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Producing Music on a Budget? Keep These 5 Things in Mind.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need the most expensive, top of the line equipment and recording studio to produce music.

Here, I’ll break down exactly what you need to know to start producing music on a budget.

1. Come up with a budget and plan

Whether you’re starting out from scratch or you want to improve the set up you already have, you need to figure out how much you have to spend and what your plan is.

Every producer has different priorities that will determine what you need, so think about how serious you are about this venture, and what items you think are necessary, which will help you determine how much you want to invest in your music career.

If you’re a piano player or a vocalist, you’ll want to get the right equipment for your skillset, but don’t start off by buying an expensive microphone if you’re not a vocalist. Wait to buy more expensive equipment until you know you’ll use it. Once you know what you want to get, make your budget.

Come up with a list of all the gear you want and identify a budget for it. List your items in order of priority so you know how to spend your money most effectively.

2. Essential and non-essential equipment

There are two types of gear when it comes to music production: essential and non-essential. The essentials are the baseline that you need to produce music so I’ll focus on these first.

All you need is a DAW and headphones – it’s as simple as that. High-quality headphones are better, but even cheap earphones will be enough as you start your journey. You can also use monitors or speakers if you have them. The DAW, Digital Audio Workstation, is the key piece of equipment that is non-negotiable, and I’ll explain a bit later how to choose the best one for you.

There are also some pieces of non-essential gear which will help your music production career once you’ve decided you’re ready to invest more money, but they’re not essential. This includes high-quality headphones, like previously mentioned, studio monitors, midi controllers (keyboard, drum pads, and more), music production courses and books, audio interface, a microphone, plugins, and outboard gear.

It’s a lot, but your plan and budget from step 1 should help you figure out what you want to spend money on.

3. Find the deals

If you take the time, you can find some great bargains. Basic or mid-level DAWs can get thrown in for free if you buy an audio interface, and plugins sometimes come bundled with hardware.

Amy Putt, a blogger at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK, says to “look at a previous generation product which may meet your needs but be much cheaper. You can even upgrade the computer you already have, and keep your eyes out for secondhand gear.

You shouldn’t be doing everything for free because good results require some input from you, but it’s definitely doable on a budget.”

4. Choosing the right DAW

Like previously mentioned, the DAW is the most important aspect of music production. It’s where the magic happens! You can find a DAW for quite cheap, under $250.

There are a lot of options in that price range, and you can even get started for free if you really can’t afford to buy.

A good option in that price range if you’re looking for stability and versatility is Reaper, and you can actually try it out before buying it. It’s a bit more complicated than others, but at the price, you can’t beat the features and options it comes with.

Another option is the FL Studio, one of the most popular DAW because it’s so easy to learn on it while still providing great quality.

5. Plugins

According to Rick MacLennan, a music blogger at Writinity and Last Minute Writing, beginners “shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on getting plugins especially if the DAW comes with a range of plugins.

If you do want to get extra plugins, you should look into getting a synthesizer first. There are also a lot of free plugins out there that are worth looking into.”

6. Recording studio set up

The last step is finding the right place in your home to record. If you have any flexibility in your apartment or house for the setup, try to avoid any spaces that are small, noisy, and have carpeted flooring. Try different placements, and find what works for you. Make sure you have a comfortable chair that you could sit in for hours.

For more advice on setting up your home studio, check out our resource page right here.

About the author:

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Ashley Halsey, a professional writer and is involved in many lifestyle and music projects.

She enjoys sharing her insights and new developments in the musical world with her readers.

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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