Over To You: What Are The Best Music Production Schools?

point blank

Learning music production at Point Blank. Most schools nowadays also have online training for students for whom it's impractical to get to the school in person.

Reader Sheldon Shaw writes: "I have been reading comments on this blog and doing my research, and I agree that being a DJ and a producer at the same time can be a plus in trying to stand out in the 'DJ world' by doing remixes and mashups and so on. So I have been looking at a few schools that offer online and in class courses, by prices, software courses offered, length in the courses and overall quality. I've looked at Point Blank Online, ProducerTech, Dubspot, Berklee, SAE and Fullsail and would love to get some opinions on them. Also more generally, what you think is the best way to go from DJ to producer?"

Digital DJ Tips says:

Good, practical question. I have no experience of the training at any of those schools, although having written for Dubspot's blog and got to know those guys a little in the process, I can confirm that they're a professional outfit. Hopefully readers with experience of online producer tuition can give you their wisdom here.

As far as the general question of producing goes, my best advice having worked with hundreds of DJs and producers is: Get going with what you've got! Make mashups on your current DJ software. When you get an idea, just have a go. Don't think there's a "right" piece of software, or convince yourself that every other producer knows something you don't - get stuff done, out there, try it out in your DJ sets, and move on to the next thing.

And call yourself a producer as soon as you've done that first mashup or remix - believing in yourself first is paramount, because nobody is going to come up to you, pat you on the back and say "well done, you're a producer now!" - you need to find the confidence and drive from within, just like with DJing.

Over to you: Have you got experience of following an online music production course? Can you offer advice about starting to produce to Sheldon? Please share your wisdom in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Good article as always Phil and top tips there! Trial and error is the best thing I much rather watch tutorials online to learn at my own pace then fork out thousands for it… there was a really good group of tutorials I used to watch on youtube for flstudio
    http://www.youtube.com/user/KevWillow7#grid/user/3D807C61AE9E7F3A

  2. So I don’t quite understand this drive to be called a “producer” and that thinking a mashup gives a DJ the right to that title. Traditionally, a producer is someone who works with a band in a studio to help write and refine tracks for the purpose of producing an album or a single, or both. Another example is if you remix a song on your own volition or at the request of a group.

    Just my take on things, and the labels we put on ourselves.

  3. I literally just finish a year long program through Dubspot online. It was there Ableton Live production course. I have to say it was very educational and the feedback and interaction from the school was great. I would highly recommend it!

    • May I ask what / if you do now since finishing your course at dubspot?
      Not that you necessarily have to do anything, but I am curious, as I am HIGHLY considering taking out a loan to do one of the courses myself.
      Cheers!

  4. Tyler Fisher says:

    My opinion? Production schools are a waste of money, just buy a daw and some synths and start messing around with it. Eventually, you’ll be an expert. That’s how I learned, and also how most successful producers learned. School will just breed the attitude that you need someone to tell you the answers to all the questions you have, but you’ll do better if you can just figure it out between google and the manual.

    • I believe you get best progression if you do what people have written earlier in comments. The long, hard and tough path. Do it on your own! Use tutorials to learn basics about tools but experiment to really grasp the concepts. School is an easy way to get better fast, but in reality there is no rush as you will never be perfect and the real goal here is the journey, not the destination.

      Get a DAW you think is good, and just start to use it every day!

  5. sammsousa says:

    pointblank and dubspot are definetly dope! quantizecoursesaswell. groove 3 (those are only tutorials though) but the biggest of all is no doubt youtube

  6. http://www.dancemusicproduction.com has very, very useful video courses for the fundamentals and so on… Highly recomended.

  7. http://www.dancemusicproduction.com has very, very useful video courses for the fundamentals and so on… Highly recomended. Really.

  8. Radoswave says:

    Hi! I studied Electronic Music Production in SAE Institute Madrid. And it was ok. They have great studios and gear. The teachers are also nice and cool. But the true is I expected more… All the time the teacher was mostly explaining only basic stuff. I think the best school out there is Dubspot. It looks more advanced and professional. Check their videos on youtube or their web page.

    If you have the possibility to go to Dubspot, go there man I would have done that. But there is no Dubspot school here.

    If you like, you could check out my mashups here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/radosWAVE
    http://soundcloud.com/dj-radoswave

  9. All right, here’s my take on Full Sail. I think one guy either won or gained a nomination for a best remix. Also, another guy made the studios a killing for the movie SAW II. See the pattern. You may get through the door with this school. Yet, as far as ORIGINALITY goes, I have yet seen someone get through the door on that.

