I've been working intensely with a bunch of artists over the last few months on productions, and my production skills have been pushed to the absolute max. Here's 7 ways I'm trying to take my skills to the next level:
1. Listen to great music. So many producers forget to constantly be listening to great music. Never stop growing.
2. Produce every day. Carve out at least a half hour every day to practice producing, and you'll grow like crazy.
3. Develop a rhythm. Try to leave your recording setup the same, and create productive habits when you record. No need to reinvent the wheel every time you sit down to produce.
4. Simplify. Three great instrumental lines are better than 30 okay instrumental lines.
5. Add silence. Again, always be taking away from your production to add sonic space.
6. Focus on the builds. The most important part of the songs are the builds into the choruses, and the first build (or hook) into the verse. Focus most of your time on those spots.
7. Sleep on it. Don't send a copy of the track until the morning, so you can review your work in the clear light of day. You only get to make a good first impression once.