Have you ever wanted to produce your own music track but don’t know where to start? In this article I will write about the basics of getting started with electronic music production.
Nowadays, anyone with a smartphone can be a record producer. The second you hit record on any device and play an instrument or sing a sound, you are essentially a music producer. In order to get a more professional sound here is what I would recommend doing.
What you will need
Although you can produce quality tracks on a smartphone or iPad nowadays, I would recommend working with a Desktop PC, Mac, or laptop for music production. I would recommend buying a computer with a strong amount of processor speed, RAM, and hard disk space. I would recommend at least an Intel i5 processor and 8GB of ram to start. Speed of your computer is important if you want to use powerful applications and have a good experience while making your music.
Next you will need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). This is a piece of software that you will download or install from a disc. There are many DAWs available such as Ableton Live, Fruity Loops Studio, Cubase, Logic, and others. I would recommend Ableton Live because it’s what I use and I am familiar with, but many top producers use these other DAWs as well.
MIDI and Audio
Next, I would recommend acquiring some kind of MIDI keyboard. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This will be how you’ll enter your notes and sounds into your DAW. You may not be a keyboard player, and that’s okay. Even if you are not a great piano player, it helps to have a MIDI keyboard for entering simple melodies, bass lines, and other ideas which you may come up with. You can always increase your keyboard skills as you produce. You can also correct and change melodies that you enter into the software so they sound perfect. It just helps to have a keyboard to enter the notes. You do not necessarily need an expensive keyboard either.
Now, grab a pair of headphones or speakers and connect them to your computer and that’s basically all you need to start making music. You can also buy what are called “audio interfaces”. These are devices which connect to your computer and you can plug microphones, instruments and headphones into these machines. With these devices you can record vocals and instruments like electric guitars.
Tips to Help You Improve
Now I will give a list of tips and tricks that I have learned over the years to help you with your productions.
- Learn as much as you can about music theory. In the study of music theory you will learn about notes, scales, chords, chord progressions, rhythms, time signatures, and many other areas of music. This background knowledge is invaluable when you start to compose music of your own. Ideas can flow better when you have a strong theoretical background in music.
- Master the shortcuts of your DAW. Every DAW will have various shortcuts that you can use on your keyboard to do certain things within the software. Maybe it’s saving the track you’re working on or copying and pasting one part of a track to another. Just like in a word processor. Knowing these shortcuts can really speed up your workflow. Try to take time at the beginning of learning new software to master the shortcuts. It will pay off in the end with the time you save in making your productions.
- Compare your track with professional tracks. Once you get close to completing your track, open up tracks by professional artists and compare your mix to theirs. Professional tracks by top selling artists are sometimes mixed for months before they are released to the public. Engineers will often compare the track they are working on to one of these professional tracks and it is known as a “reference track”.
- Listen to other people’s music. This is not to copy other people’s music, but to get an idea of the overall sound or vibe of the genre you are looking to produce in. When DJs go to play tracks in live situations, they look for tracks which sound remotely similar to the other tracks they are going to play that night. If your tracks sounds completely different than any other track out there it might not get played. This point mainly only applies if you are a producer who wants other DJs to play your tracks. If you want to be a completely original electronic artist then just ignore this point. Some artists are creating brand new genres by ignoring the current conventions and that’s a good thing too. It’s all up to you.
- Never give up on making music. Never give up on making your music. I have been doing this for over 20 years. There are times I’ve made money and others I haven’t. Don’t make music for money. If you can make money with your music then that’s great. It can allow you to do more of your art. Just don’t give up on music if you don’t make money at it. There is a whole universe of joy to be found in the art of music. It has no limit. So do not give up. Create the sounds you want to make. That’s all that matters.
Electronic music production is a vast and dynamic field that is not easy to thoroughly explain in just one article. This is basic overview of the kinds of processes which producers use to create music tracks in 2020. I hope this can be a starting point for you in your music production journey. If you have any questions about music production please let me know in the comments section and we can all discuss it together.
Thank you for reading this blog and have a great day.
©2020 Richard Gillespie