From The Very Beginning
We now live in a day and age where the ability to become a professional music producer is more accessible than ever. Achievable? Well… with accessibility comes competition. The key elements such as discipline, musicality,rhythm, ability to network including a good dose of time & patience will heavily rely on each individuals ability to persevere and stay determined when times get tough. There’s no waiting for inspiration, you must find it at all costs and it’s not something that comes naturally either, I believe knowing where to find inspiration is something that is learnt and becomes a healthy habit like anything else!
So where does one start? I guess I would say the essentials would be a computer, maybe even a second hand Macbook with at least 8-16gb of ram, (For speed when using your programs). I would also suggest a hard-drive with at least 500gb to 1TB of room, (For all the crappy beats that you need to make and leave on the hard-drive beat graveyard). I usually suggest a pair of headphones which can be any at this stage and a small affordable midi keyboard so you can rock it like Freddie Mercury at a Live Aid concert!
In terms of pricing you want to keep costs low because who knows? Is this just a fad or is it something that you can see a future with whilst rocking the stage with Skrillex? I think all producers start off making music as a hobby which for most, turns into a semi-unhealthy obsession and great loss of dollars (due to becoming a gear junkie). Your DAWS (Digital Audio Workstation) will probably stem between $100-$1400 and a midi keyboard between $70-$1500. My suggestion… Keep costs low! DAW I would start between $100-$300 and a midi keyboard I wouldn’t spend more than $70-$100. The keyboard is usually powered by USB and allows you to operate the software sounds or VST’S (Virtual Studio Technology) that allow you to operate the synthesiser sounds and so on in your DAW. It is literally just information passing from your keyboard to the computer saying, “When I press this button, operate the sound selected on my computer.” Without those two connected, there will be no music! Headphones, the ones you probably own are fine!
DAWS! There are many, many, many DAWS and we can argue for days which is the best one, if any? Yet, they all do the same thing. Give you a canvas to create your hits on! Some are better for live performance such as Ableton. Some are better for arranging and mixing like Logic X. Some are for dinosaurs like Pro-Tools and some of course are for millennials or hippies like Fruity Loops (probably their favourite cereal growing up) & Cubebase/Studio 1 etc etc… It’s really going to come down to what you can afford and I would highly suggest testing them out first if you can to see what you prefer. At the end of the day, you’ll probably end up using more than one anyway. I use Logic X & Maschine by Native Instruments, which is best for my workflow and style of making music. Logic X & Maschine are also clearly, the best DAWS.
The next question is what type of music do you want to create? Hip hop? Electronica? Rock N Roll? Enya? Blues? Billie Eilish? All this will be detrimental to your first steps as a producer because, the best way to learn initially, is to copy! Not copy and release it, but literally, copy their sounds, beats and mixing style. If you can recreate the wheel then great, but to be honest, do as the greats do! Or the Romans… or something like that. Figure out how they get their sounds. Sound selection is a biggy! What makes a song 70’s, 80’s or 90’s? What makes a song late 2000’s? Is it that trap hi hat? Is it that 80’s verbed out snare drum? Sometimes, you can mix and match like Bruno Mars and take a 80’s or 90’s sound mixed with 2019. These are all things I didn’t understand when I first started but hugely important!
Plugins! All DAWS have plugins that come with the program. When I first started in Logic, I literally opened up every single one of them, having no idea what they did, but just played around and experimented until I had some idea. Still to this day, some of my secret sounds and processing come from stock logic plugins from all those years experimenting!
The capabilities now of music production are endless. There are so many options available to creating sound and sourcing information that really, the only excuse for not creating as a music producer who is first starting out, is the overwhelming amount of options! Keep it simple and take baby steps. Like anything, it first will feel like a foreign language but after much repetition and experimentation, it will slowly start to come together. The most important thing is, keep it light, keep it fun and remember to do it because you love it, as having the ability to create music from nothing is some of the greatest and most satisfying joy, you’ll ever experience! Happy music making!