Four Keys To Great Music Productions At Home
A History of Music Producers.
With the music business ever-changing and recording equipment becoming more obtainable for the masses, making chart-topping productions has never been easier for a bedroom music producer. Traditionally, music producers worked alongside musicians, bands and singers to take their original song from an idea to a final product. Producers were hands-on with equipment, arranging and adding musical elements to build the track.
However, the “producer” started to change when music technology evolved. With digital technology, the need for large spaces once used to house large pieces of equipment such as mixing consoles, rack-mounted gear, and complex routing systems dramatically decreased. Everything is simply taken care of within the Digital Audio Workstation, otherwise referred to as DAW.
With the rise of electronic dance music in the late 1980s throughout Chicago and other cities around the globe, the recording process started to change. No longer did you need a fancy recording studio to make music. Many turned to building makeshift studios within their homes and even they’re bedrooms.
Due to cheap samplers, the rise of MIDI, drum machines, analog synthesizers, and simple track recorders building a song from start to finish were accessible too many. If you fast forward to today, digital production is everywhere and in every genre.
What Makes Someone A Bedroom Producer?
Many of today’s bedroom music producers have the following traits
1. The one-man-band.
From writing the song to processing the final master copy, bedroom music producers have creative control throughout the following steps:
- Sound design
- Arrangement of the track
By not collaborating with others, these producers can have multiple quality releases over a short amount of time compared to artists who work through the typical industry channels.
2. Lack of high-end equipment.
With the advancement of technology, sometimes the most basic of equipment inspires the most interesting results. Bedroom producers may stick with stock plugins or only a certain set of plugins and not try new or different options. Most recording, mixing, and mastering sessions tend to be completely “in the box” so adding in some variation can dramatically improve results.
The vast majority of bedroom music producers have not been to college or a music school. They learn from trade schools whose curriculum is designed to teach the production of modern music. After trade schools, sites like YouTube and blog posts are where most go to seek information and watch free videos.
Self-education also helps with the different roles a music producer will play. With so many producers starting at such a young age, having access to information early will help their skills develop over time and hone their craft.
4. Do it yourself mentality.
Many bedroom producers have a do it yourself mentality. Being able to write, mix, and master whatever you like is the appeal to becoming a producer. Often times these producers are making their own artwork, managing their own social media accounts, shows, and everything in between. Once they become large enough and receive interest from labels, the artist may look for management and booking agents.
How to start with bedroom production?
So you want to produce music at home? What will you need?
Most producers start with the bare minimum since money can be tight, however, there are four things you will need.
1. Laptop or desktop computer.
When selecting a computer you will want to purchase a machine with the most powerful processor and the largest amount of ram or memory. you can afford it. CPU and RAM performance seems to be the most serious bottleneck beginner producers run into.
2. A digital audio work station, otherwise known as a DAW.
The DAW is the central hub for all your production and recording needs. All modern-day audio work stations come pre-loaded with sounds, audio effects, and virtual instruments to get you started.
DAW’s do vary in price a bit, however, most major companies offer free trials that allow you to determine which is best for the workflow you most desire. Along with free trials, there are countless YouTube channels and blogs that go in-depth to get you up and producing music as fast as possible.
The most popular DAW’s used by modern-day producers and home studios are:
Image Line’s FL Studio- $99 USD (Starting)
Ableton Live $99 USD (Starting)
Apple’s Logic Pro $199 USD
Avid’s Protools $699 USD (Prices vary depending on hardware)
3. A quality pair of headphones.
Laptop or desktop computer speakers will only get you so far. Without a proper quality audio source your finished mix will not likely sound professional nor will the mix translate well across different listening devices and stereos.
With headphones being the most often used item in your studio, it is important that you find a pair that is comfortable and fits your budget. There are plenty of options starting in the $99 USD range that offer a flat frequency response and reliability.
Some of the most popular headphones for mixing and producing are:
Focal Listen Professional- $299 USD
Audio- Technica ATH-M50X- $149 USD
Sennheiser HD-25- $99 USD
If you are interested in a full list of the best headphones for music production check out MusicRadar’s article here.
4. Audio interface.
The audio interface takes incoming analog signals (vocals and instruments) captured from microphones, converts them to digital signals, sends them to your DAW, back through the interface, and to your headphones.
This is a good time to mention that if you are planning on producing through studio monitors you will need an audio interface to do so. With technology becoming ever more affordable you can find a great quality interface at incredible prices.
Today, a few of the most popular entry-level audio interfaces are:
Focusrite Scarlette 2i2- $159 USD
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1- $109 USD
Persons Audio Box USB- $99 USD
M-Audio M-Track 2×2 $189 USD
Using social media to a network.
Building a network in the music business is almost more important than the music in today’s day in age. With multiple social media platforms hosting over a billion active monthly users, these sites will make developing a network easier than it has ever been before. Find like-minded individuals who share the love for production. Communicate with these accounts and work towards building a working relationship.
Social media can expose you to sides of music you never knew existed. By using social media musicians can now reach out to their fans directly. This helps build a community that is not only closer but more engaged than one may be able to build in their own city or region.
How bedroom music producers get it wrong.
On many occasions, once a producer has the basic setup they turn to online mediums for learning. However, since some bedroom producers rely only on free resources to learn, they don’t have a mentor or instructor guiding them. Mentors can have a profound positive impact by correcting mistakes as they happen and placing emphasis on good decisions and strategies.
With so much information available its easy for a new producer to learn what they most desire and not the basic fundamentals of producing, mixing, and mastering. Starting with the basics of sound design, mixing and proper recording techniques will give you a solid foundation to build upon as you learn and develop new skills.
It’s Now Up To You
Now that you know what is needed to actually create music it is up to you how far you will take it. Remember you started making music because it was fun. Once you get a few releases under your belt it’s easy to be critical and compare yourself to individuals who have been in the business for decades. Set small goals, focus on what YOU want to accomplish, and take it one step at a time.
If you are interested in pursuing a music production career, Dark Horse Institute’s Music Production Program is a great way to take things to the next level when you are ready.