The music world has, in recent times, experienced an extreme democratisation of its resources Because the Internet. Most—if not all—of the most prominent producers today hail from the bedroom—the place where some kind of magic always seems to happen. But these are just metaphors: a bedroom connected to the internet is no longer really a bedroom; it’s a studio (with the correct set up of course). If your computer can emulate it, it can become it: those massive 9 foot analogue consoles? All effectively rendered virtually in DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) like Ableton Live and Logic Pro; those lovely recording chambers that gave records of old that unique space? Those are now emulated by complex reverb algorithms and impulse responses. In other words; the difference between virtual and real has finally become a genuine conundrum.
Get involved before the technological singularity arrives and you no longer have the chance. Here are some tips for those who desire fame but don’t have the discipline to spend 10,000 hours mastering a real instrument:
1. You will need a powerful computer (unfortunately)
Your computer’s CPU will be the first casualty of your lack of discipline. This is perhaps the only part of the bedroom—I mean studio, sorry—that will have to be acquired lawfully. The processing power required to make music is considerable, and if you don’t want your computer to start panting wildly, then you may have to invest in a machine that can perform the tasks required to make premium bedroom music. To paraphrase what I just said: get a Mac—or if you can, a Hackintosh. One important factor to consider is whether you’ll be using sampled instruments and/or a plethora of powerful plugins… we’ll explore this aspect of production further below, but for now it’s looking pretty grim.
2. Depending on what genre of music you are aiming to produce, learning music theory may help
It is possible to make very simplistic music that is also very catchy, but if you want to make genuinely interesting tracks, it may be worth finding out more about the basics of harmony, melody, and intervals. Disclosure, for example, make extremely popular music that, musically speaking, is also extremely simplistic. Most pad presets can replace the need for actual chord progressions, but this is almost always restricts you to one key signature (go learn about modulating between keys and then see if Disclosure do that—and that’s some basic tekkerz anyway!). It all depends on what your desired end is of course! I’ve heard that European women are particularly susceptible to 110BPM, although I cannot guarantee this: Kavinsky can.
3. Choose the right production software for the style of music you want to make
Ableton is great for electronic music, but if you want meticulous control over the progression of your song—and you don’t generally work with loops—then Logic Pro would be the better option. This general formula should work quite well in most situations: repetitive music = Ableton, more interesting music = Logic Pro. If you really want to go HAM for this music thing, then Pro Tools will take you out of the bedroom altogether. But don’t get ahead of yourself; and anyway, Logic Pro is so cheap these days.
4. Purchase some decent Monitor speakers/reference headphones
In a perfect world, your bedroom would look something like Westlake Recording Studio. But if it doesn’t, you’ll have to experiment with monitor (and bed) position. Your ability to synthesise, mix, and master will all depend on how good your speakers are at translating the the subtle timbres of your mix. The easy part will be testing your music on some shit speakers; if you want fame really bad, your music will have to sound good on crap speakers as well as good speakers. I call this Ubiquity Compatibility, and everyone else who knows about it probably knows it by another name.
5. You will also need a “midi interface.”
Simply put; a keyboard from which you can control your desired production software. There are some producers (like Skrillex) who have been known to produce [terrible] records using a conventional keyboard and mouse, but this is only to be recommended if the music you make is centred around effects and gimmicks. Again, what price fame eh?
6. Effects Plugins
Make sure you get the right plugins, oh aspirant! It is possible to create great music using the plugins that ship with a digital audio workstation (and remember, by DAW we mean Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, etc.), but to be able to effectively compete with records released under record labels, you will have to invest in some third party plugins. Kill all birds with one stone and by the Waves plugin bundle; it’ll give you the widest productive pallet for the cheapest price. Otherwise, you’ll be buying individual plugins from various companies for exorbitant prices. If you have the budget for this, my first response would naturally be, “what on earth are you in a bedroom for in the first place?” Then I would advise you to check out companies like Izotope, FabFilter, Celemony & Antares (for pitch correction, not distortion… yeah Future, you incoherent abstraction), and Valhalla. There are many others, but I can only recommend what I use myself. I want you to succeed you see…
7. Tutorials, Tutorials, Tutorials…
Nothing is possible without them, and your production software will remain a perennial mystery to you without the technical savoir faire required to produce Ubiquity Compatible music. Between YouTube videos and production forums, there might just be enough information out there from which you could educate yourself—search diligently and ye shall find. It may be a good idea to subscribe to sites like Groove3, Macprovideo, or Lynda. This is definitely what the producers dominating SoundCloud have done at some point in their lives, and I don’t care what feeble excuses they offer to the contrary. It’s hardly likely they’ll let you know how they made it. On the other hand, I have nothing to lose so I’ll tell you for free. Now that’s love!
8. Sampled Instruments (because you can’t afford session musicians and real instruments)
They take up a hell of a lot of processing power, but most of the best producers use recorded samples of real instruments. In fact, much of the music you thought was “real” is more than likely to be a product of the Native Instruments. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as it can afford you the chance to become more of an arranger than a producer. Sometimes in my bedroom I like to imagine myself as Quincy Jones or Duke Ellington OR even Oliver Nelson(!) when I’ve got Session Horns tooting mad.
9. And finally: Virtual Instrument Plugins.
I know what you’re thinking by now but yes! You will have to buy some virtual instrument plugins because these kind are absolutely indispensable. The virtual instruments that ship with your production software won’t be nowhere near as effective as Massive, Sylenth, FM8, Battery, Korg, etc. When you’ve done all this, automate and compress the fuck out of everything and, hey presto! Flying Lotus! We’re all entitled to our opinions, bruh…
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