Every beat maker is unique. We all strive to make each beat better than the last, yet most of the time we get stuck in a routine, making it very difficult to get out of it. Humans are creatures of habit, so naturally we tend to do what’s most comfortable to us, and when making beats, this can backfire on you. Here are 4 things that every beat maker should stop doing.
1. Starting Each Beat With Drums
I know a lot of you do this, and you’re probably sucking your teeth right now, saying, “what does this guy know?”, but it’s true. Starting with the drum track each time you make a beat is a great technique, but it’s also expected. Countless times I’ve started my beats with the drums because it’s a great foundation to start off with, and it also allows me to follow my drums when I’m adding other instruments and sounds on top.
Each kick and snare is almost like a roadmap for beatmakers but it’s about time we change it up. There’s nothing wrong with starting off your beat with something else, like the bassline. There’s been many times when I actually came up with a nice bassline pattern in my head, and I couldn’t wait to get it down on a track because it sounded like a great foundation.
Of course, there’s also many other sounds you can start with, such as a sample. Samples are good because they can dictate how your beat is going to sound and what the final product is going to be.
2. Relying On Basic Patterns
Guilty! I’m not a big fan of complicated patterns, and by patterns I mean when you play something. For example, let’s say you’re trying to create a bassline. You can do something simple like:
Bass – 2 – 3 – 4 – Bass – 2 – 3 – 4
It’s a good way to START a bassline, but I wouldn’t use that as my final track. If you listen to other forms of music that have an actual bass player, you’d be surprised at some of the stuff these guys come up with. I just recently saw Slayer in concert and the bass player was going nuts with his bass guitar. Now, that’s not something I would sample, but when I saw him going off with that thing, the wheels started turning in my head and I began to think of bassline patterns I could come up with for my next beat.
3. Using Too Many Plug-Ins
Plug-ins are awesome. There’s probably an endless supply of plug-ins out there that will keep you busy until you’re six feet under, but that doesn’t mean that you should be trying them all out. I usually keep a small amount of plug-ins installed in my DAW, ones that I use on a regular basis, because that’s all I need. From time to time I’ll try a new one, but if I don’t like it, I’ll remove it after a while.
I once knew a guy that had 200 plug-ins installed on his computer. No wonder he was tweaking that thing all the time and trying to optimize it, he had too much running at once.
For beatmakers, simplicity is the key. Use whatever plug-ins you wish, but make sure you don’t go crazy with them, because the whole point is you’re trying to make a beat, you’re not mixing. Even when mixing, as I mentioned in a previous article, keep it simple!
4. Sounding Like Everyone Else
This is a big one. I know it’s essential to make music that people will like, which means that your beats might sound similar to other beatmakers, but to a point. I’ve seen many people that purposely make beats so that they sound almost like certain famous producers, such as Kanye. I’ve also heard many rappers that have the same flow as Jay-Z or DMX (when DMX is not locked up!).
I can’t stress this enough – do you! If you’re a big fan of DJ Premier, don’t make beats like him. Make your own style of beats and be original. It’s fine if you want your sound similar to Premier, but don’t copy. It’s fine to be inspired by other producers, their sound, and how they make music, but you have to focus on your own style, your own beats, and just, well, you.
The main reason is, there’s just too many beatmakers out there. Because of that, it’s way too easy for you to get lost in the shuffle and end up sounding like everyone else, which means that when people are looking to buy beats, for example, they will easily pass you by because your beats don’t sound special. They’ve heard that type of beat before. If your beats are unique, guess what? People will listen (and buy).
Out of all of the points I’ve mentioned here, #1, #2, and #3 all lead to #4. As long as you make your own beats and create your own, unique sound, no one else can touch you. What will happen is other beatmakers will start to copy you! How about that?