Music production for independent artists, in home studios, is a big subject. A BIG subject. And a lot of people have the wrong idea.
I ran across a post in a music forum the other day. The guy asked, “What plugins do I need to get that big, professional sound? What do I need to buy?” That’s akin to asking “What kind of guitar do I have to buy to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughn?”, or “What microphone did Tupac use, to become a great rapper?”
Stevie Ray’s guitar was a big part of his sound, but no guitar is gonna make you play like him. A mic ain’t gonna make you a rap genius, either.
And wearing a cape doesn’t make the man of steel.
Home Recording Gear And Skill
Gear is part of the music production equation, but knowledge and skill are the other two parts, and they are bigger, and more important.
That’s where I come in. We’re going to dig up the knowledge and show you how to get the skill, to make great sounding home recordings.
Do-It-Yourself Music Production
Things have changed very quickly in the recording world, and many folks have not yet caught up. We can now do things on our home computers that were difficult or impossible, in the best studios, just a few years ago. The Beatles started out recording on two-track machines. Now I can use 50, or 100 tracks on a single song, if I want to. No problem. Well, the only problem is, I’m not the Beatles.
Guitar modeling (taking a plain guitar signal and making it sound like it’s being played through an amp), and the low-cost digital versions of formerly prohibitively expensive effects — reverbs, compressors and delays are a couple of examples of fairly recent advances.
But navigating this new world is a little like the old west. It’s a jungle out there (OK, I’m mixing my metaphors, but you know what I mean). It’s good to have people let you know what worked for them, and the solutions they’ve found, and how they’ve used them. That’s why I’m here. I hope we’ll advance together.
Why Listen To Me About Music Production?
You probably shouldn’t, although I’ve done it quite a bit. I worked in small recording studios for years, and have produced, or engineered a ton or records you’ve never heard of. I did know a guy who worked on a recording that Chris Cornell’s brother performed on (allegedly). That’s pretty cool, huh?
Truth is, I’m a down-in-the-trenches, middle-of-the-road producer/engineer. I’m not famous. And honestly, I’m not that good. A lot of the recordings I’ve done for bands have been low-budget, and extremely fast. I became an expert at one thing — how to get the best possible sound with the least amount of time and money.
That’s what you want, right?
You’re sitting in your house, or apartment, or practice space, and wanting to know why your recordings don’t sound as good as Taylor Swift’s. Well, you can’t get her quality of recording on your budget. But you can get surprisingly close. That’s what I’m about.
The Home Producer
I’m now what you call a home producer (or bedroom producer). In other words, I do music production at home — I record my own songs, on my laptop, in my apartment (or wherever I am — my setup is mobile). I know how record good sounds, arrange songs, mix, and master.
You probably are doing most of that, or want to do that, too.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. . .
Whenever I try out a VST plugin, I’ll let you know how it goes. If I learn a new trick on my DAW (my recording program), I’ll tell you what it is. If a good vocal mic goes on sale, I’ll let you know. If there’s a good course available (I don’t have one to sell), you’ll hear about it here. When things don’t go well, I’ll tell you about that, too. You can avoid my mistakes, and save a lot of time just by dropping by and reading a few things 🙂
Rockers, rappers, EDM artists, users of Ableton, ProTools, and Reaper (or any other DAW), listen up. Singer/songwriters, bedroom producers, wannabe recording engineers, bands on a budget, take heed.
Audio Engineering Verbiage Vs. Plain Talk
I have another skill. I can cut to the chase with technical stuff. I make it easy to understand. I don’t bog down in technical details, but get to the realities of what you can use right now, and how to use it.
Yes, we’ll cover some of the technical side of things (when you really need to know). But we’re going to stick with practicalities.
- Want to know how to set up a home studio, and when you shouldn’t? We’ll cover that.
- Want to know why EQing your ‘control room’ may be a waste of time? It’s right here.
- Want to produce higher quality home recordings by thinking like a producer? Sure, we’ve got that.
- Want to learn how to get cool guitar sounds with a plugin? Yep, got it.
- Want to know what I use when recording and mixing? There’s a video that covers it.
- Want to learn about ways to collaborate with musicians long-distance? You can, here.
- Want to learn how to choose a vocal mic? You got it.
In short, the info here will save you time and money. And those things are in short supply for most if us :-).
PS: I’ll have some cool road-warrior stories too. I’ll tell you about working with the guy who recorded Louie Louie.