first track.
When you're choosing a tutorial to follow, you need to make sure that other electronic producers have had success learning from the materials provided as well. A big part of good electronic music production is having the right tools and identifying the right courses to follow.
- One way to find out is to check the comments from students on a video or in the case of books, you can check the customer reviews.
- For posts on blogs or forums, you can look for comments related to the tutorial to see if anyone recommends it.
Sometimes what works for you, however, isn't that popular at the time so look around and just be careful about trusting everything you see.
Practice Emulating the Greats
A good way to get a handle on your electronic music production skills is to pick a nice track that you really like by a good artist.
- Load up your software, and try to make each pattern piece by piece.
- Try to find a short song at first, and know that you can make any genre into electronic music.
For instance, you could take a song by the Beatles and write it with synths from your software instead of the original instruments.
One thing to make note of is that you don't want to use the styles of another producer for more than practice. It may seem easy to write a track that uses elements that are popular from other artists, but that could end in people labeling you a copycat.
You can do covers but when you do them it's not good to go with exactly the same sound. Your own style will start to develop in time, and if you can put that into your covers, they will do a whole lot better.
Putting Your Music In Front of Honest People
A big mistake a lot of beginner producers make is that they ask family and friends what they think of a song they are working on.
Obviously, they’re going to say they like it if they are close to you. They probably know you well enough that they would shy away from offering criticism in order to avoid shattering your spirit.
There are a few honest people sometimes, but for the most part if you're showing your music off and everyone says it’s lit or a banger, you need to find other people to try showing it to.
- Maybe use an anonymous name on a forum or on Reddit and ask for honest criticisms on the piece so that you don't think you're good when you're actually trash.
Don't Get Too Ahead of Yourself
When making electronic music, it can be tempting to make a musician page on a site and start releasing track after track as fast as you’re producing them. This isn't that good of an idea if you want to show people your best work and actually make a career out of making said electronic music.
There are all kinds of abandoned music pages online and that's because those people put up work that was just okay. Try waiting until you have a year or two of experience under your belt so that discography appears polished and that way it’ll help your chances of impressing your listeners.
Always Take Time Out to Practice
You always hear from people that practice makes perfect and that is very true. Even if you feel like you're not doing a lot of good by going through tutorials, taking courses, and practicing all the time, the training really does pay off.
- Surround yourself with electronic music of all types and start to think of sounds you hear out in the world as if they are pieces to a song.
- Bring a tape recorder with you to hum melodies into or download an app onto your smartphone if you’re a millennial.
- From there, make a song out of that just to practice and you'll eventually hear music all around you.
As you practice, make an effort to go over what you already know and then add a little more during each session. Sometimes you'll come across a part of music production that you don't really understand, and it's okay to ask others for help.
- You should look for online forums where music producers discuss production techniques and then find the appropriate sub-forum to ask your question in.
- Use your Google-fu to search for answers to questions that someone may have previously asked on a forum. In many cases, you are not the first person to ask that question.
Making Sure Tracks Are Cleaned Up Properly
You have to go over your music and clean it up when you are done producing it. Engineering the music by mixing and mastering the audio may not be your strong suit, but if you want to produce it all on your own you're going to have to learn what to do.
There are free and paid options that let you design your sounds, and they can help you make sure it all sounds good.
Just like with producing music, you have to find production technique courses. You should run music you work on by people with trained ears when possible to get constructive criticism on what to work on.
- Having the proper equipment is important during production because you need to be able to hear every nuance in a piece you're working on.
- You need a quality set of studio monitors or headphones to accurately play back your track.
We’ve gone ahead and written several articles on the top studio monitor offerings on Amazon to help you make an informed buying decision. Hopefully these guides will point you in the right direction so that you can listen to your electronic music the way it's meant to be heard and find the right kind of equipment for your studio.
Different Ways to Sell Your Electronic Music
After a while, you are going to notice that more and more people are listening to your songs on sites where you have them uploaded. When this starts to happen, you can consider selling songs to others through services that let people stream electronic music.
There are places that pay you by the amount of plays you get, and others that let you sell the songs to people on an individual basis. You can also sell full electronic albums, but only after you have made such an impression on people that the electronic music starts to sell itself.
Marketing yourself is going to be a little rough at first because you won't have anything that hooks people automatically.
For instance, there are some groups that wear masks, like Deadmau5, when they are performing live or doing interviews. If you act like a regular musician, then it may be appealing to some. But, it can sometimes be better to be a little eccentric and put on a show for people when playing or talking about your music.
What to Do If You Have a Song Go Viral
There are songs that sometimes just take off out of nowhere, and you have to be prepared for such an occasion.
- You should make sure, first of all, that when you put electronic music up you have it for sale somewhere even if people can also get it free.
- If your song takes off and you want to make money on it, then people need to know where to go.
- Some people will pay for music that is already free just to support an artist, but only if there is a way to do so.
Be careful about how much you say to others that leave you comments or want to chat about how you made this or that in your song. Once your electronic music starts getting out there and garnering a lot of attention, you will need to be careful about what you say and where you say it.
Just one off the cuff remark about something could lead to people not wanting to listen to you any longer. Don't get into politics with fans or anything else online and if you don't mind this kind of thing then know that at any time if people start talking about what you said it could alienate a lot of your current listeners.
Being Humble If Things Do Take Off
It can be a lot of work to get to a point where you're making a living off of electronic music production. If you start becoming successful, you need to remember the struggle that you had to endure to get to this point.
If you’re seen as a snob that doesn't care about their fans, it isn't going to work in most cases. Sure, people love a good heel, but if that's not who you're marketing yourself as then watch how you act towards your fans and never look down on them.
It's not hard to get into professional electronic music production if you're willing to spend a lot of time on it. You can be a professional musician in just a few months and a master in a matter of years. The difference between a novice and an accomplished producer is many hours of practice and work.
Check out some of our guides for EDM production equipment!
Check out some of our guides for EDM production equipment!
Studio Monitor Guides
MIDI Keyboard Guides
Audio Interface Guides