Home Studio Tour (Throwback: 2014)

In the winter of 2005 I developed a strong interest in making music. One of my friends had been producing music using Reason 2.0 and a super old version (new at the time) of ProTools LE and I was amazed. I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do too, but I had no idea where to even start. I had toyed with a demo copy of Fruity Loops 4, but I didn’t even own a computer at the time so I was completely lost. I begged my friend to teach me and asked him to write a list of things I would need to get started. I could tell he didn’t really think I was serious, but he gave in and wrote a bare bones list of things I would need.
The list read something like:
-Reason Software
-MIDI Controller
So I took that list and set out to buy what I needed. Then I realized I didn’t have any money. Lol. So I decided that day that my nice shiny Honda CBR 929RR had to go. By this time spring was in full force in Wisconsin and the fresh arrival of warm weather made it easy to sell a motorcycle. Once I sold the bike I used the money to fund my new musical endevours. At the time laptop computers were ridiculously expensive so I decided to purchase a refurbished DELL laptop for around $500. It had a 14.1” display, AMD Processor, 256k of memory, and a 60GB hard drive. To this day I still don’t know how I even ran Reason from that laptop. Next, I bought a 61 key MIDI Controller and a copy of Reason 2.5 from Musicians Friend then a cheap pair of $30 DJ headphones from the local music store. I had officially purchased my first production rig.
That was in 2006. I learned a lot from that little set-up and will always remember how it all started. Technology has come a long way since then and this has allowed producers such as myself to be able to more affordably produce higher quality music right from home. I always knew I wanted to have a really nice home studio one day and over the last 8+ years I’ve worked my dream into a reality. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to their creative space, but I love the way my current studio is set up and wanted to share it with you. Now I in no way am saying that this is a step-by-step guide in building a production space at home or that you NEED every piece of gear mentioned in order to make amazing music. This is just what I use and I hope that it can inspire you to chase your dreams too. Below is a detailed list of the gear mentioned in the video as well as links for you to be able to get more information on each item.
I also have over 1.5TB of software on my computer that I use to produce. It’s a lot to cover and I didn’t have time in this video to do so. If you would like me to make a second video covering software such as mixing plug-ins, virtual instruments, drum kits, DAW’s, etc. please leave a comment on the video via YouTube. If enough people ask for it I will make a video for it. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to hit me up on one of the social networks. Thanks for visiting the blog and watching the video.
Acoustic Treatment
All Acoustic Treatment was purchased from Overtone Acoustics. I currently have 26 total panels which include 2 Bass Traps and 3 Skyline diffusers. I highly recommend going with Overtone for any and all of your Acoustic Treatment needs. The quality is outstanding and the prices are very fair. http://overtoneacoustics.com
Studio RTA Creation Station Studio Desk: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/studio-rta-creation-station-studio-desk
Desk Chair
MARKUS Swivel Chair: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00103102/
Power Conditioners
ART PowerStation 4×4: http://artproaudio.com/art_products/power_solutions/metered_solutions/product/ps4x4/
Furman M-8Dx: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M8Dx
2012 Apple Mac Pro Tower
3.33 GHz 6-Core Processor
Upgraded Graphics Card
6TB Internal Hard Drives
Video Monitors
DELL S2340M 23” IPS LED Backlight LCD Monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824260109
Studio Monitors
Yamaha HS8: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HS8/
Secondary Reference Monitors
Avantone Audio Active MixCubes (Butter Cream): http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MixCubesAct/
Monitor Control Switch
SMPRO M-Patch 2 Monitor Control Switch: http://smproaudio.com/index.php/en/products/monitor-controllers/m-patch-2
Audio Interface
Universal Audio Apollo Duo: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ApolloDuoTB/
Universal Audio LA-610 Mk II: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LA610mk2
MIDI Controllers
Akai MPK49: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MPK49/
Yamaha KX8: http://www.zzounds.com/item–YAMKX8
Keyboard Workstation
Yamaha Motif XF6: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MotifXF6
Neumann TLM 103: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/TLM103Anniv/
Oktava MK-319: http://www.oktava-online.com/mk319.htm
Studio Projects C1: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/C1Mic/
Shure SM7B: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SM7B/
Vocal Reflection Filter
Sterling Audio VMS Vocal Microphone Shield: http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sterling-Audio-VMS-Vocal-Microphone-Shield-107014417-i2100737.gc
LED Accent Lights
DIODER LED 4-Piece Multicolor Light Strip Set: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50192365/
Did I miss something? If I did make sure to let me know by leaving a comment on the video via YouTube. Thanks again!

