How To Become a Music Producer – A beginner’s guide in 2019
A complete guide for everyone, with quick steps and simple tips on how to become a music producer in 2019. It is never too late…
It is essential to know what does it take to become a music producer. How hard it is, and how long does it take to start composing music. What education is needed or where to begin with. How to become a music producer for record labels and how much it will cost you. We hope to answer these and all the questions beginner music producers may have.
To analyze this colossal topic deeply, we need more than just a couple of posts, articles, or tutorials. With a little help from my colleague DJs, producers, radio producers, and our personal experience in those years, I gathered all the valuable and vital information you need to become a music producer.
I guide I wish I had when I was starting. I’m sure it will save you months or even years of researching, studying and money spending on unfortunate equipment. Besides, in this guide for beginners, on our website, you will also find relevant subjects, digital tips, news, music production tutorials, and free sound libraries.
There is no right path or specific skills required that will make you a great music producer. However, production is an extremely competitive field, so you will have to make a difference and stand out from the rest.
In this article, I have separated into five areas to better understand the process and steps from the beginning until your first track release.
How To Become Music Producer
- GETTING STARTED
- HOME RECORDING STUDIO EQUIPMENT
- STUDYING MUSIC PRODUCTION
- MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
- MUSIC DISTRIBUTION
Step 2 and 3 you can do it the other way around. Some may want to learn while producing, while others prefer to study first and then purchase the studio equipment required to make electronic or any other kind of music.
1. GETTING STARTED
I remember the first time I played one of my productions in front of a live audience. The track wasn’t ready at all. Without a proper mixing and mastering neither accepted in any record label. But I couldn’t wait a single more day to try it out. My feelings and emotions were indescribable the moment I introduced the song to the crowd and saw people’s reactions on the dance floor. An unforgettable and unique moment for every DJ/producer that will motivate you to achieve your dreams.
To learn how to DJ and produce music is the most natural part. But how to become a successful music producer requires lots of practice, many actions, talent, and spiritual strength. Once again, a DJ and music producer are two different professions. You can be the one without the other, and it works both ways. If your passion for music is limitless, you can achieve A plethora of advantages that will be extremely beneficial shortly.
Each one of you wants to become an electronic music producer for a variety of reasons. You may want to do it as a hobby, or as a career, but if you go into music just so you will make money and be rich, you have already failed before even starting.
Why become a DJ and producer
First of all, you expand your social network by meeting and collaborating with a plethora of artists, and it will get your name up faster along with excellent references. And secondly and most importantly, you will improve your skills. Having experience as a DJ, you have a better idea and knowledge of what the crowd wants. It’s a great advantage to know the beats and sounds that intrigue the people when you start making music. From the other side, learning to compose a track, and the parts of which is structured (drums, bass, synth, etc.) will master counting beats and bars, and therefore your mixing and beat-matching skills. And this is how you make your mixes sound professional.
2. HOME RECORDING STUDIO EQUIPMENT
The investment you will have to do for a home recording studio now compare to the one needed a few years ago is minimum.
Electronic music is innately tied to the technology used to create it – as the tools evolve, so will the art. The sector of recording studio equipment changes rapidly, and that means you need to be continuously updated with the latest news, releases, tips, and tech. When I started music production and wanted to build my own home recording studio, I wanted to buy all the possible equipment I could afford. I had a high-end PC, a premium DAW, MIDI controllers, synthesizers, top recording devices, and a room with expensive sound isolation materials. Eventually, I did it, but the reality is that it is not necessary to buy tools that you are not ready to use them properly and get the most out of them. The number of studio relative products in the market is large, resulting in a big competition, high quality, and at excellent prices.
Let’s see now what you need to start making electronic music.
To start, you need a desktop or laptop where will run your DAW(Digital Audio Workstation), monitor speakers, headphones, and an audio interface to interact with your PC. A MIDI keyboard or/and controller can be handy, with which you will be able to produce sounds with a more natural way using keys and knobs rather than a mouse or PC keyboard buttons. This is the basic setup to start music production; on other articles, you will find new additions for your home recording studio such as synthesizers, drum machines, external modules, plug-ins, microphones, etc.
If you already own a powerful desktop or laptop, you escaped from the most significant spend in a new home recording studio. If not, pick a PC with high characteristics, more prominent display as possible, and keep it only for music relative work only.
Good desktop options for any beginner producer would be:
- Apple iMac / Mac Mini
- DELL XPS
- HP ENVY
- MacBook Pro
- Acer Aspire V15
- Asus ROG
- DELL XPS
Generally, you are looking for an i5 or i7 6-core processor, 8GB RAM, and an SSD hard drive for safe and fast file transfer. If you can afford a 16GB RAM, you should go for it. You will have no problem running your DAW and multiple plugins at the same time.
Check out the best computers for music production.
