Music production is big business, but it’s now not only record labels that can cash in. You can create music online using digital audio workstations (DAWs), which are applications you can use to produce and create your music.
That way, you don’t need to spend money on professional studio sessions or time learning professional producing software such as Logic. With a DAW, you can sit down in front of a computer and create music with ease.
Before you get started
Even though it’s easy enough to kick off your music career with the countless online platforms now at your fingertips, you should take some time to think about what type of music you want to make, whether there’s an audience for it and what kind of prep you need to do before getting started.
DAWs have libraries of sample sounds you can use to create your tunes, and there are dozens of sites you can buy and download other increments from, too.
However, if your track has vocals, you still need to professionally record those vocals and upload them to the DAW to make your music. In which case, you need a home setup or to spend some time in the studio. The same is apparent if you want a specific sound that you can’t find online, in which case you need to record it yourself.
Creating a simple home studio
To create a home studio, make sure your computer has a 1TB hard drive and a 64-bit processor at the very least. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to process large files and the load speed on your computer will take a hit, which could cause your system to crash.
You then want to make sure you have a room to record in that’s sound proofed, or near enough. An affordable solution is to use insulation or carpeting on the walls to reduce the exterior noise.
Once you’ve setup the room you’re going to record in, you need some basic equipment. Get yourself a good microphone and some headphones and take it from there. Some would recommend getting high-quality speakers also, but that’s not entirely necessary if you have high-quality headphones; they’ll pick-up small sounds that you may not hear over speakers anyhow.
Once you’ve got the sounds you want, you’re ready to start making music online.
How much does it cost?
Most DAWs work on a monthly or annual subscription, most of which include a ‘Free’ option with basic features. Generally, the more you pay per month, the more samples, instruments and loops you receive access to. You also get more storage space so that you can store your music securely.
The best platforms to make music online
There are a variety of DAWs you can use with varying features, including collaborative features and easy-share capabilities.
The most popular DAW is Soundtrap, which works on a subscription basis with a free option available. It is very easy to use – mainly due to its highly visual interface. There are more than 4,000 samples and loops and over 500 sounds and instruments if you’re on the highest-tier subscription. You can also collaborate with other musicians by searching by genre and instrument.
This platform has more samples (up to 12,000) and instruments than Soundtrap as well as cheaper subscriptions. The interface feels more dated and a little less intuitive, but it feels more seamless, or ‘offline’. By that, we mean it rarely lags and the load times are speedy. You also get a clear artist page when you join the platform, which gives Soundation a community feel.
With a library of more than 250,000 samples – mostly supplied by Loopmasters – Audiotool has an incredible offering and it’s free. However, it’s a bit tricky to use, which means you’ll have to put more time into learning how to put your sounds together. Despite that, Audiotool has a ‘Share’ feature very similar to Soundcloud, which means you can get your tunes in front of an audience easily.
This is by far the simplest of the platforms, however, its offering isn’t as extensive as Soundation, for instance. But it is completely free. You simply sign up, click one of five creation options and go from there. The tools are colour-coded, which makes managing several tracks easy, and you can find everything you need quickly with the sift-through-style search tool.
There are many other DAWs out there, but the above are some of the best of the market right now.
Once you’ve created your music, you need to think about how to get it out into the world and create an audience for yourself. Thankfully, there are numerous platforms that can help you do just that, in addition to built-in sharing tools that come with some of the DAWs, such as Soundation.
With more 175 million unique monthly users, SoundCloud is the most popular online music sharing community. It has an interface that’s not dissimilar to Facebook with its ‘timeline’ and you can upload and share your music in seconds. For newer musicians, SoundCloud is a much more effective growth community than apps like Spotify, for instance.
If you don’t mind relying on ‘trends’ to get your music seen, Audiomack is a fantastic option. It predates SoundCloud and uses a listens-based system to promote shared music. If your track gets heaps of listens, it will be flagged as ‘trending’ and be shown on the homepage to be discovered.
Want to give your fans the opportunity to buy your music? There’s no platform better than iTunes, which despite its age is still a relevant place for your music to be seen.
Both video streaming platforms receive millions of visitors but rely on video content for true success. So, if you want to use either, it helps to create a video for your music before sharing.
To kick off your grand musical plans:
- Create a simple home studio setup and plan what music you want to create, including your genre and which instruments you like, for instance.
- Then, select a DAW that meets your requirements – initially, try something affordable, or free, to get used to how it works. Experiment with different sounds, or loops, before crafting your first track.
- Once you have a completed tune, share it directly via the DAW as well as popular sites such as SoundCloud and, if you have video content, YouTube or Vimeo. That’s the first step to becoming a successful musician.