HOW TO MAKE MUSIC WITH AS LITTLE MONEY AS POSSIBLE

 

Today I want to tackle some of the financial issues many of us face when trying to make music. I hope to give you some ideas and to ease your wallet, by sharing some of the things I learned on my skin.

First, let’s tackle the issue that could make you lose major money and time…

 

HOW TO KILL “GAS”

 

For the less geeky among us, GAS is an acronym for “gear acquisition syndrome.”That’s the feeling of lust most of us have when we walk in a music store, or we are browsing on youtube and see a demo of some shiny new keyboard which costs a good-ol’ 2 months salary.

One might argue it’s a by-product of consumerism and our infinite hunger for the exciting and the “new”.To get rid of it, you need to consider if you actually need a piece of gear, or if it’s really just a craving.

More often than not it’s the latter, so let me get this straight… We don’t need any of those cool outboard synths, EQs, compressors or even all that fancy and shiny plugins our heart desires.

To produce great music all we need is a HANDFUL OF SELECTED TOOLS, plus the knowledge needed to use and operate them creatively and efficiently.

 

 

So, here is what I think are the only tools needed to produce great music:

  1. a decent computer
  2. a DAW
  3. one nice sounding and versatile EQ (I personally prefer the Fabfilter ProQ)
  4. one nice sounding and versatile compressor with side-chain capabilities (this is up to you, but for starters, the daw’s stock compressor will suffice)
  5. one reverb (go with Valhalla Room for lushness or with a convolution reverb for more realness and punchy-ness)
  6. one delay (I suggest either NI replica, Waves h-delay or Soundtoys Echoboy JR.)
  7. some sort of pitch shifting (typically one is included in every Daw, but I prefer the clarity of Waves Ultra-pitch)
  8. some sort of auto-tuning (also here the one that comes stock with your daw should suffice, if not I find Melodyne brings the most organic result)
  9. a nice sounding and versatile synth (like SERUM, Massive, Zebra 2, or Synthmaster)
  10. a small suite of sampled instruments (Logic comes with a tremendous built-in sample library, and most of other DAWs should also have the bases covered). It really depends on what genre you make, but the classics are generally piano, strings/brass, acoustic/electronic drums and maybe guitars.
  11. a pair of headphones. You will need those when producing and mixing, so I strongly suggest you invest in a “reference pair“ from one of these manufacturers: KRK, AKG, Shure, Sennheiser, pioneer (all those from 40/50 $ and up should do fine)
  12. if you play an instrument, an audio interface to record it

If you want to know a bit more on why I suggest these things and you want to go into a bit more detail, you can read my other post: My advice to newbie producers.

That’s all! Once you know your software inside-out and have some basic producing skills, you are all set:

 

Nothing can stop you from producing bangers in your bedroom.

 

Oh, but that Neve EQ though…

 

Now don’t get me wrong. If you have millions in your bank account and you think that new SSL hardware compressor will absolutely SLAY your writer’s block and inspire a whole track, then buy it!

In short what I’m trying to say is this: gear, be it hardware or software, is redundant to make great music but might come in handy, to provide you with more inspiration and possibly more creative possibilities, when you seem to get stuck, and nothing else works.

For starting out though, it’s utterly unnecessary!

 

 

APPLES EVERYWHERE

 

Unfortunately, at first, the most expensive investment you will have to make (except if you already own one) is a decent computer. Good ones start at 600/700 €, and the more powerful ones will set you back at least 1000-1400€.

The only advice I can give you in this regard is to wait for an interesting offer to come up, maybe at black Friday, or if all else fails to try to find a good deal for a used one in good condition.

I won’t talk here about computers or headphones though, as you can find all the info you might need on magazine articles and in youtube reviews. I will instead spend a few words about software…

 

EVERYONE DOES IT

 

Whatever we do it to feel a bit more like Jack Sparrow, or to produce the music of our dreams, almost everyone does it.
Hell, even deadmau5 mentioned it in the past, and Kanye West was caught on camera doing it.

Some people think that’s fine for starting out and trying out new software you are not quite sure you’ll need, but let me tell you something…

As a computer science student, I talk from experience when I say it takes an awful lot of time and hard work to develop good software. So, when you can, start giving back to the developer, which gave you help, when you needed it the most.

 

Hey, but what if I don’t have a lot of money and I still want to give back?

 

You are in luck, as I’m about to teach you how to save money and get the software you so desperately need.

 

 

HOW TO FIND GOOD DEALS

 

 

Here are my top 3 tips on how to save money when buying new music software, be it DAWs, plugins, Kontakt libraries, sample packs or even production/mixing courses.

 

1. Wait for Black Friday / Cyber Monday or any other holiday sale

This one should be fairly obvious, but maybe someone among you (like me a few years back) might not know this.

Some companies like Waves Audio host regular weekly or monthly sales, but the majority of the developers have different deals and sales throughout the year.

Here are the most common recurring sales: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas holidays, Independence Day and other national holidays (mostly American, but also European ones sometimes).

The best way to be sure to snatch the best offer is to subscribe to your favorite developer’s newsletter or to follow them on their social channels. Another way is to regularly check every week the offers in the news section at ww.kvr.com

BONUS TIP: a few developers like to give back to the community during the holidays, so make sure to keep an eye out for freebies.

 

2. Take advantage of custom bundle discounts

Some developers like Waves or Plugin Alliance have a custom bundle feature built-in in their stores. I’ll explain this with a hypothetical example.

Let’s say you want 3 of their plugins. Each one of these costs 50$, so, buying 3 of them it would set you back 150$, right?

WRONG!

With the Custom bundle feature, you are going to pay just 105$, because they have applied a 30% custom discount (10% for every product you add to your cart).

It varies from developer to developer, but the bottom line is: the more you spend (or, the more products you add to your cart), the more significant your custom discount will be.

 

3. Search online for offers on eBay, Audiodeluxe or other software vendors

This might be controversial, but is nonetheless a smart way to save a few bucks.

Let’s say you want to buy a plugin, which costs 100€ on the company’s website. So, You search online for a better deal and find an eBay vendor in the US, which discounts it by 20%. Furthermore, if you live in Europe, and since 1€ is more than 1$, you actually save roughly another 13%.

Congrats, You just saved 1 third off the original price… NOT BAD!

 

 

MORE IMPORTANT THINGS…

 

Along with software and hardware, I also want you to consider other possible expenses you might need to face in the future.

For example, you might need to pay your vocalist for his performance, along with the rent for studio time… Maybe you might need to pay for mixing and mastering services, for artworks, photographs or lawyer’s fees…

Also, you most certainly will have to pay your distributor to get your music out and maybe even throw in some social media advertisement and Spotify promotion.

Some of these are paramount in your music career development and will by far outperform in the long run any other gear investment you might wanna make right now.

So keep this in mind and manage your money accordingly.

Ciao!