  10. gotta go with scratch academy, most professional without a doubt

  11. http://www.quantizecourses.com
    this guy knows alot, sends personal feedback and you can follow it from home

    nd if you are dutch
    baesik.nl
    the site should be up in a while
    guy doesn’t only do production classes but also alot help with livesets and connecting software/controllers

  12. I wouldn’t bother with any production schools at all. All the basics are out there on the internet, and after that, you can’t really teach it. its all experience and then, most importantly, doing your own thing. sure there are ways to mix your tracks to sound like everyone else, but you don’t get legit without doing your own thing. As a producer myself, a self-taught producer (by googling and searching youtube), Im convinced its all out there. Too many people ask for others advice and ‘critique’ too. Learn how your DAW works, learn the relevant things to make your track playable within the genre you’re making, and then just practise, and do your thaaaaang

  13. luke james taylor says:

    SAE in London was an amazing place back in the 90’s although technology was completely different when I was there. We covered Cubase and Protools but spent the majority of our time working on traditional sound engineering. I am sure they have moved with the times.

    PS: Working on the AMS Neve analogue mixing console is like working on the bridge of the starship Enterprise. A Neve mixing console costs half a million pounds and blew my socks off. They are kind of obsolete nowadays but WOW

  14. IMO you should start by doing the things that you can do yourself (free of charge)
    Get info on line and find out what software and hardware you
    need/want. Then when you know that, before buying go to the companies sites look at all info in therte and download the manuals: Then read them carefully from page to page!
    After that you buy you software and hardware and then again read the manuals!
    There is very much info online that is free of charge so surf around and you will get more info than you can handle.

    If you then feel the need of a course then go for it.

    I never did and I think I can handle, Traktor scratch pro/ Cubase / Ableton Live / Reason / and more without going on any course. But you have to give it time and carefully read the manuals like I did.

  15. I would love to attend one of these schools. I think it is a great idea. I’m 15 and I would love to learn more about ableton live and better ways to produce etc.. I currently live in France, does anybody know any school like these to study electronic music, dj’ing and Music producing in France? If not, I heard Manchester midi school are opening up the “Berlin Midi School” http://www.midischool.com/blog/berlin-midi-school-music-production-courses-2012/

    Has anybody attended the MMS? Was it good? Did you learn a lot? What have you gone on to do after the course? work with bigger artists etc…

    hope you guys can help!

    Thanks a million,

    Sean.

    • Hi Sean,

      I’ve done a couple of courses at MMS and they’ve both been great (the DJ course and the Ableton Online course). I’m now signed up for their music production and sound engineering diploma for the next year too, to get more on top of my productions.

      Whilst there is loads of freely available info, for me a course gives structure, a timeline and feedback, all of which are a big help. Having messed around and picked things up online for years, I learned so much more and so much quicker when I’ve gone through a proper course, but it depends what kind of learner you are.

      Before the courses, I was just doing the occasional mix CD for fun to play in my car, but they weren’t good enough to let other people hear. Now I’m regularly posting mixes on soundcloud, starting a new club night, have made my first tracks (which have got reasonable feedback), work on plenty of re-edits, and hope to be releasing stuff towards the end of the year long course I’m just about to start.

      They do cost a fair bit, but if you want to make a career out of it, it’s worth investing!

  16. sonic academy are great and they take suggestions for videos from their subscribers which is a nice touch. They have just made their own synth which is rather excellent

  17. The best way to go from DJ to producer is to start making tracks. Did you pay someone to learn how to DJ? Probably (hopefully) not. Get Reason, Ableton, etc and start messing around. Your first tracks will suck but you will get better as you learn. Think about your very first mix tape, now think about how much better they are now. Hopefully there’s a big difference. You can’t learn to ride a bike without the expectation that you will fall at first. Just hop back on and keep pedaling.

    Also, Do you have any formal music training? Do you play any instruments? Can you read/write sheet music? If not, learn piano/keyboards. Go to a bookstore and pick up some books on understanding music theory, chords, etc. The stronger your base, the better producer you will be.

    As far as private schools, take this into account as well – the median student debt for a Full Sail graduate is $59,000. Not including room and board. Will graduating from a music school put you in a position where you will be able to pay that off?

    There are tons of free tutorials online and really affordable online classes as well. Keep the fire alive and don’t get discouraged.

  18. Andy Fuentes says:

    I thought myself with the help of many You Tube tutorials, a Mac Pro Video membership, a Sonic Academy monthly subscription, and a couple of music production blogs. Audio Tuts has a great source of blogs and tutorials for the premium membership. Learning the basics of music theory has also been very helpful to me: all the websites that I mention above have articles and tutorials about music forms and structures. The best thing is that you learn at your own paste and that you won’t spend your hard earned money in just one school, instead spend your money on a DAW and a couple of Synth Plug ins. Ableton and Native Instruments plug ins works for me.

  19. I was lucky enough to be sent on an intensive programming course a few years back by my employers 5 days 12 hours a day. We were taught a four stage learning technique that when combined with setting clear goals still works well for me today.

    1) Read about it. Find an online or print article or two that describes the topic.
    2) Hear about it. Find a youtube clip that describes the technicalities
    3) See it in action. Find a youtube clip that demonstrates the topic in action.
    4) Do it yourself. Try it out for yourself and get some feedback.

