With the live music scene temporarily on hold, there’s no better time to work on your own material from home. Whether it’s dusting off an old instrument, honing your craft or learning a new skill, now’s your chance to get cracking.
We’re sure that there are a bunch of budding musos stuck in iso at the moment, just waiting for some inspiration to help them take flight. So to that end, if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at music or sound production, we’ve compiled a list of five essential tips to get off the ground. Who knows, maybe you’re the next Flume.
1. Master your chosen DAW
Your DAW – or Digital Audio Workstations for the uninitiated – is the nucleus of your production room. Of course, the serious producer has microphones, MIDI keyboards, speakers and a host of other gear, but none of it is more important than your DAW.
This is the computer software into which you enter your music. Some examples include Ableton Live, Imageline’s FL Studio, Apple Logic Pro, Steinberg Cubase and even the humble Garageband.
For beginners using a Mac, Garageband will serve your purpose. It’s navigable, free and, to be honest, a lot of fun. If you’re working from Windows, Acoustica’s Mixcraft is probably the most similar to Garageband. Mixcraft 9, the current version, will set you back about $75 USD for the basic program.
Programs like Ableton Live and the others listed above are a significant step up from Garageband and Mixcraft in terms of precision.
To be honest, there is no one program that trumps all others. It’s all about what works for you. For example, Ableton is the software of choice for Flume, Diplo and Skrillex, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for everyone.
Calvin Harris, Disclosure and David Guetta all opt to use Logic instead. All of the DAWs listed above have free trial downloads, so your best bet is to shop around and see which is the best fit.
2. Develop a body of work
There’s really no way around this one. If you want a career in sound or production, putting the time into making your own music is the most important thing. But that should be fun! Immersing yourself in other people’s work is a great way to guide your own practice.
There’s nothing that’s going to help you get better more than listening widely to producers from around the world and spending as much time on your own work as you can. Not just that, if you ever went on to study sound (see below), you’ll need a portfolio of work to submit with your application. So get cracking and have fun!
3. Attend industry events/study sound
So you’ve downloaded your DAW, you’re making music at home and you’re happy with how it’s all going. If you want to take your sound career to the next level, it’s probably an idea to attend some industry events and/or get a qualification under your belt.
There is a range of postgraduate and undergraduate options in Australia. AFTRS (Australian Film, Television and Radio School) offers courses for both, with graduates going on to careers in the film and music industries.
This year, their post-graduate info week is being held from Monday, July 6th – Saturday, July 11th. It’s online this year, in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. This is great news for people outside of Sydney, who can access info about the course from their own homes.
On top of that, every second Thursday, AFTRS holds an online seminar, entitled “Emerging Gifted and X” (EGX). Watching these streams is another great way to upskill without even having to leave the house.
4. Make connections with industry professionals and peers
Hopefully by attending some relevant events, you’re in a better position to make all-important connections in the industry. Aside from their events above, AFTRS also host a Talks @ AFTRS series online each Tuesday from 1-2pm via their Facebook page.
This is a great place to start with networking in the industry. Live gigs are always a great place to meet new people too, so when they’re back, make the most of the opportunity to meet like-minded people and potential collaborators.
5. Get industry experience
Easier said than done. But with a body of work behind you as well as some contacts and training, you’ll give yourself the best chance to book jobs.