Over the past few years, electronic music has somewhat taken over the music industry. The genre itself has seen exponential growth, with new emerging artists producing tracks that take the world by storm virtually overnight.
How one starts producing electronic music is an answer many are looking for. If you want to get into the art of producing electronic music, you’re in the right place.
The following information introduces and explains everything you need to know to start producing electronic music for yourself. From setting up your first studio to ensuring you have the right gear, we’re here to help you make educated decisions in your new journey.
1. Setting Up The Studio
The term studio has become a relatively loose term over the years. The last thing we want you to think is you need a multi-million dollar room full of gear to start making music, but the truth is you will need some space and adequate equipment to get the ball rolling.
To produce electronic music, you will need to set up a studio of your own. A space in your bedroom or home will do just fine. The bare necessities are a computer, a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW for short, an audio interface if you plan to record any instruments, a good pair of headphones, and, if budget allows, some studio monitors.
You can find a list of equipment and production software we recommend to get started in our blog How To Become A Bedroom Music Producer, HERE.
Your computer will be the most important part of your home studio setup; think of it as the brain. It does not matter whether you prefer Windows or Mac; however, some software is only available for specific platforms. Your computer should have the fastest processor and ram you can afford. It would be best to look for a computer with a quad-core processor and 16GB of ram, but more RAM and extra cores in your processor certainly will help.
Once you have your computer and DAW set up, you must invest in a pair of studio monitors or high-quality headphones. These speakers are specifically designed for music production and provide accurate sound reproduction allowing you to hear the music you are creating in the best possible way.
2. Learn Your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
You will hear the term DAW quite often; it stands for Digital Audio Workstation, which refers to the music production program you will work in. Learning your DAW is essential to producing electronic music. Your DAW is the tool you will use to produce your music. It’s where everything interconnects and can be overwhelming at first, but with practice, you will become familiar with it.
Some examples of DAWs frequently used in electronic music production are: Logic Pro, FL Studio, Ableton Live, and Cubase. Though you can use any DAW to create music, there are features in the previously mentioned workstations that aid producers in making electronic music efficiently.
You need to start by learning the basics! It can be overwhelming or frustrating at first. It takes time to make the music you want to hear. No one produces a hit the first time they try to produce electronic music.
When starting, you need to focus on understanding how your DAW works, how to hook up your gear, and fundamentals such as recording audio. And midi, along with basic mixing techniques such as how to record and edit audio, how to use MIDI, and how to use virtual instruments. Once you have mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced features such as automation, mixing, and mastering.
Several online resources can help you start your electronic music production journey, such as blogs, video tutorials, and even master classes. You can find resources that cover everything from the basics to the most advanced sound design techniques.
3. Building a Sound Library
When you listen to most electronic music, you’ll notice sounds not found in most traditional facets of music. Many of these sounds have metallic or synthesized sounds from synthesizers and samples. Building your own sound library will help you produce faster and within a specific genre easier.
When starting out, it’s important not to purchase every synth plugin but learn one or two thoroughly. Many new producers think they need all the latest plugins but only end up using preset sounds since they do not understand how the synthesizer works. By studying syntheses and learning how it works, you can build just about any sound you can think of.
I recommend starting with two virtual synthesizers: Sylenth 1 by Lennar Digital and Serum by Xfer. These are both industry standards in the electronic music industry and will allow you to craft the sounds you hear in your favorite tracks.
Also, you will want to start building a sample library. Samples are musical files such as a kick drum or piano stab that you can drag and drop into a project file. By building your library of your favorite sounds, you will start to develop your unique sound. Splice Sounds is an excellent resource for producers looking for quality samples for any genre.
4. Arrangement is Key
One of the things new producers often struggle with when starting their production journey is the arrangement. If you’re unsure of what I mean, it’s the song’s structure or phrasing, such as intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, and outro. This is the more typical structure of a song.
Electronic music has a similar structure, but the names are slightly different. In electronic music production, you will often see intro, build, break, build, drop, break, build, drop, and outro.
The intro and outro are vital as it allows DJs to mix into and out of your song if it is being played live. The break and build sections can be thought of as the chorus. This is where the song’s energy is brought down and built back up before the drop, and a melodic structure of vocals is highlighted. The drop is typically the focal point of a song. It’s usually the loudest and most energetic portion of the song.
When arranging a song, time is also a significant factor. Most pieces or “phrases” of an electronic music production are 16 bars long. This means your intro, break, build, and drops will usually be 16 bars each. By making sections the same length, it paces the song appropriately.
DJs are also keen to understand electronic music production layouts. A 16-bar intro and outro allows a DJ to mix in and out of your track and gives them an appropriate amount of time to seamlessly transition from track to track.
Summing It Up
With all this being said, the most important thing to do is make the music you want to make. Producing music is supposed to be fun and an expression of yourself. Don’t overthink things, especially when you first get started.
You’re not going to make great music on your first attempt. It may take lots of time before you create something you want to share with the world, and that’s ok! There are several resources to aid you on your production journey.
Programs like Dark Horse Institutes Audio Production Program give you the necessary tools and education to help you master the art of music. Remember you started to make music because it’s something you are interested in and enjoy spending time doing.
If you are interested in a career in the music industry, Dark Horse Institute’s music programs: Composition and Songwriting, Audio Engineering, or Music Business, are a great way to take things to the next level!