Everyone at a certain point of their career is asking himself this question: How to get better? Well, the answer for that is really simple and it depends on your skill level so I will try to be as general as possible.
Study Popular Songs.
It came as a surprise to me that many people are not doing it while I think that is one of the most important things in order to get better. So which songs are usually the best to learn? The answer is pretty simple, the POP SONGS.You can simply go to Spotify Global Top 50 and start studying all of them one by one.The reason of why you should learn pop music is because that music is made by professionals and people who know best what is working and what is not.The pop music is made to be catchy study their melody, chord progression, arrangement and how it's mixed & mastered. So enough with the theory
So enough with the theory behind it let me show you how would I approach this.
Firstly I would get a mp3 of that song and then I will import it into my DAW. After that, I would set the matching tempo and figure out the key ( You can simply search in google for the key or my preferred method is to write the name of the song and add piano on the end in youtube. Same goes for the bpm as well you can google it. ).After you got the chord progression write it down (preferably in roman numerals). One of the most used chord progression in POP is I - V- vi - IV progression.Here I found an interesting thread on reddit about progressions.Then I will try to study the arrangement of the song (verse, chorus, build up, drop, breakdown, etc).While doing that you may as well study the sounds in it plus the mixing (example: Hats are little to the left and toms are little to the right).Keep in mind that the tiny things are doing the "magic".
Learn through stems.
I recently found out that the stems of the songs are a great resource for learning. So you first you have to find some remix competitions I will list some links here.
These websites are hosting numerous of contests, simply enter the contest and download the stems.
After you download the stems import them into your DAW and start deconstructing the sounds, I will give you a few tips on how you should study it.
Look at the layers, in almost every professional song there will be a couple of layers of the same sound and every layer will sound weird on its own but on the whole arrangement you will notice that it will sound great with the other layers.You can already see that you should layer your sounds.
One great tip for layering the sounds is to layer it with organic sounds (example: let's say that you have that brass from serum try to layer it with a real brass sound I can guarantee you that it will sound more powerful and better. It's the same for any other sounds including the drums).
Don't skip that part just yet! I know that you are already doing that and I also know that most of the tutorials are shit in youtube.There are plenty of bullshit tutorials where the guy doesn't even know what is he doing and just turning a random knob saying "yea turn that to 11'o clock". So I decided to make a playlist of GOOD tutorials where you can actually learn something.
(I am updating them really frequent!!)
Explore and Experiment!
Explore and experiment with other genres, let's say that you are doing only Trap Music why don't you experiment doing House or a Neurofunk or even mix some genres.The possibilities are endless and you will always learn something new in the process.Explore music! There are plenty of channels on youtube (ex. MrSuicideSheep, Majestic Casual, TheSoundYouNeed and so on..).
We will have a playlist which will be updated Weekly and it will contain a list of interesting tracks.
Separate your Production project and your Mixing & Mastering one.
A lot of people are mixing & mastering within the same project, firstly there is nothing wrong with that even I am doing it like that sometimes but I found out that when you divide them your mixing & mastering will get a lot better! Because of that separating of your track, you can focus a lot better on the production side or your mixing and mastering.
Learn an instrument!
I've ignored that too long before I realize how essential is it! I know how it looks and you could think that it's pointless and too late for you but trust me it's really not.Learning how to play piano (at least a little bit) and reading notes has opened so many possibilities for me which I didn't know that they were existing.