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How to Start Producing Music

Nowadays, with the advent of technology, everyone can become a music producer and make music without ever leaving their homes. All you need is a computer and a pair of headphones. In addition to that, you can easily monetize your music and start earning a living doing what you love.

However, many beginners don’t know where to start and oftentimes feel confused with the giant amount of information we have in our hands.

That’s why today, we bring you an extensive guide on how to produce music. In this article, we will cover all the equipment and tools you will need to get started, as well as present you a list of important things to study and learn in your music production journey.

Tip: If you would like to speed up your learning process, we recommend you take a lot at the Udemy Music Production Courses. The website offers a lot of great options for any size of budget.

Summary

  1. What is The Role of a Music Producer?
  2. What Equipment do I Need to Get Started?
  3. How to Produce Music Step by Step – Learning Guide
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Role of a Music Producer?

A music producer may have different roles inside a musical project. Most of the time, he is responsible for taking the musical idea an artist has in mind and turning it into reality in the best way possible while suggesting improvements.

With that being said, the music producer needs to have the proper set of skills in order to deliver the best result. To start off, the professional needs to master a DAW (digital audio workstation), the kind of software used for producing music. We’re going to get into more details below.

What Equipment Do I Need to Get Started?

Computer or Laptop

The computer is the heart of any modern studio. Nowadays, owning a big tape machine to record your songs is no longer a requirement since we can have everything we need built-in into our daily machines in our home studio.

Any modern computer or laptop will be able to run music production software and help you record an entire song just fine, especially if you’re in the beginner stages of music production. However, if you don’t have a powerful machine yet, you may face some problems when you start getting into larger projects.

We recommend a computer or laptop with a powerful processor and at least 8GB of RAM. Here are some of our recommendations:

Apple Macbook Air 13

Apple Macbook Air 13

Specifications

  • Apple 8-Core M1 Processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD Storage

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

Specifications

  • Intel Core i7 Processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD Storage

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Specifications

  • Intel Core i5 Processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256 GB Flash SSD Storage

Studio Monitors or Headphones

To be able to monitor your projects clearly, you will need a high-quality pair of studio monitors or headphones. Both options are very good for music production, however, we do recommend if you’re a beginner that you go with the headphones since studio monitors will require sound treatment and soundproofing which can quickly add to the costs.

Here are some great options of studio monitors and headphones that we suggest for beginners who want to start producing music and building their home studio:

AKG K240

AKG K240

Sennheiser HD200

Sennheiser HD200

M-Audio BX5 D3

M-Audio BX5 D3

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a music production software in which you can record, edit and produce your own music. There are a lot of different DAWs in the market. Ultimately, your choice for the best one for your use case should be based on experience, so we recommend that you do go and try out all the options.

Most DAWs offer great bundles and come packed with lots of great stuff and tools to aid on your music production journey. All of the DAWs will include, for example, stock plugins such as instruments and effects which will save you money later down the road since you don’t have to buy them third-party.

Some of the best digital audio workstations for music production are:

  1. Logic Pro
  2. FL Studio
  3. Ableton Live
  4. Pro Tools

Plugins

Plugins are complementary software that will run inside your digital audio workstation and add a variety of features. They can be instrument plugins such as synthesizers and drum machines, or effect plugins such as compressors, chorus, and reverbs.

Like said before, most DAWs come packed with a variety of stock plugins, but you will probably want to grow your collection once you start diving more into the music production world. There are also many great free options: we recommend this website for free audio plugins.

Some of the best audio plugin companies in the market nowadays are:

  1. Waves
  2. Native Instruments
  3. FabFilter
  4. Softube
  5. iZotope

Audio Interface

If you want to record vocal tracks and instruments into your DAW, you’re going to need an audio interface. These interfaces are devices that feature different numbers of inputs and outputs for you to plug in microphones, guitars, basses, etc.

Audio interfaces will work just fine with any DAW, but for beginners, we recommend that you go for an interface with at least two inputs. That will give you more freedom and versatility down the line.

Check out our Best Audio Interface article to learn more about audio interfaces and find out great product choices.

Optional: MIDI Keyboard

A MIDI keyboard is not a must but it is a great extra especially if you play or want to learn keyboard and musical theory, or if you’re an electronic music producer. Most MIDI keyboards come in 25, 49, and 61 key options, and the best choice will depend on your workflow.

If you’re just looking to record quick musical ideas and one-hand melodies and bass lines on a tight budget, a smaller keyboard will do, but if you want maximum versatility we recommend going with at least 49 keys since you’ll have four octaves.

