This article for people wanting to make music on their laptops and what options they have going forward. How to make Music on your Laptop?
You heard it here first; laptops have transformed the musical landscape. Alright, maybe you didn’t. Honestly, this shift has been coming for a few years now. Making music used to be the reserve of studio owners and artists making the big time, but recent changes mean making your mark as a music production DJ is fast becoming more accessible than ever. It’s now easily within anyone’s reach to make a hit record or master some banging DJ beats. All you need is the right laptop, a decent software setup, and the raw talent that’s never seemed like enough to get you through before.
Alright, you might need to practice a fair amount, too. We may be making music on our laptops now, but quality hasn’t taken even a bit of a nosedive. You need to understand your specs and software inside out if you want to make a real go of this undertaking, and that can seem like a pretty daunting task. Now, instead of just writing music that sounds good, you need to know how to translate that into a single. In other words, you need to be a pretty multi talented artist.
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We’ve got full faith in you, but, like most of us, you may well need a helping hand to get started here. That’s why we’re going to look at everything you could hope to know about making music on your laptop. Instead of staring blankly at your screen, keep reading to make some fantastic tunes before you know.
The benefits of making your own beats
First thing’s first; you might be wondering why you should even bother with all this. Wouldn’t it be easier to send off a shabby recording to some top music producer like in ye days of old? Not at all, and not least because music production is a totally different ball game these days. In reality, making your own music has plenty of benefits besides, including –
- Creative freedom
- An entirely new skillset
- Music 100% in keeping with your vision
- A faster way to get yourself noticed
- A chance to make your own name
- Total control over your musical income
There really is no end to the enjoyment you can get from taking production onto your shoulders. Whether you still want to go down more traditional routes or are interested in starting on social media, getting your head around recording can make it happen. In fact, with laptop recordings coming more and more to the fore, it won’t be long before making your name is impossible until you’ve wrapped your mind around this.
Get the specs
No, we don’t mean glasses (though you might need them, too, if you’ll be increasing your screen time!). Instead, we’re referring to the specs of your laptop. While you might assume you can just plug in and start recording, it’s not always the case. Yes, most standard laptops are now compatible with top software, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best option for quality.
Instead, then, it’s worth investing in a laptop with your music-making undertakings in mind. Even if you start on the model you’ve already got, keeping your eye on the best laptops for music quality moving forward is your best chance at going far.
Honestly, every manufacturer’s going to tell you that their laptop is ‘the one’ for quality hits, so you need to keep your head screwed on here. Easier said than done, perhaps, seeing as music is your jam, not tech, but there are some helpful tricks and tips to make sure you get this right. For one, you need to ask yourself –
- Whether you’ll be recording, producing, or performing
- How large does your screen need to be?
- Will you be taking your laptop around with you?
- Which processor do you need?
- How much memory will you be using?
- What ports will you require?
While your unique selection will vary depending on your answers to the above, you’ll then want to consider music-focused laptop specs during your shopping excursions. These vary widely from model to model, and getting them down is vital. The absolute minimum specs to look out for are –
- 2Ghz i7 quad-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64-bit operating systems
- 15-inch screen
On top of that, you’ll probably also want no less than 256GB in either HDD or SSD storage. Processors should be a particular priority here, as this is where your computer does all its thinking. If you got a laptop with a single-core, you’d therefore be limiting yourself to one task at a time, which is never going to work when you’re making multiple tracks. By comparison, a quad-core processor guarantees you can work on a range of songs without worry.
Memory should be a priority, too, both in your laptop’s RAM and extra storage capabilities. Music production software itself can take a considerable chunk of RAM storage, while every song is going to cost you at least 4MB. Make sure, then, that you’re getting a laptop with no less than 4GB RAM, and 256GB of internal, preferably SSD-based storage.
Settling on your software
As any decent music production DJ knows, songs are only ever as good as the software they’re created on. Seriously. You could go back in time, write Bohemian Rhapsody, and still fail to get a record deal without the right gear behind you! Don’t make such a rookie mistake. Instead, get on top with the best software in the market straight off the bat, even if it costs you a bit. Note, too, that most music software is ideal for a specific purpose. Buy with your type of music in mind to make sure you don’t trip up along the way.
During your search, you will inevitably come across the term digital audio workstation (DAW). This is the program you need, the question is, what top market contenders right now would suit your purpose?
