For the non-affluent musician, producing music while still sticking to the budget can be a tremendous challenge. From the cost of instrument maintenance to lessons, it all adds up – and for the first few years, a lot of musicians will spend more than they make. But don't despair – there are lots of ways to produce music without spending too much of your hard-earned bank. Here are five ways to produce music on a budget.
For your recording and audio production needs, consider using freeware programs. Garageband, Rosegarden, Giada, and Acid Pro Express are all great examples of platforms that you can use for in-home audio production. Some companies also offer free trials of their pro-grade software, so keep a sharp eye out for these. If you really want to use a big-name platform, pick up a somewhat older version of one of the audio production giants – like ProTools and Logic – for a much sweeter price.
Whether you're looking for mics or a new guitar, browse online for sales of used instruments, garage and yard sales, and the refurbished sections of your local music shops. Most used instruments, especially those sold by music shops, are in excellent quality condition and can be spruced up with a decent cleaning or a new set of strings. Be wary, however, of purchasing instruments that have simply sat around a closet or basement for years at a time – they might do in a pinch or for a short period of time, but don't spend serious cash on an instrument that hasn't been decently maintained, and never purchase a used instrument you haven't personally looked at.
One way to get equipment or instruments is to ask around. Make a Facebook post, ask your neighbors, or mass email your friends and ask if they might have what you're looking for or if they know someone who might. This is a great way to get a good price on what you're looking for – and sometimes your friends might just be looking to pass on something useful for free to a person who can get use out of it!
Keep It Minimal
If you have a small budget, make a list of the things you really need to have in order to produce music. Keep a separate list of niceties if you want, to purchase when you can – but keep your setup simple until you can afford to buy more bells and whistles. A lot of musicians make the mistake of spending a lot of their budget money on the frills rather than the workhorses of their endeavor, so start with the essentials and work your way up.
Instrumentalists might consider student-grade instruments. Student-grade offers decent tone and quality in most instruments, and many music shops offer excellent prices on them in comparison with the semi-pro or pro-grade instruments. Some student-grade models are good enough to qualify as semi-pro in and of themselves, so don't hesitate to try out a few if you're not ready to plunk down large sums of money.
No matter what kind of music you produce, there's always a way to get what you need on the cheap – so you can start sharing your musical wonders with the world.