Updated: Sep 17, 2018
So you want to get into music production and have no idea where to start. This is not an uncommon dilemma. There are many questions about music production and how to start. This post will help you answer some questions and find out what steps you need to do in order to start your journey as a music producer.
Why do you want to produce music?
If the answer to this question is "to become rich and famous" then you are going to be extremely let down. Making music production a full time career is very hard and takes years of experience and practice. I have been producing music for over 5 years now and I am not even close to able to support myself financially just from producing music. I do it because I absolutely love it. Its a real passion of mine and I plan on doing it until I am very old. After working an 8 hour shift at my desk job I love to come home and open up my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). If you are going to get into music production please look deep into yourself and ask yourself if you are doing it for the right reasons. The love for music and creation should be your main drive. For me there is no better feeling than finishing a new track that I am proud of and hearing peoples reactions to it when they listen. Even if their reactions are not positive, I take it as a learning experience and use that as motivation to make the next track better than the last.
Do you need to know music theory to produce music?
The short answer to this is NO. You would be surprised to know that a large number of producers only know limited music theory. It does not take any musical knowledge to put a bunch of samples in a DAW and call yourself a music producer. Although music theory is not a necessity it can only help improve your productions. I am not able to sit here and compose Beethoven's 5th for you but I do know a bit more than just the basics of music foundations. Knowing things like tempo, arrangement, major and minor scales, chord progressions and harmony can only benefit you when it comes to producing music. I highly suggest to learn the basics that I just listed before you start releasing any music. Today someone can teach themselves music theory just by watching videos on youtube and of coarse picking up an instrument and practicing.
What equipment do you need?
We are currently in a time where music production is changing. Today it is very easy and fairly inexpensive to start producing music. 30 years ago kids wanted a guitar for their birthday so they can be the next Slash or Jimi Hendrix. Today kids want a mac with Ableton or FL Studio so they can be the next Martin Garrix. There are plenty of successful producers out there that are making great music with a laptop, a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and a set of headphones. Those are the bare necessities that someone can use to produce music. That is how I started out and that is how most people start out today. As time goes on and you improve your productions you will learn more about equipment, plugins and acoustic treatments. As for now you can get by with the three thing mentioned above.
What is a DAW?A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation. This is going to be the software that you use to produce music. There are a lot of great DAWs out there and they range in price and functionality. If you own a Mac computer then you already own a DAW. Garage Band is the DAW that all Macs come with. If you do not have a Mac then I would suggest to look into Ableton (my choice to produce with) or Logic or FL Studio. In my opinion Ableton is the best DAW and most user friendly. Its more expensive than most others but it is a great investment if you are serious about producing music.
How do I use my DAW?
Like I said before, every DAW is different. It is almost like each one speaks a different language at first. Opening a DAW for the first time is very overwhelming. You may have no idea where to start and you will have no idea what each function does. Luckily, there is an endless amount of tutorials on the internet to help you through this scary time of you musical journey. All you have to do is search for tutorials on youtube. There are classes you can take and schools you can go to but for people who might not have the time or the money to do so, the tutorials are a great second option. I was fortunate enough to take courses in Ableton and music foundations but I also have learned a lot of additional information and techniques because of youtube and the internet.
What to expect the first year of producing music?
So now you have your equipment, you learned the basics of music theory, and watched a few hours of DAW tutorials; you are ready to start making very shitty music. I say that your music is going to be shitty because its the truth. It took me over 2 years to make a half way decent full track. The first year of producing music is going to be a fun and exciting time but that does not mean that it wont also be filled with frustration and disappointment. This first year is when you are still going to be learning about the basics of music and the production behind it. Some people are more driven and put a lot more time and effort into their craft and those people might be able to start producing full decent tracks in 8-10 months and others that only spend 3-4 hours a week on producing may have their first completed decent track finished by the 3 year mark. Just like everything else in life, you get out what you put into it. The more time you spend educating yourself, experimenting with different ideas and sounds, and the more time you spend in you DAW will translate to your finished musical product. At the end of the day music production is fun and if it ever stops being enjoyable then it may be time to take a break or call it quits. As long as you are enjoying yourself and still have a passion for it then you are succeeding in your music production. We are creating music people, we are not curing cancer.
Have fun, enjoy life and be good.