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The Truth About Song Production Times: How Long Does It Take?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

There is no fixed length of time for making music. It’s fluid and depends on the artist, genre, access to equipment, knowledge, and so much more. There are ways to speed up the process, though. Learn your music software so that it becomes second nature. Practice finishing songs from start to finish.

Making Music Efficiently

Answering how long it takes to produce a song is not straightforward. You could ask every songwriter how long it takes them for each song and find the average out of all of those.

But even then, is that a correct assumption? Does it matter?

What matters more is making your music production process more efficient without losing the quality. 

That’s what we are going to explore in this article. All the factors that speed up or slow down the process, and some tips on improving your efficiency.

how long does it take to produce a song

What Goes Into Making Music?

The fundamental pathway of writing a song is typical as follows:

  1. A lyric or music idea is created
  2. The song is given a song structure.
  3. The song is recorded.
  4. The recorded music is edited
  5. Production takes place
  6. The music is mixed
  7. The music is mastered.

Of course, there is no one rule for making music. There are so many different styles and genres; everyone writes differently. But if you’re beginning, this is an excellent place to start.

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Unsure about what equipment you need? Maybe our article on whether you can produce music without a MIDI keyboard could help.

How Long Does It Take To Make A Song From Scratch?

This is a tricky question to answer. It’s utterly dependent on each songwriter. I also wouldn’t equate a songwriter’s quickness with how good they are.

I will talk about my personal experience of how long it can take and then look into what dictates the length of time. It is impossible to say a standard time that a song takes to get made, as it is such an open question.

How Long Does It Take To Make A Song From Scratch

The quickest I have ever made a song is starting it on a Monday and releasing it on that Friday, but I made the music in 3 days. Once I got the general idea of the song, I ran with it and finished the structure that day.

I write in my digital audio workstation, in my home studio setup, so often, I record the parts as I write. This cuts down on recording time as I will only re-record anything if required.

Once the production was done, I just needed to mix and master it. Then I could upload my music to Apple Music and Spotify through a music distribution service.

The longest I have taken to make a song was three years, but not 8 hours a day for three years, of course.

It can also depend on how many people are involved in songwriting. Is it one person or a person for each skill set?

It could start with a songwriter, or multiple songwriters, to be passed to a music engineer to record the musicians. It could go to a music producer, then to a mixing engineer, and finally sent to a mastering engineer.

This could be a quicker or slower way to create music. It depends on the speed of the people providing these services.

The other side is someone who does all those things, which is what I do. Kevin Parker from Tame Impala does everything apart from mastering his tracks.

Your knowledge of music theory, production, recording mixing, mastering, and access to studio time will determine how quickly you will make a song. But again, this could mean it’s slower or faster.

If you can make quick decisions in each area of music making, you’ll get it done quicker. But if you overthink and agonize over every detail, it could take a while.

On top of that, is it just an acoustic guitar and vocal or a full-on production? As obviously, the latter will take longer due to the complexity.

DO YOU WRITE MUSIC OR LYRICS FIRST

How Long Does It Take To Write The Lyrics For A Song?

Some people find this the quickest part, and some don’t. I take way longer with the lyrics than the general structure and sound of the song. But usually, I will get them done within a day of writing them on and off.

How Long Does It Take To Structure A Song?

Structuring a song is something that comes with practice. Once you have a general idea for a piece, it can be swift to structure it, depending on the genre, especially in pop music.

Of course, other genres, such as jazz, follow a less conventional structure, so they will take longer to create.

How Long Does It Take To Mix And Master A Song?

Mastering a song is a lot quicker than mixing. Mastering is the final stage of the music production process.

Music production is analogous to creating a piece of furniture out of wood from scratch.

Think of mastering as the sanding. It’s the final glance over the creation before it’s ready to be in the world.

Showing An EQ Curve Inside A Digital Audio Workstation

Of course, sanding takes a long time, but luckily mastering it is very quick. An experienced mastering engineer can do the first revision within half an hour to an hour.

This could be all you need if they have followed your specifications and reference tracks correctly.

Mixing, on the other hand, is the process of getting everything to fit together. This takes longer as there are far more moving parts. This is less general and more specific. Clinical decisions are being made to better the track and creative decisions that add emotion and dynamics.

The mixing process can also include perfecting the pitch of a vocal, which can be time-consuming if you’re using a particular plugin for this rather than a real-time one.

Professional Vs. Amateur Songwriters

Professional vs Amateur 1

How Long Does It Take Beginners To Write A Song?

A few things could slow a beginner down when writing a song. If their music theory knowledge is fundamental, it could limit their writing or slow them down while they figure it out. If they are new to using a DAW, that will slow them down.

Typically beginners will only have finished a few songs. Finishing a song is much more complicated than writing a song, just like it is with everything. Completing a task requires dedication beyond the point of novelty and initial excitement.

This can be hard to push through for a beginner.

How Long Does It Take A Professional To Write A Song?

Of course, having the experience and knowledge of a professional songwriter will speed up the process of creating music.

They will already have a way to approach writing music that they know is best for them. They will understand the technology they use to do so. If they don’t produce, mix or master the song themselves, they will have a close working relationship with people who do.

Of course, everyone gets writer’s block. But professional songwriters will have developed ways to help them snap out of it.

READ NEXT:

If you’re beginning to venture into the professional side of production, then you may have questions about royalties. Our article on whether producers get songwriting credits is an in-depth look into this topic.

How Long Should A Song Be?

The length of a song depends entirely on the genre of music, the type of artist, the kind of track, and what time we are in.

How Long Should A Song Be

The expected length of a song was around 3 to 4 minutes for most of the 20th century. This is because that’s what the radio stations wanted, and they controlled how you heard new music.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.

