Develop An Effective Practice Routine
Since music production is a skill that needs to be learned, itâs in your best interest to practice regularly. This means opening up your DAW and spending a little bit of time each day creating something new. You donât need to write an entire song every day, but try to chip away on at least one project. Look up a YouTube tutorial on how to do something that you were struggling with the day before, and put what youâve learned into practice.
A good rule of thumb is to split your time into 20% research and 80% practice. By applying what youâve learned to your production process, it will stick with you and become part of your routine. People who are great at producing music have exceptional production habits. They’ve put in thousands of hours of practice and have refined their workflow, which allows them to work quickly and effectively.
Initially, you want to spend your time creating a high quantity of work. Donât bother getting caught up with perfection itâs a waste of time because you won’t have all the necessary skills to execute your ideas when you’re just starting out. Each time you finish a song, youâll have learned something new, and the next song you write will be a little bit better. Just make sure that youâre actively searching for the answer to problems that you run into while producing music.
To jump-start your music production journey, get started with the following video.
The Perfect First Studio For Newbies
With the following 9 items:
What you have is a simple working studio, perfect for anyone just starting out with home recording.
And heres why:
Now lets talk more about each item on the list
Mix And Master Your Music
Just like the audio recording, you will learn to mix and to master with time. Its not the one-time deal. You need to be focused for a long time to master the mixing and mastering.
Here are some of my articles that will help you to get started in mixing and mastering.
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Daw: Studio Recording Software
DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Its the main computer program you use to record, edit, mix and arrange your music.
If your home setup was a traditional recording studio, your DAW would be the tape machine.
But modern DAWs can do so much more than that. DAWs allow you to record and edit MIDI as well as audio.
MIDI is the language that digital instruments like synthesizers and drum machines use to communicate with each other. Its also how you input musical information to virtual instruments inside your DAW.
Choosing a DAW is a big decision, so we put together a guide to help you choose between the best options.
What Do You Need To Produce Music
OK, lets talk gear. Now, you could easily walk into a shop and spend tens of thousands of dollars without blinking, but I would not suggest this, to say the least.
For those of you who are just getting started, heres a shopping list of the bare essentials.
- A computer
- Music producing software, such as a digital audio workstation
- A MIDI keyboard
- Studio headphones
Yeah, thats it. Whats more important for aspiring music producers than purchasing gear is to master the gear at their disposal. Before you dive in, take a second to ask yourself a few questions.
- What is your budget for purchasing gear? Once you figure out how much money you can spend, youll have a better idea of what type of gear that youll need to master.
- What audio interface and DAW are you using? While its not a bad idea to know your way around multiple DAWs and audio interfaces, dont overwhelm yourself by trying to learn all of them at once. Start by learning the ins and outs of the tech that you know youll be using.
- What types of music do you want to produce? Your gear list will ultimately be dictated by the genres and styles of music that you think youll produce. A music producer who focuses on metal will have far different requirements than one whos learning how to start producing electronic music.
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What You Need To Know To Start Producing Music At Home
Start making music today!
In recent years, music production has become accessible to the masses. Anyone with a laptop, smartphone or tablet can technically start creating music wherever they are. In this article, I am going to go through everything you need to think of if you are interested in creating music from home.
You Must Start Studying Music Theory
There’s no way around this truth. Without understanding the basics of music theory, you can’t write chord progressions, melodies and bass lines, or even create a basic song structure. As you start learning techniques here, start listening as an active participant in music and try to listen for what you’re learning.
You should start at learning about how musical keys and chords work, then how to extract melodies and bass lines out of the chords you choose. Play around with that for a while then add chord progressions into the mix. From there you can start toying with chord inversions.
That’s enough to take you all the way to the top. You don’t have to get into jazz levels of theory or even beyond an intermediate understanding. Because there’s some other tricks and methods you’ll use that will add a sense of complexity and maturity to your songs. The process of learning how to start producing music cannot be separated from music theory.
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Choosing A Digital Audio Workstation
Your DAW is the software that you use for recording, editing, mixing, and producing music.
If you own a Mac computer, it already comes with a free DAW, Garageband. You can then upgrade to the full version called Logic Pro X, available on the Apple store for $199 which honestly, is one of the most complete DAW in the market widely used by music producers.
Choosing a DAW again depends on your needs and goals. With so many to choose from, allow me to shed some light:
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.
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I Reliability And Support
Choose a DAW that has good support and updates. It helps to go for DAWs that have many active users who discuss the DAW. This is valuable because anytime you bump into an issue, you can almost find the solution on a forum somewhere on the internet.
Key Discipline : Finish Fast And Finish Often
As Ira Glass so famously put it, the best way to refine your craft is to create a huge volume of work. Not to create the most perfect piece you can, but to create many pieces of work. Herbert Lui, Why Quantity Should be Your Priority
One trap that a lot of producers fall into in stage 2 is the perfection or masterpiece trap. They think that they must create amazing workthat they must focus on creating masterpieces.
Having a perfectionist attitude in stage 2 is not only an inhibition to learning and progression, it also destroys your self-esteem. Why? Because even if you were to set the perfect standard for your work and achieve it , youre progressing at such rapid speed that youll be disappointed in your masterpiece a few weeks later.
