These are my 10 best tips to help you finish your songs and produce your next hit. Learn how to finish writing and producing songs using 10 proven songwriting techniques.
1. Set the whole arrangement before adding the details
Flesh out the arrangement early. Add clips for intro, verse, chorus, bridges and outro. This means you will have setup the basic song structure before you start diving into picking the right instruments, sounds etc. This is like giving you mini-rewards on the way as you will have a better picture of how the song will end up. How long will the song be? When will the drop probably hit? Where should the breakdown section come in?
2. Keep it simple and limit yourself
Remove instruments and sounds rather than add. We often tend to add too much to the mix anyway. If the mix is too busy it will be hard for the listener to focus on the key element of your track. Think about what’s important to the song and work on that. It’s probably the main melody and bass.
3. Emphasize your main melody
If you need to add something. Maybe just emphasize your main melody with a second layer to fill out the frequency space, rather than adding more melodies which draws attention from your main voice (melody).
4. Listen to the top hits list on Spotify
It’s probably a good reason why the top hit tracks often have sparse arrangements. They don’t have that many tracks going. The tracks they do have use pristine quality samples (yes, and instruments). A winning concept is probably a good starting point if you want to learn how to produce songs properly.
5. Use a reference mix
If you are working in a DAW it’s easy to get a reference track going with your favourite song. Or just look up your favourite artist on YouTube. But don’t compare the actual song to yours. Just listen if your mix lack bass / clarity… Or again, is the music too crowded with melodies or sounds.
6. Grab the best sounding samples
Grab the best sounding samples you can afford. Samples suitable for the genre you are producing. There are plenty of great sample packs for every genre out there. Not everybody need to make their own kicks and snares and synth sounds. You can check out our sound packs here.
7. It’s fine to use presets
Use quality presets for the genre your are producing. It’s totally fine to use vst-instrument presets, mix channel settings and plugin presets. They are often a very good starting point and will let you focus on the important songwriting.
8. Write music with different tools
Working in the same way can keep you locked from exploring new areas of melodies and harmony. We are wired to take the shortest path solving a problem.
Flip to a hardware unit. Maybe boot up that MPC, Elektron Digitakt, Maschine+, Maschine mk3, Hardware Synths. Twist some real knobs and get fresh ideas.
Or add notes with the pen tool in the piano roll… rather than playing and performing on a keyboard / piano / guitar.
It’s important to understand that muscle memory will effect the way you write, if you are writing with an instrument.
Muscle memory forces you to play the same licks, accents, phrases etc. Just give it a try to get some fresh ideas you didn’t think of. I did an article on muscle memory here.
9. Sound design should be a separate session
One thing at a time. Many producers start with a dedicated sound design session where they just create 100 different sounds. Then they come back another day and make music with this custom sample pack. Importantly, you will have your own unique sounds to work with.
Try to keep the composition on a separate day apart from sound design. When you write the actual melodies, bass and chord progressions. Keeping focus on one thing at a time makes it easier to approach the finish line. Ultimately, finishing the song!
10. Celebrate and reward your progress
It’s important to acknowledge and reward your work. If you are going to stay motivated to finish your track, you’ve got to reward yourself. Plan an event when you hit certain milestones. Maybe share a songwriting session with your subscribers on YouTube.
Showcase a small portion of your song on social media. Sharing on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook etc. during the process of making your song can be good to build your fanbase as you go. Importantly, also to gather inspiration and ideas from your friends.
11. Re-create a popular track (bonus tip)
If you want to learn how the top producers make their tracks it can be really insightful to re-create a popular track from scratch. The process helps you understand how a melody can be harmonized and arranged. You will learn beat programming, type (and amount) of effects used. Vocal arranging and processing… and so much more.
It’s really a gem. Personally, I’ve been re-creating parts of tracks in all kinds of genres through the years to get insight into the track creation process.
Importantly, this is useful in any type of craft: design, art, construction, needle felting, sound design, music production etc.
Re-creating tracks can sometimes feel discouraging, your end product might not sound as polished as the original. That’s totally fine! The purpose is not to make an exact copy anyway, but to learn the craft of music producing.
In the long run re-creating tracks will help you grow in so many areas of music production. I can’t stress this enough!
Rounding up the best tips to finish your songs
That’s just a few tips to get you going and finish your song. Hope it can be helpful to someone. We have many more tips on music production and songwriting in other articles on this website. I hope to see you around!
We are almost at 14.000 subs on my YouTube channel. Wow, thank you so much for watching my videos, reading my articles and supporting my work! ❤️🎂🍻🧙♂️
About the author:
Mattias Holmgren is a creative director sailing from Sweden – business owner of Morningdew Media.
Visit Mattias YouTube with informative videos on music, creative sound design, graphics and brand development.
What gear I use in the studio? Check out the Resources Page.
Join my exclusive community: https://www.patreon.com/gelhein
Be sure to sign up to our newsletter for new exciting articles in design, music production and sound design.