Make a song from start to finish

In this blogpost I will talk about my knowledge on music production and its’ variety of stages. Here is a quick overview of the different stages of audio production:

Music production involves several stages from the initial creative idea to the final product. This process involves the following stages:

  1. Songwriting & Composition: The initial stage of music production involves creating the song’s structure and melody, including the chord progressions, lyrics, and melody. The concept of the song is an important part of this stage.

  2. Pre-production: This stage involves refining the song structure, determining the instrumentation and arrangement, and preparing a demo of the song.

  3. Recording: The recording stage involves tracking the individual instruments and vocals in a studio or home setup.

  4. Editing: After recording, the audio needs to be edited for timing, pitch, and any other necessary adjustments.

  5. Mixing: This stage involves balancing the levels of individual tracks, panning them in the stereo field, adding effects, and ensuring that the track sounds cohesive.

  6. Referencing: The referencing stage involves listening to your mix on all available audio-devices and analyze its’ sound. Try playing the track from your phone, your speakers, headphones, car-speakers, soundbars, televisions, monitoring-speakers, etc. Listen to the track, make notes and adjust your mix accordingly

  7. Mastering: The final stage of audio production involves applying the final polish to the mix, including equalization, compression, limiting, and other mastering techniques to prepare the track for distribution.

  8. Distribution: After mastering, the music can be distributed through various channels, such as streaming services, physical media, or online stores.

These stages can be interdependent and require several rounds of revision and refinement. The process can involve various professionals, including songwriters, musicians, engineers, producers, and mastering engineers, each contributing their expertise and skills to the final product

Songwriting & Composition

Songwriting and composition is the initial stage of music production, and involves creating the fundamental elements of the song, including melody, chord progressions, and lyrics. It is a creative and exploratory process that can take many different forms depending on the songwriter’s approach and musical style.

In this stage, the songwriter may start with a basic melody or chord progression, or may have a lyrical idea or theme that they want to explore. They may use instruments like a guitar or keyboard to flesh out the melody and harmony, or may use a computer / DAW to create the initial musical ideas.

Once the basic elements of the song are in place, the songwriter can begin to refine and develop the structure and arrangement of the song. This can involve experimenting with different verse-chorus structures, adding bridges or instrumental sections, or changing the key or tempo of the song to create variation and interest.

The lyric writing process is an important part of the composition stage, as it helps to convey the emotional message and story of the song. The songwriter may draw inspiration from personal experiences, current events, or their imagination to craft meaningful and relatable lyrics that connect with listeners.

Throughout the composition stage, the songwriter may work alone or collaborate with other musicians, producers, or songwriters to refine and develop their ideas. They may also use reference tracks to gain inspiration or insight into different musical styles and techniques.

The songwriting and composition stage is a creative and exploratory process that requires a combination of skill, intuition, and experimentation. It is the foundation on which the rest of the production process is built, and a successful composition can set the stage for a successful and impactful final product.


Pre-production is an important stage in music production that takes place before the actual recording process begins. It involves planning, organization, and preparation, and is essential for ensuring that the recording process goes smoothly and efficiently.

During pre-production, the producer or engineer will work with the artist or band to discuss the goals and vision for the project, as well as the musical style, arrangement, and instrumentation. They may also discuss logistical details, such as the studio location, session musicians, and recording schedule.

Once the basic musical elements have been established, the producer or engineer may begin to create demos or rough recordings of the songs to be recorded. This can help to refine the arrangements, identify potential issues or areas of improvement, and give the artist or band a clearer sense of the direction of the project.

Pre-production also involves preparing the recording environment and equipment. This may include setting up microphones, instruments, and other recording gear, as well as testing and troubleshooting any technical issues.

Another important aspect of pre-production is rehearsal. The artist or band may spend time rehearsing the songs in preparation for the recording process, with the producer or engineer offering feedback and guidance as needed. This can help to ensure that the performances are strong and confident, and that the songs are well-rehearsed before the recording process begins.

The pre-production stage is a critical step in the music production process, as it sets the stage for a successful recording process. By carefully planning and preparing the musical elements, recording environment, and logistics, producers and engineers can ensure that the recording process runs smoothly and that the final product is of the highest quality.


The recording stage of music production is when the actual performance is captured and recorded. This can involve recording individual instruments or vocals separately, or recording a full band performance together. It is a crucial stage of the production process, as it is the foundation upon which the final mix and master will be built.

During the recording stage, the producer or engineer will work with the artist or band to capture the best possible performances. This may involve experimenting with different microphone placements, adjusting levels and EQ settings, and providing feedback and guidance to the performers to help them achieve their best performance.

Recording can take place in a variety of settings, from professional recording studios to home studios or even live performance venues. The choice of recording environment will depend on the needs of the project, the available resources, and the artistic vision of the producer or artist.

