Let’s face it – making beats today is way too easy. It’s true that you don’t just sit in front of your gear, press a button and tell it to make a beat for you, but with all of the hardware and software available to use today, it’s pretty easy.
This could be one of the reasons why electronic-based music gets a bad rap sometimes, especially from people that don’t know anything about it and think all we do is push buttons and turn knobs.
That is why I have made this list of 5 examples of how making beats today is too easy.
1. Sound Packs
In the early days, pretty much the only way you could sample sounds was from vinyl, cassette, and CD. There were some sound packs in the 90’s, but nothing like today. Now we have a plethora of samples to choose from, and you can even refine it down to the type of genre that you want to produce.
Take Hip Hop, for example. The traditional way was to sample from vinyl, but now there are plenty of sound kits to go around for all your needs. Some people are even making a living just making music for sound packs that they sell online!
One of the most popular ways of sampling from kits is to grab a loop. This is because these are loops that sound amazing and are already set to be looped. Plus, it tells you the tempo! How easy is that? Now you can just grab a loop sample and loop it in your DAW. That’s it. There’s the foundation of your beat. Now you can build on it with other sounds, or better yet, just add more loops. It’s crazy simple.
2. Online Tutorials
Before I got into making beats, I learned as much as I could about audio engineering. The way I did that was through two things: books and magazines. A monthly subscription to Recording magazine was a great way to learn the ins and outs of recording, but it was when I picked up a book about home recording that I finally started to really delve into the production world.
But now it’s all changed.
With the internet and tons of websites that offer tutorials about anything from learning how MIDI works, to how to make beats, it’s so easy to find out what to do. However, when it comes to learning, Youtube is the king. Within seconds, you can go onto Youtube and search a great deal of videos that tell you exactly how to make a beat. It’s way too easy.
3. Software and Hardware Workflow
Not to say that software from the 80’s and 90’s was hard to use, but it was harder than today. A part of it is because of point #2 about online tutorials, but still, today’s software has a much easier learning curve than software of yesteryear.
A friend of mine bought an ASR-10 back in the day and he was super excited to learn it. The only problem is the person he bought it from didn’t supply a manual! So here he was with a gigantic piece of gear (the ASR was huge), and he had to figure out on his own how to work it.
And he did!
With the software and hardware of today, it’s so much easier. Take for example, Akai’s new Rhythm Wolf that everyone has been waiting for. It has a bunch of knobs on it, but it’s still dead simple. You just set the tempo and start hitting the corresponding pad where you want a sound to trigger. Then you just have to adjust all the settings for each sound until you get the desired sound.
Compared to an ASR-10, it’s easy. The ASR was straightforward but it had a lot of features that you had to shuffle through to get what you wanted. The same can be said for the SP-1200, as it had a very limited sampling time, so you had to figure out on your own how to cram a long sample into that tiny sampling time. (Record the sample on 45 rpm.)
4. Advanced Features
Both hardware and software are very advanced today. When I first used Cakewalk Pro Audio in the 90’s, the most I had for effects was what was built in, which wasn’t great. There were plugins but they weren’t great either.
Today’s, however, is much more advanced. I just saw a video yesterday about Izotope’s new Iris 2 software that is kind of like Photoshop but for audio. The more I look at it, the crazier it seems. Back when sampling into an MPC was the biggest thing, all we had to look forward to was chopping the sample at the right spot and truncating it. Now it’s so much more than that.
With the new Reason software, you can have a full fledged studio right there in front of you. With a bunch of racks and now a DAW system, why even go to a recording studio anymore?
5. Simple Synth Patterns Are Accepted
When it comes to a genre such as Hip Hop, the golden era was throughout the 90’s. The reason why is because there were so many great beats that were made, and most of it was because of the music in the beats. There was so much sampling going on, that it was a weekly occurrence that we would hear another new dope beat coming out.
With today’s software and hardware, it seems like simple synth patterns are the accepted norm. Not to take anything away from beatmakers that use synths, but those simple keyboard patterns have to go. I understand that there are lots of fans of beats like that, but when you compare the music today with that from years ago, it doesn’t sound like there’s much effort going on.
I was browsing some beat making videos yesterday and I saw a few beatmakers that seemed decent, but they were relying too much on simple patterns, all while using ready-made synth packs. I understand that they may not know better because when they got into beatmaking, this was the way to do it, but it just looks like there’s not much effort going into these beats. As a result, that is why a lot of beats today all sound the same.