Music Production: Everything You Need To Get Started
Music production is the process behind every track in your library.
It covers every phase in the creation of a song from writing to the final master.
But music production is a practice that can form the basis of your creative workflow as a musician.
Its never been easier or more accessible to start producing music.
But theres so much to learn that getting started with music production can feel intimidating.
In this article Ill go through everything you need to know to understand the basics of music production and get started as a music production.
What People Are Saying
Amazing! Move over Donald Passman. This is “All You Need To Know About The Music Business” brought into the real world with a toolkit that makes it all that theory possible. Great work.
Bruce HoughtonPresident, Skyline Music. Editor & Publisher, Hypebot and MusicThinkTank
You know Industry Rule #4080record company people are shady! So make sure you got the Music Business Toolbox!
Kyambo Hip Hop JoshuaFounder of Hip Hop Since 1978
Music Business Toolbox is a MUST HAVE for every independent artist in today’s new music business. It will save you hours of grief and thousands of dollars.
Ariel HyattFounder & CEO Cyber PR, author of multiple books for DIY musicians
The Music Business Toolbox is the most useful single resource available for todays independent artist. It guides your career, helps you learn from the mistakes of others, and provides interactive contract builders, agreements, and other useful documents and resources to make you more successful.
Tony van VeenCEO Disc Makers
Mentally Prepare Yourself For How Extremely Difficult This Business Is
Old-line media companies are struggling with evaporating revenues, but the tech side is just as brutal. This is an industry in extreme flux, and one that has seen a massive pie-shrink over the past 15 years. That means fewer jobs, less money for the people that have jobs, and typically less life stability compared to more established fields. It also means fewer successful startups, which translates into even lower job security and stability.
But that doesnt meant there arent jobs and opportunities. It also doesnt mean you shouldnt accept the challenge, simply that you should consider your risk appetite and ability to stomach extreme uncertainty.
Most importantly, you need to understand that you are entering an extremely challenging and unstable business or you may succumb too easily to setbacks. Because for every Jimmy Iovine and Daniel Ek, there are thousands and thousands of people struggling, unemployed, or unable to gain traction in this business. Try to plot your course to become the exception, not the rule.
Also Check: Why Is Apple Music Family Sharing Not Working
How To Approach Music Production
Before purchasing any gear, let’s talk about how to approach production.
Imagine you’re at an outdoor restaurant. and not too far away is a rock band performing one of their songs. You’re not close enough to hear the concise live sound, but you can make out most of the lyrics, the guitar melodies, and the drum beats. Now, imagine you go into the studio with that band and have to produce the song. Everything is up close, clear, precise, and needs to be properly put together. You know how the song goes already, but now you’re faced with the task of producing it.
So, where might you begin? Let’s start with the vocal. You have a dry recording of the main vocal, so depending on the mood of the song, you might put some reverb, delay, and compression on the track in order to round it out a bit and give it some atmospheric room to breathe.
Then there’s the guitar. How loud do you want it to be? How aggressive or soft do you want it to strike? You’re not writing the song, you’re producing it. Maybe you really like the drummer’s performance live, but feel like a drum machine will be better suited for the recorded version, so you might take some drum samples or MIDI drum kits and start putting together a beat.
Similarly, the bass player might have killer stage presence, but you might opt to use a synth bass for its different textures and electronic capabilities. Production is your way of deciding how the music sounds.
Now, let’s get into some gear.
Know The Game Has Changed
Decades ago, artists would sign with a specific record label and then they together would produce copies of an entire album that would then be sold in whatever form was popular at the time from 8-tracks to CDs. Today, you will for the most part sell individual songs or albums as digital downloads through platforms like Spotify. Therefore, this type of platform has taken the place of the brick-and-mortar store in terms of the how you get your music to your customers/fans. Just so you know, though, this doesnt mean your money making potential is lost. Sure, you might still benefit more from concert and merchandise revenue but you can still make a significant amount money thanks to the 70 million people who pay to use Spotify or the additional 140 million who subscribe to the platform according to Statista. Thats a lot of revenue potential. This nets to over eight billion dollars of yearly revenue from just that one platform and Apple music is right on its heels.
You May Like: How To Transfer Apple Music Playlist To Spotify
Listen To Your Parents Then Ignore Them
Most of the time, your parents are right. But they also came of age in a much different era, one that was frankly better for professionals. College was cheaper , and the economy was probably a lot stronger when they were coming of age . The net result is that this isnt your fathers economy, and its definitely not your fathers music industry. So take your parents perspective and criticisms with a grain of salt, and keep plugging away.
