Ableton Templates: How To Make Better Songs, Faster - Music Made Pro

· By Will Harken

Ableton Templates: How To Make Better Songs, Faster

Making music is hard. Especially if you're just getting started. But if you have the right tools, you can make great songs. Today, I'll show you how to use Ableton Live Template, one of the best tools to make your next song better and faster.

Templates can include everything from pre-made drum racks to fully arranged song structures, so you can get a head start on your creative process.

Here’s the layout of this article, if you wanna skip around:

 

The Benefits of Ableton Live Templates

If you're new to music production or just looking to speed up your workflow, using pre-made Ableton templates can be a lifesaver. For these reasons….

Almighty Zeus, using Ableton Live 11

Almighty Zeus, using Ableton like a chad

 

They Help Beginners Learn Music Production

By using a template that someone more experienced created, beginners can learn how different sounds and instruments work together. And how to structure a song.

It might be the types of chords, the settings on a multi-band compressor, or some texture layer you never noticed before. As you explore these project files, you will start to understand how to craft certain sounds… and even emotions.

Templates can help beginners learn quickly and provide a basis for experimentation, inspiration, and exploration. This is especially useful for folks who don’t have a lot of experience with music theory or have limited knowledge of music production.

 

Better Production + Songwriting for Beginners

A lot of music production is being able to “feel” when something isn’t right in a song. Beginners have not honed in on this skill.

So using Ableton Live templates can help beginners produce better-quality music. Templates often include high-quality sounds and samples that are pre-mixed and mastered to an expert level.

From a production standpoint, Ableton templates can help beginners feel more confident about their releases.

But pre-made Ableton project files can also help with songwriting too, in a pinch…

By exploring different templates and their structures, producers can improve the songwriting or arrangement from their original ideas. Including melody layers, chords, bass rhythm, etc.

Example: I used an Ableton template on my song Happy Go Lucky several years ago. Compare that to Denser Suns, one of the first songs I produced and released. One is not necessarily better than the other, but Happy Go Lucky sounds more "commercially viable" and was made in a fraction of the time. Which brings me to...

 

Faster Music Production for Beginners and Pros

One of the biggest hurdles in music production is getting started.

Both for pros and beginners.

It's easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the big picture. By starting the production process with a good foundation, you can avoid getting stuck in a rut and keep the project moving forward.

Templates allow anyone to save time and effort in searching for and processing sounds. 

You can focus on the creative aspects of the song rather than getting bogged down in technical details.

In addition, templates can be used to create consistency in a producer's workflow. By using a similar template for each project, producers can establish a routine and streamline their process. And save even more time.

This is even more important if you are producing for a living… like I do.

So Ableton templates are awesome. But not so fast! Let’s look at some of the DANGERS of using pre-made Ableton Live project files before you dive in head-first.

 

The Dangers Of Ableton Templates

Ableton Live templates can be a great starting point for experimentation. But there can be some downsides… as much as I love them.

The Ableton Live Monster

Ableton Live as a Monster, according to Midjourney

 

They Can Hinder Creativity

It can be tempting to rely on made templates to speed up the songwriting process. 

But you need to remember that starting with a template (even your own) can limit creativity and stifle originality.

For this reason, I generally recommend having your songwriting mostly finished before using a full Ableton template. This way, you will have more freedom and flexibility in the creative process.

Songwriting is all about melody, chords, and song form. This process requires experimenting with different ideas and elements to create a unique and cohesive piece of music. Like I mention in my article, "How We Made An AI Music Generator With Vocals," it's one of the few things AI hasn't nailed yet.

When you make a song from scratch, you can develop your abilities and explore different approaches to music production. This can lead to a unique sound that sets you apart!

NOTE: You can try importing instrument layers from a pre-made Ableton template to flesh out your songwriting ideas. I do that all the time. I just don’t recommend importing a full template with all layers and all song sections from the get-go.

 

Vocal Production Will Need Work

Using pre-made Ableton templates with vocal mixing presets can seem like a convenient option for many producers and songwriters.

But… the templates with vocal mixing are often created with a specific singer in mind. 

Every singer's voice is unique, and as a result, there is no "one size fits all" approach to vocal mixing.

The EQ and compression settings on these templates may be completely unsuitable for your voice. Vocal range, tone, and song style all play a role in determining what kind of EQ, compression, and FX settings would work best for your vocal mix. 

Even if the template is created by a professional mixer, it doesn't guarantee that it will work perfectly with your vocals.

SO… it's crucial to learn how to mix vocals yourself and use the pre-made templates only as a starting point for your mixing process.

 

Sometimes…They Just Aren’t That Good

I often find that many templates miss the mark in replicating the sound they intend to capture.

Many templates are recreations of popular songs… something like “Ableton Remake - The Weeknd - Blinding Lights.”

