If you visit this blog often, you will hear me say that learning music production is a lifelong process. In fact, everything about music is one big adventure in learning! As a musician, if we practice enough, new doors open all of the time. Each new door leads to a new passage. Each new passage leads to another door! The practice of being a producer is the same. You can never rest on your laurels, especially in the music production space, where technology and techniques change very rapidly.
To help you on your journey, I have compiled a list of a few of my favorite sources for learning music production. I did not base my assessment on whether they were free, or even low-cost, really. I don’t believe that is really the marker we want to pay attention to. What we want is value. And, in fact, most of these sites have some free content, which is usually just enough to make you want to plunk down some of your hard-earned dollars for more (freemium marketing, anyone?). So, enough talk! Let’s get down to it. Here are my top five sites for learning music production.
Puremix.net is probably my favorite of the bunch. For $24.99 a month, you get hands-on video lessons on almost every aspect of the recording process. The lessons come from the Puremix “Mentors”, who are top-of-the-chain producers and engineers in the industry. There are in-depth tutorials on everything from how to listen, to the basics of compression and EQ, to specific articles on different instruments, and specific workstations. You can submit your mixes to the “mixhub”, where you can get comments and advice from other mixers (this would be better IMO if the comments came from the mentors).
Probably my favorite part of Puremix is the “Start To Finish” series. This series takes you on a journey with A-list producers as they work on one track from an artist literally start to finish. It is fascinating. The episodes are 1-2 hours long and some of them are 11-12 episodes long! Every series I have watched has some truly eye-opening moments. It is absolutely priceless to watch folks like Vance Powell, Greg Wells, or Fab Dupont work through their entire process.
All in all, if I had to choose one site for continuing my personal journey of learning music production, it would be Puremix. It has absolutely raised my game and changed the way I work.
Bobby Owsinski has been around the industry for a very long time. I first came across him when I bought his book “The Recording Engineer’s Handbook”. He has many titles available now. Bobby also was one of the pioneers of the web-learning space in music production, when he launched his “101 Mix Tips” website. He now has a huge online presence with a well-respected blog, podcast, and courses. His courses range anywhere from a la carte single course offerings to his “Hit Makers Club”, which gives you membership to all his offerings for $49 a month.
I have gotten some great tips from Bobby over the years through his books and online courses. I mainly have dug through his 101 mix tips course but have also dabbled in a few other courses as a “Hit Makers Club” member. Some great content in there for sure. I think the main problem I have with Bobby is his marketing is a bit oppressive. I don’t really need an email from him nearly every day.
Berklee College of Music needs no introduction. If you have the resources to invest in an accredited course of learning in music, then you can’t really do better. I took a Master Certificate program in Songwriting and Guitar in the early 2000s, and the knowledge I gained was immeasurable. At the time, I had been writing songs for over two decades. Turned out, I had no idea what I was doing! As they say, you don’t even know what you don’t know.
I also took a Certificate course in Music Marketing. They are now offering fully accredited bachelor and master’s degrees online. While I have not taken any of their music production offerings, I am confident that the quality is on par with the learning I had while attending. Of course, an accredited college program will come with an appropriate price tag.
I am relatively new to Pro Audio Files, but so far, I very much like what I have seen. They have a ton of free content, mostly in the form of written articles. Personally, I prefer to read about this stuff, as opposed to watching videos. I find I retain information much more when I read it, and it is actually much faster for me to digest content. I really hate watching videos that are poorly paced, or not well edited.
Articles are organized into four main categories- mixing, recording, producing, and mastering. You can sort by most popular, latest, and featured. Very simple interface, very easy to navigate.
The only drawback with these guys is again, an oppressive amount of marketing emails once you sign up for their newsletter. I have gotten something from them almost every day prodding me to buy into their paid service. I get that we all have to make a living, and I do email marketing too, but tempering your frequency will actually create some goodwill among your audience, which is a good thing. But hey, that’s another article for the marketing category!
Of course, YouTube can be a vast source of information. However, you have to be a little careful what you watch. There are plenty of folks on there who might be- to put it politely- over-reaching just a bit.
That said, there is plenty of excellent content on there as well. Here are two music production channels that are well worth the time:
If you are into producing and engineering music, Dave Pensado needs no introduction. I am not going to go into his list of credits and accomplishments here.
What you do need to know is that his YouTube channel is chock full of awesome free content. Lots of amazing advice here for anyone, especially those living in the worlds of rock and pop.
Warren Huart’s credits include James Blunt, Aerosmith, Korn, The Fray, and many more. His resume is impeccable.
He is super engaging, and easy to watch and listen to. He makes learning about this stuff fun!
Much like Dave Pensado, Warren has been producing music for decades. He brings a great mix of classic fundamental knowledge and perspective on modern techniques.
My Top 5 Sites For Music Production
So there you have it. You actually got two-for-one on the YouTube sites, so that makes six! Really, you could spend a lifetime just digging through the content on already on these sites, and they are all adding new material regularly. So what are you waiting for?
If you want to really see your music production game improve, set aside a regular block of time every week to dig into some of these top 5 sites. It is much easier to do it if it is a part of your schedule.
Rock on with your bad self!