Once the recording is complete, the producer or engineer will typically go through a process of editing and comping to create the best possible takes. This may involve selecting the best parts of each performance and combining them into a cohesive whole, or editing out mistakes or unwanted noise.

The producer or engineer will then begin the process of mixing the recorded tracks to create a polished and cohesive final product. This may involve adjusting levels, panning, EQ, and other effects to create a balanced and impactful mix.

In addition to the performance and technical aspects of recording, there are several other important factors to consider during the recording stage of music production. These include acoustics, studio usage, stage-planning, and the use of analog equipment.

  • Acoustics play a vital role in the recording process, as they can greatly affect the quality of the final product. A well-designed and properly treated recording space can help to minimize unwanted reflections and resonance, resulting in a clearer and more natural-sounding recording. This may involve using sound-absorbing materials such as foam or panels, as well as careful placement of microphones and instruments.
  • Studio usage is another important consideration during the recording stage. A professional recording studio may offer a range of services and equipment, including multiple recording rooms, high-quality microphones and preamps, and a variety of other hardware and software tools. However, these studios can be expensive to rent, and may not be necessary for all projects. In some cases, a home studio or other low-cost recording setup may be sufficient.
  • Stage-planning is also critical during the recording stage, particularly when recording live performances or multitrack recordings. Careful planning of instrument placement, microphone placement, and other technical details can help to ensure a clear and balanced recording. This may involve rehearsing the performance in advance, as well as experimenting with different microphone placements and other technical settings.
  • The use of analog equipment can be an important aspect of the recording stage, particularly for those seeking a warm and vintage sound. Analog gear such as compressors, EQs, and tape machines can add a unique character and depth to recordings that is difficult to achieve with digital equipment alone. However, the use of analog equipment can also be expensive and time-consuming, and may not be necessary for all projects.

The recording stage is a critical step in the music production process, as it captures the raw performances that will form the foundation of the final product. By working closely with the performers and carefully capturing and editing the performances, producers and engineers can ensure that the final product is of the highest possible quality.


The editing stage is a crucial part of music production, and it involves taking the recorded tracks and manipulating them to create a cohesive and polished final product. This stage can be accomplished using a variety of tools, including digital audio workstations (DAWs) and analog mixing desks.

Digital audio workstations (DAWs) are software programs that allow producers and engineers to edit and manipulate audio recordings. They offer a wide range of tools and features, including cutting and splicing audio clips, adjusting levels and panning, applying effects and plugins, and more. Popular DAWs include Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and Cubase.

Analog mixing desks, on the other hand, use physical knobs and faders to adjust the levels and EQ of individual tracks. While these desks offer a more tactile and hands-on approach to mixing, they can be more expensive and time-consuming to set up and use than digital options.

Examples of audio editing techniques that may be used in the editing stage include:

  • Comping: This involves selecting the best parts of multiple takes and combining them into a single, cohesive performance.
  • Time stretching and pitch shifting: These techniques can be used to adjust the timing and pitch of audio recordings, allowing producers and engineers to correct mistakes or create new sounds.
  • Editing for rhythm: This may involve adjusting the timing of individual notes or drum hits to create a tighter and more precise performance.
  • Editing for tone: This may involve adjusting the levels, EQ, or other parameters of individual tracks to create a balanced and cohesive mix.
  • Adding effects: This may involve adding reverb, delay, compression, or other effects to individual tracks or the overall mix to create a desired sound.

The editing stage of music production is critical to creating a polished and professional final product. By using a range of tools and techniques, including DAWs and analog mixing desks, producers and engineers can refine the raw audio recordings and create a finished mix that sounds polished and cohesive.


The mixing stage is an essential part of music production, where individual tracks are combined and balanced to create a cohesive and polished final mix. This process involves a range of techniques and tools, including compression, EQ, panning, balancing, gaining, spatiality, and more.

  • Compression is a common tool used in the mixing stage, which helps to even out the dynamics of individual tracks and create a more consistent sound. This can involve using a compressor plugin or hardware compressor to reduce the volume of louder parts of the track, while increasing the volume of quieter parts.
  • EQ (equalization) is another important tool used in mixing, which allows producers and engineers to adjust the frequency balance of individual tracks. This can involve boosting or cutting specific frequency bands to bring out certain elements of the mix, such as the bass or vocals.
  • Panning is a technique used to position individual tracks within the stereo field. This can involve placing different instruments or vocals in different parts of the stereo spectrum to create a sense of depth and dimension in the mix.
  • Balancing is the process of adjusting the levels of individual tracks to create a cohesive and well-balanced mix. This involves adjusting the volume of each track so that it sits well in the overall mix, without overpowering other elements.
  • Gaining is the process of adjusting the overall volume of the mix. This can involve increasing or decreasing the volume of the entire mix, or adjusting the volume of individual tracks to create a more balanced and polished final product.
  • Spatiality is a term used to describe the sense of depth and space within a mix. This can involve using reverb and other effects to create a sense of space and distance between different elements of the mix.

