How to Produce Music: A Beginner’s Guide

Music Production Equipment
The character of the manufacturer has been evolving for years and years. It used to be the person who booked the studio sessions, hired the musicians, and controlled the direction of the recordings. today, that function remains for some, but we besides look at producers as “ the people who make the beats. ”
Atlanta producer Metro Boomin is merely one exercise of a rising headliner in the mod world of production. He ‘s grow several number-one records, and he gets full-blown media features precisely like the vocalists he makes beats for. We even have producers like Deadmau5 and Skrillex who are playing arenas .
so while the traditional producer function is however alive, it ‘s evolving, and musicians are getting more and more adept at learning how to produce their own music.

now that the role of a manufacturer is changing so promptly, many musicians have been taking production into their own hands. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before diving in, such as, “Do I want full creative control and responsibility? Do I have the time and dedication to master the art of producing?”
[Should You Produce Your Own Beats?]
indeed, if you ‘ve decided this is truly something you want to do, there are a few tools you ‘ll need. obviously a laptop or calculator is necessity, but beyond that, there are countless programs and tools to get your music sounding sharp and modern .
We ‘ve laid out a few options to help you get going on producing your own music, and while they ‘re not the only ways to begin, we trust you ‘ll have a effective grok on the basics of production after reading the follow list .

How to approach music production

Before purchasing any gear, let ‘s talk about how to approach product .
Imagine you ‘re at an outdoor restaurant. and not excessively far away is a rock band performing one of their songs. You ‘re not close enough to hear the concise hot sound, but you can make out most of the lyrics, the guitar melodies, and the drum beats. nowadays, think you go into the studio with that band and have to produce the song. Everything is up close, clear, precise, and needs to be properly put together. You know how the song goes already, but nowadays you ‘re faced with the undertaking of producing it .
sol, where might you begin ? Let ‘s start with the vocal. You have a dry record of the independent vocal music, therefore depending on the mood of the song, you might put some reverb, delay, and compaction on the track in order to round it out a bit and give it some atmospheric room to breathe .
[Studio Primer: What All the Common Production Effects Actually Do]
then there ‘s the guitar. How loud do you want it to be ? How aggressive or piano do you want it to strike ? You ‘re not writing the song, you ‘re producing it. possibly you truly like the drummer ‘s performance live, but feel like a drum machine will be well suited for the read translation, so you might take some drum samples or MIDI drum kits and start putting together a beat .
similarly, the bass musician might have killer stage presence, but you might opt to use a synth bass for its different textures and electronic capabilities. Production is your way of deciding how the music sounds.
Again, before purchasing any gear, ask yourself what you like to hear in a producer. Take Nigel Godrich, for model. He ‘s been Radiohead ‘s producer for years. But at one point, the songs we love, like “ Karma Police ” and “ 15 step, ” were fair demos or acoustic guitar sketches. The set put in concert an agreement, but Godrich gave depth to the vocals, electronic manipulation to the drums, layering to the guitars, and so much more .
When you listen to your favored music, imagine having all of the parts laid out without any effects, then compare that to what you ‘re hearing. That ‘s the character of the producer – figure out what you like to hear in production so you know where to begin.
nowadays, let ‘s get into some gear .

The tools you need

Digital audio workstation (DAW)

To begin, every music producer needs a DAW. What precisely is a DAW ? In inadequate, it’s a computer software application for editing, recording, and producing audio. There are besides electronic devices and hardware separate from a calculator that can be used .
If you just have a smartphone, there are batch of resourceful apps to help you produce your music. however, we ’ rhenium going to focus on calculator software for immediately .
If you ’ ve dabbled in production or hang around any producers, you ’ ve credibly hear of a few popular DAWs, such as Ableton Live, Logic, FL Studio, or Pro Tools. Each provides a unique set of tools for producing. Since these are the most park, we ’ ll compare them for you, but there are however several other DAWs you might want to consider on your own research .

