How to Make Electronic Music
Maybe you’ve come to the genre recently, or maybe you’ve been a fan since it started making waves 15 years ago, but anyway you look at it, electronic music is in your soul. And now you want to start making your own music. You’ve done some research, watched some YouTube videos, and you’ve even started writing down or recording some ideas.
Now what? You’ve read it doesn’t take much more than a laptop, a few plugins, and a pair of headphones – but what kind of laptop, which plugins, and how much will it cost? It can start to be overwhelming and, for some, the dream ends before it ever had a chance to begin.
You don’t want to go out like that.
Here are a few simple guidelines and recommendations to get you started on your electronic music making experience. While it may take time to get the beats in your head uploaded to the cloud, you have to start somewhere.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Chances are, you already have a laptop (we’ll touch on that later), so the first step is deciding which digital audio workstation you want to use. There are plenty to choose from, ranging in price from free to much much more than free.
It might not make a lot of sense to buy top line software just yet, both because the price can be prohibitive and you may not even need that much power. Of course, free is a very good price. Steinberg Cubase 10 and PreSonus Studio One 4 are two DAWS which are free to download. Both can help you get started familiarizing yourself with producing electronic music. But you get what you pay for in the long run.
When you’re ready to make the leap and invest in quality software, we recommend researching a DAW that has gained a foothold in the market, such as Ableton, Logic Pro, or FL Studio. Many of these tools provide everything you need to begin and even offer 30-day free trials, limited versions, and student pricing. There is no “best” DAW at this point, so pick one that speaks to you and dive in.
As you get the hang of the software and what it can do, you may decide to upgrade to expand your knowledge base. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself to move along faster than you’re ready to. Just like anything else in life, build a solid foundation before buying the bling.
Getting into the electronic music business can be a long and expensive road, with much of the cost going into the equipment you need to take your show on the road and start packing the clubs. But you’re not there yet – you may not even want to get there – so you don’t need that type of gear at the start.
Of course, you’ll want something more than your younger sister’s Hello Kitty headphones. (Although a Hello Kitty sticker might work well if you’re trying to develop an on-stage persona.) Some headphones can cost as much as two or three car payments. But that doesn’t mean they all coast that much.
Before buying headphones, consider taking a test drive. Do they fit well on your head? Are they comfortable? Do they block out all ambient sound? You really need to be able to accurately hear the music you’re creating, not the guy down the street running his leaf blower. And time flies when you’re having fun – so remember, you could be wearing these things for hours on end.
Once you find a pair you like, do some price shopping or maybe hunt down a set of used headphones. This may be the first piece of gear you replace, but you still want to get as much use out of it as possible.
From there, the sky’s the limit. Upgrading your laptop and buying a midi controller, keyboard, or drum machine will give you nearly unlimited options when making music. At the start, however, just make sure your computer has enough power to run the DAW you want to use. The rest of the gear will come along soon enough.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Don’t be discouraged if your first few efforts aren’t… good. Break down the music you want to make and concentrate on one aspect of it. When you become proficient in that area, move on to another. This will involve months of trial and error (and the occasional success!), but the only way to improve is to keep with it.
You do this by practice, seeking out answers to issues you’re having, and following tutorials. This is why we mentioned the DAWs above: they are industry standards used by the pros. So there are a lot of resources available to those just starting out.
The Next Step
If you’ve followed the above pointers and built yourself a solid library of music, but want to beef up your knowledge base, consider applying to Recording Connection. We have many programs for learning how to make electronic music from the ground up. With Recording Connection for Logic Pro Electronic Music Production, Ableton Electronic Music Production, and Live DJ programs, you’ll learn one-on-one from established mentors already in the industry.
You’ll get hands-on experience in a professional studio where you learn from one of our mentors, a working music producer, DJ, or audio engineer, and receive one-on-one remote guidance from one of our Academic Facilitators. We work with you to help you learn how to make, refine, and finish the music you love.
These programs are for artists looking to make electronic music something more than just a hobby they do during their free time. Recording Connection students are the ones who want to make creating electronic music their career, and they’re willing to put in the work it takes to make it happen.