No matter how much you enjoy listening to music, beginning to make your own can feel like a daunting experience. Thankfully, these days you don’t need to pay for a professional music teacher to learn the basics — free online resources make it easier than ever to get started by yourself. Just ask globally-renowned artist Grimes, a self-taught producer who created her first three albums on her own with GarageBand.
So get started today with our list of fantastic free websites that are packed with brilliant interactive lessons, or articles that take the mystery out of music theory and electronic music production. We've also highlighted our favorite paid learning sites resources too, in case you want to go deeper with your musical education.
Check out all these sites — and have fun learning and improving your skills. Even legends like Jimi Hendrix or Prince never took a formal music lesson, so anything is possible!
Learn musical fundamentals
If you’re a complete novice and are looking for a fast and very fun introduction to electronic music, Ableton’s learning site is invaluable. Ableton are the makers of popular music production hardware and software including Ableton Live, but their learning site takes things back to basics.
Visit the site and you’ll start by creating beats — both acoustic and electric. Then the course guides you through the fundamentals of notes and scales, chords, basslines, melodies and song structure.
Nearly every step of Ableton’s course gets you directly involved in the process, so you can enjoy making music from the very beginning. By letting you experiment, the course proves just how simple it is for anyone to produce a catchy melody or beat. It also uses instrumental parts from famous songs to demonstrate music theory, from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
Although the website is still in Beta, it’s nonetheless a great first step for a beginner. And perhaps more importantly, it’s a lot of fun!
Get to grips with your music making software
If you’re making electronic music, you’ll need a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) — a software program that lets you record, edit and produce your tracks.
Getting to grips with new complex and powerful software can seem intimidating. But thankfully the MusicTech Magazine site is packed with step-by-step tutorials designed to help you learn how to produce with popular DAWs including Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools and FL Studio. So whichever you choose to work with, MusicTech’s tutorials have got you covered.
There are also more general articles useful to any budding creator, such as a new series authored by ROLI collaborator Erin Barra delving into contemporary production techniques.
Read MusicTech’s Beginner’s Guide To Music Production here.
From production basics to advanced techniques
Attack Magazine are a respected authority on dance and electronica, and the 'Technique' area of their website is a fertile resource for aspiring electronic producers looking to hone their skills.
The site is broken down into helpful subsections:
Tutorials — Attack Magazine tutorials feature a variety of in-depth lessons on all manner of music topics. You’ll discover helpful explanations of the technical building blocks of electronic production — like vocal sampling, EQ mixing or FM Synthesis. There are also pieces covering broader topics too, such as how to break musical writers block, or improve your creative process on a budget.
Explore one of our favorite Attack Magazine tutorials, which takes you through eight commonly used styles of bassline in dance music, highlighting famous examples by Daft Punk and more along the way.
Beat Dissected — If there’s a particular genre of electronic music you’re looking to recreate in your music then the Beat Dissected section is for you.
Follow step by step beat-building tutorials that you can put into practice in your own DAW, whether you’re a fan of Industrial Techno, West Coast R&B or Retro Garage.
The Breakdown — Ever wondered how successful DJs create their songs? The Breakdown takes a deep dive into the production and structure behind some contemporary dance-floor bangers. Breaking down the parts of your favorite songs might just inspire your first masterpiece.
Synth Secrets — For the more advanced electronic producer there’s Synth Secrets, a series of programming tutorials that help you make classic and new synth sounds using software synthesizers and plug-ins.
Watch tutorials and be inspired by artists
Youtube is a goldmine for anyone looking for learn new skills in just about anything — and the field of music production is no exception. Here are some of our favorite channels to check out:
Point Blank - Point Blank’s Youtube channel is primarily a vehicle to promote their music school, but there are nonetheless plenty of free, useful videos on the channel for budding producers, such as this beginner's guide to creating a track in Ableton Live.
Music Production Tutorials - House-music producer Danny J Lewis’ channel is packed with handy tutorials for Ableton, Cubase, Logic Pro and Bitwig, focusing on a variety of different electronic music styles, from techno to dubstep.
DJ TechTools - If you want to become a turntable whiz the DJ TechTools channel is a great place to start. They also feature Ableton Live and Maschine production videos.
Against The Clock by FACT Magazine - If you’re just looking for some inspiration from other producers, 'Against The Clock' is a fantastic and entertaining series. Producers are given just ten minutes to create a song and explain their methods — with some surprising results!
The best paid online courses and premium content:
If you’re willing to pay for electronic music lessons, there are even more fantastic online resources available. Here are our favorites:
Melodics — if you want to improve your keyboard or finger drumming skills, look no further than Melodics. Featuring game-like interactive lessons that are compatible with a wide range of MIDI controllers, Melodics is a sleek and fun way to improve your skills.
A free three month subscription to Melodics is included with the ROLI Seaboard Block and Lightpad Block. So you can start making music with an expressive controller and learn how to play like a pro with Melodics!
MacProVideo - A great resource for Mac owners, MacProVideo allows subscribers to stream or download tutorial films with topics that cover production using a variety of DAWs and plug-ins.
Producertech - Like MacProVideo, the Producertech site is focused on refining your DAW skills. Courses are available on Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Reason and more.
Sonic Academy - Featuring an expansive library of tutorials led by electronic producers, Sonic Academy has lessons for beginners and advanced music-makers alike.
ADSR - ADSR is an extensive subscription learning site with hours of in-depth video tutorials on music production techniques. There are also some shorter free previews available on the ADSR Youtube channel.