Have you ever looked at news of The Chainsmokers and Hardwell selling out concerts and thought: I want to do this too?
You’re not alone. Tens of thousands of people around the world jump headfirst into music producing and DJing every year, attracted by the glamor and money these professions bring.
But music production is neither cheap nor easy. Classes can set you back by thousands of dollars. And the equipment you’ll use to make music won’t be inexpensive either.
So before you jump into this expensive hobby, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.
How much are you willing to invest in classes and equipment?
While it’s true that producing music – at least as a hobbyist – is cheaper than ever before, it still isn’t affordable for most people. Both the software and the equipment necessary to produce music cost hundreds of dollars each.
For example, Ableton, one of the most popular digital audio workstations (DAW) on the planet, costs $749 for the complete version. Add in a basic audio interface, a decent set of studio monitors, an entry-level MIDI keyboard, and you’re looking at a bill of nearly $1,500.
And this doesn’t even include the cost of a powerful computer!
That’s not all – music production is difficult. You’ll have to take classes to understand the underlying technology. You’ll also want to take music theory classes to boost your basic music knowledge.
Before you start your musical journey, ask yourself: are you prepared to spend all this money? If not, there are other hobbies you can try.
How much time and effort are you willing to spend?
There is a pervasive myth that electronic music production is “easy” and that “anyone” can learn it.
While it is true that electronic music production is perhaps the easiest way to create music, it is still ridiculously hard. You require months, if not years of training to understand your DAW, plugins, synths, and production. You also require months of lessons to get a grasp of music theory and how to use it in your tracks.
Additionally, you also need hard technical knowledge to mix and master tracks. Without it, your finely produced songs will just sound fizzled out and dull.
As most experienced producers will tell you, mastering all these theories, techniques, and tactics takes a minimum of two years. Even if you’re exceptionally talented, be prepared to spend hundreds of hours learning music production.
Not all of this will be fun either. Understanding music theory actually requires learning notes and scales. Using a synth means understanding how waveforms and oscillators work. To mix a track, you need an acute knowledge of equalizers and sound profiles – all boring, technical details.
Unless you’re willing to spend all this time and effort, don’t pick up music production as a hobby. You’ll give up and have all that initial investment go waste.
Do you have access to a peer group of fellow musicians?
Music is never made alone. You need feedback, motivation, and tips from friends and collaborators.
Not everyone has access to such a group of fellow musicians. Minus such a peer group, your musical progress will be severely stunted. You will lose motivation and you won’t have a trained ear to give you serious feedback on your final tracks.
Music is also performative. A track that sounds great in a closed room on your headphones will sound completely different on an open stage. You might have your theory down to a T, but if you don’t have practice, you’ll fumble around when performing the track live.
Access to a peer group of fellow musicians means that you will be able to get advice, practice live performance, and collaborate on tracks. They’ll also help you sustain your passion for music and help you stick through the boring parts.
Without such a group around you, I wouldn’t recommend starting music production as a hobby.
So there you have it – three crucial questions that will help you determine whether starting music production is worth your time.
If your answers to all these questions are positive, then I wish you the best of luck in your music production journey!