How to Produce Music: A Beginner’s Guide
Making and producing music is something which can take a long time to master. Thankfully, music production has never been easier to get into. Plenty of superstar DJs have started out in their own bedrooms with little other than a record player, cheap PC suite, and basic DJ Software. While it can take years to become a big name in the business, getting creative with music is something you can pick up in minutes.
In this quick guide, we’ll be looking at how to make music from the very beginning. That is, if you want to make music, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing.
This is something all music makers do before they get started. Who inspires you to make music, or to be creative? What are some of your favourite genres? Are there any particular artists, DJs or albums which really speak to you? Throw yourself into your love for music, and start analysing it. Think about the beats which appeal to you, the instruments, the styles.
If you don’t already know how to play an instrument, you really don’t need to worry. However, being able to knock a few tunes or beats out to play around with songs in your head is a really good way to start getting creative. On the road to learning how to make electronic music, for example, you could play out a melody or two on a keyboard, before learning how to harness that as part of a wider production piece.
Find Yourself Some Software
If you want to learn how to produce music, you’re going to need some software to back you up. It’s important you purchase and download a professional DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation.
A DAW will, essentially, let you record, tweak, enhance and mix any audio you like. There are many different DAWs out there, from popular paid suites such as FL Studio, Ableton and Pro Tools, though free audio editors such as the fantastic Audacity will always come in handy, too. Apple’s GarageBand software is a leading name, too, particularly as their iOS version has come on leaps and bounds over the years.
A good DAW will introduce you into the world of music production one step at a time. Try to download a free trial, to begin with, to see how you get on. Follow tutorials, watch videos, immerse yourself in the craft. It might seem daunting at first, but it’s really worth throwing yourself into it, especially if you’re serious.
Think About Building Music
Music production is all about putting together the building blocks of a song. There are some tunes out there which are super-complex, layering vocals, multiple beats, duelling basslines and more. Others, however, keep it simple. Some of the most popular club tunes out there keep it to a melody and a beat. Think about some of the biggest old school club classics from the 90s and 00s – the biggest bangers are really straightforward in composition.
But what makes them such big tunes is how they’re put together. Think about each instrument in a song as part of a bigger puzzle. You’re going to need to carefully slot them together so that they can play off one another. Think about tempo and volume. Think about whether or not you want vocals to lead, or if you want your bassline to thump ahead of everything else.
Fine-tuning music is all about listening for opportunities. Listen for areas in your song which require a steady beat. Do you really need vocals in the middle eight? Avoid being repetitive if you can – while many people will claim some dance and electronic music to be very repetitive, they might not be listening out for the effects which sweep in along the way.
Be prepared to take apart and to chop and change your tracks. Be ruthless!
Find Some Music
Yes, it’s time to actually put music into your DAW. You can either record your own, or you can cut up a few of your favourite tunes into samples. Use software like Audacity to import songs and to slice them up. Transfer them into your DAW, tweak them, and play around with effects. The best way to really dive into using music in this way is to listen to a song part and think about how you could improve it for your own enjoyment. Could an old song from the 80s use a bigger beat? What about slowing down the vocals on a 90s pop standard? The choice is yours.
Of course, if you want to learn how to make music for a professional career, be ready to pay license fees or royalties for samples. You can grab sample banks and resources from plenty of great repositories online, many for free providing you give credit. Otherwise, use service like FL Studio or GarageBand to pay for loops on a one-time basis, again, giving credit if you go public with a mix.
Be very careful if you remix songs which are already copyrighted. If you aim to make money from these types of remix, you are going to need to seek permission. In many cases, you’ll need to promise a cut of royalties to original artists and songwriters. To begin with, it’s worth sticking to your own samples and cuts.
What Are You Waiting For?
We really do live in a day and age where learning how to make beats is very easy to get into. Sample libraries and DAWs are more accessible than ever before. Advance your production learning by purchase music controllers and digital instruments. Take a look at video tutorials and see what other artists are doing.
Above all, just get out there and explore. You can make music for free – and once you’re ready to move up and ahead in your game, it’s a very affordable hobby to build on. Who knows – you might just get good enough to cast aside the day job for good.