The goal of “remake” templates is to save producers time if they want to achieve a specific sound.

For example, one time I wanted to make a song that sounded similar to “Turbo Killer” from Carpenter Brut. And I found a free Ableton template that some saint on the internet created.

The template was extremely helpful. 

BUT… it needed a lot of work to really nail the sound from the original song.

If you listen closely between the two you can hear that the distorted bass sounds VERY different between the original and the recreated version. And there was a lot of distortion - and not in the good way.

The Original:

 

The Ableton Remake:

 

In sum, you will often need to make tweaks to nail the sound you want, so buckle up and get ready to ACTUALLY LEARN music production.

This is why I am not so worried about the “Midjourney of Music” or ChatGPT AI releases. They are good at making starting points. But good and meaningful art USUALLY takes human effort.

 

Finding Ableton Live Templates

Okay, so you know the benefits and dangers of using templates from the internet. Now let’s go on the internet and GET SOME.

 

How I Usually Start

The first step is to figure out what you want. What genre of music are you producing? What speed (BPM)? What instruments do you want to include in your tracks?

By answering questions like this and deciding what you need, it will make it easier for you to filter out everything else.

I generally start by GOOGLING one of the following:

      • <insert song name> ableton template
      • <insert genre> ableton
      • <insert instrument> ableton template

Many Ableton users share their own templates online, so it's worth Googling to see if any templates have been posted on forums and social media.

If I don’t find anything on Google, I check out some other go-tos…

 

Template Giveaways + Vendors

Keep in mind that free templates will GENERALLY not be as good of quality as the ones you pay for.

Imagine you’re a producer who sells templates to put food on the table. Are you going to spend more time on the free one, or the one that actually has a chance of making you money? The “premium” template will usually turn out better.

If you're just starting out, it may be best to look for free templates or cheaper ones until you get a feel for what you need. That being said, if you're serious about production and have the budget, investing in an Ableton template can save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

Just make sure to read specs and do your research before ordering to make sure it's what you need!

There are numerous other sources for free Ableton templates available online.

Some of the best sources for free Ableton templates include Whipped Cream Sounds [1], BVKER [2], Soundshock Audio [3], Abletunes [4], Basic Wavez [5], W.A. Production [6], Ableton Templates [7] and Ableton-Templates.com [8]. These websites offer templates for various genres, such as House, Tech House, Future House, Progressive House, and Chill. 

Many of the templates on these sites do cost money, though.

Reverb.com [9] also provides a variety of free Ableton resources, including racks, templates, and presets organized by genre, instrument, and effect.

SO, there are many options for Ableton templates available online. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced producer, these templates can help you create music faster and more efficiently.

 

Tips For Using Ableton Templates

Use Reference Tracks

Using reference tracks is, generally speaking, critical to create high-quality music. A reference track is a song that you listen to while you're working on your own music.

HINT: I often load my reference track (MP3 or WAV) into my DAW project.

Reference tracks help you to identify what sounds good and what doesn't, and it also gives you a reference point for the overall sound and style you're trying to achieve.

By comparing your track to a reference track, you can make adjustments to make sure your song meets the standards of the genre.

Using pre-made templates can also be very helpful for honing in on your own music production process.

Templates may not always be customized for your specific needs and may not provide the desired sound quality  you want. So using reference tracks AND pre-made templates together is more likely to get you a solid result.

 

Combine Templates + Add Your Own Flair

While it's important to have a solid foundation for your music productions, it's also important to experiment with different templates and creative approaches.

By trying out different templates and approaches, you can keep your ideas fresh.

For example: Maybe you use the drum instrumentation from one template and the synth lead from a template in a totally different genre.

Combining templates is one of the easiest ways to make sure you are creating new-ish professional sound.

But then you can take it a step further by adjusting the pre-made template components to reflect your own artistic vision. Example: Maybe the drums just aren’t slamming hard enough and you need more saturation.

While pre-made templates can be useful in getting started, relying solely on them can result in music that lacks originality and doesn't match your unique artistic vision.

NOTE: After you've finished a song, make sure to save your own Ableton template! This will have all your adjustments and creative choices baked in. This will save you time in the future, as you can use it as a starting point for your next song. Pro Tip: Name your template something memorable and funny, like "Hot Fuzz Beat" or "Sweet Baby Ray’s Cow Fight Groove."

Cool producer guy

 

How We Can Help

We want to make music creation easy and fun for you. So whichever route you go, Ableton Templates or not, that's my goal!

If you want help give my producers a try! We can help you make a song in any genre and feature any voice. As of Feb 2024 we have 100% 5-star reviews across platforms.

Because, let's face it, when it comes to making the next big hit, we could all use a little help. 🚀🎶🌟

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