Seriously now? We don’t believe you, you need more people!
Occasionally, I review software and pieces of gear here at Make Beats 101 if I find them useful for producers and other musicians.
Because there’s already way too many things being advertised to us, I try to only review things that are beneficial to our goal of making great quality music.
Since I want to maintain my sense of integrity, I don’t bother writing about and recommending crappy equipment and software.
And that’s precisely the reason why I CAN’T give beatmaking programs like Dubturbo and Sonic Producer a good review.
So you want to start making your own beats and you’re wondering what kind of music production equipment you should get as well as the best software to make beats?
No problem. Not only does a professional studio setup take a fraction of what it used to cost, but our equipment can do much more and is actually a lot more flexible these days.
When I first got into music, I had no means to pay thousands of dollars for a synthesizer and a sequencer. But now? You could produce songs with damn great quality for less than a thousand dollars, and if you only have a few hundred to spend you can have a bare bones setup that includes one of the best beat making programs out there, which comes bundled in with excellent sounds samples.
Because choosing the right equipment and software for making beats is the first important decision you have to make when you want to make your own beats, I figured it’d be appropriate to list down the things you need (and might want) to invest in when you’re serious about making music.
Let me start off today’s lesson with a simple question: how does wasting years of your time and spending hundreds of dollars on beatmaking programs that you’ll never end up using appeal to you?
If you’re a normal human being, then it prooooooobably doesn’t sound like something you’d want to do.
After all, the whole point of this site is to teach you how to bang out a hot beat in as little time and with as little money as possible.
But when I started out, waste time and money is exactly what I did.
And plenty of aspiring producers fall into the same trap.
More than a year ago, I was sitting in my studio (AKA my bedroom) working on a new song during a stormy night. Since it was raining too hard to go out, I decided to write some verses to a new instrumental that one of my friends produced over the weekend.
In the middle of the session, lightning struck, and I guess it hit an electric pole near my place because it knocked out the power for our whole street.
It came back several minutes later, and I turned the computer back on thinking that I was going start over where I left off.
Apparently, I thought wrong.
After my desktop computer restarted, I opened up Reaper (my beat making software at the time) and tried to go back to my session. I wondered why sound wasn’t coming out of my studio monitors.
That’s when I realized that my audio interface wasn’t even on. That’s weird, I thought to myself. It’s plugged in, but the lights won’t turn on…
Recently, a singer-songwriter friend of mine came to me with a few questions about recording equipment and asked for suggestions on which gear to invest in.
Since she’s working on her debut album, she figured it would be wiser to spend her money building a home studio instead of renting one out. With the latter, she’s likely to end up rushing through the recording process and get crappy recordings (and crappy songs) as a result.
Now being a singer-songwriter, one of the most important and central pieces in her home studio was her microphone.
But as with most independent musicians out there, budget was an issue.
She needed a home studio microphone that would provide her the best bang for her buck, but had absolutely no idea where to begin looking for one.
To be specific, she needed a microphone that would meet the following requirements:
- The microphone needs to be versatile enough to record vocals AND instruments. The guitar must recorded with a crisp, pristine tune, and it needs to capture her vocals just the way she wants it.
- We needed a microphone that has a clean and clear recording. Meaning to say, it needs to stay as true as possible to what we actually hear. This would make EQing the final mix a lot easier.
- Most important of all, the absolute most she could afford to spend on a microphone was $250. After all, she still needed to buy other equipment and software to complete her home studio.
A couple of months ago, I flew to Vancouver, Canada to handle some personal business.
Thinking it was going to be a quick trip that would only take a month or two, I didn’t bother bringing any of my music equipment. I could use a quick vacation from making music anyway, plus I didn’t want to clutter up the house I was staying at any more than I already would be.
(But honestly, I think I really was just being too cheap to pay an additional $35 to check in more baggage, haha.)
However, because of some unanticipated issues, it turns out that I had to stay for much longer than I originally thought I was going to.
This wouldn’t be a problem… Except for the fact that here I was stranded without my studio equipment.
I had no means whatsoever to make my beats! Not unless I was willing to draw little MIDI notes with my mouse (hell no I wasn’t), and I had melodies in my head that really wanted to get out.
This was the moment I realized that it would be a smart decision to invest in a portable MIDI keyboard that I could take along with me on trips like this (I only have an Oxygen 49, which is another fantastic piece of equipment that I’ll be reviewing soon).
Many independent musicians are whining about how difficult it is to promote their own music even if they’re giving it away for free.
In my opinion, this is simply a symptom of a much bigger problem. But my point would probably be much clearer if we get a few points out of the way first.
Here’s the thing: with today’s software and technology doing a lot more for much less, there’s probably never been a better time to be an independent musician.
A simple laptop can completely power an entire studio that you can carry with you on your backpack.
It doesn’t cost any more than a few hundred bucks to get a crystal clear condenser mic, a latency-free audio interface, and a powerful DAW like Logic.
No longer do you need to pay thousands of dollars for hardware synthesizers to make your own beats — nowadays, virtual instruments can provide you with almost any sound that you need.
And with websites such as Bandcamp, distribution is no longer a problem — anyone can buy our music at any time of the day anywhere in the world.