For those of you interested in producing music as a hobby, this piece is a collection of comments & stories from hobbyist musicians on why they enjoy doing it, as well as tips for getting started. The truth is that music production can be loads of fun, even if you are terrible at it — and it can be really satisfying playing your music back. And like drawing, writing or cooking, music production is a creative pursuit, as you’re limited only by your own imagination.
But it’s getting into music production in the first place that’s the hard part. That’s why we’re publishing this compilation of comments & stories from different musicians who derive real joy from it, to hopefully inspire you to get into it.
As with other community discussion pieces I’ve published, to put this together I reached out to many different people, as well as turned to some of the journalist sites I belong to. Here is the query I put out:
Would like to hear from people who produce their own music (any genre) purely for enjoyment – what do you love about music production, and what would you say to people curious about music production and are thinking about taking a dabble in it? All comments welcome.
The below is the best of what I’ve received so far, with some great input from different people on why they enjoy creating music. If you’re a music producer yourself (as a hobbyist, not a professional), I’d like to hear from you and add your comment to this article: you can make a submission here. 🙂
I love music production for a variety of reasons. First, it's cost effective compared to going into a traditional music studio, which typically entails hiring a producer, engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer. Second, it allows us to have full creative direction and work at our own pace—just to give you an idea, as an example, it took us over a year to record and produce our new single I Wonder and get it sounding the way we wanted. Lastly, in my experience, producing your own music helps you become a better musician and songwriter, as it forces you to quite literally break your music down into the individual pieces and examine how each component fits in with the others.
--Garrett Calcaterra, wheelhousesongs.com
As a lawyer and insurance executive by trade, I find a vast creative outlet within music production. The technology and software can reproduce incredible sounds that make even non-professionals sound decent; grand pianos in spacious halls, rich synthesizer pads creating ambience, and myriad instruments that would fill a small warehouse. All of these are available within the confines of your computer, and external instruments (other than a midi-piano keyboard) are entirely unnecessary. I publish my work as Acadian Serpent, which is my musical nom de plume. I have a variety of musical and composing interests, including electronic, jazz, piano landscapes, ambient, synthesizer tracks, rock, and funk. My 13 year old son, who goes by the name Kill the Kitty, also posts on my site (below), and has his own site. He is working toward an eventual career in music production, and he is much more talented (and has more time to devote to it) than I do. We often collaborate on weekends - meaning he tells me my ideas are terrible and then revises whatever compositions I have created - but at least we spend quality time together, often laughing and always being creative. For those interested, the minimum requirements are a decent computer, a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), an audio interface, a midi-keyboard, and either headphones or a set of neutral speakers. After that, software instruments and effects, along with any real instrument the individual plays and would like to record. Music composing and creating has become much simpler with modern technology, making it a more enjoyable and creative endeavor for weekend composers and musicians.
Link to music: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZUD3dCjkkMVFzvkQ01lNug
--Stacey Giulianti, Florida Peninsula Ins Co
Making music is one of the most wonderful things human beings are capable of. And music production can be even more exciting because when a piece of music is finished it can be shared with friends, family and colleagues. When taking the first steps in music production it can be a bit overwhelming. There are new things to learn like working with a sequencer software, microphones and midi keyboards. But don’t worry. After a few hours you know what it is all about and how it works.
Don’t hesitate to try out free software like Garage Band which comes with any Mac Computer, iPad oder iPhone. It’s pre installed and ready to go.
Music production is an art like playing an instrument. So be patient and give yourself enough time to improve and enjoy the process!
--Keno Hellmann, Sticktricks.de
Music has always been a passion of mine that I never had much time for, and my guitar has been rusting away in the closet until now.
Now with more time on my hands, I've become addicted to music production with Ableton. I would recommend it as the best digital audio workstation (DAW) for anyone looking to get dabble with music production. There are tons of programs out there to make music, but I found Ableton to be the most intuitive to use. After a few Youtube tutorials, I was already good to go and start recording.
