I’ve been making music for years but I’m new to Audio Jungle and the commercial production music world in general. I love this community and the platform so I want to be able to get some music up at some point in the future.
I’ve had a few tracks rejected and I’ve come to realize it is most likely because my equipment isn’t good enough to reach the AJ standard. So I was just wondering if you think the quality of the equipment one uses for music production is important, and if so what are some must-haves (speakers, software, samples, interfaces, etc.). Also, do you have a separate room for you studio, and is that important to have? Or is it okay to work in your bedroom? (Btw not be afraid to tell me if equipment isn’t that important and it’s just me s*cking at production lol)
My set up is a focusrite 18i8 and a pair of JBL 305p mkIIs in my bedroom. I have a PC on which I run ProTools and mostly use sounds from Splice and NI Komplete 11.
Your setup sounds pretty good to me! Why would you think your equipment is to blame?
I use a Focusrite 2i4, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones, Komplete 10 Ultimate / Omnisphere / Splice and FL Studio. Works a treat!
You’re probably not going to like hearing it, but expensive studio gear does not matter all that much in the scheme of things. Learning the ins and outs your audio sources, working on your mixing / production skills, etc is what will make the difference. I’m a big proponent of working with budget gear, using stock plugins and getting professional results out of those. It’s definitely possible these days.
Yes, you can produce from the bedroom! I’ve done it for nearly 4 years. My only concern would be that if you’re wanting to use studio monitors, you’ll want at least some acoustic treatment. I have Yamaha HS8s, but I gave up on them a long time ago because of room acoustics issues. My headphones have done the job just fine so far.
We can always give you some feedback on your rejected tracks if you like. You can post them to SoundCloud and link them here.
I don’t have lengthy music tracks at Audiojungle, but all my musical logos and sound effects are done on this minimal setup:
10 years old PC laptop running Windows 8 (with the left Ctrl button and the touchpad broken).
10 years old Audio-Technica ATH-M30 headphones (with cat-scratched ear pads).
10 years old Tascam DR-1 (as my main microphone/recorder).
40+ years old human ears (a bit damaged by playing live punk & rock music).
So, in my humble opinion, what matters the most in this craft/business is the usefulness of an item (for a wide range of uses/contexts). Sound quality is important, but it comes next, never before.
If you can afford high quality gear, go for it (new toys are cool! And they can be inspiring too) but it won’t guarantee that your items will be more easily accepted. Half the battle is knowing what video editors, youtubers and all other possible customers might need. Then, try to match or do better than the competition.
This market (and many other ones) are becoming very crowded, so maybe it’s less easy to get in, but don’t get discouraged by a few rejections. Try to share some of those on the forum to get feedback? If you are open to constructive criticism, it could be a positive idea. Good luck.
I started here on AJ with some cheap multimedia 2.1 system (it was called «Nakatomi» I think) and Sennheiser HD-180 headphones (about 20$). I’m not a High Tier producer, and I have to learn a lot in the future, but now I can say that the same production quality that I have now can surely be achieved with my old cheap set up, because it’s all about experience - both technical and even subconscious (how you hear things). About a year ago I bought IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors and Focusrite Scarlett Studio Package, wich comes as Scarlett 2i2 interface, headphones and a mic. Can’t say much about Focusrite package, as it just is what you expect it to be and gets things done, but iLoud Monitors are pretty decent, clear and loud, netherless these are comparatively small.
I thought I’d list all the aspects of stock music making in order of importance as a bit of Monday afternoon listmaking fun! (*note to self: must get out into the outside world today)
This is my opinion, so others may disagree, but I hope peeps find it useful.
Arguably, and sadly, music knowledge is becoming less and less important for music producers nowadays, but it still tops my list. This is not just theory, but also being familiar with what works musically within the genres that you are making.
Composition and Arranging Skills
Equally important, but second in terms of what to learn first, are the skills required to craft musical knowledge into good melodies and solid song structures that work for the intended purpose. In AJ’s case, the intended purpose is generally video production. It is a good idea to learn what aspects of music are particularly useful to video producers and what details they look for when choosing a track.