Optimizing Your Video Posts For YouTube

So now we’re ready to upload our latest and greatest video to YouTube, but in order for us to get the most traction from our efforts we need to understand the simple process of optimizing our video posts. The last thing we want to do is spend our time, money, and resources creating an amazing video, then after uploading watching it collect more dust than views. With that being said, in this video I’ll be giving you a comprehensive, step-by-step process that you can implement to take your video posts to the next level. So let’s get to it.

Now anytime we post a video there are four key things we’re looking to do.

1.) Maximize discovery, which results in a larger audience and more views.

2.) Increase our audience retention, or how long a viewer stays on the video. Audience retention plays a big part in how your video ranks in YouTube search.

3.) Drive viewer engagement, which could be a simple clicking of the thumbs up, subscribing, favoriting the video, leaving a comment or even sharing with their friends.

4.) Convert the viewer into a lead or even better yet, a customer. Something we all want more of.

With YouTube being an incredibly entertaining place to be it can be easy to forget that it’s actually a search engine. As a business owner it’s important to keep in mind that YouTube is a powerful tool to help rapidly grow your business. This is why optimizing your posts is so important.

So how do you optimize a video post on YouTube? Well there are five key elements that I’ll be covering in this article to maximize your post potential.

Number one being Video Titles. What you name your video is one of the most important things to consider after creating the video itself. You’ve spent the time creating the video, the title is worth spending some time on as well. The video title and thumbnail are the first things that users come across. So the quality of each will have a direct effect on who clicks (or doesn’t).

Now one of the most overlooked and underutilized things I see on a daily basis are lazy video descriptions, but no need to worry. This module will help you Master Video Descriptions Like A Pro.

The third element to any good video post is Properly Tagging the Video. Tags are keywords or keyword phrases that get indexed by YouTube to help narrow down search results. They’re not as important as the video title or description, but still important none the less. YouTube also uses tags to group your video with other like videos when making recommendations to viewers with what they should watch next.

Then I’ll explain the importance of using Custom Video Thumbnails and share some tips and techniques to creating the perfect thumbnail as well as show you some examples that I’ve hand selected for you.

Finally, I’ll give you an overview of the Advanced Video Settings and show you how to save time by customizing your Upload Default Settings.

So to start you’ll need to be logged into your YouTube account. I’m using a Mac, but these steps will be the same if you’re using a Windows machine.

If you haven’t uploaded your video yet start by clicking the “Upload” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Next, you’ll have the option to go live or “public” with your video right away. You can also keep it “unlisted” which means it won’t be published publicly, but will be available to whoever has a direct link. Your last option is making it a private post, which restricts access to everyone unless they’ve been given access via designated email address.

Now if you’ve been using YouTube for a while you might also have the option to schedule your video post for a later date. Which is exactly what it sounds like.

I personally recommend uploading your new videos as “Unlisted” until you’ve finished optimizing the post and are confident that it’s ready for the world to see. With that being said I’ll select “unlisted” from the drop down options, then proceed by selecting the video I want to upload by either dragging it into the upload area or by clicking on the upload icon, then manually selecting the video. Depending on your internet speed or the video file size, it may take a few minutes for your video to upload and process.

Now, If you’ve already uploaded a video, what I want you to do is click on your profile photo in the upper right hand corner, then click on “Creator Studio”, in the left column of the following page you’ll see a tab entitled “Video Manager”…click that, then find the video you want to optimize. Once you’ve found that video, click on the “Edit” button to the right of the video thumbnail. This will take you to where you need to be.

Video Title

Now that your video’s uploaded and ready to rock we can get to work. We’re going to start off by attacking the Video Title. YouTube will auto populate the title field with whatever you named the video file, but that’s unimportant. You can simply delete the characters in that field and start from scratch.

Now depending on the type of video you create there are some basic guidelines to follow in order to achieve an effective title.

1.) Be aware of Title Character Limits. YouTube titles can be up to 100 characters, but YouTube search will only show 70 characters, and Google search will only show 55. That’s including spaces. So keeping your title short and to the point is important.

