So you want to be a T.P? You are the right place, despite the fact that there is no official map you can follow, in order to achieve your goals I’ve outlined 19 steps driven mostly from personal experience in order for you to achieve a clear understanding about the process. Here the steps on how to become a trap producer:
- Write down your why!
- Study the masters
- Understand and listen
- Understand and listen some more
- Know what you’re doing & do it for the love
- Understanding basic music theory
- Learn chord triads
- Choose a DAW
- Discover cool sounds
- Get a net, do the work
- Create an online presence
- Practice, how much?
- Collaborate early on
- Pick up a beat machine
- Be clear about your goals
- Educate yourself
- Be kind
- Golden tip! (Don’t quit your day job)
- And of course…
Let’s dive right into it!
1) Write down your why!
The first thing you have to do just to be clear about your why. Your why is your juice, its the reason why you wake up in the morning and practice your craft,also it’s a good idea to find your why for all the areas of your life. One method I strongly recommend for about to discover what you what it is you want and why you want it is the rocking chair test, allow me to describe the process.
The rocking chair test
If you like now, find a quiet place and close your eyes, imagine you’re 80 or 90 years old in the living room of your house sitting in your old rocking chair. As you’re rocking back and forth your thinking back at your life, on all the things that you’ve done, the people that you met and the experiences you had..
As you sit with still with your eyes closed I want you to imagine that you never pursued a carrier in the music business, how do you feel? What kind of emotions do you notice?
Now repeat the above process but this time imagine that you did pursue a career in the music business, ( try to make it as real as possible) how do you feel different than before? Do you feel happy, relieved or on top of the moon?
I learned the rocking chair technique of one of the best coaches in the world Anthony Robbins. I’ve used it myself and I found its effectiveness astonishing. You just need to really visualize the process in order for it to be effective.
2) Study the masters
Studying more successful people than yourself is key for learning anything new. By blueprinting the Masters You will be able to compress time, avoid mistakes and build upon the experiences of the best.
Figure out who the-top trap producers are atm Watch interviews, study their techniques, their style, figure out what DAW and software they use but most of all try to really adopt their mindset. If they are the best In doing what they are doing I can guarantee you they put in the hours and burned the midnight oil!
3) Understand and Listen
Understanding the genre you want to create is of vital importance. Figure out things such as:
-Most common BPM
-Character sounds used in that genre
-What are some new sounds that are being used?
-What kind of drums and percussion do they use?
-Do the drums sound distorted?
-Does the snare have a high attack?
-How does a high-hat enhance rhythm perception?
These are just a few sample questions that you could answer, of course, you don’t need to know the answers at this moment. Youll figure out these questions (and many more) as you progress as a producer. Always stay curious and keep growing!
4) Understand and Listen some more
Having an understanding of your primary genre is very important but don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself only in that small box. If you focus only on what is been created in one particular genre chances are you won’t create something outstanding, as most of the times what makes an artist unique is bringing elements together that can seem kinda strange at first.
Think about sampling, using jazz chords in your Trap songs, even a Rock or classical influence would sound cool.
5) Know what you’re doing & do it for the love
Know what you’re doing and do it for the love… What do I mean by that?
Approaching music production as a business is great, that is something you should do and should understand from the start that if you can’t make money from it most possible (at some point) you’re going to quit.
With that said money must not be your primary target. Take for example Steve Jobs from Apple.
Steve stated in one interview that when he was worth $10 million back in the 1980s ( with today’s inflation About 30 million the dollars) he thought it was great, coz money can give a certain amount of freedom, but at the same time he also said that he never did it for the money that’s why he was never blown away by it.
Pursuing a career in the music industry must first and foremost come from a place of love, appreciation and of the burning desire to be a producer.
Just remember high value = high rewards!
6) Understanding basic music theory
Understanding music theory or at least the basics of it is not necessary but it can make your life much easier. Knowing your scales, chords, rhythmic patterns, how to read basic sheet music and how to transpose a song, all these tools can help you craft productions faster.