GarageBand is one of those DAWs most of us have heard of. With a simple interface and pretty high quality, this hot option has been used by the likes of Rihanna and Usher! Sadly, this is an Apple product meaning that only Mac users can benefit, an issue that’s soon negated by the fact that this software is as cheap as a one-time $4.99 app purchase. As the name suggests, GarageBand is best if you’re aiming for a grungy sound. As you might be able to guess by the price tag, though, this program might not suit as your ambition in the laptop music industry grows.
Taking it one step up, we’ve got Reaper. With a 60-day free trial and just $60 license after that, this essential starter software offers near enough everything you could need to make some pretty decent tunes. This option is available on both Mac and Windows, making it more accessible. It’s also relatively suitable for most music types, with a general interface and simplistic enough controls.
Ableton Live 10 Suite Multitrack Recording Software
Soaring right up in the price rankings now to just under $800, we’ve got Ableton Live 10 Suite Multitrack Recording Software. Used by pros and bedroom producers alike, this is ideal for bandmates just looking for some inspo. That’s because this is the perfect software for playing around and hoping for hits. Ableton provides an easy-to-use interface with tempo changing capabilities, and a particular focus on session music. Even better, those multitrack abilities mean every band member can do their jam, then merge everything together to see whether there’s anything worth pursuing there!
PreSonus Studio One 3 Artist Recording and Production Software
If you’re looking to produce rather than perform dance or techno-specific music, then this PreSonus offering could be ideal for you. Even better, this one’s back down in the price stakes at just under $200. The best things about this option for dance music production are the virtual instruments, sequencing beats capabilities, and straightforward mixing options. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a more straightforward mixing program on the market right now. And, of course, you can still record live instruments if you feel the need, and add them into the mix as well!
Honestly, this list could go on and on. You name your music need, and you can bet someone’s made software for it. While starting with cheaper market options is always advisable while you settle into the world of laptop music, you could soon invest in a more expensive choice and feel the benefits.
It isn’t all bedroom DJs and budding artists that make music on their laptops. In the modern age, even famous names are making their mark with their laptop efforts. If you’re looking for inspiration at the start of your journey, then look no further than –
- Flying Lotus
As mentioned, even professional studios are making the most of some of the top software choices listed above. Like we touched upon, Rihanna, usher, and more have all produced hits with help from GarageBand. Grammy-award winning music producer Oak Felder is also proud of his laptop-based music roots, despite working with Niki Minaj and other top names. “My main computer is a laptop,” he stated when asked. “So, technically, I’m mobile everywhere.”
Going from the bedroom to the big-time
Looking to these big music names for inspiration, you might be wondering how exactly they got out of bedroom producing and hit the big time. Recording your own tracks isn’t much use if they sit doing nothing in some laptop file, after all. Luckily, making music on your laptop is fast becoming a standard first step for music breakthroughs. Make sure you get your name heard by –
Publishing on YouTube
Why not do as the Beebs did and post your songs on YouTube first? This does have the downside of meaning that you’ll need to give your songs away for free to start, but a growing following could soon change that. YouTube offers monetisation to videos with the most views anyway, and big-time producers are guaranteed to spot you if your social media makes enough sound.
Send out a demo
Demos have long been a music-industry staple, but basic tapes and crappy recordings used to be the norm. Now, you’re in the fantastic position of being able to create a studio-quality demo from your bedroom. Make the most of it, then start sending out to top industry names. Persist enough, and you may bag yourself a deal.
We’re afraid to say that you’ll need to get out of your bedroom for this last tip. As they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Never is that more the case than in our creative industries. Sometimes, then, getting your bedroom hits heard is about little more than interacting with the right people, and getting your name noticed where it matters. Luckily, you can start this process from your bedroom with Twitter, which is a fantastic place to interact with industry names and gain invites to music parties. Then, take your quality demo along with you, and see what happens!
Making music has never been easier
So, there you have it; the lowdown on how to make and curate hit-quality music on your laptop. There’s no denying that this new music landscape can seem daunting when you’re on the outside. Heck, even industry pros shy away from laptop software sometimes! But, as you can see from the tips mentioned in this post, there’s nothing to be afraid of here.
In fact, by taking the time to get ahead while laptop music is still emerging, you stand to be one of the best by the time this technique really reaches the mainstream. So, stop putting it off or assuming that bedroom-based music creation isn’t for you. Now is the time to turn your recording dreams into reality, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it.
Simply take what we’ve taught you, write some banging tunes, and start making songs that go down in history!