My hope is that these resources may guide you to a place of inspiration regardless of financial barriers -- because, let's be real, if you want something bad enough, there is ALWAYS a way to get it and anything else is just a form of procrastination. I've been guilty for procrastinating for far too much of my life, making endless excuses for why I couldn't start, when in reality, it all boiled down to fear and not knowing about the right tools. So, learn from me and just get started!
1. Online Music Theory Courses:
Understanding the fundamentals of music theory is crucial for any musician. I started a bit backwards on my journey and now I find myself learning the fundamentals years later. What I've realized is that sometimes it's easier to learn the rules so you know how to break them more skillfully.
Platforms like Coursera, Khan Academy, and musictheory.net offer free courses that cover everything from basic music theory to advanced topics. And there is always Youtube, but we'll get into that later.
2. Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs):
Ableton is expensive and 100% worth it, but it isn't the only option out there and the cost shouldn't be your reason for not exploring production. There are so many free solutions which may not have all the same capability, but allow you to get the feel for audio creation. Software like Audacity, Cakewalk by BandLab, and Tracktion T7 provide powerful, free DAWs that allow you to record, edit, and produce your music.
Alternatively, if you are still looking for the professional Ableton experience, there is a Lite version of Ableton -- though it does limit the number of tracks you can use. Or, what I have done for years, which is simultaneously helpful if you need a focused environment, is go to the library. The library, depending on your location, often has the latest and greatest music production software for free, just remember to bring a USB with you to save your progress.
Speaking of libraries...if you live in Edmonton, there are FREE music studios available at The Makerspace at the EPL. You just need a library card and to book your spot in advance. I'm not sure how widespread these are in other countries or cities, but be sure to do some research for your area.
3. Virtual Instruments and Plugins: If you're getting bored with the stock instruments in your DAW or just want to spice things up with a bit of variety, there are numerous free virtual instruments and plugins available, such as Spitfire LABS and Native Instruments' Komplete Start. These can add depth to your music production without breaking the bank.
4. Music Communities and Forums: Joining online music communities and forums like Reddit's r/WeAreTheMusicMakers can connect you with other musicians, offer valuable advice, and provide opportunities for collaboration. I also recommend checking out EDMC.nu to gain access to a TON of resources such as forums, music sharing and downloads, DJ / Production tools, and so much more. It's one of the best sites I've used and I've discovered so many new genres and tons of info because of it. You can access it for free by participating in the community and getting points or you can pay a small monthly fee for all of the perks it has to offer.
5. YouTube Tutorials: YouTube is a treasure trove of music tutorials covering everything from instrument techniques to music production tips. Channels like Andrew Huang, Rick Beato, Slynk, and Venus Theory offer valuable insights for free. The possibilities are literally endless on there, just find the genre or style you're into, or a personally that resonates with you and dive in.
I'll usually turn on their videos in the background if I'm doing chores around the house and by the end of it, I'm full of inspiration and fresh ideas for creation. Or sometimes, I'll have a more specific problem to solve when I'm already deep in the creation process and just need a bit of guidance.
6. Free Sample Libraries: Websites like Freesound and Looperman provide free samples and sound effects that can be used in your music production to add unique textures and layers to your tracks. Pixabay is also a great free resource for samples, effects, and has royalty free photo, video, and animations as well.
You can even make your own samples at home! Music is everywhere -- the banging of the pots and pans in your kitchen, a gentle rainfall, the sound of a soda bottle opening -- we are surrounded by sound. Just take your phone or mic and record around you. The world is your instrument.
7. Sheet Music and Tablature Resources: Websites like MuseScore and Ultimate Guitar offer a vast collection of sheet music and guitar tabs for various genres. Access to these resources can help you learn new songs and improve your sight-reading skills.
8. Music Collaboration Platforms: Platforms like Blend.io and Kompoz.com facilitate online collaborations with musicians from around the world. You can work on projects together without geographical limitations. And don't be afraid to reach out to other musicians in your city either! It just begins with a simple intro.
9. Music Marketing and Promotion Guides: Musicians have to wear many hats -- there is making the music and then you actually have to promote it. If you're needing to design promotional graphics or merch, head over to Canva for some creative inspiration. If you're trying to edit videos, you can use a free app on your phone called YouCut or if you're on desktop, check out Clipchamp.
Blogs and websites like Hypebot and DIY Musician offer free guides and articles on marketing and promoting your music, helping you gain exposure in the industry.
10. Open Source Music Software: Consider exploring open-source software like Ardour for audio recording and editing or MuseScore for notation. These tools are continually improving thanks to contributions from the global music community.
Thanks for reading!
I hope these tips were helpful to get you started or carry forward on your music journey without financial burden. Don't let anything stop you! And remember to be easy on yourself as you learn. Make messes and have fun! Much love, Cyncron