As music producers and beatmakers, we tend to create something that sounds great to our ears but sometimes at a cost. When making beats, it's important that it sounds good to you, but you must not forget about the listener because it's them that will be listening to your beat.
Hip Hop Production
What tends to happen a lot of times is that we get caught up in the production and technical side of things. As a result, your beat could end up sounding great to you but not your listeners, and that's something you can't afford to have happen.
I understand that when making beats, you want to find that perfect sample and get the right amount of reverb in your mix, but you have to ask yourself, "Will the listener care if that snare is not thick enough?". In other words, stop being a music making geek!
I recently came across an article about how you can create a great intro to a track, then it was followed up with how you can make great outros as well. This got me thinking because it's a good scenario to ponder - what kind of intro and outro should you create?
I like to make beats. Specifically, I tend to make 4 or 8 bar loops and then build from there, because in Hip Hop, you can get away with that sort of thing. However, when I'm piecing together an entire song out of my beat and loops, I always make sure I have some sort of intro and outro.
I may not have a big buildup as my intro, but I at least think about how I want the track to start off. What's funny is that a lot of times I don't bother to think much about the outro, and I'm sure a lot of you are in the same situation.
One thing that I tend to stay away from are super long intros. With the various battles going on right here at IllMuzik, such as Beat This!, Battle That!, and Attack of the Beats!, there's usually a 2-4 minute limit allowed for each beat. I understand that 2 minutes is not a lot of time to put a really dope beat together, so what happens is sometimes I get submissions where the beat has a big intro.
This is something that doesn't make sense to me because after all, you only have 2 minutes to work with! I understand that you want to show off the sample you used, or do something really good with certain sounds then have the beat drop in, but you only have a short amount of time. When it comes to beat battles like the above mentioned, don't bother with intros unless they're short and sweet.
If, however, you're working on an entire song with a rapper, or even just a full length beat, make a nice intro because it makes a world of difference. But, your outro is a whole different story.
Most of the time we hear a song just slowly fade out until you can no longer hear it. This is probably the best way to end a beat because it's just your music continuing along while it fades away, and I think the fade-out probably has some sort of effect on the listener, making them want to hear it more.
There are some beats that actually need to end suddenly, like if it's some sort of rough beat that is to be followed up with something similar. Let's say you're putting together a string of beats for an album or beat tape. You could have them all fade out, but you could also change things up quite a bit. It all depends on what type of beats you have.
What you would need to do is test how each beat sounds next to other beats on your album, and see which ones sound similar. Instead of having a beat fade out or end abruptly, you could end it with the snare repeating, or have the bass on solo because it blends in really well with another beat's intro.
It's no secret that a lot of beatmakers use the same bass or drum sounds, so that's why I think that you could easily blend one beat into the next, if you choose to do so. Have you ever wondered why certain songs on an album are placed where they are? I have seen some albums where side 1 was all fast songs, side 2 was all slow. But most albums are just mixed up, or are they?
If you were to look carefully at some of your favorite albums, just imagine certain songs in different places - how would the album seem to you?
Most of the time, this is the typical album song placement:
- Best song
- 2nd best
- Average song (filler)
- Good song
- Average song (filler)
No matter where you place your beats on an album, or how you do an intro/outro on your beat, you have to remember that people will be listening to your music. In the past, I would see lots of comments online from various beatmakers that would give feedback on others' beats. "It needs more changeups", "your drums are weak", would be some of the most common I would see.
Some comments were good, but others served no purpose whatsoever because those beatmakers were thinking about how THEY would do that beat, not how the listener would hear that beat.
It's possible that your beat needs more changeups and is too repetitive, but there are times where repetitive is actually good. I've heard plenty of beats that had a really nice loop and I could sit there and listen to it many times over, but too often the producer would change it up. Taking things out, changing the sound of the loop, etc. were common and it just screwed up my vibe.
It can be hard to make beats for the listener, that's why some producers are excellent at what they do and make the big bucks, and you're not. There are different ways that you can fix your beats so it's more listener-friendly:
- Let your friends listen to your beat.
- Let a group of your friends listen to your beat together.
- Put a popular acapella over your beat.
Whatever you decide to do, always remember the listener and back off from being a geek. This way you will be able to actually hear the music, rather than what's going on in the music.
Further Reading Related to Beat Making