Hi all, Andrew here and I wanted to take a break from JRT news to have a little fun. For those that don't know I am the designer here at JRT, but by night I am a musician & artist. I've played in multiple bands and love music to my core! This is for the DIY Rockstar, a guide for professional home recording and publishing.
I wrote this to empower individuals and eliminate the same recycled garbage come over my speakers when I listen to the radio. If you have visited Austin, you’ll know great music is out there. With the emergence of new technology, the market is primed for the emergence of indie artists. The balance of power is shifting from publishers to producers. You don't have to hope to get noticed through a contest or a record company inundated with submissions from indie artists. This post will walk you through how to record, publish, and promote music on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, iTunes, Beats, Rdio, Deezer, and more. This way, the next time I turn on the radio, I hear something new!
Now I can’t promise fortune and fame, but I can promise you will record and publish your music and you’ll sound like a pro.
Part One, Recording - Software & Hardware
First things first, you need a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. This is where you will record, edit, mix and master your audio files. I have used a few DAW’s but my favorite is Logic Pro X. I like Logic Pro, because it has intuitive and powerful features. It also comes packed with software instruments including drums, keyboards, and synthesizers.
Other great options are Audacity (free), Ableton, Pro Tools, FL Studio, Reason, Garageband and Cubase. I’ve heard great sound come from all of these tools. The best advice I can give is check your budget, read reviews, and download demos. The software varies greatly in price, so I would start with something lower cost, until you are comfortable with what you are doing. Logic Pro currently sits at $200, while Audacity and Garageband are free.
Now, that we have our software figured out, we need to connect guitars or microphones to the computer. Audio interfaces are designed for just that. There are many options out there, I currently use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, total cost $150. The Scarlett 2i2 has minimal latency, 2 inputs and connects via USB.
I am a minimalist when it comes to set up. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a ton of space for large amps, drums, and equipment - not to mention.. I have neighbors. You can record with an instrument mic, which I do with acoustic guitar, but when it comes to electric guitar I think the best solution out there is Pod Farm. Pod Farm by Line 6 puts all the power and sound of hundreds of amps in a plug-in. They have a free demo as well as a $99 option or a $299 option. There are some awesome videos on YouTube that demo the pod farm sounds.
Again, coming from a minimalist, drums take up a ton of space, are expensive, are a pain to record and take a lot of time cleaning up sounds when you record them live. Solution? Toontrack’s Superior Drummer and EZ Drummer. Superior drummer comes with 20GB of studio quality drum samples. The cool thing for guitarists is that Superior Drummer also comes with grooves, or beats, that you can drag and drop to your tracks! When you mix pod farm with superior drummer, you get a studio quality sound with very little work and you’ll have a ton of extra space in your apartment!
Microphone & Vocals
Vocals are one of the most difficult instruments to record. Everyone prefers different microphones, and I admittedly am not an expert on microphones. I have watched many YouTube video reviews and tried out different microphones. After buying (and returning) a couple of mics to Guitar Center, the mic I am currently using is an AKG c 214. I absolutely love it, it has a really great warm sound to it.
Now that you have all your Software & Hardware set up, it is time to record your music! You should be able to create just about anything with the tools outlined. Lets not forget, the most important thing is your imagination. Hardware and Software are just tools to get your creation out. Creativity in the sound and self-promoting will be what set you apart.
Part Two, Self-Publishing
THIS is where I want to share a gem I found, and what I wish I would have known when I was 16. I use a service called Distrokid. Here is a quick highlight pulled straight from their website:
“We'll get your music into iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Tidal, Beats, Deezer, Rdio, YouTube Music Key and 150+ other stores & streaming services.
Keep 100% of your royalties, get paid monthly.
In stores 10-20x faster than any other distributor, at a fraction of the price.
Pay only $19.99 to upload unlimited albums & songs for a year (competitors charge at least 2x that just to upload one album).
Bonus features! DistroKid can help you distribute cover songs legally, and get you paid when other people use your music in YouTube”
Pretty awesome right? I have been using them for about 7 months and I can tell you they have been absolutely great so far. It is incredibly easy to upload new songs and release them. So far I have paid $20 for unlimited uploading of songs, and made about $30. While I may not be buying anything with rims anytime soon, it is extremely rewarding to publish your own music. Heck you can publish your music, download it and use Ringtone Maker to make Ringtones out of your own music! How cool is that?!
Part Three, Self-Promoting
All the tools are there for you to create and publish, how ‘successful’ you are will depend on how crafty you are at promoting. I would suggest using all the social media sites you can and play shows all around. No one will know about you if you don’t tell them. It is hard to have self confidence in your creations and open up to the possibility of failure or success. Sometimes the fear of failure keeps us from doing things where we can be successful.
Let me leave you with this quote:
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt
So go on, put yourself out there, make some music and have some fun doing it!
Recap: Recommendations and set up
DAW for recording and mixing | Logic Pro X or Audacity (free)
cost | free - $200
cost | $149
Guitars | Pod Farm 2.5
cost | $99 - 299
Drums | Superior Drummer (Toontrack) or EZ Drummer
cost | $179-249
Vocals | AKG c 214 Microphone
cost | $250, ~100 for lower end mics
instrument and guitar cable, headphones - varies
Total cost | $527 and up. You may be able to scour craigslist for used equipment and save some cash! Also, a lot of the Software providers have deals for Cyber Monday.
Thanks for reading. Questions, comments, equipment recommendations??? Email me at [email protected]
I'd love to hear from you!