Here are three of our best suggestions for MIDI keyboards for music production:

Nektar SE25 25-Key MIDI Keyboard

Nektar SE25 25-Key MIDI Keyboard

Alesis V49 49-Key MIDI Keyboard

Alesis V49 49-Key MIDI Keyboard

M-Audio Keystation 61-Key MIDI Keyboard

M-Audio Keystation 61-Key MIDI Keyboard

61-Key MIDI Keyboard

How to Produce Music Step by Step – Learning Guide

Now that we’ve covered all the equipment and tools you will need to get started producing music, we present you with a guide on everything you need to learn to become a great music producer and how to approach music production.

Learn Basic Music Theory

Learning basic music theory is essential for music producers. You don’t need to become an expert in the field, however, it is expected that a music professional has a basic understanding of concepts such as chord progressions, musical scales, and melody structuring.

Many producers often underestimate music theory, however, we recommend that you start learning it from the get-go since the earlier you familiarize yourself with these concepts, the better.

Here are some great videos about music theory that will help you get started:

Learn Song Structure

Song structure deserves its own category since it is so important in the production process. Make sure you understand how song structure and arrangement works and how exactly a track goes from point A to point B. You should also listen to a lot of different music to understand it in practical terms.

Here are some useful videos on the subject:

Study the Elements of a Song

Songs are made of a multitude of different elements such as drums, bass, guitars, and synths. You should learn exactly how each instrument contributes to the bigger picture and the best way to do that is simple: listening to a lot of music.

Apart from listening to different songs from different genres to find your production style, try breaking down each track harmonically, melodically, and structural-wise.

Here is a great video from Make Pop Music where Austin Hull gets in detail on how to actively listen to a song and create a song analysis out of it:

THE #1 WAY TO BE A BETTER PRODUCER & SONGWRITER (Active Listening) | Make Pop Music

Learn to Play an Instrument

It is expected that a producer knows his/her way around at least one or two instruments nowadays since it can save a lot of time in sessions. Plus, it is a great way to improve your skill-list and keep your mind sharp, so we recommend that you always try learning new instruments.

If you don’t already play any, a great one to start with is the keyboard. It is one of the most widely used instruments in the music industry nowadays and knowing your way around it will also help with music theory and recording music faster.

Learn Sound Design

Sound design is the art of manipulating instruments such as synthesizers to create new and exciting sounds for you to create music with. It is expected from a producer to understand the basics of sound synthesis and how a synthesizer works.

Here are some great videos about sound design for you to get started:

Learn About Mixing and Mastering

Mixing music and mastering are usually done by audio engineers, but nowadays it is between the most essential skills a producer needs to have. These are crucial steps in the music creation process that will polish your tracks and make them ready for the public.

Having someone else to mix and master your songs may be costly, especially if you’re a beginner producer, so we recommend learning these skills from the get-go to be able to do it yourself.

Here are some great videos to get started on the subject of mixing and mastering:

Network with Other Producers and Artists

Being a producer, nowadays, is not only about producing music anymore. You need to learn how to network with producers and other artists and put your face out there to achieve your goals and get the attention of record labels.

Social media platforms such as Instagram and websites such as YouTube are great places to start. Producers and artists are always looking for collabs and other people to work with so don’t be afraid to hit them up.

Learn About Social Media Marketing

In this always-connected world we live in today, social media marketing is an essential skill for any music producer and artist. Without a solid understanding of how to market your songs and your services, you may not be able to reach the right people.

To start off, you must have a professional profile on the main social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter and a content plan. Your content plan may include making-off videos, vlogs, and even tutorials. Be sure to get creative with it.

The subject may seem complex at first, but it is easy to get a grasp on. Here are some videos that focus on music marketing to help you get started:

Put Your Music Out There

Many beginner producers are often afraid to put their music out there due to the fear of not being good enough. Music production is an art form and perfection is a concept that doesn’t exist in art. The important thing is to always try to improve our skills and do better than we did yesterday.

Some great places to upload your music to are platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and BeatStars. With the latter one, BeatStars, you can easily monetize your productions by selling them to singers and rappers looking for beats.

Listen to a Lot of Music

Last but not least, you should listen to a lot of music to find different sounds and new ideas to incorporate into your productions, as well as learn from established artists. Make sure that you don’t be stuck on only one genre though, it is always great to step out of our comfort zone.

How Can I Earn Money as a Music Producer?