Examples of how these techniques may be used in the mixing stage include:

  1. Using EQ to boost the bass and cut the highs of a drum track to create a more balanced and punchy sound.

  2. Using compression on a vocal track to even out the dynamics and bring out the natural tone of the singer’s voice.

  3. Panning a guitar track to the left and a keyboard track to the right to create a sense of space and dimension in the mix.

  4. Balancing the levels of individual tracks to ensure that each element of the mix can be heard clearly and sits well in the overall sound.

  5. Using reverb and other spatial effects to create a sense of depth and distance within the mix, such as making a lead vocal sound like it’s coming from a specific part of the room.

The mixing stage of music production is critical to creating a polished and professional final product. By using a range of tools and techniques, including compression, EQ, panning, balancing, gaining, and spatiality, producers and engineers can create a mix that sounds cohesive, balanced, and dynamic.


This stage of music producing is most overlooked, but a crucial part. Usually when a mix is finalized you can start this process. Which is iterative and involves multiple people to assure the highest quality. Make sure to have to sets of ears, with the second person having some technical knowledge on music production. 

The final mix is analyzed and evaluated on various audio devices to ensure that it sounds consistent and translates well across different listening environments. This involves listening to the track on a range of audio devices, including phones, speakers, headphones, car speakers, soundbars, televisions, monitoring speakers and anything you can think of. A good tip is to go to your local hardware store and try playing your song on multiple devices that are available there.

During the referencing stage, it is important to take notes and make adjustments to the mix as necessary. This may involve making changes to the EQ, compression, panning, balancing, and other settings to ensure that the mix sounds good on all devices. For example, if the bass sounds too prominent on headphones, it may be necessary to reduce the bass frequencies in the mix to create a more balanced sound.

It is also important to pay attention to the stereo imaging and spatiality of the mix during the referencing stage. This may involve adjusting the panning of individual tracks or adding reverb to create a sense of depth and space in the mix. For example, if a guitar track sounds too narrow on headphones, it may be necessary to widen the stereo image using panning or stereo widening plugins.

In addition to listening to the mix on different audio devices, it can also be helpful to compare the mix to reference tracks that are similar in style or sound. This can provide a useful point of comparison and help to identify any areas where the mix may need improvement. For example, if the drums in the reference track sound more punchy and defined than in your mix, it may be necessary to adjust the compression settings or EQ to create a more impactful sound.

Some tips for effective referencing include:

  • Use a variety of different audio devices to listen to your mix, including both high-end and consumer-grade systems.
  • Listen to your mix in different environments, such as a quiet room, a noisy coffee shop, or a car.
  • Take detailed notes about any issues or areas that need improvement, and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Don’t rely solely on one reference track or system – listen to multiple tracks and compare your mix to a range of different reference points.


The mastering stage is the final step in the music production process, and it involves preparing the final mix for distribution. The goal of mastering is to optimize the overall sound and volume of the mix, while also ensuring that it sounds consistent and balanced across different playback systems.

A mastering engineer should master a track for a variety of different mediums, depending on how it will be distributed and consumed. Some common mediums that a mastering engineer might master a track for include:

  1. Streaming services: With the rise of streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, mastering engineers must optimize tracks for digital streaming. This means considering the loudness normalization algorithms used by each platform, and creating a master that will sound good even when played back at a lower volume.

  2. CD: Although less common than in the past, mastering for CD is still important for some releases. CDs have a specific set of technical specifications, such as the maximum level and bit depth, that mastering engineers need to consider when preparing a master for this medium.

  3. Vinyl: Vinyl mastering is a specialized process that requires specific considerations, such as optimizing the low-end frequency content and avoiding sibilance or other issues that can arise when cutting vinyl.

  4. Cassette: Involves a specific set of considerations. Cassette tapes have a limited frequency range and dynamic range compared to other mediums, and can also be prone to noise and distortion. They may need to account for the specific characteristics of the cassette tape format, such as its noise floor and susceptibility to print-through, which can cause audio from one section of the tape to bleed through to another section.

  5. Broadcast: For music that will be used in film, television, or radio, mastering engineers need to consider the specific technical requirements for these mediums. For example, broadcast standards often have specific requirements for loudness and dynamic range.

  6. High-resolution formats: For audiophile listeners or music professionals, high-resolution formats such as FLAC or DSD may be important. Mastering engineers need to consider the specific technical specifications for these formats when preparing a master.

