Are you ready to live the music producer life? I must warn you – it's awesome. Prepare for mood swings ranging from frustration to extreme euphoria, late studio nights, and traveling venues across the world, if all goes well. You might even get your dream studio, perhaps a secluded hut in the woods, for an ultimate flow of creative juices?
The way to start making music in Ableton is obvious – start making music in Ableton. But to get fully ready, there are things you can do to get a head start. In this article, we’ll explain the key steps you can take to start making music in Ableton, fast.
Let’s start with the first step.
Step 1: Get Ableton
The first and perhaps most obvious step to start making music in Ableton – is to get your version of Ableton.
While we can't stop you from downloading and using cracked software – we strongly discourage this. Not only is it highly illegal, making you risk hefty fines – it’s also a significant security risk. Cracked copies of Ableton copies on torrent sites are often packed with trojans and other malicious code. The pirated versions are also highly unstable, crashing often and loaded with annoying errors. Plus, you get no updates.
By getting a legit Ableton license, you can have full confidence that your version of Ableton will be ultra-stable, safe, and always updated. Oh yeah, by purchasing a license, you'll instantly get free updates to the newest editions when they come out. So if you get Ableton 10 now – you can upgrade to Ableton 11 when it arrives, free of charge.
You can get your version of Ableton cheap on their website. The three types of bundles for all needs and professional requirements are:
We highly recommend Suite if you genuinely want to learn music production in its fullest. It gives you access to all Ableton functionality while offering a grand library of over 5000+ sounds. Furthermore, you get 15 software instruments, 55 audio effects, and 17 MIDI effects to develop your music fully. "Suite" is the version that most Ableton producers use.
Get Ableton live here.
Step 2: Decide Your Genre
When you have your version of Ableton Live, it’s time to choose your music genre. Your starting choice doesn’t have to be super specific, but it’s good to have an idea of what you want to create.
For example, you might not like electronic music at all – looking more towards recording your guitars and drum sets and putting it together in Ableton. That’s okay – but the ways to craft this type of music is different from, say, techno music.
If you were like me when I started with music production, you probably have a good idea of the style of music you want to create. I thought psychedelic trance sounded awesome – and dove head-first in crafting psychedelic sounds and rolling basses.
You maybe got inspiration from your favorite house music artist or wish to explore the depths of cosmic techno. Usually, one style of music speaks to you more in terms of what you want to create.
Either way, deciding genre, at least loosely, sets you up for a solid start. By knowing what music you want to create, you'll also understand what virtual synths and effects to get – and maybe even hardware if you’re planning on going at this entirely.
Does choosing a music genre mean that you’re stuck and can only produce that style of music? No, not at all. But as a starting point, it’s good to have a basic idea of where you want to head. If you’re open to every style and niche genre on the planet, it can quickly get overwhelming.
Start simple, expand later – if you want to.
Step 3: Play And Learn
Now it’s finally time to start playing around in Ableton, to learn music production. This stage is the most innocent and beautiful of the music production learning process. When you're new, you possess and enjoy a more exploratory and creative mindset – eager to discover and learn what every single button and knob does.
However, this can also be the stage of frustration. It's not as easy as pushing a button and creating a world-class hit for a complete beginner. There are sliders everywhere, buttons with terminology you’ve never heard before, and where do you begin to create that sound you want?
But don’t stress – this is a part of the learning process for all music producers. To find and develop your sound, you have to make mistakes and try things out. Like with anything in life, it takes time to master a new craft. The same goes for music production.
You've probably heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become world-class in any field. This is also true in music production. The hours mainly come from discovering what things do in your DAW and synths. The deliberate long-drawn practice hours comes down to learning the skills all on your own – to find out what works and what doesn't.
The good news, however, is that you can drastically cut down the time and make professional music faster. By learning from professionals, you instantly get techniques and tips that they’ve spent years discovering. It's cheating in a sense – instead of learning everything on your own, which takes a lot of time (trust me), a professional music producer can show you what you need to learn. All you need to do is apply it to your music.
Step 4: Learn Fast With Courses
A shortcut to learning music production a lot faster is to go with dedicated music production courses – made by professionals. Like I said before – by learning the techniques from people who have spent all those years in the studio, you learn it in minutes rather than in years.
But, as a complete beginner, you need the basics first. You have to know what all the sliders, buttons, and knobs do – and what steps to take to start a new track. Luckily, that’s the easy part of music production.
When you start with an excellent course, you'll have the basics down in a matter of hours. From there, you can begin putting together tracks on your own. And with the further help of professionals – create solid tracks within a matter of days.
If you're serious about becoming a music producer and want the best starting point – a course is the fast-track road to making music.
And if you're starting from nothing - we have the perfect beginner music production course for you:
Beginners Course: Making A Track From Start To Finish in Ableton Live
With no prior knowledge or skills in Ableton Live - follow along with a professional music producer and learn all the steps to build a killer deep house track from start to finish.
Click here to become an Ableton music producer now.
Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish producer and copywriter, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing music, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.