I have an MPC. Let’s make music

A while ago I posted an article about starting out as a producer. I’d like to go into a bit of detail about what is needed to become a beat maker. I’m a beat maker/instrumentalist so I speak from my own (limited) experiences. The views I express are the principles that got me the few victories that I’ve had up to this point. I’m sure a few of these points can be applied to your career if you are a musician or artist so people mustn’t catch feelings.

In my last piece I spoke about what equipment you need to have to get started. I’d like to shift my focus slightly this time around. I’ve gotten songs from artists recently where I’ve been blown away at the quality of the music to find that it was put together in a bedroom. Conversely, I’ve received poor music from people that made it a point to boast about having gone to one of the more kitted out studios in the area.

These 2 situations highlight what’s most important when putting music together…


In the beginning stages, a midi keyboard or mpc are nice, but not necessary. Provided you can get a hold of a computer and some software, you’re good to go. I had no midi for the first few years and I was okay.

Look at this picture.


Does your setup look like this? What type of music are you putting out? It doesn’t help having any of this stuff if the music that comes out of here is on par with nails on a chalkboard.


Next… monitor speakers!


Case study A
Dude1: hey dude?
Dude2: what’s up dude?
Dude1: Do you have pro audio?
Dude2: what’s that?

Dude 2 probably doesn’t need monitor speakers and a sound card yet. Dude 2 is probably better off learning his current speakers and adapting to them. Monitors may help him further down the line. Although I have monitors, my space isn’t treated and I therefore only trust a mix after I’ve referenced heavily outside of my creative space.

Instead of buying expensive gear, save those bucks and use the following ways to reference your music:

Computer speakers (primary)
Your friend’s monitors
Mp3 player

I may get crucified for that list, but it’s a lot cheaper than spending 10K on monitor speakers when 10K isn’t really realistic. Get your music to sound as good as you can get it on these references for now.

On to some points that will should improve your ability.

Read about making beats!
If you can get through the slang and profanity on some of the beatmaking blogsites then there are a lot of good articles out there that focus on improving hip hop beats in particular. Learning to reinforce your kicks or making your bassline sound a bit dirtier may be the final piece of the puzzle on one of your projects. Pick up as many of these little tricks and you’ll be well on your way.
Increase your knowledge and your beat making ability will increase. Like anything in this world though, be critical of what you read. Don’t believe everything you see or hear (except for what I tell you 😛 ). Take it all in, throw out the crap. if you’re not sure about what that random music guru on www.imakehotbeats.com is saying, try it out for yourself. Mistakes are awesome teachers.

Next point

Learn an instrument please! I don’t think there’s anything that will improve your ability quite as much as learning an instrument. I’m not saying you need to be Alicia or Elton, just get familiar with notes, chords and scales. It will do wonders for your compositional workflow. Go on Google and find a tutor. Take 5 lessons at R150 each and see if that doesn’t work for you. You won’t be a maestro, but you’ll know the very basics and can slowly apply them to your beats. I personally recommend the piano because of the piano rolls that most beat making programs use.

Lastly, you need a sounding board in the form of a trustworthy ear. I have 3 or 4 contacts that I can always rely on for proper feedback when I send some work through then give them a call to discuss it.


Contact on phone: nice dude! The bassline is really catchy, but it’s sounding pretty empty in the upper mids. Maybe throw a pad and some vocals in there to fill it up.

I like this “contact on phone” guy. He pointed out flaws he thinks I should work on. There’s nothing worse than yesmen! Damn I dislike those people. People who dig everything you make/write regardless of whether it is pure garbage or a true masterpiece. I can’t deal! Yesmen are the reason why tone deaf people get heart broken when the idols judges tell them they’re useless. Where are the yesmen when Randall is ripping the hopeful idol contestant to shreds? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…



Say “NO” to the yesman!

Okay so these are a few points I’ll go into in future posts. Have a look through these and tell me if there are any that you don’t agree with. Please tell me if there are any simple things I’ve missed out. Hit me up on whatsapp or via email.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Word to all that, and I mostly like the no to “yes man” point, I personaly prefer critics and advice than complements.

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