The 10 best YouTube channels for music producers
Given the number of new producers, musicians and DJs who’ve turned their interest into a hobby in lockdown, we thought it was a good time to spotlight 10 of the best YouTube channels for learning how to make music
YouTube production tutorials are a wild west. Thousands of channels with tens of thousands of videos, ranging wildly in quality, opinion, style and delivery. While YouTube’s algorithms often lead you in the right direction, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can end up in a rabbit hole of bro-step Serum tutorials (which might be what you’re looking for), while the more nuanced and wide-ranging channels could pass you by.
Given the number of new producers, musicians and DJs who’ve turned their interest into a hobby in lockdown, we thought it was a good time to spotlight 10 of the best YouTube channels for learning how to make music. Below are invaluable resources for learning and inspiration, be it sound design, mixing, production, composition, gear reviews, live performances, beat making, track breakdowns and much more. Shout out to a few others we couldn’t fit in like Exquisite Beats, ADSR, Sonic State and Red Means Recording.
One of YouTube’s best know music production personalities, Andrew’s videos are wide ranging. From challenges like four producers making a track from the same sample to exploring music composition, and synth concepts in easy to understand ways to making music with dolphin samples, a beat out of Donald Trump’s sniffs and reviews of weird, unorthodox gear, it’s more of a source of inspiration and knowledge than a straight-up tutorial channel. A must-sub for musicians, producers and songwriters.
Heavy on the MPC, Accurate Beats is all about beat-making on either hardware controllers or standalone units like Maschine, MPC Live, MPC One and old school samplers. There’s also reviews of Arturia and Roland kit, new kit tests, challenges like sampling from vinyl, and production tips like beefing up drums. Great if you’re looking to jump on the groovebox/all-in-one bandwagon that’s been gathering steam in recent years, or if you’re keen to give your beats a more authentic feel.
One of the longest-running and most-respected electronic music schools, Point Blank’s YouTube is full of hundreds of videos covering sound design, music production, composition techniques, music theory, kit and software reviews, artist masterclasses, live broadcasts and mixing techniques. Guest artists include DVS1, Flava D, Todd Edwards, Richie Hawtin, MK, the late Mike Huckaby and Claude Von Stroke. It’s one of the best resources for every skill level, genre and DAW — if you’re not sure where to start, their deconstructions are excellent, where they break down the compositions, sound design and structure of famous tracks. Dive in.
As the name suggests, this channel is very tongue-in-cheek, but behind the lols there is endlessly useful information around sound design, composition, mixing and producing. It’s all delivered in a trademark dry and sarcastic fashion by host Underbelly, who makes some complicated topics fun and engaging by not taking himself too seriously. His recent video on lo-fi hip hop chords has amassed well over 600k views, and his clip on using foley to bring basic drum sounds to life is super useful while also being ultra-accessible. It’s a great antidote to some of the more serious and complex tutorials, while delivering the same detail in a low-key, laidback tone.
Jay Cactus’s YouTube channel is packed full of FL Studio, drill beat making, rap production and track breakdowns. His recent uploads are as varied as Making a Japanese Influenced UK Rap Beat, and Pop Smoke Type Melodies for Beginners, to How to Make Better Melodies in FL Studio and the Ultimate Drill Mixing Tutorial. Despite being only 11 months old, his channel has already amassed almost 30k subscribers. His videos are super fast-paced without being overwhelming and he explains composition and production aspects in a clear and concise way, without overcomplicating things. A must-subscribe for drill and UK rap fans, and any FL users.
Long-time Ableton collaborator, musician, vocalist, producer and live performer, Rachel K Collier is one of the UK’s most engaging music tech personalities and artists in her own right. Her channel is full of challenges — she took part in Andrew Huang’s Four Producers One Sample — live performances, tutorials, industry advice and more. She is an expert looper, using her voice to build up huge canvasses of sound using Ableton, as well as incorporating extra kit-like synths and drum machines. In 2020, she filmed some remote, outdoor performances on battery-powered kit as well as starting her own Ableton Live course and taking part in Ableton’s Live 11 promo video. Her presenting ability make it all super accessible, while dropping tonnes of knowledge and tips for Live users and those with one eye on the stage when everything opens up again.
Hobo’s approach is pretty simple — create tracks in the style of a genre or an artist as quickly as possible, cramming in as many memes as possible along the way. Between the quick-fire videos, there’s lots of insight into how certain artists produce and certain styles are made with Bicep, Stephan Bodzin, Peggy Gou and Charlotte De Witte all getting the Hobo treatment. It’s not as in-depth as other channels with only six or seven minutes per video, but they do tend to get the sound pretty accurate, and it’s designed more as a creative spark than a full-on track breakdown. They’re also responsible for the viral ‘DJs Without Music’ videos, so you know they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Their genre videos are also fun, with the drum & bass style guide using parcel tap and a wine glass for some creative sound design.
Grammy-Award winning mix engineer Dave Pensado’s list of clients includes Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Ludacris and many, many more. His channel and website — Pensado’s Place — is very much aimed at engineers rather than producers or musicians, but is a treasure trove of advice, tips, techniques and tutorials for more traditional mixing. Their recent guests have included Drake’s engineer Noah ‘40’ Shebib, Kenny Beats, Che Pope, prolific rap engineer Alex Tumay, artist Anderson Paak and Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator Finneas. Alongside the high-profile guests, Dave’s ‘Into the Lair’ series sees him tackle some common mix issues like 808 punch, taming transients, tuning drum samples and creating depth. Recommended for those who feel they’re ready for more in-depth and industry-led advice and tutorials.
Renowned for his in-depth synth and equipment reviews, Loopop is a must for anyone interested in moving into hardware-based setup, be it the super affordable and portable mini drum machine to the ultra-expensive analogue polysynth. Loopop breaks down every aspect of the latest music-making kit, using chapters to make it easy to skip through to where you’re most interested — before you buy a new piece of kit, make sure you to check Loopop’s review of it. He does a great job of referencing similar equipment rather than just listing the features, meaning it’s helpful if you can’t decide between two similarly-priced options. There’s also explainer videos on connections and fixing hum and other studio issues. It’s definitely weighted towards more drum machines, sequencers and modular kit, but is a great insight into the latest gear, even if you’re just window shopping.
Finally, our very own YouTube channel is full of tips and techniques for both producers and DJs. Last year we launched our How I series, which includes How I DJ, How I Made and How I Play Live, each one giving a behind the scenes look at how DJs, producers and performers execute their art. In How I Made, we invited Ikonika, Third Son, Dexplicit and MKThePlug to our studios at DJ Mag HQ, to break down their creative process in their DAW of choice. How I DJ is a deep dive into the technical side of DJing, be it from three-deck mixing, looping, rekordbox prep and more. In the first series Eats Everything, Jamz Supernova, Monki and Conducta all get behind the decks. How I Play Live explores the technical setups of electronic music performers such as Orbital, DJ Boring, Rex the Dog, Rodriguez Jr and more. We've also been streaming DJ sets since 2012 and with almost 2,000 videos, we've covered a wide range of styles, genres, locations and DJs, from hundreds of events around the world. Subscribe to the channel here and check out MKThePlug's How I Made below.
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