If you are looking to start experimenting with EDM music production and you’re looking for the fundamentals, this article will work as a beginner’s guide to the process and the equipment that you’ll need to get started.
Learning how to create and produce EDM music will take much more than reading one article. It will take a lot of time, patience, research and experimentation to find your authentic sound and get it sounding as big as the beats from Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Avicii, and Martin Garrix.
Creating EDM may seem easier than becoming a guitar virtuoso or a concert pianist, but there is still an incredibly steep learning curve if you want to produce a GOOD track. Think of it in the same way as the adage that “if you give enough monkeys typewriters, they will eventually write Shakespeare” – the same goes for music production – it still creates skill.
Writing and producing an EDM track should never be a race to the finish line, but for anyone wondering how long it takes, the answer is anywhere between a few hours to a few months. Every EDM artist has their way of working, and generally, the more skilled they are, the faster they can pull together a radio-ready track.
How to create EDM Music
The first thing you need to know is that ANYONE can create EDM music; which wasn’t always the case when the gear was expensive and consumed a lot of space. Now, synths, pianos, and every other instrument can come in accessibly cheap simulated software form.
Your PC or Mac will be your main instrument after a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) has been downloaded, but there are no rules to how you create your arrangements, melodies, loops and beats. Some producers use keyboards, pads, or other forms of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) instruments that they find preference with. We recommend a MIDI controller that has pads and keys so you can create your beats, breaks and melodies on one controller, but the right MIDI for you boils down to your talent, preference and budget. Yet, you can’t go wrong with a Korg MIDI controller!
The second essential piece of kit is a USB audio interface, or the soundcard, which provides output and input from and to a computer; this means that you can listen to what you make via speakers and use your MIDI controller. To ensure that you will get an accurate impression of how your mix sounds, never skimp on the headphones or think that you can rely on your everyday headphones. They might make the music sound good, but they can distort the sound. Always opt for professional headphones, preferably from well-known manufacturers, such as Yamaha and PreSonus.
The last piece of physical kit you will need if you’re planning on bringing your vocals into the mix is a microphone – always do plenty of research before you make your purchase. Which mic is right for you will depend on your desired vocal style. For example, artists that want the popular auto-tuned style will need a high-quality condenser mic.
Before you start trying to create a track on your DAW, spend plenty of time getting to know how it works. You can either follow the manufacturer guide or watch helpful walkthrough videos on YouTube. The most popular DAWs include Ableton Live, Logic X Pro and FL Studio. Again, spend plenty of time researching which DAW is right for you.
Once you know the way around your DAW, start getting acquainted with the instruments and effects. Play around with equalising your synths and experimenting with compression and reverb; at this stage, you will only want to be creating simple loops instead of creating an entire song.
Next, you will need systematic knowledge that covers the entire process of EDM production. There is a range of courses available, both online and through universities, or you can check out YouTube channels. Another way EDM producers find their flair and skill is by reverse engineering their favourite tracks.
Once you know the anatomy of music production, you can start to think about how your track will take shape. Deciding to start with the intro or the drop will impact the final result.
One of the best EDM production tips is deciding how the vocals will work before getting too deep into the instrumentals. If vocals aren’t your forte, collaborate with a vocalist, use vocal samples or experiment with auto-tuning and other effects on your vocals.
At this stage, you should be making an effort to introduce yourselves to the range of effects available on your DAW. See how equalizers can balance frequencies, how compressors can amplify quieter elements, how auto-tuning corrects pitch. Then, you can get creative with your mix with delays and reverb, but as a general rule, don’t overdo it; your focus when producing EDM should always be the rhythm.
Once you are happy with the arrangement of your track and everything is in place, this is where the mixing and mastering come in. You can trust an experienced producer to make your mix as powerful, loud and colourful as the music you hear in clubs. Or you can have a crack at it yourself by finding the perfect levels for your bass, beats and synths. In every step of the process, keep an open and experimental mind. Always note how the smallest edits can change the entire atmosphere.
The question of ‘how to create EDM music’ opens up a wormhole of seemingly endless new questions and confusions. Once you’ve started the process, you will see how much goes into creating EDM music and how ridiculous the notion that EDM producers “aren’t real artists” is. Once you’ve created your first EDM track, consider using our submit EDM music form to have your mix reviewed by our editorial team. If you would like help with promotion, we have courses and 1-1 packages available to artists looking to make their mark in the EDM scene.