    All of the above works well in a classroom or online environment. Step 4 really benefits from someone who knows how to impart knowledge and get you thinking for yourself. I’d been programming for 5 years and knew one topic almost as well as the teacher so I sat and observed how he taught. In 20 minutes he covered every single aspect of that topic that I’d spent hours trawling through manuals and online for – money well spent.
    Now wheres that Manchester midi music school number……..

  20. southyfreakin' says:

    I agree to a certain extent with finding your own way online and so on, however, attending a course might be a faster track to the creative process within your software of choice.

    If, like me, you find getting to grips with not only the software, but also the music making process (arrangement and so on) daunting, a course might not be a bad idea as opposed to surfing for random tutorials and information.

    I think it’s probably beneficial to do a bit of both. There is a wealth of free information online and there are also courses available that range in size/ cost.

    I’ve been checking out weekend crash courses at Pointblank in London and see this as a good way to get started without smashing your bank balance as hard as say, doing a full year of music production.
    A lot of schools offer online training for those that can’t get to the school itself.

    Guess it comes down to what you want and at the end of the day, no-one can teach you creativity.

    Anywho, schools:

    (forgive if I’m mentioning any that have been mentioned already)

    http://www.pointblanklondon.com
    http://www.sonicacademy.com
    http://www.subbassdj.com
    http://www.dubspot.com

  21. Chris Swagger says:

    As a Full Sail student. I gained tons of knowledge but I also gained tons of debt. I have some friends that did well but majority have not done as well to pay off the extremely high school debt.

    For me I actually learned more outside of the school then in it. Back in 2005 u spent 30days cramming info into your brains until the next class started. Wonderful tips but not worth the debt in the long run. I suggested you get your hands dirty with a little trial and error. If your going to go to school go for a degree you can use to fall back on.

  22. Richard Davis says:

    Find it hard to believe that there is so much negativity around paying for professional tuition on music production!

    To me it makes total sense to invest in getting professional training in order to learn the skills and techniques of your craft. It’s the same as paying for lessons teaching you to paint, to cook, photography, web design etc etc…you can learn all of these at home through practiciing and free material, but the fact is if you want to be sure you are learning the proper skills and techniques then paying for a course is the way to go.

    I have done online courses with Point Blank and I have to say that they were excellent!! I had some experience on Ableton, but there courses and the 1-2-1 tutor feedback really helped me to get to the point where I’m now finishing tracks and am happy enough with them to start sending to labels.

    I just did my research and picked the best option out there to give me the training I was looking for.

  23. Christophe Thiago says:

    I took a class at pointblank online because I got tired of messing around and trying to fidget my way into learning music production. The course really helped tie things together for me. Between what I learned with Google College, Youtube University and Pointblank Online I feel as though I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in a short time.

  24. My Tip

    Get a DAW Fl Studio
    Learn the Basics
    Drum Beats, creating Chords
    Watch tutorials

    So far i’ve produced 4 tracks with no schooling
    All the tools you need is on the web

  25. Any music production classes in south florida????!?!??!???

  26. Really good advice. “Don’t think there’s a “right” piece of software, or convince yourself that every other producer knows something you don’t – get stuff done, out there” Couldn’t say it better.

  27. Berklee Vs SAE Vs Point Blank vs London School Of Music ????

  28. Tom Holden says:

    Hey guys, I respect the opinion of everyone here who says “don’t bother with production schools, you can do it all yourself watching tutorials on youtube etc” but I also beg to differ. Learning in a thorough and ordered fashion from experienced professionals and speaking with them about my music over a protracted period of time (FACT: their video feedback system is dope) is not the same as watching youtube videos. For me, it’s beyond question.
    After much deliberation I took a course with Point Blank Online and have to say it was a life changing experience. Awesome. I had been ‘producing’ for a while but was getting nowhere just experimenting by myself, watching countless YouTube tutorials and reading articles. I enrolled at Point Blank because I wanted some proper guidance and also the chance to send my projects to a professional to get some input. I felt I learned more about production in the 2 months I was on the course than in the 2 years I spent self-learning. Yes it costs a few quid but so does anything of value. If you’re looking to get results quickly then I would definitely recommend it and I’m sure as hell going back for more.

  29. [email protected] says:

    Hey guys, I respect the opinion of everyone here who says “don’t bother with production schools, you can do it all yourself watching tutorials on youtube etc” but I also beg to differ. Learning in a thorough and ordered fashion from experienced professionals and speaking with them about my music over a protracted period of time (FACT: their video feedback system is dope) is not the same as watching youtube videos. For me, it’s beyond question.
    After much deliberation I took a course with Point Blank Online and have to say it was a life changing experience. Awesome. I had been ‘producing’ for a while but was getting nowhere just experimenting by myself, watching countless YouTube tutorials and reading articles. I enrolled at Point Blank because I wanted some proper guidance and also the chance to send my projects to a professional to get some input. I felt I learned more about production in the 2 months I was on the course than in the 2 years I spent self-learning. Yes it costs a few quid but so does anything of value. If you’re looking to get results quickly then I would definitely recommend it and I’m sure as hell going back for more.

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