One question I’ve been asked multiple times by listeners or DJ’s of electronic music is, “How do I become an Electronic Music Producer?”
There has never been a time more simple, realistic and affordable to get into producing than today. As long as you have enough CPU power, memory and storage space, you can get your studio up and running for under $1,000. Some of you might be thinking “$1,000 isn’t cheap at all!”
However, it beats spending $100/hr to rent out studio space or investing a whopping $50k in your own professional studio space.
15 years ago, you’d be lucky to know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, that can get you into one of those spaces. Today, all you need is a pair of headphones, a 2012 Macbook Pro, and a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Your DAW is your office. It’s where you create, cut, shape, and save (always save) your works of art.
It’s the most important thing to producing because, well it’s what you use to produce.
Your DAW holds all of your plugins, VST’s, and is home base for your projects.
Most producer’s will tell you “This DAW is the best, forget that other one, it’s cheap and unreliable.” However, I’m from the camp that doesn’t believe in all that nonsense.
DAW’s are more of a preference. Most DAW’s have the same features: recording, playback, plugin capability, stock plugins to get you started, sample libraries, looping and more!
Others come stocked with specially designed features like Ableton’s rack features or Logic Pro X’s Flex Time and Flex Pitch.
The best thing you could do for yourself is to download demos of all the DAW’s featured in this article and take them for a test drive.
When testing the DAW pay attention to how the interface is setup, does it make sense to you? Does it feel right? Does it provide everything you need and some?
Answer these questions and stick with that DAW for the time being, learn the ins and outs of the entire program.
This is how you become a well versed producer, a versatile one, and a fast creator; and in this day and age, you must be all of those.
Ableton 10 is hands down one of the most powerful DAW’s out there. Ableton 10 comes, stock, with its new Wavetable Synth (titled Wavetable) so that right out of the box you can create, design, and mimic beautiful analog sounds.
Ableton’s use of racks make your sample library, as the great duo, Daft Punk put it, “better, faster and stronger”.
It’s new use of Capture MIDI makes sure that you never forget what you wrote when you’re not recording. See the below explanation of Capture MIDI.
“Live 10 is always listening to MIDI input on armed or input-monitored tracks and capture MIDI lets you retrieve the material you’ve just played on those tracks. For detailed information about this feature, have a look at the dedicated section of the Live manual.”
- (64-bit) 64-bit Intel® Core™ or AMD multi-core processor (Intel® Core™ processor or faster recommended)
- 4 GB RAM (8 GB or more recommended)
- Intro: $99.00 USD
- Standard: $449.00 USD
- Suite: $749.00 USD
Logic Pro X is a highly sought after DAW. A lot of young producers hear the name and they immediately think of “professional, high quality tracks”. There’s a reason for that.
This Apple made product is a very powerful tool used by some of the biggest names in, and out, of the electronic music industry.
As I said before, Logic is an Apple product which means… yup, you guessed it… only Mac users can tackle this beast.
Logic comes with out of the box programs like Flex Pitch, Logic Remote, and Smart Tempo. Flex Pitch allows you to edit pitches of vocals in real time.
This feature mimics one of the industry standards for vocal correction, Melodyne. Logic Remote allows you to connect all of your Apple products, including iPhone and iPad, and turn them into a MIDI keyboard, live mixer or use your VST from your device.
This lets you double your work speed so that you can do multiple things within your project without the hassle of having one screen to slow you down.
It’s perfect if you don’t have an additional $200 to get an extra computer monitor or a MIDI keyboard, you can just load these up on your Apple products and get on your way!
Smart Tempo is a component that is always analyzing your tracks to keep in synch with your global BPM. Can’t keep on tempo? No worries, Logic has you covered.
Overall, Logic is one of the strongest DAWs to get with a super low investment and all the tools you’ll need to get started as an Electronic Music Producer.
- macOS 10.12 or later
- 4GB of RAM
- $199.99 USD
Cubase 10.5 is a breeding ground for creativity, skill, and craftsmanship. With its easy to read interface, powerful stock plugins, and swift mixing capabilities, you can’t go wrong with this purchase.
Cubase includes features like Control Room, Chord Pads and MixConsole history.
I, myself, am a Cubase guy. Cubase is heavily reliant on the world of mixing and mastering for audio engineers.
Although Cubase includes all of the same production capabilities of any other DAW, it’s bonus features is what gears towards the audio engineering realm of things.
