How to Make Electronic Music

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how to make electronic music

how to make electronic music

With every passing year, electronic music becomes more and more popular, and these days, it is nearly synonymous with the word “pop” as well. As it spreads and steals market share, the number of people who decide they want to be in on the fun who start creating EDM music increases every day. While the field is becoming more crowded all the time, there is always room for more, and it’s impossible to say how many talented people out there are just waiting to breakthrough.
If you want to learn how to make electronic music, there’s a lot that goes into it, and there are many steps you need to take before you’re a true artist, let alone one the world knows.

Here’s a quick look at the steps involved in how to make electronic music…or, at least how to start:

  1. Listen to different electronic music genres
  2. Experience live music performances
  3. Learn the lingo
  4. Watch electronic music tutorials
  5. Download music recording software
  6. Play around
  7. Share your music

Listen to Different Electronic Music Genres

If you’ve even considered making music of any kind, including electronic tunes, chances are it’s because you’re already deep into the scene in one way another. In fact, it would be very odd if you decided you wanted to be behind the scenes creating electro bops if you’re not already devoting a lot of time to listening to music from many different artists working in many different genres.

If you’re not already doing a lot of sonic exploring when it comes to listening to everything you can get your hands on (which should be pretty much everything, as streaming platforms like Spotify have made accessing songs easier than ever), you must. If you are, great! But it might be time to start organizing how you listen and thinking about what you’re hearing as well.

Take some time to create a list of everything you want to hear, and then slowly begin ticking items off. Lookup lists that highlight the most innovative, most important, or simply just the best electronic songs and albums of all time. Look at what tracks have gone on to become big hits, or which records have won major awards. You might not get to everything worth hearing all at once, but these rankings and advice from experts can be great places to start.

While you’re listening, don’t just enjoy the tracks, think about them. What elements can you hear coming together in the background? If you’ve already started playing around with production software, can you tell what instruments and samples were used in the creation of a song? Also, think about the lyrics (if there are any), about what makes them interesting, what hooks you as a listener, and what these tracks have that yours do not.

Experience Live Music Performances

Experiencing a live performance from an artist is very different from simply pressing play on their biggest singles, and if you want to make music and eventually be up on a stage in front of a large crowd one day, you need to spend a lot of time seeing shows as well.

Electronic music is particularly known for its live events, and the best DJs in the world spend huge sums of money on production and think about every aspect of their shows. Hopefully, you’ll get to a point where you need to do the same. Just as I suggested when it comes to listening to music, you should start thinking critically about the concerts and parties you attend. Don’t just stand there and dance — use your head! What works about this show, and what doesn’t? Are the songs playing just as great, if not better, live? Is the artist giving you everything you want from this show, or is it missing something? Perhaps you can hear something different in this live setting that didn’t come through when the music played through your headphones…or maybe the opposite is true?

Going to see an artist perform live can be a transformative experience, and electronic shows can be especially transcendent. So, while you should absolutely go and have a wonderful time dancing along to the extremely loud beats, make sure you’re considering what this means for you as an up-and-coming artist as well.

Take some time to create a list of everything you want to hear, and then slowly begin ticking items off. Lookup lists that highlight the most innovative, most important, or simply just the best electronic songs and albums of all time. Look at what tracks have gone on to become big hits, or which records have won major awards.

Learn the Lingo

As is the case with any genre of music, there are a lot of words and phrases you’ll need to learn if you want to fully understand what you’re creating. It’s not enough to simply like the music and stick solely with your instincts — there’s a lot of actual studying you should do, and even if you’re not going into a classroom or getting a proper degree in electronic music (which is offered at some institutions, by the way), you should still dedicate time to actually learning the basics of song composition.

I won’t dive into the full glossary of words affiliated with the electronic music space right now, as there are potentially hundreds of them, but you should, at some point, understand what artists and producers mean when they spout phrases like compression, digital-to-analog converter, loop, MIDI, and so on. On top of words that only seem to pop up frequently when discussing EDM, there are plenty of other items you should familiarize yourself with if you’re going to be a musician, so make sure you start with the most basic of the basics and work your way up from there.

There are perhaps many musicians who have found success working in the electronic music field without learning these terms, but why rely on luck? You will never hurt your chances by working to understand your world better, and too much education simply isn’t a thing.

It might be scary to do at first, but if you’re creating music and never sharing it with anyone…what’s the point? Letting others hear your tunes can be terrifying and thrilling, all at the same time.

Watch Electronic Music Tutorials

While there are actual classes where people who have experience in this genre will teach you how to create your own electronic jams, chances are if you’re an aspiring DJ or Producer, you’re not investing in those programs. That’s okay! While they are helpful, and a degree won’t hurt you, it’s understandable you might not want to sink lots of money into such an education. Instead, why not devote a large chunk of time to teaching yourself how to work both software and hardware by watching others do it online?

There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube available for anyone to watch wherever and whenever they want, and all of them have something valuable to provide. These videos can show you everything from how to get started to how to finish mastering your latest masterpiece, and everything in between. It might take you a while to find which teachers speak your language and which videos are the easiest to follow, but if you stick with it, you can learn quite a lot from these YouTubers…and for many people, this is one of the best ways to get started.

Download Music Recording Software

In order to make electronic music, you’re going to need a DAW…and probably several. Now, I’m not going to tell you which one to work with, or where to get it, but it’s impossible to move forward in your career without one, and this will perhaps be the biggest time-suck of all.

Before you decide which of the many, many options available is good for you, do your research. Which programs are the most popular? What major artists use which ones? Are there some cheaper programs, or perhaps ideal programs for those just starting out? Learning a complex music creation platform will take many hours, but there’s simply no way around this. People picking up a guitar or sitting down to a piano for the first time need to go through the same hardships, and so should you.

Popular programs like Ableton, Logic, and Pro Tools can all cost you a pretty penny, so if you’re going to buy one, make sure you’ve learned everything you can about it beforehand, and you’re really committed to this passion. Also, I’m certainly not going to tell you to find places on the internet where you can download these offerings (or similar ones) for free…but I have heard from many electronic musicians who started by going this route, and at the end of the day…you need to do what you need to do!

Play Around!

As I just stated, you’re going to need to spend weeks, and probably even months, simply learning the ins and outs of whatever program you decide to run with first. (I suggest you kick off with one and make sure you really understand it before you dive headfirst into something else). There are a million and one things you can do with these software options, and until you investigate every knob, button, and drop-down menu, you won’t be able to consider all your options as you are crafting your first few tunes.

Spend time both dabbling and messing around on your own, as well as listening to tutors, teachers, and YouTubers, who can all direct you to where you should go to find popular editing tools and such. You might be anxious to create something the world can consume, but don’t rush in this process. There’s no getting around putting in the time and work to learn your instrument and your craft, and if you do, people will be able to hear the rushing in your work.

Share Your Music

Okay, so you’ve been tooling around with your software program, learning everything you can, and editing the songs you’ve created over and over again. At some point, you’ll feel you have at least a few pieces you’re happy with. So, now what?

It might be scary to do at first, but if you’re creating music and never sharing it with anyone…what’s the point? Letting others hear your tunes can be terrifying and thrilling, all at the same time. I suggest with your first bunch of tracks, you don’t pay a distribution service to upload them to every streaming platform and online store, as they might not be as ready for public consumption as you think.

A better route to go when you’re just getting started is to let friends, family, and other musicians listen first and then give you some feedback. If it’s all good, you might be in a place to set about sharing your cuts with the world…but more likely than not, your songs will need some work, which is totally normal! This is all part of the process when it comes to how to make electronic music.

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Hugh McIntyre

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