It really helps to become a proficient keyboard player, although, since watching Deadmau5’s brilliant Masterclass I’ve come to realise that it’s not an absolute necessity (He draws all his midi data using a mouse). I guess becoming skilled in the use of whatever instrument or tool fits the genres of the kind of music that you’re interested in creating is the key. Becoming ultra familiar with the arranging aspect of a DAW is obviously important. Easily overlooked though, is how important it is to learn the other compositional tools inside and out. Many Kontakt libraries, for instance, are incredibly deep and require lots of midi cc tweaks to really get them working properly. Synthesizers, both software and hardware, rarely give the best results possible straight from a preset. Also, know how to use tempo tracks effectively and note timing in order to achieve a realistic human-sounding performance when appropriate.
Mixing and Mastering
These two are art-forms in their own right. Traditionally they are separate entities, but as stock music producers, we’re generally responsible for both of these tasks. Firstly for mixing a track, it’s necessary to learn the theories and techniques behind EQ, compression/limiting, reverb, volume gates, automation etc. and how they are applied differently in different genres. Mastering the stereo track is an easily overlooked step, but it is an important part in creating that “sparkle”. Sometimes, even just a subtle application of Mid/Side EQ to the final stereo mix can give it that depth that really makes it stand out from the others.
Quality Sound Libraries
At this point, it is worth investing some real money in some top quality sounds. Identify what sounds are most important in the kind of music that you make and purchase where you think the weak points are. some cheap sounds are totally usable, others are not. Objectively listen and if you at all think that some aspect of your track is sounding like an untreated midi sequence, and you’re happy that you’ve done everything possible in nos.1-4, you’ll need to spend some money on sound libraries or better synths.
Often nowadays in stock music, recording is as straight-forward as plugging your guitar into your audio interface and using a software amp simulator/fx plugin (to which no.3 applies) to get the desired sound and this approach works great for the most part. There is a whole university degree worth of knowledge out there that is available to be learned though. It’s really useful to know what different kinds of sound can be achieved by microphone type, pickup pattern and placement, especially if you intend to record acoustic instruments or vocals in your tracks. Part of learning recording techniques will bring you into the territory of room acoustics/treatment and it’s useful to understand how room shape/size and the position within that room will affect your recordings.
Spending Money on Gear!
Finally, we get to equipment. With all of the above skills and knowledge down, you’ll be in a better place to know where to spend and where you can save. Most important is your listening environment. As Aurus pointed out, accurate use of studio monitors for mixing ideally requires an audio-treated room which can take you down a rabbit hole. It’s worth pointing out that spending thousands on a pair of the best-sounding, most accurate studio monitors in the world is kind of pointless if your room is going to colour your listening experience. Instead, it might be wiser to spend on a really decent pair of headphones. Do research using online reviews, but also try them out before you buy. Aching ears aren’t fun. I’ve found Sonarworks - Reference 4 is a great plugin that gives me confidence that I am monitoring uncoloured audio (well, as much as can be) on my headphones.
If you love to mix on speakers though and have a dedicated room to work in, it’s room selection/treatment first, then speaker/listening position (ie. not against a wall), then which awesome model monitors to get.
I agree with @AurusAudio and @Zigro.
Learn with your ears, try to achieve the desired sound by using your Daw and Vst.
Learn to compose tracks that are not boring and makes listener stay.
I had a lot of expensive equipment and It didn’t help me to sound like I wanted to.
That’s all folks : )
I think if I summarize all the good advices from fellow producers, the schedule for achieving skills is like this: you take a reference track right into your DAW, you are trying to achive the same quality in your mix. Don’t know how to make your snare as snappy as the reference one? Go and google it. Like «Snappy snare tutorial», you know. How to make your track loud and clear? Same - google it. This way you will be constantly learning things and practice at the same time. I think you’ll see the results in less than a month. 3 years ago I did not even knew what a compressor is, or what Kontakt libraries are, and now I make pretty decent mixes (well, that’s my opinion). I haven’t spent a dime on any education, I found everything needed just on YouTube and forums.