How To Make Electronic Music: A Beginner’s Guide
The world of electronic music production might seem mysterious and intimidating for a beginner.
Top producers have huge studios with expensive mixing boards and racks full of hardware.
Exposure to this can make a beginner think that you NEED equipment to start making music. In reality, all you really need is a laptop to get your feet wet.
If you aren’t sure that producing music is for you, don’t get sucked into the trap of buying expensive software. There are plenty of freeware and demos to try before you buy.
When I googled the term “How to make electronic music” a few minutes ago, I wasn’t pleased with the results. There was one or two decent results and everything else wasn’t helpful.
The purpose of this article is to teach you the basics of how to make electronic music. I’ll point you in the right direction and even give you links to some great resources at the end.
What you will learn:
- Our recommended courses for getting started
- What equipment should you have?
- What software should you use?
- What are audio plugins?
- How to learn music production online (for free!)
Keep in mind that I am willing to revise this article even further and add on to it. If I didn’t answer a burning question that you are still trying to find an answer to, let me know in the comment section below!
Recommended courses for learning electronic music production:
ProducerTech: In my opinion, ProducerTech has the highest quality and most curated courses around. Their prices are reasonable and the teachers are actual DJs/producers who have years (and sometimes over a decade) of experience. Here are our top picks:
- House and Techno Groove Production Masterclass
- Chill Trap and Future Bass Production in Maschine
- Bundle – Complete Guide to Maschine Studio and Producer’s Guide to Music Theory
Udemy: You can learn an endless amount of valuable skills on Udemy. It’s a great Platform overall that has reasonable prices for courses. Here are our favorite music production courses on Udemy:
- Millionaire DJ: FL Studio 12 – Pro Music Production Course
- GarageBand Masterclass
- The Practical Way: Learn Electronic Music Production
- Music Production 101- Make Music on Your Computer!
What equipment should you have?
Equipment is the most confusing part of music production for a beginner.
When I first started, I was completely lost on what equipment was necessary and what equipment I could live without.
The most important thing you’ll need to produce electronic music is predictably a computer. Whether your use a Mac or Windows computer is completely up to you.
Both laptops and desktop computers will work fine. You might want to choose a laptop solely for the reason that you can bring your productions anywhere you go.
If your computer was made in the last 3-5 years, you’ll most likely be fine. For specs, I would recommend a minimum of 4GB of RAM and at least a dual core CPU that is 2GHZ or higher.
If your computer is below those specs, the software will still work. You will just experience more audio-lag, freezes, and general slowness
Don’t confuse studio monitors for normal computer speakers. They have much different purposes and provide a more “realistic” sound.
The point of studio monitors is to get a flat sound. When you here the word flat, it basically talking about a sound that is not enhanced and sounds exactly how it should. (A flat sound has no bass-boost or any other enhancements)
A lot of the time computer speakers will sound better than studio monitors. This is because, like I said, studio monitors produce a flat sound.
If you are on a budget, I’d recommend buying studio headphones when you first start out instead of studio monitor speakers.
Just a tip: Keep in mind that studio monitors are typically sold individually. If you see Studio Monitors for sale online, and there’s only one speaker in the picture, you’re only going to receive one speaker. This is something I was confused about in the beginning.
Studio monitor headphones are just like studio monitor speakers. They produce a flat sound that you can’t get out of consumer-grade headphones.
Beats headphones, although they have a hefty price-tag, are not good for mixing. The sound they produce is far from flat.
If you were to make a song while listening through Beats headphones, and then later, you listen to your song on a different set of speakers, there’s a good chance your track will sound completely different. This is why a flat sound is so valuable. You’ll have a much better idea of how your track will translate onto other speakers.
If you are confused about the advantages and disadvantages of using headphones over studio monitors, this info-graphic I made might help you out.
If you are planning to record real instruments, you are going to need a way to connect them to your computer.
This is where an audio interface comes in handy!
