Music production can be easy if you are able to cut through the irrelevant information. There is very little that you need to start today, and most likely you already have the majority of it.
Once you begin making music, all of this extra information comes in handy. Below, I will tell you what equipment is necessary based on your goals. Then I will give you a framework to help you write your first song.
The discussion then turns to getting better, and how you do it. Plus the next set essential studio equipment that you may need to expand your musical repertoire. You can then decide whether you are serious about music production or if you will just do it as a side-hustle.
How to get started with music production
I don’t want to assume anything about you, so I will talk to you in this section as if nothing is known. This ensures everyone has the information they need.
Although companies will tell you all the advanced equipment that professional studios require (and they may even be willing to sell it), the truth is that you can only make music with two basic tools.
BARE MINIMUM TOOLS FOR PRODUCING MUSICAL
You can make rap beats, electronic music or pop songs with just a computer and a keyboard or a tablet. However, I wouldn’t recommend a tablet because you won’t be able to grow as much.
You will also need software that allows you to create music. These are called Digital Audio Workstations. Most people have heard of Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and Pro Tools. Garage Band is a free DAW that you can install on your Mac computer.
The bare minimum that you require is:
- Desktop Computer or Laptop
- Digital Audio Workstation Software
- Any Headphones and Speakers
That’s it. There are many free DAWs for Windows, and Garage Band is available for Macs. MIDI ( ) allows you to create professional songs by simply using the mouse on your piano roll. This is how most pop, rap and EDM songs are created.
The DAW software will include a lot of stock audio sound fonts and samples. You will find everything you need, even the samples and plugins. There are no roadblocks or hurdles in your path other than learning how the DAW works, which isn’t difficult.
TOOLS REQUIRED TO RECORD VOCALS AND INSTRUMENTS
You may want to record guitars, ukuleles, keyboards, etc. You might also want to add vocals to the mix. It’s likely that you are already ready for this.
Many laptops come with webcams that include a microphone. You can record whatever audio you like by simply setting the microphone of the webcam as the input source for the DAW. This will allow you to record demos or at most get started with practicing.
This will be discussed in more detail later. However, the next steps to get better quality from your recordings are an audio interface (or a microphone, or a cheap USB mic). These are not essential, but they can be helpful.
HOW TO MAKE MUSIC WITH DAW SOFTWARE
The biggest obstacle is getting a free DAW. If you are willing to spend a little bit at the beginning, I recommend FL Studio on Windows. Or the free Garage Band for Mac.
Avid released Pro Tools First, which is a limited but free version. It is easy enough to get started. You can only listen to 16 tracks, which is plenty if you are creative and not wasteful.
You can learn any of these and then upgrade later if you aren’t wasting your money. Professional DAWs, such as Pro Tools for Windows or Logic Pro for Mac, can be expensive. Logic Pro on MacOS showing the Multitrack (top) & Piano Roll (bottom)
You just need to figure out how to:
- You can create a MIDI using a piano roll or
- Make an audio track that can be recorded and edited.
- If you are recording, set the input source for your webcam
You can use a keyboard to play MIDI data if your computer has a MIDI cable. You’ll need to click the cable in with your mouse. It is extremely easy and sometimes faster to use your mouse.
You can create a song from two tracks as a singer-songwriter: one for your vocals and one to play your guitar. It’s important to be skeptical of anyone who claims it’s harder than this.
EXPERIMENT WITH YOUR FIRST SONG WRITTEN
It’s unlikely that you will ever be able to complete a song or create one that sounds good. That’s okay. It’s important to explore the software, test out plugins, and just learn your way around.
There is a learning curve with DAWs. You will discover more features over time but only as often as you use them. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed or bogged down. Keep it simple and use what you already know.
This could mean that you create a drum loop, then add a melody or bass line to it. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. You should have fun as a beginner, keep your enthusiasm high, and continue learning.
How to Make Music That Sound Good
Your job now is to improve. Now you know how easy it is to use the software and get your computer to playback and record music that you have created. It is the writing of songs that sound musical that is difficult.
It turns out that even the simple pop songs we all love aren’t so simple. Music theory is the most important difference between music that sounds simple and music that sounds great.
START TAKING MUSIC THEORY CLASSES
This truth is unavoidable. You can’t create basic song structures without understanding the basics of music theory. Start listening to music as an active participant and learn the techniques.
Learn about the musical keys and chords, and then learn how to extract melodies from the chords. After you have mastered that, add chord progressions to the mix. You can then experiment with chord inversions.
This is enough to get you to the top. It doesn’t mean you have to master jazz theory. There are many other techniques and methods that you can use to add complexity and maturity in your songs. Music theory is essential to the process of creating music.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ORCHESTRATION AND ARRANGEMENT
Next, you will need to learn about song arrangement. Orchestration is the art of combining instruments to form a band. Each instrument plays a role on the frequency spectrum, and they are selected to not clash sonically.
