Music production

11 Best Music Production Books You Must Read in 2020

Being good at music production requires huge experience, but also technical knowledge. Here we look at eleven books that can help you dive into the theory and improve your understanding of production as a whole.

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Post invited by Alexandre Lavoie of Landr

It takes a lot of knowledge and know-how to get better at music production, studying some music production books can help.

Practice is always the best way to improve, but sometimes it’s important to sit down and immerse yourself in theory.

If you’re not sure where to get a solid foundation in music production knowledge, there are plenty of great minds in the production world worth looking into.

Whether you want to know the technical aspects of registration, To master, or mixing, or the philosophy behind making great music here is our list of music production books you need to read this year.

This book takes the #1 spot because it was recommended to me by Al Isler, our lead sound engineer (be sure to check out his YouTube series).

In Mixing With Impact, Wessel Oltheten explores many practicalities of mixing but combines his expert knowledge with useful and artistic advice.

Mixing is as much an art as it is a science, and Oltheten offers a balanced and useful perspective on this subject.

Mixing is as much an art as it is a science, and Oltheten offers a balanced and useful perspective on this subject.

For a complete overview of mixing, see Bobby Owsinski’s Mixing Engineer’s Handbook.

This manual is part of a series of three books on music production that cover recording, mixing and mastering.

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook contains a step-by-step guide to modern mixing best practices while incorporating proven techniques.

Owsinksi covers all the essentials by breaking down the mixing process into understandable lessons.

You will learn everything you need to know about different mixing styles, arrangement rules, mix construction, EQ, reverb, layering and much more!

The most comprehensive text that covers absolutely everything you need to know about mixing and mastering.

This is the textbook where many sound engineers begin by getting a formal education.

This is the textbook where many sound engineers begin by getting a formal education.

Although it can be a bit dense at times, you can find just about every mixing and mastering detail imaginable in this book.

While not explicitly about music production, this New York Times bestseller is essential reading for any musician, music producer, or entertainer.

In How Music Works, music legend David Byrne examines in detail what it takes to make music work.

Byrne walks through her unique insights into how context, location, dance, set design, technology and more play a role in creating great music.

The second installment in Bobby Owsinki’s trio of music production books is The Recording Engineer’s Handbook.

Just like its counterparts, this text focuses on miking techniques for recording any musical instrument with a particular look at drum miking.

Owsinski also discusses the art of studio recording and gives his tips for getting the best performance from a singer and his secrets to getting the best sound without expensive equipment.

Rick Rubin: In the Studio follows the legendary music producer around the studio to uncover his process and trade secrets.

Author Jake Brown provides insight into Rubin’s early life and his long and successful career working with many of the world’s biggest artists.

If you want to get inside Rick Rubin’s head and begin to understand where his unique recording philosophy comes from, this novel is a great place to start.

If you want to get inside Rick Rubin’s head and begin to understand where his unique recording philosophy comes from, this novel is a great place to start.

In Behind the Glass, Howard Massey sits down for interviews with a collection of top sound engineers and music producers.

Massey skillfully encourages guests such as Brian Wilson, George Martin, Phil Ramone and others to open up about their recording process, techniques and philosophy.

This deep dive into the head of one of the world’s best is a great read for any music producer looking to deepen their knowledge of music production.

Bobby Owsinksi’s third and final book on this list is Mastering Engineer’s Handbook.

Much like Owsinski’s mixing and recording manuals, this text focuses specifically on the ins and outs of mastering a track.

While it is now possible to get grandmasters with automated AI software, learning the practice of mastering is always useful for music producers.

With the Mastering Engineer’s Handbook, you get all the knowledge and know-how to create great-sounding masters yourself.

Temples of Sound sounds famous music studios past eras.

From the hallowed halls of Sun Records to the state-of-the-art facilities in the Capitol Records building, William Clark and Jim Cogan tell the story of 15 distinct production studios.

Get a never-before-seen look at some of the most legendary studios in music history with exclusive footage and in-depth interviews.

Okay, it’s not really a book per se, but it’s a useful resource to have around the studio if you or the people you work with are struggling to find creativity.

Oblique Strategies is a set of 208 cards designed by Brian Eno to help artists create boxes and boundaries to spark creativity.

Oblique Strategies is a set of 208 cards designed by Brian Eno to help artists create boxes and boundaries to spark creativity.

Each card contains phrases that ask the artist to take specific actions, consider key thoughts, or use specific boundaries in their creative process.

The card game is a great tool for settling disputes between band members or breaking deadlocks in the studio and has been used by bands like MGMT, Coldplay and others.

Robert Jourdain explores in depth why music sounds so good to human ears and how different sounds trigger such a variety of responses.

This is a great book if you’ve ever wondered about the physiological reasons why a moaning oboe can make someone cry, or why a specific song can make you feel amazing.

In understandable language, Jourdain delves into the neurological and physiological science behind what gives us our unique human appreciation of music.

Read, save and return to your art

Improving your knowledge is a great way to improve yourself in music production.

Improving your knowledge is a great way to improve yourself in music production.

But remember, your knowledge is only good once you start put it into practice.

Always keep learning but don’t get too bogged down in theory.

Keep your creative workflow open and don’t let anything get in the way of creating cool tunes!

Alexandre Lavoie works as a marketing strategist at LANDR by day and by moonlight as a drummer for folk-rock band The Painters.


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