Making Music: The 6 Stages of Music Production

By Yoni Leviatan, Waves Audio

New to the world of music production? This article will explain the various steps involved when making music and help you organize the process in your head.

In today’s music-making world, the only rule is there are no rules. Record whatever you want and use it as a sample. Automate effects in ways never imagined before. Mix rhythms and genres to create beats and melodies that go further and create new categories of music all their own.

However, just because you can do anything in music doesn’t mean you should.

No matter what type of music you make, you want it to be good music. You want other people to enjoy listening to your tracks, to hear the message clearly and to not be distracted by a bad recording or weak playing. Like a chef with a kitchen full of ingredients, there are myriad ways to put your masterpiece together, and it’s very easy to muck it up.

The goal of this column is to help you understand the process of making music from beginning to end, so you can create tracks that meet a standard of quality by which we call “good music”, regardless of style. With each article, I’ll try and give you new ways of thinking about your approach to making music, which you can apply however you want. What’s important is that you understand the process and tools at your disposal, so it will be easier to construct a quality track that delivers your message as intended.

Let’s start by defining the process of music production by separating it into six basic stages:

  1. Songwriting

  2. Arranging

  3. Tracking

  4. Editing

  5. Mixing

  6. Mastering

These are by no means set in stone, and are based entirely on how I personally like to think about the process. The breakdown is meant to be used as a general guideline to help organize the process in our minds. Many times, we do a few of these at once (e.g. songwriting and arranging, tracking and editing and mixing, etc.). But on average, these are the general steps taken to produce a track – consciously or not – and it’s helpful to understand what goes into each stage so we can execute it properly and get the best results.

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