People who are at risk of clashing can play different roles such as lead guitar or rhythm guitar, or kick drum or bass. It is important to understand these roles, as it will help you with the next topic that you will study: arrangement.
The arrangement refers to the time each instrument in an orchestration is actually playing. It is important to know when to bring them in and drop them off. This can increase the excitement and vitality of your songs and boost the energy during parts such as the chorus.
LEARN BASIC MIXING AND MASTERING
You will also need to master mixing and mastering. Mastering is not necessary if you are aware of it, but mixing is essential if you want your final songs to sound good. Mixing can make or break a song so it is important to take this seriously.
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Mixing refers to the art of balancing volume levels, positioning in stereo fields (called panning), as well as the clarity of each instrument (called equalization). Mixing is not a difficult skill to master, but it does require some practice.
You can find more information in the category. Here are some articles that will help you get started.
- Audio Mixing for Dummies
- The Methods to Master Your Own Music
- What is the difference between mixing and mastering?
This is where the idea comes in. Take your final song and make it more listenable. With a little bit of study, you can easily make huge improvements to your music.
How to Make Music Like A Pro
You should now be able to use a DAW and understand basic music theory and mixing principles. It’s now time to move beyond the beginning stages of music production. This usually means that you do the same thing repeatedly for a long time.
You’ll improve each time you focus on your goals and work hard. Success is all about iteration. A monumental output is necessary, so you should be able to produce as many songs as possible. While you don’t need to share all of them, it is important to move from beginning to end in order to improve.
“Lock yourself into a room
For three summers, you can do five beats per day.
Cree Summers is a different world
“I deserve to do these number” – KanyeWest
You can’t view this as a game if you want to learn. It must be treated like a school subject, where you are learning and practicing with intention. You will need to learn more about music theory, mixing techniques, and so on. It’s all about learning new techniques and applying them.
THE FUNNEST WAYS OF LEARNING MUSIC PRODUCTION
It doesn’t need to be boring or difficult to put in the effort of practice and study. It’s actually fun to produce music. There are some things you can do to keep the creative process interesting and to create new ideas.
Remakes I suggest that you first and foremost try to recreate songs that you love. This means knowing the key, chord progressions and arrangement of the song and then attempting to recreate it as best you can. Acapella tracks are often available, but I recommend singing the lyrics.
Mixes– A fun way to make remixes from songs you love. You can also use an acapella to create a new tempo or time-stretch the song. It’s fun to take songs that you know and make them into something new.
Challenges– I love music production challenges. One example of this is when I challenged myself to create a children’s music EP using only FL Studio stock sounds. It had to be only in major keys and have to fall under the category of world music. The songs were amazing and I learned a lot.
Limiting your parameters in challenges will make you more creative, which can force you to think outside the box and expand your repertoire of techniques. It is necessary to learn new genres, which can have a lot of value to you.
HAVE MASSIVE OUTPUT & GET LOTS OF FEEDBACK
You can choose how you receive feedback. To get anonymous feedback, you can reach out to family members and friends. The key is to use all constructive feedback you receive and actually test it.
To get lots of feedback, you must have a lot to output. This means you should be able to crank out songs like a madman. As I mentioned, it is better to have as many songs written as possible than one masterpiece. Another reason is.
FIND YOUR PRODUCTION TYLE
Think of producers such as Major Lazer and Timbaland. They had to go through many albums and years before they found a style. Some professionals even reinvent themselves. It takes a lot of work to find your style and choose the right style.
Your sound fonts and sample names must be well-kept. It is essential to be able to break the rules and change the game. It’s almost possible to say Timbaland was responsible for the revival of 1980’s style. You can reuse decades and make them yours.
It is important to be recognizable to listeners and to also carve out your own niche. This will allow you to get better in tight zones and dominate the sound. You will then be the person people turn to when they need a particular beat. This is where you can make this a career. I have already talked about marketing and how to sell beats .
This is how to start producing music
That’s it. These are the steps to follow. This is the way to go, whether you are a beginner or an expert. If you want to improve and gain fans, it is important that you continue learning and practicing.
You will begin to improve your home studio. You will need to learn how you can set up a home studio and also to purchase more gear. Do not buy gear randomly. Wait until you actually need it and then do your research to find out which equipment is best. This is also true for sound fonts and plugins.
You can eventually start working with other artists. Producing tracks for other artists’ albums will be your first step. You’ll also work with other producers and learn from them. This will help you get started in your network and allow you to climb the ladder.
You can also consider other careers if you don’t want to be an independent artist or producer. But, what’s the fun in that? It doesn’t matter if you learn to produce music for a job. You do it because you want to be a rock star.