One song, almost 6 minutes long, made it on the radio in 1975 against all odds.

It was just a tiny underground song called “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You may have heard of it. But that does show that if you were going to beat the standard back then, you better write a masterpiece.

These days, thanks to streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, the length of songs being put out today varies. Most modern pop music still sticks to around 3 to 4 minutes.

Most Lo-fi Hip-Hop tracks are under 2 minutes.

However, if you look at progressive metal, you can see tracks up to half an hour. That’s almost an album in one song!

How Long Does It Take To Produce An EDM Song?

Assuming it’s done entirely on a computer, producing an EDM song could take less time than other genres.

Is Studio One Good For EDM (In Depth Guide)

You can rely on something different than studio time or other people.

You could write, produce, mix and master a brand new EDM song in a day if you wanted to.

There is no fixed time for writing a song, regardless of the genre, but even if you finish one brand new EDM song a week, that’s more than enough to keep up with the music industry.

It also gives you time to have a break from the music and listen back the next day, as doing it all in one day can make you lose perspective once you’re a few hours in.

How Long Does It Take To Record A Rap Song?

Three scenarios come to mind. Let’s talk about them.

How To Rap Fast

The Rapper Is Also The Producer

If the rapper is also the producer, such as Tyler The Creator, this is the longest of the three. The more you’re involved in something, the more you have to do. But you’re one person, so you can only do one thing simultaneously.

It would help if you also had time away from the song for fresh ears.

It depends on how the rapper works.

Do they need someone else to help with the process while they second guess? Or are they able to see the big picture of the song and chip away at it?

The Rapper Works With A Producer

If a rapper has a working relationship with a producer and the music is being created for them, this could speed things up.

A producer can provide the general vibe of a track and leave the rapper to write their vocal parts to it.

Meanwhile, the producer could add more details to the beat and get it that step further so that when the vocals are on, it’s 90% ready to be mixed.

On top of that, a good producer will also know how to engineer a recording session to some degree. This means that the rapper can focus on their vocal performance.

At the same time, the producer makes all of the engineering and audio-related decisions. This is a much more efficient way to work, but it’s all down to the individual.

The Rapper Acquires Beats

Many rappers use beats already made but have licensed or bought the rights.

BeatStars Beats Marketplace
BeatStars

This could be through companies like BeatStars or just through networking on social media. This is limiting. However, it is an excellent choice for artists that are ready to make music but need the music production knowledge to make it happen.

This could be the quickest of the three depending on how fast a rapper can write and record their vocal parts.

How Long Does It Take To Write A Whole Album?

Some artists take years to write a new album—some release multiple in one year. If you have great chemistry with your team or a streamlined creative process alone, you could write a whole album within a month, maybe less.

But that’s if you’re aiming to do that. Only a few artists do.

To be creative, most artists will constantly write anyway, even after an album release.

The use of deadlines can be an excellent way to ensure the completion of a task. Parkinson’s Law states that any piece of work can be done in any given amount of time.

A great example of this is through YouTubers Andrew Huang and Rob Scallon.

Every year they have a band for one day, where they write and record an album in one day. They have set themselves a deadline and have done it every time for four years.

Of course, the question is, is it their best work? While some songs are great, some still need to improve a little. But that’s not the point of the challenge. The fact is, you can do it.

The thing that takes the most time in creating an album is knowing when you’re done. After how many changes are you not making an impact?

How Long Does It Take To Release A Song?

Releasing a song is very quick. Depending on where you want to remove your music, you can do it as fast as your internet can upload the file. Using services like Soundcloud or YouTube is instant.

Getting on streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify is quick. I’ve done it as fast as two days.

It’s only sometimes guaranteed with that amount of time that your song will be up exactly when you ask, though. Each distribution service will give you a recommended time.

Tips On How To Produce A Song Faster

  • Get extremely comfortable with your digital audio workstation, whether Pro Tools or FL Studio.
  • Make your recording space as efficient as possible. Keep things you use a lot near and ready to go.
  • Practice. Practice. Practice. Every day, write a new chord progression, a new melody for vocals.
  • On top of that, exercise finishing songs. It’s only good being able to start a song if you can finish it.

Related Questions

How Long Does It Take To Write, Record, And Produce A Song?

The answer to this depends on the skill set of the person or persons involved in the song. It depends on whether the artist can access a recording studio or a home studio. It depends on the schedules of everyone involved.

There is no honest answer, but the length of time it takes doesn’t correlate to the quality of the song.

How Long Does The Average Song Take To Make?

On average, the estimation is 4 to 5 days.

How Long Does It Take To Compose A Simple Melody?

This can be done in a matter of seconds. Go to your instrument of choice or even hum. Find some notes that sound good together. And there we go. Congratulations.

How Much Is It To Master A Song?

Typically between $50 to $200 per track.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Music Production?

There are two ways to go about this. And you can mix the two. You can formally study it at a college or university or learn it independently. 

You’re looking at three years through the academic route, but have you learned it then? I suggest spending as much time as you can producing music. Whatever genre or lane you want to be in. Collaborate with others. Know your software in and out. 

It’s less about how much time it takes to learn and more about how many finished projects it takes. For me, it took producing around 50 finished songs before I felt comfortable with music production. But I wasn’t done there.

Once you understand music production, you need to get to the point where you can apply it. This comes quicker by doing it than reading about it, but for a complete understanding, I recommend both. 

Final Words

Making great music doesn’t need to take a certain amount of time. As long as the music is good, that’s all that matters.

However, keeping up with the expectation of constant new content in today’s world is complex. So we can find ways to make our music-making process more efficient without losing the quality. The main thing you should take away from this article is to practice finishing songs. Constantly. Good luck.

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An in-depth guide on Should I Produce My Own Music?

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