Whether you’re first starting out making beats, or you’re a seasoned veteran, there are going to be times when you will be trying to record your music on a budget. Unless you were born into a family that has so much money they poop gold coins, you’re going to be on the lookout for deals on various software and hardware.
What’s interesting about recording on a budget is that it can be done, and done easily. I’m not implying that you’re broke, poor, and whose only option is to make beats by banging two spoons together, of course not. But money today is tight for everyone, so what do you do?
When I first started out, I had no one to help me when it came to getting my recording gear. I had to read magazines, books, and look around the local musical instrument store to figure out what I needed. What I quickly figured out was that I, of course, needed a DAW (digital audio workstation). It used to be that you would buy a gigantic recording console, and I’ve seen some guys with 24 track boards in their shed! However, you don’t need that since software is the way to go nowadays.
Get yourself a DAW
There are plenty of them out there from the well known Pro Tools, to Logic, Sonar, Cubase, Reason, and the list goes on and on. There’s a new product on the market today and it’s called Bitwig, so it’s something else you should consider since it seems to be the next big thing. Without a DAW, you won’t have much to record on, but you could get away with just using an audio editing program…
Get yourself an audio editor
I’ve been using Adobe Audition version 1.0 for years now (before that it was Cool Edit Pro) and it’s great. There’s others like the free program called Audacity, plus there’s also Soundforge from Sony, and a few others that are popular. Even though they’re meant for audio editing, a program like Audition could also be used as a DAW of sorts. I once knew a guy that made his entire beats just in Audition, that’s it. He would use it to sample, slice, dice, morph, and sequence.
Find some plug-ins
There are tons of plug-ins out there that will do pretty much anything you want to your music. All DAWs come with built-in effects, but often times they’re lacking the depth that you can get with plug-ins.
Buy used hardware
I’m not talking about taking a trip down to the local hardware store, but go to the nearest musical instrument spot and check out what kind of gear they have. Some sell used gear, but you don’t have to buy it there. Instead, buy it online from either eBay or Kijiji/Craigslist. Something simple like a drum machine or sampler will do, even an old turntable (they’re all old, no?). As long as you have something to make drums with and sample from, you’re good to go.
Keep It Simple
You really don’t need a lot to get started at making beats. I started off with a drum machine and a tiny sampler, then I was able to get my hands on a cheesy Casio keyboard – and I made beats. They weren’t the greatest but when money is tight, you use what you can.
One of the greatest things about recording on a budget is that since you don’t have much to work with, it forces you to get creative when making beats. For example, if you have a hardware sampler, you won’t have much sample time in it so you will have no choice but to be creative when you sample a piece of music. It will also make you more aware of what you’re sampling and how you’re chopping it. With today’s software, it’s WAY too easy to make beats so going the old school hardware route is a nice way of starting out.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to use hardware, in fact you don’t need it at all. With programs like Reason or FL Studio, you can do everything just in there. You could literally have just a laptop as your entire production center, and you will be able to make incredible music with just that. There are some producers I know that have setups just like that and they love it.
It’s tough when the budget is tight, but that should not stop you from making beats. Think back to when producers from back in the day had nothing but a cassette deck and a sampler with 10 seconds of sampling time – they still made beats – so what are you waiting for?