What you should focus on instead is finishing. Not just finishing, but finishing tracks as often as you can.
When I was in stage 2, Id finish tracks in one day. They didnt sound that great, but I learned something new with each project.
You have to focus on quantity during this stage, because if you do, quality will inevitably go up and youll learn much faster than you would otherwise.
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Learn About Music Theory
Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. It concerns itself with the methods and concepts composers use when creating music. Music theory is something that you can continue to learn throughout the entirety of your life, but thereâs some basic music theory thatâs going to help you write songs.
Most music that you hear on the radio is relatively simple from a music theory perspective, so unless youâre trying to create classical music or jazz within your DAW, you can get by with a relatively basic understanding of theory. This is excellent news because it doesnât actually take that long to learn basic music theory.
I recommend reading Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt it walks you through music theory from the ground up. This book made it into the list of â7 Essential Books Every Music Producer Must Read.â
Check out the following video to learn all the fundamental music theory you need to know as a music producer within 30 minutes.
Is It Possible To Teach Myself
Absolutely. People do it all the time, in fact, its how I learned. But make no mistake, self-taught is difficult and youre very likely to fail.
Despite plenty of tutorials floating around online, its still a lot of work to sift through it all and learn from various sources. Theres a lot of crap out there and its highly unlikely youll consistently find golden nuggets of content pertaining to exactly what youre trying to do in your music.
Self-taught is a huge challenge because you dont know what you dont know.
You have to figure it out on your own then learn on your own, too. Some can do it, but most cant. Its easy to fizzle out or give up because its such a steep feat. Producing can get tiresome, even frustrating when you dont know what to do next or cant take a song where you want to. The worst is when you cant figure out something that seems simple.
I really dont recommend learning by yourself unless you have tons of time on your hands, youre highly motivated to learn, and youre willing to be very confused about pretty much everything for a while.
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How To Start Making Music That Sounds Good
At this point, your job is simply to get better. You now know that using the software and actually getting your computer to record and/or playback music you created isn’t that hard. What is hard is writing songs that sound musical.
Turns out even those simple pop songs everyone makes fun of aren’t that simple. The first and foremost difference between your music and those that seem simple but still sound good is music theory.
Plugins: Use Audio Effects In Your Daw
Most DAWs come with a capable set of built-in plugins that are more than enough to create a professional sounding track.
But third-party plugins are how you expand your sonic palette and make your sound your own.
Maybe you want to assemble the perfect virtual instrument rig with your synth plugins.
Or maybe youre an effects junkie always on the hunt for a new reverb plugin.
Whatever your niche, plugins can be incredibly inspiring.
Theyre a huge part of what makes producing music so exciting.
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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.
Plugins And Sample Packs
What are VST plugins?
VST plugins are digital programs that can be used within a DAW to create or add effects to sounds. They can be split into two categories:
VST Instruments: These plugin generate audio and act as software-based instruments. They often emulate recognisable sounds of famous synthesizers and other instruments. Popular VST instruments include Serum, Massive, FM8, Sylenth 1 and Absynth.
VST effects: Instead of creating audio, these plugins process and add effects to existing audio or MIDI sequences. These effects include reverb, delay, filters and compressors.
Free plugins vs. Paid plugins
Most DAWs come with free VST instruments and effects . However, youll need to spend a bit of money to get the most powerful, professional plugins out there.
There are some very high quality FREE plugins online for beginner producers on a tight budget.
But in all honesty, if youre after something with an insane amount of versatility with hundreds if not thousands of modifiable preset sounds youll need to fork out a decent amount of cash.
What are sample packs?
Sample packs are downloadable content packs that can contain various sounds, VST presets, drum and instrumentation loops, percussive one shots, FX sounds and project template files.
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Sound Design: Build The Sound You Hear In Your Head
Sound design is how you create the tone and texture of the sounds in your music production.
Any method you use to arrive at the unique sound palette you use in your sessions can be considered sound design.
With such a broad definition it can be hard to know where to start. But sound design is one of the most crucial steps in music production.
The type of sounds you use in your music define the unique identity of your tracks.
One way to make sense of sound design is by starting with the workflow that inspires most and go from there.
Thats why we put together the essential sound design resource for all production styles.
How To Start Producing Edm
- Research different EDM artists. Its always a good idea to explore whats out there before forging ahead. Find what speaks to you.
- Consider what genre of electronic music you want to produce. You could pursue house, trap, ambient, dubstep, or create your own thing.
- Choose and learn a DAW. A Digital Audio Workstation is the software application youll use to produce, edit, and record your music. Berklee Online offers a robust music production curriculum, with DAW-specific courses available. Some of the most popular include Logic Pro, Cubase, Pro Tools, and Ableton Live.
- Start experimenting! Take the tools youve acquired and make things happen. Youll likely feel frustrated along the way, but embrace it and keep trying new sounds and arrangements until you get comfortable with the software and process.
This first stage is all about start soaking up knowledge, mastering skills, and seeing the progress. Once youve found your favorite DAW and are getting the hang of how things work, the EDM world is your oyster.
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