”Music theory is not something daunting
or something of another planet,
it simply is a product of music itself”
In general, music theory tries to explain:
Rhythm — when and for how long musical events happen
Harmony — how notes are combined (keys, chords and chord progressions)
Melody — groups of notes played one after another
An important thing to remember is music theory was born out of music, not the other way around.
7) Learn chord triads
If You don’t want to learn any music theory, then at least learn your chord triads. Knowing what a trial is how to use it and what changes between let’s say a B major chord and a B minor chord (spoiler alert its just one note) will help you to speed up the process of production.
However, once you know your basic diatonic cords you can simply add one note and make it a seventh, a sixth a ninth, or a sus2. These are merely examples to illustrate how easy music theory gets, once your build upon previous earned knowledge.
8) Choose a DAW
Choosing A DAW is like choosing a spouse. There a lot of options to pick from, it takes a while to get used to, and you probably be wondering if you made the right choice once you get used.
But you still have to choose a DAW! I personally use Ableton live 10, I’ve used in the past: FL studio, NI Maschine and Reason but I prefer Ableton for a number of reasons. A few of them are: the DAW is very flexible, it has a minimal interface, it sounds good, it enables me to have a fast workflow, and you can do amazing things with time stretching and the built-in simpler/sampler.
I will list a few other DAW’s for you to choose from
Ableton Live 10
My suggestion is to watch a few YouTube videos and try out the trials of the above programs. If I had to make a recommendation that would be either Ableton Live or FL studio.
9) Discover cool sounds
Finding great sounds is an art on its own.
If your DAW is your canvas your sounds are your colors and your VST’s are your brushes.
Hip-hop producers in the past used to sample disco records, jazz records and almost everything else they could find. Now, these days things are much simpler we have professionals who create fresh and unique sounds on a weekly basis.
If you want the kick off a Ludwig, the snare of a Yamaha or a big China crash you can find them all with just a few clicks. One company I strongly recommend is called splice They have an abundance of sounds in exchange for a monthly fee, I’m currently a subscriber and have never looked back ever since.
10) Get a net, do the work
Networking is something many artists forget about but it’s as vital as breathing.
When we network with the right people Opportunities may arise some of which you would have never had discovered on your own.
The music industry business is an “I like him I hate him” kind of business. What does that mean? It means that no one wants to work together with a jerk no matter how good they are or how good they can produce. Being likable is not the same as kissing ass, it simply means that you’re putting your social skills at work aiming for air mutual benefit by adding value to each other’s lives and work.
Check out Eventtribe or Meetup for industry events and participate.
I remember when I was in London I went to a couple of small industry events and I immediately got a client. Put yourself out there you may not realize it now but it will make a big difference.
Now with no further ado let’s dive into part two!
11) Create an online presence
At our previous post, one of the things we talked about was networking and connecting with industry professionals.
This step is about the same, only you conduct the work online. Social media is your friend but it’s important to focus. Don’t spread yourself too thin by signing up for all the social media platforms because that will result in low engagement ratio. My suggestion would be to pick two social media platforms and really build a strong following there.
I myself am very active on Instagram and on YouTube, and I did choose these platforms for a couple of reasons
At Instagram there is a low threshold of engagement and I find it easy to market any kind of product on this platform. It has pictures as well as video, which I believe is the future of the Internet.
YouTube is the number one place for tutorials and educational videos and again, it uses video.
Facebook used to be big back in the day but most teenagers are on Instagram at the moment. If you want to know how you can build an online following you can download my free e-book from here.
12) Practice, how much?
The key to mastery is practice, that is practicing your graft evolving and getting better.
There was a famous study conducted a while ago and the results stated that in order to absolutely master anything you will have to spend 10,000 hours.
That amount of practice is necessary in order to become the best.
But the recent findings contradict the before mentioned study. Scientists of the day have discovered that it’s not the amount of time we spend on something but it’s more about the way we approach what we do.
The key here is to dedicate short high-focused blocks of time which will generate the same results only at a much faster pace. That’s why when you practice block all distractions focus on what you’re doing, set up your workspace and your DAW In the most productive way possible. With that said I personally would still practice six days a week.
