I still remember the excitement I felt when I first started producing music. I truly believe it’s something everyone should try at some point, no matter if you are a singer, a rapper, a guitarist, or if you dream about becoming the next John Bonham.

There is simply too much potential to be uncovered!

Think of how Chris Brown’s obsession with music arrangements led to the creation of funk, or think of the countless modern electronic genres that wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for some youngsters having fun in their bedroom.

But there’s also a really practical reason why everyone should learn the basics of music production.

In 2020 COVID forced a lot of studios to shut down, and thousands of artists were left without a way to record new music.

Without releasing new material they began losing momentum, and as a result, they stopped growing. Something they could have easily avoided if they knew how to record music at home.

Ok I’m pretty sure you understand by now how game-changing this could be for you, so without further ado, here is how you can prepare yourself for success!

 

The tools you need

1) A computer

This is probably the most expensive investment you’ll have to make, but it’s also the most important one, as it’s gonna be the centerpiece of your home studio.

Trust me, nothing is going to frustrate you faster than a laggy unresponsive pc when you are on fire laying down your ideas or trying to record the perfect take.

Here are my recommended specs for music production:

  • CPU: 2-3 GHz dual-core (minimum), 2-4 GHz 4 or more cores (strongly recommended)
  • RAM: 8GB RAM (minimum), 16-32GB (if you want to run lots of samplers)
  • STORAGE: HD (minimum), SSD (strongly recommended)

If you plan on doing on-location recording or playing live, a laptop is the obvious choice. If instead you intend to work only in your home studio, investing in a desktop computer is probably a better idea since it usually has a better price/features ratio and allows you to freely upgrade the internal components whenever you need.

2) A DAW

If you want to get your ideas into your computer you’ll need a digital audio workstation (or DAW for short), which is a software that lets you record, arrange, produce and mix your music!

Some people think a certain DAW is far superior to all others, but I firmly believe that each one provides what you need: a blank canvas for you to paint on.  I consider a DAW just as a tool, and while some have more features than others, I assure you: you can create amazing music with any one of them.

Here are some of the best ones:

Note that all the DAWs in this list feature the stock plugins you are going to need: EQ, compressor, delay, reverb, pitch shift, tuning, amp simulation, and other essentials.

3) Software Synth

If you make any type of electronic music or want to add electronic sounds to your music, the first tool you probably want to add to your plugin arsenal is a soft synth.
I suggest going with one that delivers a broad and diverse array of sounds, like one of these:

Don’t worry if you can’t afford one of them right now. Most modern DAWs come with a decent soft synth built-in, but if that’s not the case with yours, you can still get a free one:

4) (Optional) Sampled instruments

Depending on what genre you want to produce you also might wanna add sampled instruments like strings, brass, acoustic drums, and guitars. There are dozens of companies creating amazing instruments, and most of them work with Kontakt.

Here are four interesting Kontakt instrument developers you can start looking into:

5) (Optional) Mic and audio interface

If you sing, rap, play an instrument or plan to pick up one, you’ll need an audio interface to record your voice/instrument.

Two great budget choices are the Behringer UMC202HD and the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen3. If instead you want better sound quality and are ready to invest a bit more, here are some excellent audio interfaces:

All these audio interfaces allow you to record up to 2 microphones (or 2 mono instruments, or one stereo instrument) simultaneously. That’s more than enough for most home studio applications, but if you need more inputs, you can buy the pricier and bigger versions of the models I’ve mentioned.

As far as microphones go… this is a bit of a tricky topic to tackle since everyone has a different voice and studio setup. You can read this article to clear up your mind and find the best mic for you.

6) (Optional) Headphones

Speakers are great but unless your room is acoustically treated, you’ll run into a number of issues with them – basically, your speakers will lie to you.

Headphones, on the other hand, provide a controlled listening environment, because their sound won’t change based on where you are. Plus you’ll need a pair of headphones to record vocals sooner or later.

All these reasons make having a good pair of headphones a must for most home studios.

Here are 2 great sounding and versatile headphones with the best price/quality ratio:

7) (Optional) Midi keyboard

Even if you don’t play any instrument, you still might wanna consider buying a midi keyboard, as this is possibly the most useful tool you can add to your setup.

It will allow you to play and experiment with different melodies/chords and it will likely inspire a few ideas just by playing around with it!

These are my favorite brands that make great midi keyboards:

That’s it, these are all the basic tools you need to produce music!

Keep in mind though that gear isn’t everything as you can do a lot with just a computer and a good mic. The best way for you to gain experience and make better music is by actually making more music and getting involved in projects that truly inspire you.

So please, don’t wait until you collect all the pieces of gear you think you need. Start creating with the tools you have and good music will follow.

Now… to the fun part!

 

 

Skills

 

 

I confess: I’m a bit of a geek. I just LOVE learning new stuff!!

When I first began producing music, I used to watch 2-3 hours of tutorials every single day, and that’s precisely what I think you should do too.

Maybe there’s some freak who can learn to produce without guidance, but if you are like me, you’ll need some assistance in the beginning…. and assistance comes in the form of tutorials!

I tried every website out there and these are the ones that I think have the best quality/price ratio. Try out their free trials to see which one suits you the best:

First, start by learning everything you can about the DAW that you’ve chosen.

The DAW is the centerpiece of your studio. You can think of it as the conduit through which your ideas pass from your brain to the listener. The more you know how to use it, the better and faster you’ll get at recording, arranging and producing your musical ideas!

After you’ve become familiar with its layout and features, you can start diving into the other music production skills (ie. recording techniques, arrangement, sound design, samples, effects, reverbs).

Conclusion

 

The key here is to have fun, experiment with the tools at your disposal, and learn how to operate your DAW.

In the second part of this guide, you’ll learn how to put your first songs together and you’ll be on your way to producing awesome music in no time!

In the meantime make sure to follow me on Instagram to gain access to insider secrets and advanced music production tips.

Buckle up! It’s gonna be a hell of a journey!

 

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When you are ready, read part 2 of this guide ⇢HERE.