The One Man Band Course
In order to achieve a professional and properly finished album, you will need to go from musician to arranger, producer, designer, marketer and sometimes even mixer.
It is true that one person can only do so much but the beauty of handcrafting your own project, on your own terms, is that you are never really on your own. Fellow musicians and friends will always lend a hand when they feel inspired by your creative spirit, so be ready to be the one-man-band with the most help you never thought you could get.
This course will show you my way of doing things, which has been proven successful, but will ultimately be a guideline for you to try out and adapt to your circumstances as you follow along. Be ready to change your expectations according to the resources you have.
THE EIGHT STAGES OF YOUR ALBUM
I have divided the making of your album into eight stages:
- planning the project with timeframe and budget,
- creating a demo of the songs,
- arranging the music to its final form,
- recording (and programming) all instruments and vocals,
- mixing and mastering the album (or working with an engineer),
- creating professional artwork & photos
- generating the documents you will need like a press kit, album release, one-page, etc.,
- and launching your album digitally.
I will not get into marketing since I have not been particularly successful on that front.
All of these subjects will come in the form of tutorials, written documents and downloadable files for you to work on.
Lessons come every week and will constantly populate the platform.
What you will need
Making an album requieres some minimum equipment. If you are uncertain onto what to buy read reviews and check top lists on the internet, there are articles that can get you up and running from as low as 300 dollars. My advice is to buy the best equipment you can afford, since hopefully you will not be making just one album, but the first of several. Some things come and go, like computers, they will be outdated eventually, but microphones, preamplifiers, compressors and even speakers have a long life ahead and can seriously pay off the investment.
A modern computer with:
- At least 8GB of RAM (the more, the better)
- Sufficient space for recording (256GB is a good start)
- (Alternatively) purchase an external hard drive
- At least 2 free USB ports (USB3 is better)
- A fast processor (the more cores the better)
If you intend to mix your music or even if you plan on hiring an engineer, having a good set of headphones is the most basic tool to know how the music is sounding. However, headphones can be very deceiving to measure a final mix (since they separate the channels and you don't know how the sum turns out). So they are a secondary tool after a good set of speakers. If you can't afford good speakers, at least buy good headphones, they will be worth the investment.
An audio Interface
They come in all colors and sizes, don't get fooled by the look. It should at least have:
- 2 inputs (if you want to record more than 2 mics simultaneously you will need more inputs)
- 2 outputs (this should go to your speakers)
- Headphone jack
- USB powered (there are other options but they require specific ports on your computer)
- Inputs should be hybrid XLR/Line or have at least one of each
Look for a solid build, high quality components and low-latency drivers you can rely on.
MIDI Controller (optional)
Whether you play keyboard or not is not that important, having a way to input MIDI information with a controller will save you tons of time and make your workflow more natural, specially when arranging music.
Your controller should have:
- At least two octaves (preferably 5)
- Mod Wheel
- Pitch Bend
- Transpose buttons
- After touch
- Damper pedal
MIDI controllers can get crazy expensive, specially if you want weighted keys and a full keyboard, but depending on your needs some entry level controllers may provide the essential to complete your project.
A Preamplifier (optional)
Preamplifiers have a substancial impact on the way you capture audio with your microphone. Although they are not strictly necessary, I recommend you get your hands on one before you start recording your music for real. They can be very expensive but, trust me, they are totally worth it.
Microphones are how you capture sound. There are some good cheap ones and some great not so cheap ones. You will need to get at least one good instrument mic and one good voice mic to achieve an acceptable result in the recording process.
As it is important to be able to capture sound with the best equipment available, it is important to be able to properly judge the sound.
Good speakers are awfully expensive, but in recent years budget speakers have seriously improved.
- Quality over size. A good 5" speaker is a better than 8"s if the brand is superior.
- Don't be fooled by the bassy sound of some speakers, they may sound great, but they will give you a false response that won't translate to other systems.
- Aim for a flat response. It's harder to achieve a good sound but once there it will sound good elsewhere.
Digital Audio Workstations
DAWs are computer programs that serve as virtual studios where you record, edit, program, mix and master your music.
As you may expect there are some very well known platforms such as ProTools or Logic as well as some indie takes like Reaper. The important thing is that you realize how many of the features you actually need from your DAW. Perhpas you can do with very little.
- Do you need virtual instruments (synths, beats, samplers)?
- Do you need good plugins (eq, compressor, reverb) built in?
- Do you plan on buying external plugins/instruments for your project?
- How many channels do you need (16 / 32 / 64 / 128)?
Some audio interfaces include a stripped down version of a certain DAW. If you shop around wisely you might be able to save some money.
External Audio Plugins (optional)
If you are in a very tight budget, you may be able to solve the mix with your DAW's built in plugins, but I seriously advice you to invest some money on a good EQ, a good Reverb, and a good Mastering Plugin. They will make the difference between spending countless hours fighting your software or just focusing on the audio.
This reward also includes
- Patreon-only forum
- Vote on content
- Discuss music
- Periodic discounts
- Extended lessons
- Written documents
- Extra features
- Exclusive content
- Access to high quality wav / mp3 stock music for your multimedia projects
- Access to stem files for added flexibility
- Weekly Content
- Guided Lesson Plan
- Learn from Home
- Proven Method