🎹 Music Production
If you intend to produce your own music or sounds, you can use a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation (opens in a new tab)). Most DAWs are paid software and can be quite expensive, particularly if you also purchase third-party plugins (known as VST). Plus, learning music production from scratch is time-consuming, so weigh that in before diving head first. You might be better off paying a music producer, buying stock music, using Creative Commons or royalty-free music (sometimes wrongly called copyright-free music), or even AI-generated music.
Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)
Any DAW can make any kind of music. It mostly comes down to UI, built-in features, price, and workflow preferences. Here are the big names in the game:
- Ableton Live (opens in a new tab) – From $99 to $749
- FL Studio (opens in a new tab) – From $99 to $499
- Bitwig (opens in a new tab) – From $99 to $399, Linux support
- Logic Pro (opens in a new tab) – $199, Mac-only
- GarageBand (opens in a new tab) – Free, Mac-only
- Pro Tools (opens in a new tab) – $99 to $599 per year
- Cubase (opens in a new tab) – $99 to $599
- Reaper (opens in a new tab) – $60 or $225, Linux support
- Renoise (opens in a new tab) – $75, Linux support
- Reason (opens in a new tab) – $499
For electronic music, the most popular DAWs are Ableton Live and FL Studio (comparison (opens in a new tab)). Personally, I highly recommend Ableton Live, which has an excellent workflow and UI, and is also the DAW of choice for live performance if you are into that. Bitwig is also a great DAW that follows a similar workflow to Ableton. It is made by former Ableton devs and is cheaper (comparison (opens in a new tab)). Logic Pro, Pro Tools, and Cubase are less used for music composition, and usually more popular in genres that involve recording (like rock music).
The prices listed are excluding special sale deals, may not include taxes, and may not be up-to-date. Make sure to check the details of what is included in each edition before buying. For instance, only the most expensive edition of Ableton Live includes built-in synths.
Third-Party Plugins (VSTs)
You can use your DAW's built-in instruments and effects, but here are my some great third-party VSTs:
- Serum (opens in a new tab) – $189, Excellent general-purpose synth (Massive (opens in a new tab) – $149, as an alternative)
- FabFilter (opens in a new tab) – $169 to $899, EQ, mixing
- Melodyne (opens in a new tab) – $99 to $499, Pitch correction (vocals, instruments)
- Valhalla Room (opens in a new tab) – $50, Reverb
- iZotope Ozone (opens in a new tab) – $249 to $499, Mastering suite
- Cable Guys (opens in a new tab) – $29 to $184, Sound shaping, side-chaining, effects
- Invisible Limiter (opens in a new tab) – $95, Limiter (great to make your music louder)
- Heavyocity (opens in a new tab) and Sonuscore (opens in a new tab) – Epic cinematic sounds
You don't have to use third-party plugins though. If you are just getting started it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this or that shiny plugin will make your sound better, but my advice would be to master your DAW's built-in tools first.
You'll also probably want to grab some sample packs. As you can guess, that's yet another thing that you may have to buy! But luckily, there are plenty of free samples out there.
If you want to publish your music on Spotify, Apple Music and such, you can use Distrokid (opens in a new tab).
Here is an interactive introduction to music production (opens in a new tab) by Ableton.
The subreddit /r/edmproduction (opens in a new tab) is a good place stay up-to-date with the music production world.
Psst, you can listen to my music here (opens in a new tab)!