Here is a helpful beginner’s guide on how to make beats. This guide is for newbies, but even if you are a pro, you may find helpful links on how to make better music.
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Introduction to How to Make Beats
There are many aspects to making music. From learning software to making the beat, to mixing the audio, to exporting audio for music artists.
Learning to make your own beats can be an overwhelming process, but this guide covers a lot of the basics to make it easier for you to learn.
- Music Equipment Essentials.
- Music Software Options.
- How to Make Your Own Beats.
- Free Samples & VST Plugins.
- Song Arrangements.
- Audio Mixing.
- Exporting & Tracking Out Beats
- Music Glossary Terms.
- Beat Making Articles.
Let’s get started!
1. Music Equipment Essentials
Your music equipment will be the foundation of your music-making process.
In the beginning, we all want to be like the big music producers we see online with the room full of music equipment, but you don’t need all that when you are getting started, and here is why:
- Music Equipment is Expensive – Limit your spending to the basic equipment at first, and then buy more advanced gear when you are earning money.
- Time & Learning – The more equipment you buy, the more equipment you have to learn, and less time is spent on learning to make better music.
It’s not about the music equipment or software you are using, but about the person using the equipment.
Your ear for music, skill, and talent matters more than the equipment you are using.
Dr. Dre’s music equipment didn’t make him the big music producer he is today. His ear for music and talent did, so don’t think you need a big studio to make good music.
6 Music Equipment Essentials
Here are the very basics of what you need to make music.
A computer is a must-have to run music software.
PC computers with Microsoft Windows are very popular.
Music Poll: Mac vs. PC
Music software is essential for recording and making music.
Making beats is much easier and creative when you have a keyboard to play.
Headphones will let you hear all the different elements when making music.
Studio monitors are great for listening to your beats. (Optional)
External Hard Drive
Backing up your work is important and they provide additional storage space. (Optional)
That is the basic equipment you need to make beats.
If you have a limited budget, you can consider buying used music equipment from sites like Craigslist.
2. Music Software Options
There are tons of music software programs out there, but which will work best for you? Watch the video below.
Music Production Software Overview
Top 3 Music Software Programs
#1. FL Studio
FL Studio (formerly known as Fruity Loops ) is a digital audio workstation developed by Image-Line. FL Studio features a graphical user interface based on a pattern-based music sequencer.
- It’s easy to learn.
- Cheaper than many other programs.
- Supports VST plugins, samples, and other software programs.
- Making patterns and arrangements is easy.
- Offers tons of built-in instruments.
FL Studio Links:
#2. Propellerhead Reason
Propellerhead Reason is a digital audio workstation for creating and editing music and audio developed by Propellerhead Software. It emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers.
Why it’s popular:
- Includes tons of instruments: Synthesizers, Samplers, Drum Machines, Effects.
- Cool interface, racks, and mixer.
- ReWire allows you to use Reason in other popular music software programs.
- Add additional sounds called Refills.
#3. Apple Logic
Logic Pro is a digital audio workstation and Musical Instrument Digital Interface MIDI sequencer software application for the Mac OS X platform.
Why it’s popular:
- Nice-looking interface.
- The virtual instruments and session drummer work well and sound incredible.
- Mixing, effects, and automation
- Enhanced Piano Roll Editor.
You should research the programs above and see what works best for your needs.
What is the most popular music software?
Music Software Related Links:
- What is a VST or VSTi Audio Plugin?
- Debate: Hardware vs. Software
- What is MIDI & What is a MIDI Controller?
- How to connect a midi keyboard to FL Studio, Reason, Logic
- What You Need To Start Making Beats
3. How to Make Your Own Beats
Making beats may actually be easier than you think if you have an ear for music. Beats are essentially loops that are rearranged and repeated.
Beats can be simple, or beats can be complex.
It’s all about giving the music artist a good foundation to get their creative juices going to make a great song.
Basic Beat Elements
1. Drums – Songs usually consist of kick drums, a snare or clap, hi-hats or shakers, cymbals, and other drum sounds.
2. Melodies – The melodies are the instruments that are played over the drums. The instrument can be a piano, synth, bass, strings, live instruments, and more.
3. Samples – A lot of Hip Hop beats feature samples that have been chopped and reorganized to fit a drum pattern.
How to Make a Beat
Here is an example of how to make a beat. Even though the beat below is made in FL Studio the same process can be applied to other music software programs and hardware. Lay out your drums, add instruments, and arrange your beat into a full song.
Beat Making Examples
The examples below are made with different music equipment and software, but the process is very much the same for all the different music genres.