The brilliant thing about Ableton is that it allows you to plug in live instruments in order to manipulate their musical key and tempo. The program does it for you, which is awesome for those of us that weren't born with the gift of music. It doesn't mean that you can sing and play completely out of tune, but it allows you to piece together a song from scratch with ease with included instrument racks.
Now I can put together my songs without needing a full band. I record my vocals and guitar into Ableton first, then add drums included in the program. The interface is easy to use, so you can drag, stretch, manipulate, equalize your recordings, and visually arrange them, which makes it a lot easier.
So for those wanting to dabble in music production, I would recommend Ableton and some Youtube tutorials the next time you have a few hours to spare. It's really easy to learn on the go, and even better if you plan on integrating live instruments into the program.
--Milos Djordjevic, SaveMyCent
My electronic music is based around sampling/recording sounds myself from around Los Angeles such as trains, machines, and all things industrial. I use extensive processing techniques to turn those sounds into either atmosphere, melody, harmony, or just raw noise. It is always an experiment when I’m producing.
I love music production because of the vast possibilities to fulfill your artistic desire. It is an infinite canvas for ideas and creativity. The computer is the most powerful tool known to man, and when you let it help you create art, the possibilities are endless.
Link to music: https://jackarsenic.bandcamp.com, https://milesknight1.bandcamp.com
I'm a music and lyric video producer, also producing my own music as a hobby. I got into writing my own songs in my teens as a form of therapy. Later on as I recorded my own songs I noticed they didn't sound as good as the bands I liked, so I fell deeper into the rabbit hole that is sound engineering. My music never became financially sustainable but my experience opened some doors and today I get to work in the music industry, though I never stopped making my own music on the side. I released my last single in September (https://youtu.be/fIwpBwX6eAQ).
For anyone curious about producing their own music, it's easier now than ever before. You probably have a computer, laptop or even a phone that you can just hit record on and get started. You don't need fancy studio equipment, you can get started with what you have and refine your methods as you go along. No excuses!
--Calvin West, calvinwest.com
*What do you love about music production?*
It all comes down to creating, whether that is writing, notating, mixing, mastering, mangling loops..... while what I create may not be out-of-this-world-original, it's still something new. The creative process - when not going through it with an eye toward commercial viability - is a lot of fun, and much better than binge-watching anything.
Related to this: I also love teaching it, which is why I've been teaching a music technology course at our local college to students just getting into this. It's been fun sharing the joy of creating with them!
*What would you say to people curious about music production, and are thinking about dabbling in it?*
Go for it! You do NOT have to know everything, nor use the best tools. Start with what you have access to. Don't go spend major bucks buying new stuff - find free apps that will leverage the microphone in your computer or tablet or phone.
Then as you get comfortable with your setup and know what it can do, you will come into situations where you will see a piece of gear that would make things easier, or higher quality. That is when to spend some money.
The ability that we have to create high quality recordings with such a low cost of entry is unprecedented in recording history.
--Tom Rule, tomrule.info
I have a full time job in communications, but love producing my own children's music with The Que Pastas and leading digital songwriting birthday parties with Quarantine Birthday Party. The thing I love most about music production is that there is no wrong or right way to produce a song, and no matter how it turns out, at the end of the day you have something you created that you can enjoy and share. And with the technology and software available today, it's never been cheaper to try your hand at producing music as a hobby.
--Gene Davis, Quarantine Birthday Party
For me music production is more of a freedom. Even though doing it as hobby I am learning new things every now & then. When you are doing production with the team you have to adjust with their ideas and style. But when you are doing it alone, there is no limit. The problem most of us face is short of finances, Professional instrument & more.
But it does not mean that you should sit & relax. Pick your earbuds, phones and any other thing you have. Start recording on your phone. Don’t wait for some angel to come & will help you create your music.
If remember when I was new I was inspired by One Direction music back in 2012. So, first thing is you have to get inspiration from your favorite music artist. That’s the first most important tips. 2nd thing is to take actions. It doesn’t matter your weekend or after work. Who Knows, One day you will be performing in stadiums.
--Hazel Lewis, FreeHolidayWiFi