Not only will you be able to connect microphones and other instruments, but you’ll also be able to plug in midi keyboards/controllers.
Audio interfaces usually have a much lower latency than your computer’s built-in sound-card. This means that there will be a much smaller delay from the time you hit a key, to the time the sound comes out of your speakers.
There’s a good chance you already know what a midi keyboard is.
If not, a midi keyboard is a physical piano/keyboard that allows you to send notes to your computer which will then be translated into any sound/instrument you desire. (even drums and FX can be used. The possibilities are endless!)
The most common keyboards range from 25 keys to 88 keys. Whichever one you get is completely dependent on your budget and space.
I will say that if you are planning on playing two-handed, a 25-key keyboard will not provide enough range for you to play both chords and a melody.
A 49-key keyboard is a great pick for most. I’ve reviewed a ton of keyboards on this site and my favorite has to be the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00IJ7FGSC” locale=”US” tag=”midilife-20″]MPK249[/easyazon_link].
88-key keyboards are excellent if you have the money and the space. They’ll allow you to explore an instruments full key-range without having to use octave buttons. If you play piano, an 88-key keyboard is a perfect match since it is full-size(the same key-range as most acoustic pianos).
What software should you use?
Any music production software can be called a DAW. DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation.
There are a lot of different options out there today, but I’d say the most relevant ones to pick would be Ableton, FL Studio, Logic Pro(Mac only), and Reason. Bitwig is an up-and-comer that is gaining popularity quickly. It might also be worth a look.
There are many other options, but I feel that those 4 have the biggest communities of users and offer the most intuitive interfaces. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what software to use(Just NEVER buy Dr. Drum).
Don’t feel that you need to invest in software right away. There are a lot of free (and even open-source) DAWs to dip your toes in the waters of music production.
LMMS is one of the more popular freeware DAWs that I have found. It supports most features that commercial DAWs have to offer and is a great starting point.
What are audio plugins?
Audio plugins are virtual instruments or effects, typically made by a third-party company, that open up a whole new world of possibilities to your productions.
Audio plugins are interesting because they can be loaded and configured in any DAW. plugins are stored in one general plugin folder on your computer and then that folder is loaded within your DAW of choice.
Most plugins have an installer that will automatically install the correct files to your plugins folder, but I have noticed some plugins, specifically free plugins, require you to manually move files to your plugins folder.
I recommend not worrying about plugins when you first get started. All the DAWs that I have mentioned are packed with more than capable instruments and effects to get you started.
How to learn music production online (for free!)
While there are a lot of paid courses (and even schools) that teach music production, you don’t necessarily need them to be a good producer. Most well-known DJs and artists are self-taught.
Youtube is going to be your golden resource of music production education. You’ll find an endless supply of people wi post excellent quality tutorials and will even respond to your questions in the comment section.
Here’s a few helpful Youtube courses for multiple DAWs:
FL Studio Beginner’s Course by DrShankums: LINK
Ableton Beginner’s Course by Big Bang DJ: LINK
Reason Beginner’s Course by Reason Expert: LINK
Logic Pro X Beginner’s Course by MusicTechHelpGuy: LINK
LMMS Beginner’s Course by Cubician: LINK
Here are my favorite music production Youtube channels:
SeamlessR – FL Studio tutorials
SadowickProduction – Ableton tutorials
Mr. Bill – Ableton tutorials
BassGorilla – Ableton tutorials
ArtFX – Ableton tutorials
Multiplier – Ableton Tutorials
Dorincourt – Reason tutorials
Beats4Beets – FL Studio Tutorials
Music Production Tutorials – Tutorials in many DAWs
Point Blank Music School – Ableton Tutorials
DubSpot – Ableton Tutorials (mostly for beginners)
Future Music Magazine – Studio sessions with well-known artists
So there you have it!
I hope that this article was EXTREMELY helpful for you.
If you have any further questions, let me know in the comment section below.
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