Beat Making Inspiration
- 10 Year Old Girl on the MPC
- Hit-Boy Makes Beyonce’s “Bow Down” in FL Studio
- J. Cole Explains Making “Power Trip”
- Making Rick Ross’s “The Devil Is a Lie”
- Jaisu Beat Tape – Sampled Beats on the MPC
- Gnus Makes a Beat in FL Studio
- Beat-Making Video with a Vodka Bottle
- Chebit Making Sampled Beat on MPC
- Jon Bellion Making of Pre-Occupied
Beat Making Tips
Here is a collection of beat-making tips to use when making your own beats.
- Focus on mastering the one program you choose to use. Don’t try to learn everything at once.
- Study your favorite music producers. Try to recreate your favorite beats to understand how beats are made.
- Collaborate with others.
- Beats should usually stay under 3 1/2 minutes.
- Import MIDI. If you don’t know how to play the keyboard well, try importing MIDI files and edit the notes in your music software.
- When you need inspiration look at beat-making videos.
Music Tempo Guide
Here are a few of the suggested tempos for different music genres.
- Hip Hop: 76 to 95 BPM
- R&B: 72 to 110 BPM
- Dance: 112 to 145 BPM
- Dubstep: 138 to 145 BPM
- Rock: 72 to 95 BPM
- Trap: 130 to 140 BPM
- Techno: 220 to 125 BPM
Beat Making Helpful Links
- Just Blaze’s 5 Track Commandments for Music Producers
- Boi-1da’s 5 Tips to Being a Music Producer
- 9th Wonder’s 10 Track Commandments
- Music Production Poll Results ( Infographic )
- 10 Tips to Make Your Own Beats
- 10 Newbie Commandments for Music Producers
Other Music Topics
- How to Make a Sampled Beat in FL Studio
- Basic Sound Design
- Piano Tips for Beat Makers
- Baseline Tips for Sampled Beats Part 1 & Part 2
- How to Create Acapellas
- Remixing with Acapellas
4. Free Samples & VST Plugins
Below we have put together some of our best free resources for you to download and add to your music making collection.
Free Drum Samples & Drum Kits
- 1,000 Free Drum Break Samples & Loops
- 5,000 Free Loops ( Free Drum Loops & Producer Loops )
- 1,500 Drum Samples
- 15 Free Hip Hop Drum Kits & Free Hip Hop Sample Packs
- 10 Free Boom Bap Drum Kits
- 10,000 Free Drum Sounds
Free VST Plugins
- 7 Free String VST Plugins
- 15 Synth VST Plugins
- Free VST Plugins Websites
- 8 Free Guitar & Bass VST Plugins
Popular Free Sample Packs
- 6 Free Sample Packs ( Brass Samples, Piano Loops, Bass Samples )
- 5 Free EDM Sample Packs
- 15 Free Trap Music Sample Packs ( Trap Drums & Loops )
- 20 Free Sample Packs ( Kanye West, DJ Mustard, Loops )
5. Song Arrangements Basics
Once you have a good understanding of putting together a beat, next you need to understand song structures. Different music genres are laid out differently. Song tempo and length may vary.
Common Song Sections
Usually has fewer elements and builds up to the verse or hook.
Usually a simpler version of the beat, allowing room for vocals. Usually 16 bars.
Usually has the most elements in a song and repeats a chorus. Usually 8 bars.
Usually appears before the last verse. Usually appears in R&B and Pop songs. Usually 8 bars.
Usually fades the song out.
This is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer.
Common Song Structures
Intro – Verse – Hook – Verse – Hook – Verse – Hook – Outro
Intro – Hook– Verse – Hook– Verse – Hook – Verse – Hook – Outro
Intro – Verse – Hook – Verse – Hook – Bridge – Hook – Hook – Outro
Intro – Verse – Hook – Verse – Hook – Solo – Hook – Hook – Outro
The examples above are just examples. You should study your favorite songs to see how they are structured. You can also search Genius.com for song lyrics, and see the order of song lyrics.
Helpful Links on Song Structure
- The Formula Behind Every Perfect Pop Song
- How to Produce Music – Form & Arrangement
- How to Rap: Song Structure ( Understanding Bars )
- Why We Love Repetition in Music
- How to Create Better Intros, Choruses, & Verses
- Beats, Bars, & Phrases ( How to Count Music )
6. Audio Mixing Basics
Once you have a good beat, you want to make sure the audio is mixed well to sound good on different devices.
Audio mixing is the process of taking all the individual tracks and instruments, adjusting the audio levels, panning, adding effects, and more.
Mixing the audio will help to make sure your beat sounds good on your computer, car, home stereo, and more.
Basic Mixing Theory
How To Mix Hip Hop Beats
This video is done in FL Studio, but the same rules apply to other music production software.
10 Audio Mixing Tips
10 Audio Mixing Tips
- Start with high-quality sounds.
- Use studio monitors.
- Use Multiple Sound References – Test out your audio mix on your computer, in your car, with headphones, with monitors, etc.
- Gain Staging – Get your levels right, avoid audio clipping.