2.) Use YouTube search to find related keywords or keyword phrases for videos that people are looking for. For example, if your business specializes in manufacturing Laser Welders for the Mold Repair Industry you might be posting a video demonstrating what your product does. So you can go directly to the YouTube search bar and type in “Laser…Welding…Mold… Repair” and as you type each word a list of related results will show below the search bar. Based on those suggestions and the search results you’ll find what videos you’ll be competing with, which will allow you to make a more educated decision on what to name your video.

3.) Never use deceptive titles with the hope of getting more clicks. Deceptive titles will ruin your search engine ranking, stunt your channels growth, build a bad reputation for your business, crash your audience retention rates, and can even lead to YouTube deleting your channel entirely. Sure, naming your video “Justin Bieber Falls From Balcony” might get you clicks, but it won’t do you any good if the video is a tour of your new Yoga studio. Views only matter when the right people are watching your video. Keep that in mind.

4.) Straight Forward vs Click Bait. We have two main directions we can go with our video titles. We can be to the point with our video title or we can tease what’s in the video to get viewers curious. A great example would be choosing a title for a video about self-confidence in the dating world. You could title your video something like “How To Approach A Woman With Confidence” or you could use the popular list strategy and go with something along the lines of “5 Confidence Boosting Tricks That Women Can’t Resist”. The first title being straight to the point and descriptive and the second directly playing into the target viewers emotions and curiosity which will lead to them to clicking that link. Neither are right or wrong. It’s all a matter of personal preference and how you want your brand perceived.

5.) Don’t be afraid to experiment with your video titles. You can change the title of your video as many times as you’d like for as long as the video is on YouTube. Experiment using a variation of all CAPS, some caps, or even adding the occasional exclamation point or two. The point is, in order to find what works the best for you it’s a good practice to try out different things. Once you find what works best for what you’re doing….stick to it.

So once you’ve determined what you want the title of your video to be go ahead and enter it in the video title box. For this demonstration I’ve uploaded a video tutorial on how to monetize your music using YouTube so I’ll title my video “Get Paid For Your Music Using YouTube”. Another thing I recommend is clicking “save changes” anytime you add or make changes to your videos information.

Video Description

With the video title taken care of we can now focus our attention on the video description. Time and time again I stumble upon amazing video content, usually cute cat videos, that fall into the dreaded “Lazy Video Description Pit Of Despair”. I don’t want any of you to become a victim so I’m going to walk you through the simple process of creating awesome video descriptions in very little time.

Writing a quality video description is key to giving YouTube the information it needs about your video. YouTube cannot extract information from the video itself, so it depends on the information you write out (and how users interact with the video) to determine what it’s about so the more information you include, the better. Just don’t start filling the description box with spam.
Now, In keeping with the theme of fives, there are five main things to do within the video description box.

1.) Write a keyword rich video overview…like a human. I’ll get to that in a minute…

2.) Link Out To External URL’s

3.) Include Purposeful Calls-To-Action

4.) Always ask for the subscribe + link

5.) Include Social Links

YouTube generously gives us 5,000 characters to use in the description box, but what we need to focus on most are the first two or three sentences. This is because YouTube and Google pull this information, along with the video title and thumbnail, to be used as meta-data for everything from Google search results to what shows up when we share our videos on social media. Some people suggest writing up to a 600 word video overview, but in my experience having a solid two or three sentence summary at the top of your description will give you nearly identical results.

What I mean by solid is that you’ve incorporated some related keywords or keyword phrases within the first 2-3 sentences. The sentences should explain what the video is about in a way that gives the viewer an understanding of what they’re about to watch. Keep it human and don’t overthink it. The last thing you want your video description to sound like is a malfunctioning keyword robot that is in stage 3 panick mode. YouTube can see that from a mile away and isn’t a big fan.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that I just posted a video of my little brother doing a burn-out in his Pontiac GTO…because honestly that’s the type of stuff my brother enjoys doing…

Well I’ll show you two examples of what the video description could look like and let you try and figure out which one would be the better option.

A.) “400HP 2004 Pontiac GTO lighting them up for one incredible 150ft burnout. This American Muscle Car has an upgraded SuperCharger, Full Exhaust, Custom Paint, and Racing Wheels. Click the link to find out the history of this incredible car!”



If you guessed that “A” was the better option you would be correct and we can still be friends.

