Music Producers - 37 too old for a career change?

audiojungle

#1

Looking to make a career change, and considering doing something with music…which is probably completely idiotic because I have next to no musical talent or experience. The only thing I guess you could say is I ‘think’ I have a decent ear for music…kind of like you can hear how the direction in a song is going before it gets there. I really enjoy electronic music - not necessarily the ‘electronic’ music style persay, but moreso sounds, notes, etc that can be computer generated. I’m actually very good with computers (so at least I’ve got one thing going for me)!

The reason I’d like to make this career change is music has been one of the few things I’ve experienced in this world that has helped me work my way through some extremely tough times with Depression. The inspirational music I’ve heard from some of the authors here on audio jungle has been incredible to listen to. I’m also a big fan of some of the stuff other composers have done - like Tony Anderson. If you haven’t heard his stuff before, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHuUJqNsezg It will also give you guys a better idea of what I mean by ‘electronic’ music. He superbly melds the piano with these ensnaring notes and tones in the background. I’d really like to learn how to do something similar over the next few years.

I would like to start out with this as a hobby to begin with, and if I find I have a knack for it…pursue it full time. So my first question is, where do I begin? Right now, I’ve got a few microphones (I’ve done a few voice overs), a set of yamaha electronic drums, 2 ukulele’s, and a partridge in a pear tree. I’ve got a pretty boss computer server I’ve built myself that should work well as a recording platform. Beyond that, I’ll have to buy the other stuff I need. I’ve loved the piano for years, and so we’re considering a grand piano…but wanted to check here first because I know the piano is pretty important when working with this type of stuff - so maybe some type of electronic piano is the way to go? If we did get a piano, I’ll be taking lessons to hopefully get up to speed sooner rather than later.

What else is recommended? A hardware mixing board or would a software board work? What other equipment/instruments would you guys recommend to a noob committed to doing this over the long term? I’ve got 2 very young boys, and I’ve always wanted a home filled with music so hopefully they’ll take an interest as well - so I’m not afraid to spend a little cash, but like I said…I’d like to start at the hobby/semi-economic level prior to diving in headlong. Hopefully, $5k (which is what I originally budgeted for a used grand) could help at least get me started?

Thanks for any tips/advice!


#2

Hello jdlev,

It’s a complicated question because there’s a lot of stuff involved in making music and there’s different ways to do things. If I was just starting out, these are things I would look into getting instead of a used grand piano (although the piano sounds enticing):

Midi-controller keyboard: lots of choices here. I have a cheap M-Audio keystation 61 and it’s fine.

DAW: Pick one: Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live. etc. Cubase is what I use. Check out the various forums online or just google it to see what composers use what.

Software: Spectrasonics Omnisphere, U-he Zebra, Native Instruments Komplete are things I would start with.

Piano sample libraries - Keep in mind, these require Native Instruments Kontakt (which comes in Komplete).I would check out Fracture Sounds Woodchester Piano and Spitfire Felt Piano for the warm tones.

If all of these things are completely gibberish to you, it might be worth going into your local music store and just talking to someone in the audio department and just keep googling/asking questions. Get on those piano lessons ASAP and just start going through the motions.

Practically speaking, most people don’t make enough to live from music, so it can be difficult if you have people depending on you, BUT to me, music is something that always gives back in one way or another. You owe it to yourself to start exploring and just see where it takes you.


#3

Hi jdlev!
37 is definitely NOT too old, so go for it!
In addition to what JC-Underscore said - you will need an audio interface ( Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for example), good headphones and/or monitors. For most of software products there are demo periods, so you can choose what you like before buying, and a lot of free VST instruments and effects.
Bear in mind though, that competition is quite high these days.
Cheers!


#4

Hi jdlev,

Like others have said, it’s never too late to start something new. The wonderful thing about the world of music production is that the support you get from the online community is readily available and vast, to put it mildly. You’re never alone, nor short of finding someone willing to help!

Thanks for the introduction to Tony Anderson too- his stuff sounds really amazing. If this is the style of music you would like to produce, I think I can provide you with a few pointers. I don’t know what level of knowledge you have, so apologies if I’m preaching to the choir here.

DAW

As @JC-Underscore mentioned, the first thing you’ll want to consider is your DAW. Forget about hardware altogether for the moment and focus on software. These days, eveything can be done in-the-box just as effectively. Given the style of music you would like to produce, I would be inclined to go with Cubase, Logic, Studio One or Nuendo. Most of the others are geared more towards electronic artists. I would stay away from Pro Tools, as their reputation is wavering these days. Cubase, Logic, Nuendo, and Studio One are arguably the most well rounded, do-everything-pretty-well DAW’s.