Control Room allows you to take control of your entire studio/recording space allowing you to A/B your monitors, talkback to your recording space, channel processing to tweak certain frequency responses in your headphones/monitors; and much, much more.
Chord Pads is a great way to get your production running by allowing you to create chords at the push of a button.
Cubase 10’s Mix Console History is a powerful tool that makes it easy for you to undo/redo things you did within the mix console.
Didn’t mean to turn that fader up? You’re covered, just undo that in your Mix Console History.
- 64-bit Intel or AMD multi-core processor (Intel i5 or faster recommended)
- 4 GB RAM (8 GB or more recommended)
- Cubase Elements 10: $99.99
- Cubase Artist 10: $309.99
- Cubase Pro 10: $559.99
3 words that define FL Studio are inspiring, clean, and just plain fun. FL Studio is one of the BEST DAW’s to get for a beginner Electronic Music Producer.
It’s bright popping colors and visual designs allow for a fun experience and puts you in the perfect head space for creativity. FL includes some of the most innovative features like its piano roll, and a HUGE variety of plugins.
FL Studio’s piano roll capability just makes so much sense. It puts you in the space to knock out melodies within minutes.
FL comes stocked with over 80 plugins, including Sytrus, a powerful synth giving you free roam in the sound design realm; Maximus for strong limiting capabilities, and Slicex for fast and consistent audio editing.
Lastly, one of the best features of FL Studio is its lifetime updates/upgrades.
That’s right, FL studio is a one time purchase, once they take your money, they don’t take another penny from you.
Each DAW before FL Studio has additional upgrade fees when the new version comes out. With FL, when they release an update you can download it and play with all of its new features!
- 2 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 / AMD Athlon 64 (or later) compatible CPU with full SSE2 support.
- WINDOWS 7 or later / macOS 10.11 or later.
- 4 GB or more RAM recommended.
- Fruity Edition: $99.00
- Producer Edition: $199.00
- Signature Bundle: $299.00
- FL Studio All Plugins: $899.00
Now that you’ve got the DAW of your choice it’s time to move onto the more crucial hardware parts, audio interfaces.
DAW’s can only take you so far in this digital age and most, if not all, require a seperate piece of hardware to take on the majority of the audio task at hand.
While DAW’s provide excellent means of producing, you still need an audio interface in order to record high level vocals with mic inputs, record a variety of instruments, monitoring, as well as having capable playback through a pair of studio monitors or studio headphones.
In order to get the best quality sound out of your DAW you must invest in an audio interface with quality converters and mic pre-amps.
Be careful in deciding your audio interface, do research and pick the best one for you. Interfaces are hardware choices that should last with you 5+ years.
There’s no reason to invest into a $200 piece of gear just to “upgrade” a year later.
Decide now whether or not you need 2 mic/instrument inputs or 8. Do you want lots of analog gear, or are you ok with a minimal setup(1 mic input, a headphone jack, and output channels for you studio monitors)?
From the creators of Cubase comes one of the BEST audio interfaces a producer can invest in. S
teinberg’s UR22 comes with 2 class A D-PRE mic pre-amp input channels, 2 TRS output channels (A.K.A. ¼” cable input or instrument cable inputs), a headphone input (requires a TRS adapter), and a MIDI in and out input. The UR22’s heavy duty metal casing, zero latency, and plug in and play capability is hard to beat at it’s low market value price.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The Scarlett 2i2 comes with many of the same features as the UR22. Scarlett’s sleak, clean and bright design comes packed with 2 award winning mic pre-amps, 2 output balanced ¼” cable inputs, and a headphone input.
A big difference between the Scarlet 2i2 and the UR22 is the lack of MIDI capability.
The Scarlett 2i2 comes without MIDI in/out so don’t jump the gun on this purchase before deciding whether or not you want MIDI instruments in your arsenal.
Ever wonder exactly what a Electronic Music Producer, or an audio engineer uses while making their art?
While most headphones will work okay just about any day, I feel as though studio monitors are essential, if not to generate a “clean” output, than at the very least, for referencing.
If you’re just starting out, the best size to get would be a 5” woofer. This size is the perfect nearfield monitor since you will most likely have them sitting fairly close to you as you produce.
If you want to get a 2nd pair of monitors go for the upgraded 8” cone.
Just be sure to purchase some monitor stands and place your 8” monitors behind the 5” ones, about 1 – 2 feet apart from the left or the right of the 5” monitors.
