Music production is a creative and technical process of producing music. It involves the recording, arranging, and mixing of tracks to create a professional-sounding final product. This article will provide an overview of what you need to get started in music production, along with tips for each item to help you make the best decision for your needs.
Why get into music production?
Music production is more than just making music—it’s about capturing the ideas and turning them into a professional-sounding recording. It involves utilizing digital instruments and effects such as synthesizers, samplers, loopers, compressors, equalizers and other audio processing units to create the desired sound or texture. It also includes recording live instruments such as guitars or drums, adding vocals or other sounds to the mix and finally mixing down all the elements into one cohesive track.
Learning the skill of music production has a whole host of benefits. As a musician, you have total control over every aspect of creating your own songs without needing anyone else’s help. Additionally, you can save money by not having to pay for studio time or renting out equipment that may be too expensive for your budget. Beyond that, having knowledge in music production gives you an edge in today’s competitive music industry where everyone is vying for attention. Being able to produce is a valuable skill that even becomes a career for some people.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
If you’re new to the field, getting started in music production can feel like wandering around in a dark room, with no direction or aid on what to do or where to go. It’s also a skill that requires some specific pieces of equipment, not even including instruments. These are the basic pieces of gear you need to start your producing journey
The most important piece of gear that you need is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). A DAW is a software program that allows you to record, arrange and mix tracks on your computer. You can also adjust levels and add effects to give your recordings depth and texture. DAWs have become more common in recent years due to increased affordable access to quality digital audio gear, meaning almost anyone with a computer or smartphone can now get involved in creating digital music. Popular DAWs include Ableton Live, Logic Pro X and Pro Tools.
An audio interface provides a musician or producer with a powerful tool to produce and record digital music. It can accept inputs from a variety of sources such as microphones, instruments, mixers, and even laptops and tablets. The audio input is then translated into digital signals which can be processed in a computer for further editing, mixing and mastering. Through the use of an audio interface, users have complete control over the volume level of each source to ensure perfect balance in their recordings. Additionally, features such as real-time manipulation of sounds allows for greater creative freedom when producing music.
This one is arguable, as you can produce fully finished, professional songs without a microphone. However, if you want to record vocals, a mic is absolutely necessary, and microphones play an extremely important role in the production industry.
Microphones don’t just have to be used for vocals – they’re great for any kind of acoustic recording as well. Whether you’re recording guitars, drums, pianos or anything else, a microphone can capture a natural sounding audio thanks to the reverb in the room. Even if you’re interested in recording with direct input instead – a process that requires no microphone at all – getting comfortable with a mic is still a great idea. A basic dynamic mic is usually the most affordable and versatile option for music recording, but entry-level condenser mics are also great when it comes to vocals. All in all, having a good understanding of mics and how they work is invaluable in music production.
Headphones are key for any music producer, of course. Most entry-level music production is done with headphones, as they’re portable, cost effective, and don’t disturb others. It’s important to note that there is a difference between consumer headphones and studio headphones, or headphones designed for producing. These headphones tend to be bulkier and lack the same aesthetic appeal of consumer headphones, however they provide a much more accurate playback of audio which will help you hear mistakes or imbalances in the mix.
Popular options include the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X monitoring headphones and the Samson Z35 studio headphones. Although headphones are important for listening when producing music, eventually moving on to studio monitor speakers can further improve accuracy of sound engineering.
Whether or not you have an instrument that you want to record, having a MIDI controller is a game changer. If you don’t already know, MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface; it’s a universal gear language that records note information without audio. This means while an audio file contains sound—like someone playing a guitar—a MIDI file just contains the notes that were played.
MIDI controllers can be used to control both physical or digital instruments, and with the right type of controller you can plug-in any virtual instrument on your computer into it. This gives you access to drum patches, synthesizers, basses, guitars and more to record with. Many MIDI controllers come in the form of a keyboard and have added features such as knobs, faders, or drum pads available for manipulating sounds and effects.
For those just starting out in music production, devices such as the Arturia KeyStep or Akai MPK Mini are great products to start with; they offer enough keys, knobs and controls without breaking the bank.
Keep in mind that the most important part regardless of set-up is that you stay creative, explore new ideas and find enjoyment in making music. Music production offers musicians a great way to explore their creativity while learning new skills at the same time—and it doesn’t require a full-on professional studio. With some basic knowledge and the right gear, anyone can get into producing their own tracks quickly and easily. So why not give it a try? Who knows what amazing sounds you could create!