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  • Writer's pictureKate Brunotts

15 Music Production Challenges To Take Your Beats To The Next Level

It’s easy to get stuck in the same production paths as a beatmaker. While reverting back to the same process time and time again is easy, it isn’t always best for your art. How are you supposed to make something innovative if you always create using the same workflow?

Thankfully, there are plenty of music production challenges to take your beats to the next level, or even break you out of writer’s block. We’ll share some simple but clever beatmaking challenges below so that you can switch up your workflow for the better.

15 Music Production Challenges For Producers

Whether you want to make something new or need some positive creative constraints to get the ball rolling, these production challenges are for you. Some may work better for you than others, so be sure to test out a few!

1. Make A Full Demo In a Small Amount of Time

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your music is to set a deadline and stick to it. Challenge yourself to produce an entire track in a week, month, or even a day for a real challenge.

It might help to have an accountability partner, too! Enlist one of your friends to hold you to your deadline or challenge yourself to upload the demo to SoundCloud, regardless of how you feel about it, after the set period has ended. There’s nothing like public perception to hold you to your own promises!

2. Limit Yourself To A Single Sample Pack

There’s nothing more inspiring than a new set of samples. However, it’s far too easy to purchase a bunch of samples only to forget about them shortly after.

Instead, seek out a sample pack with the intention to create a song using exclusively the sounds from the pack. It doesn’t have to be a premium pack, either! You can also use a site like Freesound, though make sure you check the copyright and clear the samples if needed.

3. Use a Reference Track

Reference tracks are incredibly helpful throughout the writing, producing, and mixing process! If you find yourself stuck, model your song structure after one of your favorite tunes.

Take care to change the melodies, words, and chord progressions as needed. You don’t want to outright copy the song – rather, use it as an aid during your brainstorming session.

4. Produce a Song With Only 10 Tracks

Some of the best songs are simple. If you’re a serial track user, it may be time to challenge yourself and create limits for the sake of your creativity.

You can pick any number of tracks for this challenge, whether it’s 20, 10, or just 5. Wean your way down through separate compositions and take a listen to how they differ in sound.

5. Create A Fully Analog Song

Digital production has undoubtedly changed our process as producers for the better. Although, there’s nothing like going back to basics to create that unmistakable analog song.

Record in all of your tracks instead of using samples. Get creative with using what you have! For instance, a pitched down vocal sample can certainly serve as a unique kick drum with a bit of equalization and touch-ups.

6. Use A Different Time Signature

Chances are, you use 4/4 or common time in just about all of your music. Why not switch it up and try different time signatures like 3/4?

If this isn’t your style, you can try working in a tempo change into your next track instead. Listen to how this artist’s tempo change helps to bridge the first verse and chorus in a distinct, inventive way:

7. Sample Something In Your House

For some unique sounds and textures, why not sample something you have around the house or studio? It could be something topical, for instance, a sad song might incorporate a bunch of water songs to allude to crying.

It could also be completely unrelated! Break out the microphone and start recording.

8. Create a Sound Without Hearing

This might just be a challenge for more experienced producers, but why not try your hand at creating a song silently? Before getting started in your DAW, turn your master fader to zero and get to work!

At the very least, this is a great exercise that can give you a fresh perspective on your creative process.

9. Try a New Genre

Take a break from your usual genre to expand your capabilities and creativity as a producer. If you’re not sure how to produce a particular genre of music, look to YouTube! There are plenty of free resources that walk you step by step through producing a track.

10. Use Only Samples In Your Song

You can flip the analog challenge on its head, and choose to use only samples in your song for a more digital soundscape. This is a great challenge for musicians who are most comfortable recording their music live.

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone! If you’re an Ableton Live user, there are plenty of free sample packs available on the parent site.

11. Compose For A Favorite Movie Scene

Art can certainly inspire other art. If you want to try your hand at scoring, first download a clip from a TV show or movie.

Then, compose a fitting soundtrack! You won’t necessarily be able to share the clip publicly depending on copyright restrictions, but you can definitely use these samples to help earn yourself a paid scoring job in the future.

12. Incorporate AR Into Your Production

Augmented reality and AI production tools are here to stay! Get a jump start on new technology and incorporate one of these cutting-edge tools into your next track.

We may be a bit biased, but Controlla is definitely worth trying out. You can transform your phone into an MPE controller and automate anything in your DAW. Join our email list here for some big announcements coming soon!

13. Create a Live Set

One of the best ways to grow as a producer and musician is to play live and connect with other musicians and music lovers. Instead of taking on a whole new song, create a live set that you plan to showcase at a future show or open mic.

See what you can do with automation and rework your song to create different but cohesive listening experiences for your audience listening to your music in live and digital settings.

14. Delete a Major Element

It can be intimidating to “kill your darlings”, but it may be the push you need to finish a track or take a song you’re not so sure about, to something you love.

First, be sure to save the original project in a separate session in case you need to go back. This will give you the freedom to delete something major, like the drum, bass, or main vocal melody line! Dare to reinvent your song into something completely different.

15. Create Without Using Presets

Using presets isn’t something to be ashamed of. After all, these tools can help you quickly get to the sound you’re looking for without too much extra effort.

However, it’s good practice to try creating without presets every once in a while. This will help you get to know your plugins and virtual instruments better, helping you to become a better producer.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking with what works, but hopefully, these challenges will inspire some new creative workflows to improve your skills as a musician. Enjoy building new beats with these production challenges!


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