Now I want to take a second to point out a Rookie Mistake that I want you to avoid at all costs. I recently had a student contact me to ask why his videos weren’t performing very well. He told me that he had followed these steps to the tee and couldn’t figure out where he went wrong. I asked him a few questions to make sure he understood the process and then with one sentence he unknowingly told me exactly what had gone wrong. He said “Adam, this video has 300,000 views and mine has less than 100 and I copied their video description word for word!”. I stopped him right there. Problem solved. Never under any circumstances copy another videos description word for word. YouTube and Google process that as copycat content and it will sabotage your videos chances for success. So be original.

The next thing you want to incorporate into your video descriptions is linking out to external URL’s. This could be a link to your landing page, a product page, the homepage of your website, iTunes, or a specific blog post you’d like to promote. It could even be a direct download link to a piece of additional content such as an audio file or pdf. Always try to use the original link and resist the urge to use a link shortener in this section. Shortened links can register as possible spam and that could affect your search rank.

Some people like to start their video descriptions with a link to an external URL, but I’ve personally found the best results by placing them right after my video description text. As I said with video titles, feel free to experiment and see what works best for you. What really matters is that both elements are included in the description box.

The description box of a video is where you want to include purposeful Calls-To-Action. I say purposeful because the viewer isn’t going to spend a lot of time in the description box so you need to guide their decision making. A perfect example of this would be to include a direct link to something you mentioned in the video so that the viewer can check it out and learn more about whatever it is you’re suggesting to them. For example, if you make cooking videos on your channel you could include a link to the full recipe in the description box with a clear Call-To-Action such as “Click Here To Get This Recipe” then direct your viewers to the description box so that they can make their way to that content.

You can also use a Call-To-Action with link to direct viewers to other videos you’ve created which may be related to what they’re currently watching. This works great if you’ve created a video series or want to promote the previous weeks video with every new video post.

Another Call-To-Action that I recommend you make is asking your viewers to subscribe to your channel. Building your subscriber base is key to growing your YouTube channel. Think of it in the same way as building an email list. When someone subscribes to your YouTube channel they become the first to know when you upload a new video. In turn your subscribers become a loyal viewer base and as your channel statistics grow, each video you upload will have a greater chance of reaching more and more people. I suggest adding a direct link in the video description box with a straight-forward call-to-action such as “Subscribe To My Channel” followed by a link or “Click Here To Subscribe” also followed by a link.

To save you time, here’s the link that you can use that will take your viewer directly to the subscription confirmation so with one click they’ll be subscribed to your channel. To customize the link for your channel simply replace “nalts” with your channel ID. To find your channel ID, open another window in your browser, go to www.youtube.com, click “My Channel” in the upper left hand column of the page, then simply copy the series of letters and numbers and appear after “channel/”


So now we’re ready to add your social links. This is a great way to make sure that people can easily connect with you outside of YouTube. Now I recommend only including social links to platforms that you’re most active on. When people are trying to connect with you the last thing they want is to follow an account that never gets used. Don’t feel like you have to include 15 different social links here. Viewers want to engage with you, so send them to where they can most easily do that. Include basic calls-to-action before each link such as “Follow Me On Twitter” followed by the direct link to your Twitter account.

At this point your video description should be good to go. Double check that all of the links are working and that you don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. With that being said we’re ready to add our video tags.

Tagging Your Video

Tagging your videos is an important step to optimizing your video posts. To reiterate, tags are keywords or keyword phrases that get indexed by YouTube to help narrow down search results. They’re not as important as the video title or description, but will still make a noticeable impact on the amount of traffic a video receives. YouTube only indexes the first ten keywords so there’s no reason to go overkill in this section. Coming up with tags is easy. Just think about how someone else would search for your video. What words or phrases would they use? Tags can be single words or entire phrases. Once you enter a tag simply hit the comma key to enter another. Be sure to include the most important tags at the beginning.

Now, if you’re having a hard time coming up with tags to use or want to take your tags to the next level I’ve actually created a FREE BONUS video on how to find tag ideas and actually find out what any YouTube video is using for their tags. Watch The Bonus Video Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii9zHURdX94

Video Thumbnails

With you video tags out of the way it’s time to talk about your video Thumbnail. So what is a thumbnail anyway? Well I’m glad you asked. Thumbnails are arguably the most important element to help get more clicks on your video. Think of them as a movie poster or the cover of a book. YouTube by default will give you three options to choose from to use as your main video thumbnail. These are usually horrible options because YouTube randomly chooses three stills from your video. One from early on in your video, one from somewhere in the middle, and one from the end. Luckily you have the option of uploading your very own Custom Thumbnail.

