Step 1: Learn the Basics of Music:
Music production is both an art and a science depending on how to decide to look at it. To this end, it will do any intending music producer much good to take a basic course in music. You don’t necessarily have to enrol in a formal institution to do this. You can always take free courses on the internet with resources like www.coursera.org coming to your rescue.
Part of this step, is also learning how to play an instrument. My favourite is the keyboard – the reason being that it can play the part of other instruments with little dexterity on the part of the player. Next to it is the guitar. You can decide to learn either, none or both. You can still become successful as a producer without knowing how to play them , but the knowledge gives you a slight edge.
Step 2: Pick Up a DAW and Learn:
DAW is an acronym for Digital Audio Workshop. It’s the term used to refer to computer programs used for music production. There is a plethora of them out there.
I’ll desist from making any recommendation on which one you should choose, as different individuals have different opinions as it pertains these DAWs. Just do your research and make your decision. Examples are Fl Studio, Cubase, Nuendo, Reason, Sound Forge, Ableton Live etc. Most times, you need a combination of DAWs for a complete music production work suite.
You may also have to invest some hardware equipments like samplers, MIDI keyboard etc. The bottom line is do your research well to determine what you really need as it pertains the genre of music you are venturing into.
Step 3: Learn a Bit of Mixing and Mastering:
Taking out the time to get grips on these two concepts may turn out to be the greatest investment you may have to do in your career. Get to know what it means to mix a song and the various processes involved – this is what sets your work apart from the forever amateurish producers. Understand the difference between in-the-box (solely done on a computer) and out-of-the-box (mixing with a soundboard and other non-computer equipments) mixing.
Next, get to understand the concept of mastering a song. Know what it takes to make a song sound “balanced” to the listener.
Step 4: Train and Retrain Your Ears:
A friend of mine once said “a producer’s greatest weapon in the battle field of music production is his ears…”, and I completely believe that statement when taken in the right context. Your ears are very key to your success as a producer. From now on, don’t listen to music just to enjoy it, but listen to analyze.
Try to listen and understand what other producers are doing. This will help you become ever more creative once you start creating your own sound combos.
Step 5: Start Creating Your Own Music:
At this stage, it’s time to start experimenting with your own music production. Play around in the DAW and with hardware equipments you choose to use until they become second nature. Now is time to push your limits. One important way of doing this, is to recreate one of your favourite songs. This will bring your mind in tandem with that of established producers that you look up to.
You should also start thinking outside the box. Assume music production to be without laws, and create whatever imagination that comes to mind no matter how crazy it seems.
Stage 6: Start Networking:
Once you are confident you can produce, begin to go out to studios and meet artistes and other producers. I know you’ve heard the saying “no man is an island”. Yes, it holds true in all fields – music production is no exception. You need a network of friends and acquaintances to help spread the word about your fledgling career.
Also at this stage, see if you can get an internship in an established music production studio. This will help you meet other people in your field too and further broaden your horizon. And don’t forget the awesome power of the internet. You need to create an online presence to further spread the word.
Carry out all these steps diligently, and the businesses will surely start trickling in. If you manage yourself well, then who knows? You might end up being the next big thing in the music industry.
One final word of advice: No matter how good you think you’ve become as a producer, never stop learning and seeking advice. Don’t aim for the stars, aim beyond! Goodluck.