MUSIC PRODUCTION SOFTWARE
DAW is the software you will be running in your PC to compose music. There are many quality options out there for all available budgets. You can always avoid to buy any and instead download a crack version illegally, something that I wouldn’t recommend doing it for a couple of reasons. Alternatively, download a demo version of the software of your desire and if you are satisfied, you move it to your shopping cart.
- Ableton Live 10: The most popular DAW in the market shines at recording, editing, mixing, and mastering audio. It is a superb option for beginners as well as professionals. It is used by producers such as Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Robert Babicz, Above&Beyond and many more.
- Logic Pro: Logic is a MAC only running music production software. You won’t miss a thing with its extremely easy-to-use interface, and it is also available for a low price, compared to the market.
- FL Studio: FL Studio Producer offers a big collection of sound libraries, creative plug-ins, and an easy-to-use beat-making tool and sampling. You will have over 30 instrument plugins and 50 audio effects; to add compression, delay, equalization filtering, phasing, chorus, reverb, and distortion to your music productions.
- Reason 10: A DAW gives you all the tools you need to create, mix, and finish your music ideas. But when it comes with a sound bank which consists of over 5,000 instrument patches, 1,000+ mixing/mastering effects, and over 3,000 loops to get you starting producing tracks, then you get a fantastic package.
Check more options and reviews for the best music production software.
This is the tool that will connect your inputs and outputs to your computer. In the beginning, you connect your PC, headphones, speakers, and MIDI to your interface. Later on, you connect inputs like synths, sound modules, guitars, vocals and more, as well, more outputs for more than one pair of studio monitors.
- Focusrite Scarlett 2I4 USB: Scarlett is probably the most popular audio interface for beginners in the market. It offers two mono inputs (with mic pre) and four outputs.
- Steinberg UR242: UR242 MK2 features four inputs, two outputs, phantom power for microphone recording, two USB ports, and MIDI connectivity. Amazing features from such a small and affordable audio interface.
- Native Instrument Komplete Audio 6: Except the four balanced analog inputs and outputs, Audio 6 comes with, Cubase LE 6, Traktor LE 2 and Komplete Elements with over 1000 instruments and effects sized 3GB.
You will find reviews of the above at the best cheap audio interface.
You should first identify your need in a pair of studio headphones and then choose one. Options many, brands, prices, frequency response, sound isolation level, portability, built-quality. But all models below will deliver the job professionally.
- Audio Technica ATH-M50X: The perfect pair of headphones for beginners and advanced producers, with high quality, built, reliability, and desirable sound.
- Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO: The highly sensitive transducers ensure powerful and rich sound for studio monitoring, mixing, and mastering. Plus the velour ear-pads and adjustable robust steel headband make this pair very comfortable for extended studio sessions.
- Sony MDR 7506: Used by musicians such as Mick Jagger, Kaskade, Linkin Park, and Paul Van Dyk, leaves no room to doubt MDR 7506 quality. Go now on Amazon.com and check its low price and thousand nearly perfect reviews.
The choice of studio monitors speakers mostly depends on the size and formation of your studio. You keep this in mind to pick the size of the woofer (5″,6″,8″ etc.)
- KRK Rokit: You have probably seen the Rokit series monitor speakers with their iconic yellow woofer in many electronic music studios. The beautiful design, superb sound quality, and affordable price will make it a great addition in your home studio.
- Yamaha HS: Excellent flat frequency response, outstanding clarity, and competence that you will not find in any other speaker at this price range. More details and availability on Amazon.com.
- JBL LSR: An excellent “value for money” studio monitor with impressive performance, well-defined bass, and sleek design.
Find more info for the best studio monitor speakers.
MIDI keyboards do not generate sounds of their own. Instead, they are used to play sounds to other electronic devices such as sound modules, or software synths that are installed inside your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Things to consider are the key-count, software integration, and performance controls. From 25 key models to 88, you have a wide variety to pick according to your needs, space, comfort, and budget.
- AKAI MPK2
- Novation Launchkey
- M-audio Code
All models are available with 25, 49 and 61 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch. Plus, 16 color-coded velocity-sensitive performance pads for beat production, clip launching, and more. You will also find encoders, buttons, faders, and a LED screen to perform live while manipulating your DAW, virtual instruments and plugins.
These MIDI keyboard controllers have designed for professionals, so it is guaranteed that they will serve you properly in your music productions.
The ultimate guide to Build your Home Recording Studio with under $600.
3. STUDYING MUSIC THEORY AND MUSIC PRODUCTION
How many times have you heard phrases like “DJs are not musicians” or “electronic music producers are not real composers” or “making music with a computer it’s easy, and anybody can do that”. Well, any intelligent human being could understand that is not true at any point. There are many professional music producers with diplomas, expert knowledge of multiple musical instruments and a previous career with significant experience in the music scene. From the other side, there are also musicians with no papers at all but with superb productions that have made them well established into the music scene. This rule applies to all musicians. Many singers, rock stars, key players, vocalists, and others have never been in music schools. Instead, they had the urge to learn, study, practice, and experiment for years to achieve the desired level of knowledge.