Now before we jump into what makes a custom video thumbnail awesome, let’s talk about the required image dimensions. Per YouTube’s Support Page On This:

Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible, as the image will also be used as the preview image in the embedded player. We recommend your custom thumbnails:

● Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels).
● Be uploaded in image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
● Remain under the 2MB limit.
● Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews.

Ok, so when creating a custom thumbnail consider these three things.

1.) The thumbnail should visually draw attention to your video. Big and Bold thumbnails work well as well as adding a bright splash of color to them to stand out from the crowd even more. Stay away from using small text or poor quality images. Simple is better.

2.) It should spark some sort of emotional connection with the viewer. We want the viewer to be able to identify something significant about the thumbnail. This is why making the thumbnail incredibly easy to process is so important.

3.) Energy! It should excite the viewer to take action and click to watch. Maybe it’s a image of an exotic car, maybe it’s a image of an epic fail moment, or maybe it’s just a cute puppy photo. Whatever it is needs to relate to your video, but try to make it interesting.

To better demonstrate what I’m talking about, I’m going to take a few moments to show you some great thumbnail images, and some not so great thumbnail images.

Take inspiration from these thumbnails, but find a style that’s uniquely your own. Once you get comfortable creating your own custom thumbnails try to keep some sort of consistency between them. This could be done using a signature color, thumbnail frame, or even the image style. Doing this will help viewers recognize your videos and give them a signature look that will stand out from the crowd.

So once you’re ready to upload your custom video thumbnail all you have to do is click “Custom Thumbnail” which will be located below the three suggested thumbnails, then select the image you want to use. To finish, simply click “save changes”.

Ok, so we’ve given our video a title, worked our magic in the description box, added our tags and uploaded a custom video thumbnail. Now it’s time to get advanced, but don’t worry, it’s nothing to be afraid of. These are just a few extra settings that you should look over before going live with your video. To access the Advanced Settings simply click on the “Advanced Settings” tab which is located under the main video image as the far right option. In this section you can really customize the viewers experience with your video.

You can manage comment settings, disable embedding, enable age restrictions, and add a video location just to name a few. The only option I want you to worry about on this page is the “Category” option. Ignore everything else for now. Click the drop down and select the category that suits your video the best. Once selected, click “save changes”.

Congratulations! Your video is now officially optimized and ready for the world to see so let’s make it public. To do this, click back on the “basic info” tab from there, click the drop down menu on the right side and select “Public”. YouTube also gives you the option to write a short message announcing your video and share it directly to social media, but I suggest doing that yourself so you can better tailor your promotional message for each social platform. Once you’ve selected “Public” and are ready to take your video live confirm by clicking “save changes”.

Now before I send you to the next module I want to share a time saving technique that you can implement very quickly. This involves the “Upload Defaults” settings which can be found by clicking “Channel” in the “Creator Studio” menu on the left hand side of the screen, then clicking “Upload Defaults”. From here you can customize the settings for when you upload future videos. I personally recommend changing the Privacy default to “unlisted”, selecting the most common category of videos you’ll be uploading, and also adding your Call-To-Action to subscribe with link…and your social links in the description box. This way you won’t have to manually add that information every time you upload a new video. Now like everything else when you’re finished just click “save” and you’re all set.



5 Ways To Overcome Beat Block

5 Ways To Overcome Beat Block

In this video we’re going to discuss WHY we get beat block and reveal five proven techniques to overcome it.
Now in order to overcome this sort of creative block we first have to understand why we’re running into it in the first place. The best way to find a solution is by identifying the root of the problem which could be different from person to person. With that being said I’ve identified four main reasons for beat block.
Reasons for Beat Block

1. Distractions

Social Media, YouTube, your Email, and life in general will easily pull your attention away from being productive so keep that in mind the next time you find yourself slipping away from creating.

2. Boredom

You could be tired of what you’ve been working on because it’s not challenging you creatively. Are you making music at that moment because you’re inspired or because you’re bored?

3. Lack Of Motivation

If you’re doing music as a hobby and not as a business it’s a little easier to lose motivation, but that ok. You don’t have to be inspired 24/7.

4. Self-Imposed Overwhelm

If you’re like me, then you like to make the most of your time. So when you sit down with the purpose of creating music you want to be as productive as possible, but when nothing seems to sound good and you’ve blown through a couple hours without anything worthy of saving it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed by anything other than joy or excitement will definitely put a choke hold on your creativity.