One of the main goals for any music producer is to be able to monetize their art and earn a living by doing what they love. Nowadays, it is totally possible with all the different opportunities and paths that the internet offers us. Here is a list of ways that producers can earn money:

Offer Music Production Services

The most obvious way is, of course, offering your services as a music producer. Many artists and bands are looking for a professional to improve their songs and guide them through the process.  Plus, the one-to-one production service market is not as crowded as other branches such as beat selling, for example, so it is worth exploring.

To find potential clients you will need a solid portfolio and a great marketing plan. We recommend you improve your skills and produce some songs for artists free of charge in the beginning. Once you feel ready, there are platforms such as SoundBetter that will help you find people to work with.

Sell Beats

Selling beats is one of the most profitable and easy ways to monetize your music nowadays. Many singers and rappers are looking for beats to sing/rhyme on due to it being cheaper than hiring a producer.

However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when hopping into the beat selling business. The first is that it is a very crowded market and you need to find ways to stand out, so a solid marketing plan is a must.

The second most important point is consistency. You should try putting out at the very least one beat per week, so make sure that you’re comfortable with it and always plan ahead when putting your instrumentals out there.

The most widely used platforms for selling beats online are BeatStars and AirBit. Both are really great and you can start selling your beats for free right away. Also, don’t forget to upload them to YouTube, where you will later be capable of monetizing it even more.

Create Sample Packs and Presets

Music producers are always looking for new sounds to incorporate into their productions, such as a drum loop, a chord progression, etc. So selling sample packs and presets is a profitable way to earn money. If you’re going that route, we suggest you learn a lot about sound design.

You can also use the BeatStars platform to sell sample packs and drum kits so it is a great way to get started. We recommend, however, that you set up your own website as soon as possible to have more freedom and possibilities regarding prices and website customization.

Sell Stock Music

Many content creators are looking for music to use on their videos on YouTube, on the television and even on the radio. Producing stock music is slightly different from making music in the traditional way, so there’s a bit of a learning curve. However, it is very profitable.

Some great platforms to sell your stock music online are AudioJungle and Pond5. Selling your material on these websites is great because they can give you a lot of exposure. Here are some useful videos to help you get started with royalty-free music licensing:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Produce My Own Music?

Of course. If you’re an artist, singer songwriter or band looking to have more freedom through the process, learning about music production will be a valuable skill. Many artists produce their own music nowadays, especially those in the electronic music and pop industry.

What do you Need to Produce Music at Home?

All you will need to get started is a computer or laptop, a pair of headphones and a DAW software. Most people already have the tools to produce music right away. Of course, overtime, you will want to invest into some things such as better monitoring, an audio interface and MIDI keyboards; But if you’re a beginner, you can start with what you already have.

What is the Best Digital Audio Workstation?

The best option of digital audio workstation for each producer will vary based on your production style and workflow. Most household names in the DAW market nowadays are very good and will give you great results. We suggest you try out the trial versions of them. Here are some of the best music production software:

Logic Pro
FL Studio
Ableton Live
Pro Tools

Are There Any Free Digital Audio Workstations?

There are some free, limited options for famous workstations such as the Pro Tools FIRST and Ableton Live Lite (bundled with some audio products). These versions are ok to get started if you’re a beginner but we recommend that you make it a priority to invest on the full-version of your DAW of choice as soon as possible.

Do I Need Third Party Plugins to Produce Music?

All digital audio workstations nowadays come bundled with a selection of stock plugins such as instruments and effects, so these will help you get started. However, you will probably want to invest in third party plugins in the future. In this case we recommend well-known companies such as Waves and Native Instruments.

It is also worth noting that there are a lot of great free plugins out there on the internet. The Plugins4Free website is a great platform to find them. Also, make sure to look at the famous plugin companies’ websites since most of them offer some freebies.

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve covered all of the equipment and tools you need to start producing music, as well as presented you with a guide to help you learn music production. We recommend that you use these steps as a plan and always look to learn new stuff from YouTube tutorials, songs and other producers, as well as from your own experience.

Also, keep in mind that you should use the most out of the equipment you already have. Don’t feel the pressure to buy new stuff as often times they are not really 100% necessary when we’re starting out.

It is important to remember that making music is an art form and you should exercise your creativity to find your own style and workflow. There is no right or wrong when it comes to producing music and experimenting is the real fun. Good music is relative.We hope this article was useful for you. Do you have any tips or questions regarding music production? If so, feel free to comment or contact us!