No one wants to be left behind. When it comes to making beats, of course you will want people to listen to what you have created, but it can be hard to stand out from the rest.
This is why I've created a list of ten things that you might be doing that is the cause of people not checking your beats.
Don't do these things...
1. Sounding Like Everyone Else
A great way to learn how to make beats, or to just get better at your craft, is to follow in the footsteps of popular beat makers and producers. I've always recommended that anyone making beats should look to others for inspiration, as it will help you excel at making beats.
The keyword is "inspiration".
It's one thing to be inspired by other beat makers but that's where it should end. I've heard plenty of beats that sounded like they came from well known beat makers and producers but they were actually done by lesser known artists.
The best thing for you to do is to use the inspiration and make your beats, rather than trying to sound like someone else. It's like the millions of rappers out there that all started to use the Kanye-style of flow instead of just making their own flow. Don't do it.
2. Making [Insert Style] Beats Because It's Popular
I get it. There are certain styles right now that are popular, and probably the biggest one currently is Trap.
Yes, it's super popular, but if you're making Trap beats just because it's popular, then you're going about it the wrong way. I understand there's a whole money aspect to it, and that's fine if you're actually making money from creating Trap beats. However, I've always pushed for people to make the style of beats that comes out naturally.
There have been plenty of times when I wanted to make a really hard-hitting style of beats but somehow it still came out smooth. I guess that's just my style.
3. Not Creating Your Own Style
This is related to the previous two points, and it's crucial.
That's it. Your style is your style. But if you're only making the beats that you think the listeners will like then you're going to be tossed into the pile of a million other beat makers that sound exactly the same as you.
You have to think about it this way: if no one tried anything new and different, then how would we ever end up with different styles? Someone has to create them, no?
4. Not Caring About How Your Drums Sound
Different styles call for different drums. Trap beats might need more higher-pitched snares, and Boom Bap beats might need more gutter kicks.
Whichever style you're doing requires you to have dope drums regardless.
Hip Hop revolves around the drum track. Without drums, you wouldn't necessarily have a beat, but just some instruments in sync with each other. So making sure you have drums that sound dope is essential.
Layering, adding in cymbals, or even having reverb on your snare can have a huge impact on how your drums sound. Compression is often one of the most used effects that you can put on your drums, and that's because they make them sound lively and can really make a difference.
So make sure you spend enough time on your drums and make them BANG.
5. "Basslines Are Boring So I'll Just Use an 808"
I know with styles like Trap, the 808 kick drum is a must. Even though that's the style, relying on the 808 can easily have your beats sounding like everyone else.
This is where the bassline comes in.
I've preached time and time again about how you need to work on your basslines - something I've been doing for a while now, and it makes a big difference.
When you listen to a song, you'll notice how when the bassline comes in it changes the whole sound of the beat. Take a listen to one of your favorite songs and either try to find a part where the bass is taken out, or try to EQ it yourself and remove the bass. How does it sound? Probably not good.
Making a bassline can be boring, sure, but without bass your beats will suffer. Trust me - work on your bass!
6. Worrying About the Type of Feedback You'll Get from Others
Getting feedback on your beats is extremely important. However, it can be hard to hear the truth.
I'm the same as you - I make beats and I want to get feedback on them. The problem isn't getting negative feedback on your beats, but rather, how the feedback is given.
Take for example the Attack of the Beats! show. I do these shows regularly and provide feedback for any member that will send their beats in. If you listen to my feedback, I always give constructive criticism. I will say something like, "I like the whole beat but the snare is too light for my liking, so maybe you should layer the snare with something else", rather than just saying, "The beat is okay but that snare is wack".
See the difference?
If someone tells you your beat is terrible then of course you're going to be upset and probably not want to get feedback ever again. On the other hand, everyone is different. Some people are good at speaking, others not.
So with that in mind, don't worry about getting feedback. When you ask for feedback, accept all of it and don't take the negative ones personally. If you do, it could make you lose a bit of confidence in your beat making abilities, which in turn could make your beats wack! LOL.
7. Not Paying Attention to Your Mix
Along with basslines, your mix is super important. I know most beat makers couldn't care less about mixing, but it's really great to hear your own creation sound so much better after it's been carefully mixed.
Here's a tip:
Load up all your tracks in your DAW and put all the levels to zero. Play your mix and adjust the volume levels of each track until they sound good to you. THEN you can start to add effects where needed.
I think one of the issues with mixing is that too often everyone wants to throw the latest and greatest effect on their master channel, thinking that it will just add a layer of magic to their mix. This is completely false, and the only time when you should be adding effects in your mix are when they're needed.
Trust me, mixing is not hard.
8. Only Using Synths and Not Sampling
Sampling is a tricky thing because everyone is always worried about having to pay for the copyright. I understand that can be frustrating, but you might be thinking about sampling all wrong.
When I say that you should sample, I'm not saying you should jack an entire 4-bar loop from a famous song and create your beat around that. Instead, just sample little pieces here and there.
For example, you could take the end part of someone talking and saying the letter "S", and use that for a hi-hat. You could also take one or two piano notes from a full Chopin performance. Just these little things can be the basis of your beat, and you won't have to worry about copyright issues.
Try experimenting with various sampling techniques like that and it will open up a whole world of possibilities.
Using nothing but synths and plug-ins is fine as well (especially if you're really good at it), but never shun sampling, as it can make your beat much better.
9. Not Changing up How You Start Your Beat
I know there are many beat makers that begin each beat with the drums. That's fine, and for years that's what I did.
However, for the past while I haven't been starting with drums. Instead, I'll start with my melody first, whether it be with samples or from a VST. In fact, just the other day I began my beat with the bassline and worked around that. That actually changed things up for me quite a bit because I found that my bassline became the focal point of my beat, rather than just an instrument that complimented the rest.
It's always good to start your beat a different way and not use the same technique all the time. I know from experience that by doing your beats the same way, it will just end up feeling like a routine, and that is not good.
10. Being Boring
Above all else, just don't be boring.
I recently saw a video where a producer said he would take various background noises from a sample and use that as the background for his drum track in order to make his drums stand out more.
This is what will set someone apart from the rest.
The key to making music is to just make something that is straight up DOPE. This is why I recommend that you do your own style and not follow everyone else because doing it that way will guarantee that your beats will just be boring like the rest.
In order to not be boring you have to think outside the box and figure out ways to make the best beats possible that will make the listener want to nod their head.
Don't be boring!
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