So that was a quick overview of some of reasons that we experience beat block  or creative block. Now let’s get into the five techniques to overcome it.
5 Techniques to Overcome Beat Block

1. Take A Mental Break

Dedicate a set amount of time each day to getting out of the studio and stimulate your brain with other activities. Sometimes we spend all of our time in front of computer screens and cut ourselves off from the outside world. This type of solitude can have a negative effect on our brain activity and mood. Going to the gym, reading, and participating in group activities are great ways to let your brain reset creatively.
2. Feed Your Brain with Fresh Content

When you listen to the same types of music on a regular basis your brain becomes numb to it and far less stimulated. By switching up what your brain is processing you effectively jump start mental stimulation which can have a profound effect on your imagination and creativity. Try listening to a different genre of music for a few days. Switch it up and be open minded to new types of music. Spotify and Pandora are magical when it comes to this. In less than 10 seconds you can add random new stations and be listening to music that you’ve never heard before.
3. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

We all fall victim at times to the dreaded comfort zone. We find a genre and style of music that we excel at producing and eventually we get frustrated when we realize that all of our music is starting to sound the same. Now developing your own style is a great thing, but in order to continue to grow and develop as a creative entrepreneur we have to force ourselves out of the comfort zone. So even if you’re not experiencing beat block at the moment I highly recommend switching things up once in a while. So if your go-to genre, for example is R&B, focus on producing something else, such as Top 40 Pop, or a specific niche of hip-hop such as west coast or classic New York style tracks. By switching up the style of your compositions it will trigger your body to release powerful neurotransmitters which are chemicals that effect your mood, focus, and creativity such as dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. That’s not just my opinion either. That’s science.
4. Collaboration with Friends or Peers

As a music producer we like to gravitate towards other music producers. So you most likely know a few people who you could contact to see if they’d be interested in working together on a project. Collaboration can be a fun way to create some really fantastic music, and at the same time develop long lasting friendships with those you work with. It’s also a great way to expand your technical knowledge because you’ll end up learning from one another. Now not everyone likes collaborating on compositions, but that’s ok. A lot of the time just talking music, life, and business with other likeminded people is enough to breathe some fresh air into your work.
5. Go Back and Finish Older Unfinished Beats

We’ve all come down with a case of beat block at some point in our lives and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it can be really frustrating. One thing that has helped me personally is going back into older unfinished beats and finding one that gets my attention. Sometimes it’s hard to create from scratch, but if you have something with loads of potential already started it can be a lot easier to focus on the task at hand.

What You Need To Start Making Beats - Beat Making Essentials

So I’ve been producing music for almost 12 years now and in those twelve years I must have been asked this same question at least a hundred times. Now the wording might be slightly different from person to person, but when you boil it down, it’s straightforward. What do I need to start making beats? It’s funny because I can remember asking this exact same question back in October of 2006. The guy I asked was a local club DJ who also produced music and happened to live with a friend of mine. He wrote down a few essentials on the back of an envelope for me and the rest is history. He goes by the name of DJ Deville and he’s been one of my closest friends now for over a decade. For him to take the time to point me in the right direction absolutely changed my life and I’m hoping that I can be that person for some of you today through this video.