Keyboard And Pad Controllers
MIDI keyboard and pad controllers allow you to create freely without the constriction of your laptop and its minimal keyboard. They also can come equipped with mixing tools to help balance out your soundscapes. These are great creative tools that will push your experimentation into exciting musical territories.
Akai is one of the more popular brands that makes MIDI controllers. If youre a beginner, we recommend starting with the MPK Mini it gives you just enough room to write catchy synth and bass lines, as well as come up with organic rhythms for your samples and MIDI beats.
Read Also: Where To Advertise Your Music
Instrument Repairer And Tuner: $37k
Performers need to have perfectly tuned instruments that are in good condition in order to do their best work. So they frequently turn to specialists when an instrument is broken or sounds “off.” Musical instrument repairers and tuners often specialize in one type of instrument .
You need a good ear and extensive musical knowledge in order to succeed in this kind of career. But a background in the skilled trades can also help you prepare for the more detailed and mechanical parts of keeping an instrument in good condition. Many people start learning this trade through hands-on apprenticeships. It can take years of on-the-job experience to fully master the craft.
Plan Well & Perform Strategically
Some people just like to busk recreationally. It gives them a chance to get outside, practice their music, connect with people, and maybe earn a few tips. Theres nothing wrong with that.
But if you want to make more tips and play to more people, youll want to think strategically about when and where to play. Let me put it this way. You could play to a few dozen people every week, or you could be seen by thousands of people on a single weekend! Which is smarter from a career standpoint?
Smart buskers know they can make more tips on weekends, around special events and major concerts, festivals, and so on.
This isnt to say theyll let you busk at events or on festival grounds. But what about just outside these locations? There could be some opportunities there.
Naturally, there could be other buskers competing for spots in popular locations or during well-attended events. So, you may want to show up to your spot earlier rather than later to get a head start.
Planning well also includes observing guidelines and regulations, as we already talked about. Generally, it takes very little time to study up and ensure youre abiding by the law, so dont bypass this step.
Read Also: Can You Make Playlists On Apple Music
Keep Making Music And Improving Your Craft
It sounds obvious, but it can be quite challenging in todays music climate.
To combat the oversaturation of content and competitive climate for attention, speed has become a huge factor when it comes to making music. It may be challenging to balance the business and creative sides to produce quality music, but that has become the cost of entry.
Your success in the music industry ultimately starts with how good your music is. A good song can help jump start your career, but you need to keep pushing out music to build off that momentum.
Dont fall into the belief that talent alone can sustain you, as there are other more important factors, like work ethic and promotion. Talent matters to a point, but if it doesnt translate into good songs that gain exposure, then it wont take you far.
Promoting your music is arguably as important as making the music itself. Your priority is to make quality music, marketing it through various channels is second. The good news is that you can keep pushing your songs to new audiences, even if its an older release because its always going to be new to someone.
With that being said, dont get complacent. Keep refining your talents and skills. Whether its singing, rapping or producing, keep practicing and learning. Never stop developing as an artist!
A perfect example of an artist who has consistently put out music and dedicated himself to constantly getting better is Russ.
Want A Career In Music Learn About Music Industry Jobs Requirements And Salaries
- The music business requires an understanding of finance, macro- and microeconomics, and data analytics.
- Apps like TikTok and SoundCloud have changed the way listeners consume music and how businesses market artists and their work.
- Recording engineers and video/sound engineers are two of the highest-paid careers in the music industry.
- Music teachers can use their creative skills and music training to develop aspiring young minds. They can work in schools or for themselves.
Musicians are just one of the many moving parts that help the music industry run. This creative industry needs more than instruments and performers, so there are multiple paths you can take to be part of it.
If you’re looking for a career that allows you to surround yourself with music, some of the lesser-known avenues in the music industry can give you that and more, depending on your interests.
First of all, it is important to understand how this field has changed. Apps like TikTok, SoundCloud, Instagram and Spotify have changed the way music is consumed and, thanks to social media, the way it is shared and advertised as well.
Also Check: How To Make Slideshow With Music On Iphone
Get Out There In Person
Life cannot be conducted from behind a keyboard. Music industry success can have a whole lot to do with who you know, and the people who can help you aren’t going to come over and ring your doorbell. Get out there in person and get to know some people who can open some doors for you.
Don’t be afraid to take chances and don’t be afraid of getting shot down. There’s nothing wrong with hearing “no” in the music business – in fact, you’d better get used to it. The bottom line is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
And don’t think because you live in some place way off the music map that there isn’t anyone you can meet. Start small. Put in a call to the booker at the one club in town. Hit up the music reviewer at the local paper. You are not alone, I promise you. Big networking events can be awesome, but nothing wrong with conquering your home court first.