Nuendo is a very cheap way to try things out (a personal license is only $60, and there is an unlimited trial period), however the program is very bare bones, and doesn’t come preloaded with any VSTi / virtual instruments - more on that in a moment.

Cubase has been around for a long time, as such they are reputable and trustworthy. The price tag is a little hefty at 559 Euro, but you get a lot of stuff bundled in. It’s Tom Holkenborg / Junkie XL’s and Hans Zimmer’s software of choice.

Logic is obviously Mac based, but it’s very affordable and you get a LOT for your money. Load’s of VST/effects, VSTi’s/virtual instruments, and it’s not too intimidating. By the way you described your rig, it seems like you are probably a PC person- but you could maybe start a Hackintosh project. From the look of Tony Andersons Spotify banner, Logic seems to be what he uses.

Studio One is fairly new on the block, but a lot of people love it. Again, you get a lot for your money, and it’s generally known to be very user friendly and intuitive, with a drag and drop interface etc etc.

Hardware

Personally, I would hold fire on the grand piano for the moment. While there is clearly nothing that can compare to a real life grand, recording it effectively is a different kettle of fish entirely, and by the time you’ve bought the grand and the microphones required to do it justice, you could have bought everything you could ever possibly need in terms of other equipment and software. Given your budget, I would be inclined to go for a good, fully-weighted MIDI keyboard. Fully weighted keys give you as similar a feeling to a real piano as you are going to get, and coupled with some good piano Virtual Instruments, you could have several well sampled ‘grand pianos’ for a fraction of the price of a real grand.

As @Rinkevich mentioned, An audio interface is required in order to allow your external audio sources to communicate effectively with your computer, and vice versa. Focusrite is arguably the most reputable and reliable company out there, but there are tons. Univeral Audio’s products are also extremely popular these days.

Monitors - I have a pair of JLB LSR305 studio monitors and a set of Audio Technica ATH M50x headphones. I think they’re both wonderful (and affordable), but this area is an utter melstrom of opinion, so I would do your own research.

VSTi / Virtual Instruments

As @JC-Underscore mentioned, you will need a good sampler, to begin with. The industry standard is Kontakt 5, and you can see this as the platform you need to make most other well-sampled instruments run. Once that’s out of the way, you can quite literally buy (or make!) any virtual instrument/sample library you can dream up, and play it on your keyboard. For my money, and based on your musical tastes, nothing can compare to the quality of Spitfire’s sample libraries. They record fully orchestrated libraries for multiple ‘moods/genres,’ and everything is sampled in the world famous Air Studios in London. Check out their ‘Tundra’ library- seems to be in line with Tony Anderson style stuff.

To give you an idea of what’s possible with these types of libraries, check out Daniel James (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCelK8dBKY0Xs5oRI6sJf7aA) a popular composer and source of inspiration on youtube. His style is somewhat similar to Tony Andersons (at least the technical process is the same), if a little more ‘Epic.’ There is also a popular Hans Zimmer Masterclass (https://www.masterclass.com/classes/hans-zimmer-teaches-film-scoring) that could be useful. I am taking it at the moment, and really enjoying it. It’s film centric, but very good.

Komplete is the most popular complete (geddit?) set of virtual instruments out there, and is a great starting point, as others have mentioned.
The best source of information about VSTi/Virtual Instruments is VI Control (https://vi-control.net/portal/).

For anything else you could possibly ever need to know about anything, head over to gearslutz.com

WHEW!

Well, I hope that was of some help - I know how overwhelming it can be starting off, so this should point you in the right direction.

If you want any other help feel free to contact me.


#6

I will say briefly (my opinion): Hobbies are one thing and work is different. If you do not want to make money on this, then all your actions are correct.
But if you’re going to be serious about music in the future (like work), then you should first compare whether you want it or not. We had several such cases.

Go to the recording studio, see how they work. Also watch the video tutorials in this direction (Youtube to help you).
If you decide that you can master all the difficulties in this direction, then only it is worthwhile to act. Many take up this matter very easily, and eventually throw out very easily.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you do not buy any equipment, unless you have a firm intention. (without this you will simply spend money in vain).

But in general for work (except computer) you will need a sound card / audio interface, Good column/speakers (Middle class will be enough) and preferably of course the mid-range keyboard to play freely.

To start this will be enough, then you can already buy additional control type (monitor headphones) or something like that.

Try early in your career to spend minimum money, Use free plug-ins and study them. It’s better than buying everything and do not understand what it’s meant for.

And the best advice that each time will develop you is: Choose the song that you like and try to create the same from scratch yourself. In the process of this action, you will only develop.

I wish you all the best!