• Philip Marsden

10 Quick Production Tips | #8

1. Add Energy to Pop Vocals

An awesome effect you can create to add some energy to a pop vocal is a distorted slapback delay. To do this, insert a delay onto an effects bus set to a low feedback amount and a quick delay time (about 40-100ms, whatever suits your song the best). Then, cut some low end with an EQ and add some saturation immediately after your delay. This is then blended to taste with the original vocal sound.


2. Layer your vocals more!

I get sent a ton of tracks that have a lead vocal and only a lead vocal. Vocal layers are really important in pop music to get a thick, energetic and modern vocal sound. You can double your hook, add a low and a high harmony, a vocoder layer or some oohs and aahs to back it up. This can be in your face or subtle as can be. Either way it’s going to add some excitement to your next production, so get experimenting next time you’re recording vocals!


3. Your verse melodies don’t have to be same

We have a tendency to write a melody for the first verse and copy and paste it to the next with different lyrics, but that doesn’t always have to be the way. Modern consumers get bored quickly, so why not switch up your melody for the second verse?


4. Habit is greater than motivation

All too often artists sit around waiting for motivation or inspiration to write new lyrics or produce new music. If you want to move forward and hit your goals, this isn’t going to work. Instead, you need to form regular habits. For example, you might commit to half an hour of music making everyday. If you’re finding yourself stuck waiting for motivation, I’d recommend checking out Atomic Habits by James Clear.


5. People and relationships will teach you more than you can learn anywhere else

If you want to get better at your craft, get out there and speak to like-minded people, other artists and people you look up to. Build relationships and immerse yourself in your scene and you will find yourself learning at a far faster rate than you can on your own.


6. Learn your plugins and software inside out before you buy new ones

Before you think about buying another new compressor or a new synth, learn what you already have inside out. Learn it’s sound, learn it’s quirks and learn what every setting does. You’ll be far better equipped this way, than if you have 200 plugins that you’ve barely touched.


7. Mixing on headphones is okay

You’ve probably heard a ton of people saying you shouldn’t mix on headphones and it’s way better to mix on monitors. Ignore them. This is true if you’re in a perfectly treated room, with high end monitoring and near-flat frequency response, but these days the recording industry is different. It’s more accessible than ever, which means most people aren’t working in a high end studios, so this old advice just doesn’t apply. Get some decent headphones and use them to mix. If you don’t have years of experience, you will get far better results on these than you will with budget monitors in an untreated room.


8. Automate your mix bus EQ

Want a bit more excitement in your chorus? Add a subtle shelf boost to the top end of your song with an EQ plugin on your mix bus. Only switch it on when the chorus kicks in. It will instantly add a kick of excitement and shimmer to your chorus!


9. Pan your reverb

Don’t be afraid to pan your reverbs, it can add some really nice depth and space to your sounds. I like to do this when I have a single layer guitar part. I’ll pan the guitar itself a touch to the left and send it to a reverb, which is panned a touch to the right. It opens up the sound in a really nice way!


10. Free Plugin - iZotope Vinyl

Described as “the ultimate lo-fi weapon”, this plugin simulates the dust, scratches, warp and noise of a vinyl record, perfect for adding some character or ear candy to elements of your production. It even has a really cool spin-down effect. Check it out here!


Want to get better at producing vocals? Download my free guide - Vocal Production Start to Finish