The 19 Most Overused Music Production Clichés Ever Recorded

music production cliches

A reader recently showed me a thread on the Gearslutz forums(*cringe*) on popular and clichéd music production techniques.

These technique have been used so often that they’re almost laughable.

So I took some of them to share with you and made up some of my own along with some great input from Jon Tidey on Twitter.

Have you done any of these? I know I’ve been guilty of at least a few.

Top 18 Music Production Clichés

  1. An intro with a filtered or distorted section before it “opens up” into the verse.
  2. Distant electric guitar soloing in the background.
  3. Reverse cymbal leading into the chorus.
  4. Metal vocalists that “whisper-scream”
  5. Modulated drums, chorused or flanged to change the feel of a certain section.
  6. A breakdown chorus instead of the breakdown after the bridge which then turns into the final double chorus.
  7. A megaphone effect on the vocals.
  8. A modulated drum loop on top of an actual drum track.
  9. Dubstep breakdowns
  10. Doubling acoustic guitars with a mandolin.
  11. Not doing a cliché technique because it sounds cliché. It’s sort of like not liking a band because they’re too famous. It’s still a good technique, even if it’s cliché.
  12. Leaving in the count-off or the band yelling after the song because it sounds more live-y.
  13. Using Melodyne in rap vocals. Ugh.
  14. Handclaps instead of the snare.
  15. A reversed, reverbed phrase leading into the verse or chorus.
  16. Using samples from movies or weird poems in metal breakdowns.
  17. Side-chained, gated reverb 80’s snare drum sound.
  18. A whole tone change up in the final chorus(I know this as the Eurovision chorus enhancement)
  19. and finally, white guys clapping on 1 & 3


If you want solid, non-cheesy, easy to understand music production techniques, check out my music production bundle, Recording & Mixing Strategies.

Here’s what a recent reader, Jean-Baptiste Collinet had to say:

I’m loving it! It’s crazy how close I got to an ORTF dual-mic setup in many cases! You’re also tackling the issues of angling! It’s an amazing book! The interviews are fantastic! Slau’s one is for me, damnit. I’m gonna mic up my good ol’ piano properly!

Grab a cliché free copy here:

Image by: Tom Newby Photography