My point of view is that if you have studied before, have a basic knowledge of music theory or play an instrument; it’s a significant advantage when you start music production.
On the other hand, if your experience with music is nearly zero, I strongly suggest to read basic music theory, participate in online courses or watch youtube lesson by specialized users. Important to learn about the rhythm and meter, scales, and key signatures as well as intervals and chords. Basic music theory to help you adjust and build your track with the fundamentals of music.
Here are some free resources for you to start:
If you prefer watching rather than reading, take a look at this:
Learning how to play an instrument could also be a massive plus on your music production skills so if you desire to learn how to play guitar by ear check this article by Beginnerguitarhq.com.
After you get the basic and feel ready to dive into deep waters, there are plenty of great opportunities to get you to the next level. There are free of charge or paid courses that justify the money and time spent, and you have the chance to attend in schools with pro equipment or watch online courses from the comfort of your home studio and use of your own equipment.
DAW interface / Sound design
Some producers choose to ignore music theory and start exploring and experimenting with their DAW right away. Your music production software will give you all the tools you want to record, compose, edit, mix, and master your tracks. It is practically a recording studio into your computer. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to use them correctly and at it’s fullest capabilities. I’m not talking about reading the two-three hundred page manuals, but there are a few ways to familiarize with the DAW of your choice.
Before you start taking professional courses, get yourself familiar with the interface, menu, preferences, effects, plug-ins, and file handling of your DAW. Again there are plenty of free online tutorials to get you started and learn the basics. Whether you use Ableton, FL, Logic, Cubase or any other DAW, check Youtube or Udemy and you will find the proper lessons for you. Music production schools is also a great opportunity if you are located near one. SAE Institute and Point Blank Music School are some of the best music schools out there.
What training is needed to become a music producer? There are a plethora of free online courses to get started, premium, and masterclasses as well. Courses about music production, audio engineering, mixing and mastering, and more. Check the free tutorials first to get the basics, and then go to the PML website for fantastic courses templates, and walkthroughs.
Check out our latest post with 20 sound recording and music production tips.
4. MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
Music is an amazing thing; don’t try to force it because it won’t happen. Sometimes, under different circumstances like stress, timeframes, and others that can cause a lack of inspiration. Better stop your project and do something irrelevant, like watch a movie or go out with friends (note: producers don’t have time for dating and relationships 🙂 ). Composing music is affected by how you feel, and therefore, your creativity depends on it.
Another way to keep your motivation and raise your creativity is to listen to a different genre of music. Jazz and disco, I find that drive my interest to the fullest. Rock, blues, new age and of course classical music and symphonic orchestras are also fantastic inspirational genres. During that time try to divide the instruments of the song that is used to composed: drums, guitars, bass, keys, vocals, brass as well as mixing techniques and patterns.
Sometimes, the cooperation with another artist can be extremely beneficial and motivated, helping you to see a project from a deferent perspective.
5. MUSIC DISTRIBUTION
After you complete your track -composing/mixing/mastering- and you have also created a full online presence on social media and sound platforms, you are ready to get your work available to people and promote it. Important is not to rush and start behaving recklessly by giving away a non-release production. Make it available to selective people to get the proper feedback. If a record label sees your track on an audio platform with download and shares, your track may be discarded.
Start by creating a proper press release, including a small description of your production with style, BPM, key and duration of the song. Add photos, previous works, collaborations, courses, diplomas, experience, and contact information to find you. Search on Beatport, or any other online store, record labels that you follow and make sure your productions are similar in style. Most record labels offer an email for promo submissions. It is essential to follow the rules of submission like audio quality, duration, and others.
If you want to become a music producer for a record label, then listen to the tracks released by that specific label. Anjunadeep will only release deep house tracks, Drumcode is dedicated to Techno, etc. Do you research before you start sending promo and demo tracks.
When a record label has accepted your track, you have only left to promote your work. The label will do the rest of the job by delivering your album or single to online stores ready for people to buy. Some record labels cooperate with digital distributors that offer a plethora of services such as promo lists to professionals, articles on websites, or advertise in stores. In a case that your label doesn’t provide promotion services, you can hire by yourself, music distributors.
From bedroom producer to a professional musician who will also make a living, is just a few steps away. For sure, it won’t happen in a month or two or even years of learning, practicing, and producing. But if you put the right foundations, the journey will be more comfortable and more successful.
How long does it take to become a music producer? Could be a couple of years, could be a decade, could also be half a year if you do all the above and work methodically.
What does it take to become a successful music producer? Like all professions in the world, it requires dedication, hard work, patience, and no fear to make mistakes.
Is it too late to start music production? It is never too late. There are famous music producers out there that had started at their late thirties, and others they were unknown until the age of forty.
Another guide I would suggest to take a closer a look is by Careersinmusic.com.
You can start composing and producing music with a budget from a few hundred to 600 dollars for a complete home recording studio equipment. The music theory, practice, and promote your music will cost you nearly nothing. So, what is stopping you from making your dreams come true?
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