13) Collaborate early on
Something that is being overlooked by most producers (myself included) is collaborating early on.
Collaborating with other artists can open your eyes and Expose you to the most valuable type of knowledge: personal experience.
If your objective is that your music is not good enough, stop right there!
It doesn’t matter how good or bad your tracks are, simply find a collaborator who Is about in the same league as you, but always strive to collaborate with people who are slightly better than you not worse.
One of the ways to find at Musical Collaborator is by posting on SoundCloud sharing your social media address stating your open for a musical collaboration.
Splice is again one of the best platforms if you want to collaborate with someone, You should also check out Kompoz and Blend.
14) Pick up a beat machine
While it’s not necessary to use a beat machine it surely can come in handy. A drum machine is more like an instrument than a box with a few buttons. I’ve used Native Instruments Maschine-MKI in the past, and I found it to be quite intuitive.
Also I created songs I would never have created without the beat machine.If you’re into Trap production you should check out the expansion backs which you can download from the official Native Instruments website.
Below follows a list with a few drum machines and midi controlers of which you can have your pick from. Again they are not necessary especially in today’s world and age where you can find samples online for almost about everything.
Native Instruments Maschine MK3
Ableton Push 2
Behringer RD-808 Rhythm Designer
Teenage Engineering OP-Z
Korg Volca Drum
Akai Pro Force
Arturia DrumBrute Impact
15) Be clear about your goals
In our previous post, we talked about knowing your why, being clear on your goals is of equal importance. Study shows that When we write down our goals, we automatically increase the probability of achievement.
Your goals should be:
B Gig but achievable
It’s wise for you to keep a tracking system in order to be able to see your progress as you evolve.
Arnold Schwarzenegger kept on his wall a big sheet of paper and as he would complete an exercise he would cross it off. Doing that gives you a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and forward-thinking mentality. It provides the mental fuel you need in order to keep moving forward.
If you haven’t already take a minute first to complete the why exercise before starting with the this one.
Here are the steps
- write down all your:
-ten-year goals, you can think of that are related to your path in the music industry.
- Select three 1-year goals and prioritize the rest accordingly
- Commit to at least one five-year goal and figure out a strategy on how to make that happen you have to realize that a five-year goal can be broken down into 5 one-year goals, that Definitely makes the process a lot easier.
- Pick a date in your calendar a year from now, where your top three goals will be completed!
16) Educate yourself
I know we are talking about trap music and I suspect they don’t teach trap music theory at any music school but getting an official musical education could be of great benefit, even if it’s just an online course would benefit you greatly.
The number one thing you have to invest in is not a new MIDI keyboard, the latest VST or the next sample pack But instead, the number one place you should invest your time and money is yourself. Invest in yourself now and reap the rewards later on! Trust me it can only benefit you!
17) Be kind!
You need a lot of people believing you if you want to succeed in the music industry business. It’s a bit like being a politician; no one gets there on their own and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
If you’re going to succeed in this business, you’ll learn pretty quick that being appreciative of other people’s time, skills and talent is the key to being successful. Same as you wouldn’t want someone to waste your time, don’t do that to others.
You’re going to meet some ego driven people along the way but don’t worry about them, those people tend not to last very long. Those that have succeeded have worked out that their success is largely down to other people and not just their own individual talent, remember that..
18) Golden tip! ( don’t quit your day job)
This is something most people get wrong, especially at the start. Producing music is great and wanting to create your own business is amazing just remember you need the necessary funds in order to practice what you love, especially in the beginning where you will be earning zero money.
That’s why I suggest you keep your day job but be clear to yourself about why you are staying there, careful not to get comfortable and stay in your comfort zone.
19) And of course…
Enjoy yourself and have fun along the way, it’s going to be a great ride!! Maybe it’s an idea to document your work (for yourself) and write down your successes and the milestones you achieve along the way. If you don’t enjoy writing just think about how valuable this journal will be once you are famous and rich 😉
I hope that by reading this article you have been blessed with inspiration and some clarity about what it takes becoming a trap music producer. If you have any questions or observations please leave a comment below.