An Electronic Music Producer who “knows it all” will tell you that you must only buy a specific pair of monitors because those, as always, are “the best”. However, if you want to be a great producer then you MUST know your system.
Know how a track SHOULD sound when using your preference in audio output.
Do this by listening to you favorite tracks and listen to how the track is mixed. Now go into your project and use your system that you are learning and try to copy that mix style.
Your choice in monitors will be heavily weighed in your preference for a specific brand or after reading some reviews. Just remember that to get the best use out of your choice is to learn how the system audibly works.
I won’t be going into any specific detail on my choice of monitors to showcase as most of the information, i.e. drivers, mounting system, bi-amplification, and dedicated power amps, might just sound like boring diarrhea of the mouth. Instead, I will give you a list of monitors with videos of each system as well as a great buying guide created by Sweetwater
P.S. Monitors are sold individually, that means you MUST purchase 2 at one time…
$149.00 USD (each)
$149.50 USD (each)
Audio Technica ATH-M30x
Audio Technica is a very well known brand in the industry, and they’ve earned that notoriety for a reason.
The M30x’s are an incredible pair headphones for its price-tag.
These headphones have a frequency range from 15 htz – 22k htz. A range like that ensures that you will hear every bit of the mix that your brain can possibly comprehend.
Their sleek, comfortable, and collapsable design allows these headphones to be as portable as any other. Audio Technica even provides you with a carrying pouch and an included ¼” adapter free of charge.
It’s incredibly hard to find headphones as accurate, valuable, and comfortable as these ones at such a low price. The value is just too hard to beat.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x
If your comfortable spending about twice as much as the M30x’s, then sticking with the Audio Technica brand and picking up their M50x’s is a great choice.
While the M50x’s aren’t too different, they offer up a bigger frequency range from 15 htz – 28k htz, giving you about 5k more range in the high end.
The average human ear can only hear up to 20k htz, the extra 5k you get in these headphones might show you some harshness in your high end frequencies that you didn’t even notice on your previous M30x’s. However, the biggest difference in this pair is it’s closed-back design.
A closed-back design prevents any sound from escaping your headphones.
While this is nice for perfect noise cancellation in an apartment or busy household, you suffer when low frequencies get trapped and bounce around the walls of the headphones.
This can create false lows and might cause you to start cutting or carving away “unwanted” frequencies. However, It’s flat response rate and excellent accuracy along the entire frequency spectrums helps to defend against these false lows.
Another major benefit to the M50x’s are its ability to remove the headphone cable. Allowing you to adjust the length of the cable whether you’re recording, mixing, DJing or just casually listening to music.
The best part about this feature is that if you destroy the headphone cable, or break the input jack. No need to spend another $150 on new headphones. Simply purchase a new cable and you’re good to go.
Audio Technica provides 1 extended cable (about 6 ft in length) and a coiled cable (about 3 ft in length), as well as a ¼” adapter and carrying pouch. Overall, the M50x’s are a great pair of studio headphones for the starting Electronic Music Producer.
Sennheiser HD 650 Open-back Audiophile and Reference Headphones
Sennheiser is one of those brands in the industry that can be named the end-all-be-all of headphones.
It’s beautiful design with high quality aluminum material just feels right when you put them on.
These headphones come with a wide frequency range of 10 htz – 39k htz. The on ear, open-back design with a detachable 9’ cable provides some of the best accuracy as well as the convenience of switching or replacing cables.
The HD 650’s are an incredible investment that will leave you with long lasting, high quality headphones. A great pair of headphones for new a Electronic Dance Music Producer
Congratulations! You made it to the end! If you haven’t already pulled out your credit card and filled up your cart, I recommend continuing your research!
I always like to remind people that you don’t NEED monitors to start producing or to be a better producer. The best thing is to get a pair of headphones and start learning how they sound.
If you have a nice laptop you might not even need an audio interface. Most of this listed gear is for the producer’s who want a bedroom studio. The M30x’s and Logic Pro X on a 2015 Macbook Pro is PLENTY to get you started.
Just remember that doing your research and finding your preferences for the space you’re in will get you right where you need to be.
So now that you’re getting started, you should check out my podcast; Electronic Dance Money. Electronic Dance Money is a podcast focused on teaching the average Electronic Music Producer how to monetize everything they do in the studio.
Get ready, this is going to be your #1 business resource for making money as an EDM producer! Click the image below to check out the show!