It’s safe to say that breaking into the independent music production game comes with its fair share of hurdles, especially when a great majority of DAWs (digital audio workstations) don’t come with very thorough instruction manuals. But when you finally do get your head around your chosen DAW, you’ll be greeted with a whole new challenge: tracking your first demo. Here’s all you’ll need to know to get the ball rolling.
There’s a fair amount of hardware required when it comes to actually recording your tracks, and it pays to invest in the best quality equipment from the get-go. This means investing in instruments that boast seamless digital integration like Fusion’s rosewood guitar, MIDI controllers for harvesting some funky, experimental sounds, and finally a suitable vocal recording microphone, the sourcing of which is generally easier said than done. You may find that you’ll need to use different microphones for different genres, just as you may find yourself using a broad array of instruments or instrumental effects in the same contexts. Know that this is just as normal as playing around with solid-state or tube amps at any point in your journey, and that not everything needs to be state-of-the-art to produce the sounds you might be looking for.
Colour-code your tracks
Just as an organised room reflects an organised mind, an organised DAW will greatly simplify the process of independent production. Colour-coding your tracks will ensure that all your separate elements will be easy to find and use, and even easier to critically assess. And although this article is largely about tracking your first demo, it’s a good rule of thumb to think about establishing this good habit right now as it also pays to be consistent from track to track and from instrument to instrument. For instance, get into the habit of selecting a specific set of hues for a specific set of instruments. Purples could be used to indicate drums, reds for guitars, blues for brass, and so on and so forth. Developing these visual associations alongside your sounds will definitely make independent music production feel like second nature in next to no time at all.
Finally, the word ‘experiment’ has been used sparingly throughout this article, and for good reason: you should always be doing it. The whole process of music production is reliant on experimentation. Playing around with MIDI controllers and instruments and getting to grips with all your chosen tools, all of this should be viewed in the same lens as you would a jam session with friends. The fantastic thing about music production is that when you have a passion for expression through music, it should rarely feel like work and constantly feel like learning. The only time it should feel like work is when you’re editing, and even then, you should still be experimenting. The structure is only a framework for creation. Expression is creation itself.
And remember that there’s no set timeline when it comes to music production, unless you’re challenging yourself and have decided to set yourself deadlines and other personal goals. Even so, it’s not wise to set yourself deadlines when you’re just starting out because you don’t want to limit your exploration too much. You should allow yourself to take as long as you’ll need on your first track until you feel proud of your end result, and then be sure to spread it out there because it’s no good for you gathering dust in an external hard drive. Share it with your friends, post it online, get your feedback, and move on to your next project!