Why get into Music Production?
There is nothing quite like the feeling of discovering something completely new. It’s why we are driven to explore the oceans, travel to the moon and search out new and exciting experiences. It’s also the same feeling you get sat behind your computer at 4am in the morning thinking “I really should go to bed, I have to be up in 3 hours for work”... But you don’t, you stay there, knowing you’re going to have a horrible day the next day but despite that unpleasant thought, you’ve got a big grin plastered across your face, because... You’re flying; you’re in the zone. That’s the feeling you get from making music, when you're creating something that no one has ever heard before. When you’re in the zone it’s like you're part of the discovery itself, you’re totally at one with the creative process.
"It’s an addictive feeling that’s hard not to seek out once you’ve had a taste".
The great thing is, that can even happen right at the beginning of your music production journey. You don’t need to be an expert to create something that sounds cool and that no one has ever heard before. A few pointers in the right direction can make all the difference between a thoroughly frustrating and jerky learning experience to a fun and enlightening one where you actually start to get results straight away.
When we (Jay & I) started making music we took the frustrating and jerky learning route! Not out of choice, we just didn’t have access to these kind of learning recourses. Which is why we have made this guide that teaches only the essential knowledge and strategies that you need to get started making music, step by step, in the quickest, most efficient and engaging way possible.
What Equipment do I Need?
"Any computer (laptop, PC or MAC) made in the last 8 years should be perfectly capable of getting you started".
1) A Computer
Any computer (laptop, desktop, PC or MAC) made in the last 8 years should be perfectly capable of getting you started. If it is fairly underpowered this might not affect you at the very beginning, but it may mean that you get to the boundaries of your computers processing power quicker, as you start to experiment with more and more plug ins and the complexity of your arrangements increase.
2) Headphones or Speakers
For people just starting out you can get away with using pretty much any headphones (in ear or otherwise) or speakers (referred to as 'Monitors' in the industry). Almost any of these will do the job to get you started. Using a laptop's built in speaker is a big no no; they just don't have the definition and frequency range needed to make music. After a while of using basic equipment you may well want to upgrade, but that's for another time. The most important thing is to make a start, and enjoy the process; never let yourself get bogged down by what gear you think you 'might' need, when your time could be much better spent actually making some AWESOME tunes!!
3) Music Making Software
The common title for music making software is a ‘DAW’ (Digital Audio Workstation) which is used to record, write, edit and mix your music and there are quite a few to choose from these days. The most important thing is not to get too hung up on this stage, sure, do a bit of research but don’t go too overboard. Any well known DAW on the market will enable you to make good quality music so the only real question is.. Which one you like the look of most and which one has features that you think will be helpful to the direction you’re thinking of going.
There are four or five main DAW’s that are at the top of their game, though of course there are many others. but probably the top four are Cubase, Logic, Ableton & Pro-Tools. Followed closely by Reaper, Studio One and FL Studio. (We'll be writing a guide to the top 10 DAW's for you very soon)
Is that it? Well yes... For the most part.
If your goal is literally to just produce music on your computer, which is what 85% of people do, then you're good to go. My advice to people just starting out is: Spend a bit of time learning and getting used to the DAW and the music making process before you start thinking about getting extra equipment. Of course, some of you may be getting into music production purely to record your voice or your instrument of choice, which is totally fine, but if you want to record your voice or an instrument then you will need some way of getting it into your computer.
Some instruments like guitars may have a DI ('Direct Input') that you can plug directly into your computer and record straight into your DAW. If the instrument does not have an output (like some acoustic guitars), then you may need a microphone to get the signal into your computer. This is a bit more involved as you'll need to pick a microphone and quite possibly a Sound Card that enables you to plug a microphone into your computer. A quick cheat would be to start off with a USB microphone as they do not require a sound card and are super easy to set up. USB microphones won't match the quality that you will get out of a professional level microphone, but they will get you close and you can still get professional sounding results out of them if you do it right. Depending on the quality of the microphone of course :)
Where to go from here?
So, you've got your computer setup, DAW installed and you're ready to rock... LET'S DO THIS!
So, you can generally expect 'Stage One' on your music making journey to last between 1-4 months (depending on how much time you can devote to it). Mostly this stage consists of discovering and becoming familiar with the tools of your trade whilst you grasp the fundamentals of music production. The key here is to get started quickly and with some guidance. DAW’s can be a bit daunting at first glance and you could be forgiven for not making any sense out of it the first couple of times you open it up and are unable to get any sounds out of it; Let alone produce a whole track.
This is where some experienced guidance comes in handy, and I can’t stress enough how important this is to giving you a smooth start to your music production journey. We have created beginners course for anyone who wants to get started quickly in Cubase, Ableton, Logic and FL Studio. In these tutorials we start making music straight away and you’ll learn relevant and highly practical uses of the software as you start to develop your own music production style and make a track for the first time. It’s great fun and you can start right now. They are cheap, especially for beginners, and the first few videos of each are free so you can check them out first. (NOTE: the tutorial may not be in a genre you want to produce, but the 'genre' is only a mechanism for you to get your production legs firmly under you so you can then make whatever genre of music you want).
"We want to help you get there as quickly and as effectively as possible, every step of the way. That is our goal!".
Of course, there are a tonne of free videos out there on Youtube as well, and totally fair enough if you want to check them out first, 'there are some really good ones in amongst the chaff'. But for the small price of supporting us, our start to finish guides offer a concise, fun and productive experience to get the music production juices flowing and give you the knowledge and skills you need to make your own tracks. No waft, no boring and non-relevant explanations, and certainly no stories about how my dog ate my microphone this morning, or tales about how massive my beard is.
If you would like a quick start guide for a DAW not shown below, please use the CONTACT FORM to let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen.
For more FREE music production tutorials subscribe to our Youtube channel HERE
For more advanced music production tutorials on everything from getting a perfect low end mix, remixing, vocal production, music theory for producers and loads more go HERE
If you are interested in using Garage Band, this site has pretty much all you need to get started and some good info about music making software
If this article was in any way helpful to you or you think it could be helpful to someone you know, we'd really appreciate it if you could use the buttons below to share it on your social media feeds. It really helps us out and it spreads the love for music production and great music that we all share :)
All the best - the Born To Produce Team