By mastering a track for a range of different mediums, the mastering engineer can ensure that the track will sound its best across a variety of playback systems, helping to optimize its impact and appeal to listeners. During the mastering stage, the mix is typically processed through a series of specialized tools and equipment, such as equalizers, compressors, limiters, and stereo wideners. The mastering engineer will use these tools to address any issues with the mix, such as balancing the frequency spectrum, controlling dynamic range, and enhancing stereo width.


  • Frequency spectrum is the range of frequencies that can be heard by the human ear, typically from around 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. In audio production, balancing the frequency spectrum involves adjusting the levels of different frequency bands to create a balanced and cohesive sound. This can include boosting or cutting specific frequency ranges, such as boosting the bass or reducing harshness in the high frequencies. By creating a balanced frequency spectrum, the mix can sound more natural and pleasing to the ear.
  • Dynamic range refers to the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of a mix. In audio production, controlling dynamic range involves using tools such as compression, limiting, and volume automation to ensure that the overall volume of the mix is consistent and that no elements of the mix are too quiet or too loud. By controlling dynamic range, the mix can sound more balanced and polished, with a more consistent overall volume.
  • Stereo width refers to the perceived width and depth of the mix in the stereo field. In audio production, enhancing stereo width involves using techniques such as stereo widening or panning to create a sense of space and depth in the mix. This can help to make the mix sound more immersive and engaging, while also ensuring that the different elements of the mix are placed correctly in the stereo field. By enhancing stereo width, the mix can sound more natural and dynamic, with a greater sense of dimensionality.

One of the most important aspects of mastering is achieving a balanced frequency response. This involves using equalization to adjust the levels of different frequency bands in the mix, such as boosting the bass or reducing harshness in the high frequencies. The mastering engineer will also use compression to control the dynamic range of the mix, ensuring that the overall volume is consistent and that no elements of the mix are too quiet or too loud.

Another important part of mastering is adjusting the stereo image of the mix. This involves using tools such as stereo wideners or panning to create a sense of space and depth in the mix, while also ensuring that the different elements are placed correctly in the stereo field.

Once the mastering engineer has finished processing the mix, they will typically create a final master file that is ready for distribution. This file will be optimized for the specific distribution platform, such as streaming services or physical media, to ensure that the mix sounds its best on those platforms.

The mastering stage is an essential part of the music production process, as it ensures that the final mix is polished, consistent, and optimized for distribution. By using specialized tools and techniques, the mastering engineer can enhance the sound of the mix and ensure that it sounds great across a range of different playback systems.


The distribution stage refers to the process of getting the final product into the hands of the consumer. With the rise of digital distribution channels, such as streaming platforms and online music stores, the distribution stage has become more accessible and streamlined than ever before.

When distributing music, there are several key factors to consider:

  1. Format: The format in which the music will be distributed can have a significant impact on how it is perceived and consumed by listeners. Different formats may require different mastering processes or technical specifications, as we discussed earlier. Common formats for music distribution include digital downloads, streaming, vinyl, and CD.

  2. Distribution channels: There are many different channels through which music can be distributed, including online music stores, streaming platforms, physical retail stores, and even direct-to-consumer sales through a website or social media. Choosing the right distribution channels can be key to reaching the right audience and maximizing sales.

  3. Licensing and royalties: If the music is being distributed through a third-party platform, such as a streaming service or online store, it will be important to consider licensing and royalty agreements. These agreements can determine how much money the artist or label will receive for each stream or purchase, and can have a significant impact on the profitability of the release.

  4. Marketing and promotion: Once the music has been distributed, it will be important to market and promote it effectively in order to reach the intended audience. This may involve creating social media and advertising campaigns, securing press coverage and reviews, and organizing live performances and events.

There are several best practices for distributing music, including:

  1. Know your audience: Before distributing your music, it’s important to know who your target audience is and where they’re likely to consume music. This will help you choose the most effective distribution channels and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.

  2. Use a reliable distributor: There are many third-party distributors that can help you get your music onto streaming platforms and online stores. It’s important to choose a reliable and reputable distributor that offers fair royalty rates and provides comprehensive reporting and analytics.

  3. Optimize your metadata: Metadata refers to the information that accompanies your music, such as track titles, artist names, and album art. Properly optimizing your metadata can help your music get discovered more easily by listeners and improve your chances of getting playlisted or featured on music platforms.

  4. Utilize social media and other marketing channels: In addition to distributing your music through online stores and streaming platforms, it’s important to also promote your release through social media, email marketing, and other channels. This can help you reach a wider audience and build a fanbase.

  5. Monitor your streaming and sales data: Once your music is distributed, it’s important to monitor your streaming and sales data regularly. This will help you track the performance of your release, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about future distribution and marketing efforts.


The distribution stage is a crucial step in the music production process, as it determines how the music will ultimately be consumed by listeners. By considering factors such as format, distribution channels, licensing and royalties, and marketing, artists and labels can maximize the impact and reach of their music release.

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