  • Price: $800 to $1,400
  • Most ideal DAW for live performance
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows
  • Used by Skrillex, Deadmau5, Flume


  • Price: $199
  • Great DAW for artists familiar with GarageBand
  • Only compatible with Mac
  • Used by Calvin Harris, Disclosure, Jamie xx

FL Studio

  • Price: $99
  • Popular among DIY artists for its affordable price
  • Windows is favored, but Mac compatibility is possible
  • Used by Boi-1da, Soulja Boy, Hit-Boy

Pro Tools

  • Price: $599 (not including the cost of updates)
  • A powerhouse DAW for professional studios
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows
  • Used by Pharrell, Max Martin, Rick Rubin

[Which DAW Should You Choose?]

Keyboard and pad controllers

MIDI keyboard and pad controllers allow you to create freely without the constriction of your laptop and its minimal keyboard. They besides can come equipped with shuffle tools to help balance out your soundscapes. These are great creative tools that will push your experimentation into exciting musical territories.
Akai is one of the more popular brands that makes MIDI controllers. If you ’ re a novice, we recommend starting with the MPK Mini – it gives you precisely enough room to write attention-getting synth and bass lines, ampere well as come up with organic rhythm for your samples and MIDI beats .


A plugin can enhance or add audio-related functionality such as strait synthesis or digital signal process. now, before we get besides deep into the importance of downloading external plugins, we besides have to place prize on some of the bang-up native effects that come with the DAWs we mentioned earlier. Whether you’re looking for reverb, delay, compression, or EQ, most DAWs come with their own version of each effect (plus much more).
however, companies like iZotope speciate in creating thrilling plugins to edit your audio. Having a strong arsenal of plugins is like having a big pedalboard for guitarists : more effects equal more experiment – bare as that ! But besides, anchor effects like compression or EQ can be hyper-specialized with a knock-down plugin, frankincense giving you the premium tools to make your music production sound master .
Learn more:

How to get started with your production tools

so you ’ ve merely purchased your first DAW, you ’ re sitting at your workspace with a cup of chocolate, ready to create, and you may be wondering, “ Where the sin do I start ? ” Fear not – there are literally thousands of tutorials on YouTube to help you get started with getting to know your DAW of choice. In addition, programs like Ableton have online forums and communities where you can seek advice from other users and Ableton staff. indeed be curious and ask questions .
[How to Get Better at Producing Your Own Music]
But most importantly, before you begin, think about what you want to be producing. Is it killer, bass-heavy rap beats ? Is it Diplo-inspired EDM ? Or is it something softer and more ambient, like Brian Eno ? One of the great things about electronic production is that the boundaries of genre are erased – you can create anything ! But with such boundless electric potential, it helps to start with a goal .
Let ’ s say, for example, you want to make rap beats. Listen carefully to what goes in a hip-hop beatnik. A few ingredients will normally be piano, 808s, thin hi-hats, and electronic trap drums. From there, open your DAW, load up a MIDI piano, use your MIDI keyboard to write a melody, however elementary it may be on the surface .
then, open a drum rack and get a simple 1-and-2-and-3-and-4 rhythm going with your 808s on the 1 and your snare on the 2. You can use a sample pad to control the drums with your hands indeed that the rhythm method of birth control has a more constituent spirit .
then, lay out hi-hats in one-eighth notes. use plugins like reverb on the snare, delay on the hi-hats, and EQ on the 808 in order to tame the sub-bass .
There is your basic begin to a rap beat. You can play with your drum patterns and effects, and basically go wild ! But it helps to start with something childlike and recognizable, and from there, your production will flourish and grow .

production in the twenty-first hundred is boundless because of the abundance of creative engineering and user-friendly programs. While we will never get tired of piano, guitar, violin, or other non-electronic instruments, we can embrace a modern soundscape where traditional drums can coexist with digital drums, or human vocals can blend with vocoders, or grand pianos can play aboard electronic synths .
And though the boundless potential of product can be intimidating when you ‘re first starting out, do n’t be afraid to just play around. even if you do n’t understand a certain plugin or MIDI instrumental role, do n’t feel like you need to sit through an hour-long tutorial before experimenting. Play around and find out what you like as a manufacturer .

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Sam Friedman is an electronic music manufacturer and singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, NY. His music blends experimental atmosphere with indie-driven dance music. In addition to pursuing his own music, he is a New Music Editor for Unrecorded and is passionate about music journalism. Check out his music and follow him on Twitter @ nerveleak .
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