So there’s several different levels as far as where to start and it all depends on your budget, and what you’re looking to do. In this article I’m going to show you and explain my recommendations for anyone looking to start making beats at home with a budget of less than $300. Now that $300 budget doesn’t include a computer, but with it being 2015 I assume that most of you have a computer and it doesn’t have to have crazy high end specs to get started making beats. In fact my first laptop was an old DELL with an 80GB hard drive and 256k of RAM so I promise your computer is better than what I started with. So here’s a list of things you’ll need to start making beats.
-Beat Making Software
-MIDI Keyboard (MIDI Controller)
-Audio Interface
-Studio Headphones
So to start you’re going to need somewhere to set up shop. It can be a desk, a kitchen table, wherever you want. I had an old IKEA table in my garage that I’ll be using for this set up. You can pick one of these up for around $30 new at IKEA. Naturally you’ll need somewhere to sit. This folding chair cost me 8 bucks. If you’re a baller you can use an actual desk chair, but I wanted to show how cheaply this could be done. For this video I’ll be using my MacBook Pro. It’s a 2011 Model running OSX Maverick and has 4GB of RAM. Nothing really new or beefed up. It doesn’t matter if you have a Mac or Windows computer. Either will work just fine.
Next you’ll need some sort of beat making software. If you’re using an Apple computer you’ll have an application called Garage Band that you can use and it comes preloaded so you don’t have to buy any additional software. If you’re on a Windows computer you can buy a basic version of FL Studio for $99 and get unlimited lifetime free updates to newer versions as they come out. There are also programs such as Logic Pro, Cubase, Ableton, and Reason that are great for making beats, but are a little higher in price. Some audio interface units come packaged with free software so check to see what you have before going out and buying anything.
Once you have the software you’ll need a way to control the different virtual sounds such as piano, drum kits, synths, pads, etc. so you’ll need a MIDI Keyboard. I’ll be using the AKAI Synth Station 25 that was actually made to work with an iPhone 4, but works fine via USB cable too. I got this off of eBay for $45. I want to take a second to say that there’s nothing wrong with buying used audio equipment as long as it was well taken care of. So many new products come out every year and people are constantly upgrading so there are a lot of really great stuff on the used market for fractions of what they cost new. Don’t hesitate to buy last years model either especially if you’re on a budget. With that being said, let’s move on to the audio interface.
Now you could technically get away with not using an interface right now, but I’d highly recommend you get one to start and here’s why. You’ll need an interface if you want to eventually record vocals or live instruments and when you’re ready to add studio monitors to your set-up the audio interface will be the magic box that allows you to connect the monitors to your computer. I picked up the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 from Guitar Center for $150, but I’ll put a link to Amazon in the description box below where you can pick it up for around $120. For the price, this interface has a ton of amazing features such as:

two high quality mic preamps,
24Bit/96khz conversion,
front panel headphone output with level knob,
a suit of free plug-ins to use for making beats,
and a free copy of Ableton Live Lite 8 which you could use as your beat making software of choice.

So now that you have the keyboard, the software, and the interface you’ll need a way to hear what you’re doing so instead of buying some cheap horrible sounding studio monitors I’d recommend buying some decent studio headphones first. I prefer closed back headphones and the ones I’ll be using for this set-up are the Audio-Technica ATH-M30. I picked these up for under $40 brand new. A decent set of studio headphones will allow you to hear things that you wouldn’t be able to differentiate in a cheap pair of studio monitors. I also recommend using some sort of surge protector just in case of a storm or power surge. It’s an inexpensive way to protect your equipment.

That’s really all you need to start making beats. This set up might be inexpensive, but it’s nothing to laugh at. I promise you that with this set up alone you could develop your talent to a point where you could start making money with your music. Now if you have a little bit bigger budget and want to take it to the next level or have been using a set up like this for a while and are looking to add on, then I’d highly recommend picking up a pair of good studio monitors. A good pair of studio monitors will last you for years and give you the flexibility of being able to switch between your professional studio monitors and your headphones for an even better mixing process. A lot of people go with the KRK’s or the Yamaha’s, but in my opinion one of the best set of entry level studio monitors right now have to be the Tannoy Reveal 502’s. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to various 5” monitors and the Reveal 502’s are amazing. They compete with other models that are two or three times their price. Not to mention they look really nice. To be honest I wasn’t really familiar with the Tannoy brand, but they’ve been around since 1947 and have been used in some of the most legendary studios around the world. In fact Tony Maserati prefers Tannoy’s and he’s mixed countless hit songs for everybody from Beyonce, Sting, Backstreet Boys, Jay-Z, Tupac, Alicia Keys, and that just naming a few off the top of my head.
Anyway, these are what I would buy if I was starting over again. This set up is simple, yet powerful. With this set up you can evolve into a beat making machine and someday be doing what you love for a living. That’s the dream. You have to start somewhere in order to make it a reality.
I hope this video helps answer some of your questions and points you in the right direction. If you haven’t yet, make sure to subscribe to my channel and leave a comment in the comments below to let me know if this video has helped you.


What gear do I use to produce videos and music?

I’ve been getting a lot more emails and messages lately from people asking me what gear I use to make my videos or what setup I have to produce music. To make it easier to keep track of I’ve decided to make a list of both for you to be able to reference. Below is a pretty complete list of the gear I use to create videos and produce music. Now to be completely transparent some of the links are affiliate links, but that doesn’t change the fact that these are the products I use and by you clicking the links below helps me make better content for you. If you have any questions about something listed or a piece of gear you’ve been thinking about picking up feel free to send me a message and I’ll do my best to answer your questions or give my feedback.



Music Production Gear