Experiment With Writing Your First Song
You probably won’t get a full song completed or even one that sounds great yet. But that’s exactly where you want to be. You should be exploring the software, testing out plugins and sounds, and simply learning your way around.
DAWs have a learning curve and more and more features get revealed to you over time, but typically only as you need them. So don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed. Start simple and work with what you know.
That might mean you create a drum loop and then add a melody and bass line to it that are incorrect as far as music theory goes. Who cares? As a beginner you should be having fun, stay excited, and keep learning.
Recommended Reading: Xbox One Music App
How Do You Get A Career In The Music Industry And How Does It Work
If your dream of success involves a microphone, recording studio and/or a stage with lights focused solely on you, youre likely want to know how to make it in the music industry. In the past decade or so, the way to achieve success in this exciting and diverse industry has evolved, meaning your formula for finding success within its ranks has evolved greatly from the methods used by the icons like Elvis Presley or The Beatles. So how does the music industry work and can you break into it? Below we rounded up some steps in how to achieve success in the music industry, and Musicians Institute will help you get there!
How to Make it Big in Todays Modern Music Industry
Coursera: Music Business Specialization
This in-depth collection of four courses, taught by professors from The Berklee College of Music, dives deep into everything you need to know about the music industry, starting with a basic overview of its history and how the record label structure was built. From there, youll learn crucial information about your rights as a creator, how to negotiate contracts and even how to start a crowdfunding campaign to kickstart your career.
What we like: unlike some generic online programs, where youre left to your own devices, Coursera students receive individual attention, including graded quizzes and feedback from the instructors. By the time you finish, youll have a solid plan in place for your career.
The course is open to both artists and managers, and no background or previous knowledge is necessary here just enroll and get online. The recommended length is about five months, if you devote two hours per week.
karrastock – stock.adobe.com
The best way to get access to Courseras music business programs online is through Coursera Plus, the platforms subscription service allows you to get unlimited access to more than 3,000 courses for a flat fee of $399 per year . Thats cheaper than paying for classes at a typical in-person university, and you can take the courses on your own schedule, at your own pace.
You May Like: How To Set Apple Music Song As Ringtone
How To Make Music With Daw Software
The only real hurdle is getting a free DAW. If you’re willing to pay for one at the beginning, then I recommend starting with FL Studio for ease of use on Windows or use the free Garage Band on Mac.
Turns out Avid put out Pro Tools First which is a free but limited version. It’s good enough to get started for sure. It limits you to 16 tracks which is way more than enough if you’re clever and not wasteful.
If you learn either of those, you’ll know how to use them all and can upgrade later once you know you’re committed and not wasting money .
All you need to do is figure out how to:
- Create a MIDI with a piano roll, or
- Create an audio track enabled to record, and
- Set the input source to your webcam if recording
If you can play the keyboard and have one you can even enter MIDI data if you get a MIDI-to-USB cable. Otherwise you’ll click it in with your mouse. It’s extremely simple and often faster to use the mouse.
As a singer-songwriter, you can create an entire song out of two tracks: one for vocals and one for your guitar track. You should be skeptical of anyone that tells you it’s more complicated than this.
Understand What A Copyright Is
Copyrighting is a process used to protect your works from theft. The United States Copyright Office offers a verified method that is used universally to acknowledge protected works.
However, in todays age, time stamps on computers or using your originating publisher information, as well as sending self addressed, date stamped copies through the mail to yourself, can all suffice as proof of ownership.
Contrary to popular belief, deliberate music copyright infringement is quite rare. It often mistakenly occurs as we all emulate what we have heard over our lifetimes.
Also, choosing to flagrantly rip off music does nothing to benefit your career in the face of your peers.
You May Like: How Add Music To Video Iphone
What Is The Music Industry
The music industry has been around for centuries. Bach worked for the Church, Mozart composed and performed for royalty, Beethoven and Liszt introduced the idea of concerts for the listening public, Jazz musicians of the last century played for ballroom dances, and of course, the invention of recording opened up new opportunities for musicians to earn a living.
More recently, the adoption of digital technology and the internet have revolutionized the music business. Throughout, musicians have always found a way to keep a roof over their heads and feed themselves and their families.
For the aspiring music careerist, our music industry of the 2020s may seem novel in many ways, but it helps to keep a longer-term perspective. Understanding where weve come from will help you to see where we could be headed, and researching your future role in the music industry is no different from researching other career paths.
Like any other profession, finding your niche in the music industry takes a strong commitment to long-term learning and self-improvement. There are no shortcuts.
We usually think of the music industry as the business of composing, producing, performing, and licensing or selling music. As you will see, the music industry is much more than that.