- Get good with EQ.
- Give your ears a break. Take breaks from mixing and come back with a fresh pair of ears.
- Rely on your ears. Don’t focus on what you see on the screen.
- Use panning.
- Mix at low levels at first, then turn the volume up.
- Listen to top quality mixes as a reference of what you should strive for.
Tutorials on Audio Mixing
- How to mix beats in FL Studio or Reason
- Compression 101: How to Use a Compressor
- Mastering 101: How to Master a Song
- Mixing a Hip Hop Song ( Basic Tips )
- 5 Mistakes Every Producer Makes When Mixing
Basic Audio Mixing Terms
- Clipping – Clipping is a form of audio distortion that happens when audio is too loud.
- Equalization ( a.k.a EQ ) is the process of adjusting the frequency of the audio or instrument.
- Panning is the process of adjusting the audio to the left speaker, right speaker, or center.
- Effects – Effects is the process of adding reverbs, delays, echoes, and more to audio tracks.
- Do I need to master beats? Usually no. Songs are usually mastered when song is completed with vocals.
7. Exporting & Tracking Out Beats
Exporting is the process of saving your beat to your computer. All music programs will have an export option.
The most popular file formats are WAV and Mp3.
- WAV – This file format is high quality and usually uncompressed. The file size is much larger compared to mp3.
- MP3 – This file format is compressed, so the file size is much smaller and the quality is lower. This format is used more for streaming online.
Tracking Out Beats
Tracking out beats, also known as “Bouncing Audio,” is the process of exporting all the individual instruments and sounds into separate audio files so they can be mixed in another audio program.
Sometimes music artists request beats to be tracked out so they can make adjustments to the beat to fit with their vocals. The artist may add or remove elements from the beat.
How to Track Out Beats In FL Studio
The tutorial below is done in FL Studio, but the same process can pretty much be done in other music programs. Once all the individual instruments are exported, they would be imported into an audio program.
8. Music Production Glossary Terms
Here is a collection of common music production glossary terms and definitions for music newbies.
Digital Audio Workstation ( DAW )
This is a computer software program for recording, editing, and producing audio files such as songs, beats, and sound effects.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface ( MIDI )
MIDI allows electronic music instruments, computers, and other devices to connect and communicate with one another.
Virtual Studio Technology ( VST )
This is a software interface that can add instruments ( Examples: Synth, Piano, Bass, etc. ) and effect plugins to music programs.
WAVeform ( WAV )
WAV is an audio file format.
Synthesizer ( Synth )
A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that generates electric signals that are converted to sound through instrument amplifiers.
A metronome is a device that produces regular ticks – settable in beats per minute. These ticks represent a fixed, regular pulse.
16 Bars is a reference to how long a usual rap verse is. Rap Song Structure
Tempo is the speed or pace of the music. The same info for Beats Per Minute ( BPM ).
A chord is a harmonic set of three or more notes played at once. Video
The study of music elements, including sound and pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, and notation.
A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums, cymbals, other percussion instruments, and often bass lines.
Audio Mixing Terms
Clipping is a form of audio distortion that happens when audio is too loud.
Equalization ( EQ )
EQ is the process of adjusting the frequency of the audio or instrument.
Panning is the process of adjusting the audio to the left speaker, right speaker, or center.
Effects is the process of adding reverbs, delays, echoes, and more to audio tracks.
Mastering Audio is the process merging all mixed audio and preparing it for distribution.
Bounce or Bouncing
Bouncing audio is the process of exporting individual audio tracks in your audio mix.
9. Beat Making Articles
- 10 “Newbie” Commandments
- Things They Don’t Tell Music Producers Until It’s Too Late
- Music Production Poll Results ( Infographic )
- Why We Love Repetition in Music
- 7 Things Every Music Producer Should Have
- 9 Popular Music Producers Who Use FL Studio
- Should You Follow Music Trends?
- 50 Most Annoying Things As a Music Producer
- 10 Tips to Make Your Own Beats
- 5 Reasons to Work for Free ( Newbie Tips )
- 10 Home Music Production Tips
- Should You Stop Making Music?
- How to Make Your Own Music
Start Making Music!
There are a lot of different aspects involved with making music.
Here are my top 2 suggestions:
1. Make Lots of Music!
Skills are built through repetition. When you do something multiple times you get better, grow, and it becomes easier.
2. Work with Music Artist
There is nothing like getting hands-on experience. You can make beats forever by yourself, but there is an end goal, which is to see songs made with your beats.
By working with music artists you will get requests for instruments, song rearrangements, and creating different types of moods and feelings with your beats.
These experiences will help you grow to see what music artists are thinking of, and how to meet their needs to make good music.
If you have input on this article or feel the article is missing something, please share in the comments section.
Next check out out How to Sell Beats ( Beginners Guide) to make money from your beats.