In this article I will be highlighting the 6 stages in the process of music production. Music as a career and its entire production process should be an organized affair. This is because music business is a serious business, as much as it can also be fun. The basic 6 stages of music production from idea conception to the final product flows down as follows:
Stage 1: Composition
This is the songwriting stage. The stage where you think up melody ideas and fitting lyrics to match. It is also the stage where you figure out which types of musical instruments or texture of synths will suit the song. Of course instrument types can often be dictated by the music genre, but who says you can’t defy the rules and get creative with some weird combinations. Men! You may even create your own revolutional style.
As musicians, we all have different ways of approaching song composition. Some might complete a whole song off hand with the whole idea built from scratch to finish all in their head, while others might have to put pen to paper. We all are unique. The end result is what matters most. So do whatever works for you, because this stage is the foundation that will determine how great your song will end up.
Stage 2: Rehearsal
The importance of this stage cannot be overemphasized. I mean, you have to be hundred percent ready for a smooth delivery before hitting the studios for recording. That is if you do not want to get on the sound engineer or producer’s nerves over there. Moreover, without proper rehearsal, your music might not turn out as good as you envisaged. Practise every vocal and instrumental performance over and over again till it all feels perfect. In this stage, you can even change up some parts of the afore-composed song in order to make the rendition smoother and flawless. So take your rehearsals serious. Perfect every melody, pitch, diction, and lyrics before hitting the studio.
Stage 3: Recording
This is where the die is cast. At this stage, there is no two ways about it. What you have is what you will give, and what you give is what you will get. Here, your diligence or otherwise in the two earlier stages will show. Some greenhorn musicians might get a little nervous and even get a cold feet on their first recording session. I want you to know this feeling is normal and you should just get over it. Music is fun and emotional. Whatever the mood of your song is, make sure it is well portrayed in your performance.
The recording process itself matters too. Where you are recording, how skilled the producer or sound engineer is, and maybe the gears you will be recording with, all matter. As a home studio user, unlike the big commercial studios you might be limited to some extent when it comes to resources. But with diligence and good enough skills and experience, you can surely get the best recording you can. Proper microphone placement, dynamic ‘accentuations‘, proper gainstaging, e.t.c are needed skill sets in this case.
Stage 4: Mixing
As home studio enthusiasts, this is the stage we all revere. This stage is important so much because it can really transform and enhance a good recording into a great final music. Note the use of “good” in the previous sentence? This emphasizes the famous saying “you can’t polish a turd”. Your song has to be good to some extent before you enhance it with mixing. You should also mind the fact that poor mixing can also mar your songs. Do not think because you just learnt about a certain effect plugin on gearslutz, so you can start slapping it all across your mixer channels expecting some magic. No! You really have to learn the ropes, or just employ the professionalism of a good mixing engineer to make your song awesome.
Stage 5 : Mastering
As a single song, this is the stage where you get your perfectly mixed song to the industry standard loudness level. In doing this, you aim to make it as loud as its commercial counterparts in the given genre. As a project, it is the stage where your songs are compiled into a body of work. All the tracks are suitably arranged with generic loudness level in form a mixtape, L.P or E.P album for commercial release. You can also do this yourself if you have the required skill set. If not, you will have to give the job to a mastering engineer.
Stage 6 : Publishing
I know you must be wondering how this is a part of music production process. I am just looking at it from an executive music producer’s viewpoint. Since you will be your own executive producer in this case, you have to see reasons with me. This stage follows the economics principle which states “production is not complete until the goods/services reach the final consumers”. After all, what is the usefulness of a good music that never gets listened to? So this is the stage where you get your music out there either via selling or sharing. Thanks to social media and digital music platforms like iTunes, Spotify and Google play, and our own MTN musicplus. This task is easier nowadays.
There you have them people. Master these steps diligently, and you will be on your way to having a successful music career. If you are a music career enthusiast about to start out, read Start music production: basic budget equipment needed. It will help you start out on the right foot, especially as a potential home studio owner. Happy music making!.