What Music Producers Can Learn from Avicii

Tim Bergling (better known by his stage name Avicii) passed away on April 20th, 2018 at the age of 28.  He was an influential music producer who helped push the Electronic Dance Music genre to the forefront of the music world.  And even though he died young he was still able to impact the music world in a way that very few have been able to.  In remembrance, here are five lessons that music producers can learn from Avicii.

1. Make the Music That You Want to Make

Avicii made the music that he wanted to make.  By doing this he was able to create music that resonated with millions of people around the world.  Even his most commercially successful songs still felt like him.

He didn’t try to be like anyone else.  He just tried to be himself and that can be heard in all of his songs.  Over time his music evolved and he started to incorporate new and different ideas from non-electronic music genres.  His willingness to experiment and try new things helped him to successfully create his own distinct sound.  And this distinct sound is what helped to separate him from other electronic music producers.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

You can tell from some of Avicii’s most successful songs that he didn’t just want to produce the standard Electronic Dance Music (EDM) song.  His massively popular hit Wake Me Up seamlessly blended folk, country, soul, and EDM.  His blend of organic and synthetic helped him to craft a unique sound that was distinctly affiliated with him.  Now while Avicii isn’t the first person to merge genres, he certainly did popularize his style of genre blending.  A lot of producers have been influenced by his style of electronic music and have no doubt borrowed a few of his ideas.  So next time you’re making a song try incorporating some elements and ideas from other genres.  It may work and it may not work.  You will never know what you will end up with unless you try.

3. Collaborate with Others

One appealing aspect of producing electronic music is that you can do it all by yourself.  In this modern era musical compositions, arrangement, mixing, and mastering can all be done by the same person.  This is one of the things that draws people to electronic music production.  Avicii himself has said that he was drawn to electronic music production because he didn’t play any instruments, but still wanted to make music.

As great as his solo efforts were it wasn’t until his collaborative efforts that he really started to take his songs to the next level.  Wake Me Up was a collaboration between him, Mike Einziger (guitar), Aloe Blacc (vocals), Arash Pournouri (co-producer), and Peter Dyer (keyboards).  Great songs can and have been written by a single person, but it can be a lot easier to write a song if you have other people to bounce ideas off of.

Collaborating with others also offers up new and different experiences.  Recording something with a vocalist or instrumentalist instead of sampling it or using a loop can open up a whole new world of possibilities.  Also, if you’re suffering from writer’s block, working with another artist could be just what you need to get the creative juices flowing.

It’s also great to collaborate with people who are strong in the areas that you are weak.  If you aren’t a great singer then you should try collaborating with a great singer.  If you aren’t a great guitar player, and the song needs a great guitar riff, then you should collaborate with a great guitarist.  Collaborate with people that complement you and you will create better songs as a result.

4. Work Hard

Watching Avicii’s True Stories documentary you can see that he spent a lot of time honing his craft.  He spent a lot of hours creating and learning about music.  All this time spent was worth it because once the time was right he exploded onto the scene.  Keep in mind he wasn’t an overnight success.  His success was the culmination of years of hard work.  His first breakthrough song, Levels, was a commercial success and a big breakthrough for him but had been building momentum prior to that.  Prior to Levels, he was already creating a buzz through his remixes, original songs, and DJing in clubs.  And because he had all of this prior experience he was ready when success finally came knocking at the door.

Hard work is part of what it takes to make your dreams come true.  It’s also part of what it takes to become the best music producer that you can be.  You have to learn to focus on the process, and not the event because there is no such thing as an overnight success.  So if you see an artist seemingly come out of nowhere with a successful song, just know that a lot of work went into getting to that level.

5. Have a Vision

Wyclef Jean described Avicii as one of those talents that could hear the entire song in their head before picking up an instrument.  Knowing what he wanted the song to sound like before he did anything was crucial and gave him direction.  Having a clear-cut vision, in the beginning, will not only save you time but it will also produce better results.  So next time you have an idea in your head give some thought to how you want everything to sound at the end.  Once know what you’re looking for then record it.

There is a lot that can be learned from Avicii.  His arrangements and production style made him stand out from other EDM producers.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and loved ones.  Rest in Peace Tim and thank you for all of your contributions to the music world.

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