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how to turn ideas into a song

How To Turn An Idea Into A Song – EDM Workflow

Here’s what I do:

I make lots of BEATS (aka Drops) in one session each and then when one of them REALLY calls for it I’ll have another session at a later date where I add all the extra stuff like original vocals, custom instrumental performances, breakdowns and buildups to turn it into a full length song.

As a DJ you don’t really want EVERY track to have these huge long breakdowns and buildups. It gets annoying for the dance floor to stand around waiting all the time and even when you release a full song to the wild MOST of the time DJs are just gonna play that first drop and then mix out at the breakdown so they don’t lose the dancers. I like to keep this in mind when I’m working so I write LOADS of different ‘beats’ (if I’m making hiphop) or ‘drops’ (if I’m making EDM genres) and then expand them later.

Here’s how it usually ends up working:


Try using this arrangement and learn to finish it all in one go. You can ALWAYS add more later.

1. Intro
2. Buildup
3. Drop
4. More Drop
5. Outro

This should land you around 2:00 or 2:30 in length depending on the BPM and it forces you to stick to what MATTERS in that first magic session. Not every song needs a middle!

When you know you’ve got a hypothetical ‘middle’ to stick all your bullshit ideas in you end up ‘middling around’. Middling around ™ is when you fill your session with ideas that are kinda ok-ish and “could maybe go in the middle somewhere” but then you never actually get to the important stuff. Fuck THAT! You don’t need that shit.

Try sticking to variations of the arrangement above while you figure out if your idea is any good. That simple, direct arrangement will force you to prioritize the most important questions first:

1. What is the MAIN IDEA?
2. How are you going to DELIVER the main idea?

Everything else comes later.

If you make loads of these Beats (or Drops) you’ll always have lots of ammo for your live sets and then the CROWD will let you know which ones are amazing and which ones are just sort of there…


This is a LOT easier when you have an idea that you already know works. Maybe you rocked a party with it, or maybe your friends keep saying ‘Yo! THAT is the ONE!’. Once you have singled out the beat to expand upon it’s real easy to add a breakdown, more buildups, find a vocalist, add a BPM change or whatever the hell else you wanna do. Usually you’ll end up keeping what works and then essentially REMIXING yourself to make a new second drop or breakdown or whatever.

You’ll want to avoid ruining what worked about the first session so it’s often a good idea to MAKE STEMS between the first session and the second. Then you’ll have the stems to go back to if you like, and you’ll have a much easier time remixing the stems into new sections. You’ll also have lots of processor resources for the second session if you’re working from stems and if you REALLY want to you can go back to the first session and get the midi parts again.

Most of the time you won’t need to go back, but make a new save for the second session so you have that save point as a reference anyway because it’ll set your mind at ease enough that you can hit the GAS and finish that shit up.

Hope that helps.


PS: No middling around! Also if you want to speed up your music workflow sign up for The Workflow Workshop to learn about Timer Beats.

If you learned anything useful please consider checking out my renegade music coaching community and record label over at

Lots of love

Dylan aka ill.Gates

Get all of my albums, a slew of singles, remixes, and DJ mixes for FREE! –

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EDM Artist and Music Producer ill.Gates on ProducerDJ

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