In today’s world, music producers have the luxury of making beats with software programs, but this wasn’t always the case. It was not too long ago that beat making programs like Fl Studio and Propellerhead Reason didn’t exist. Before people learned how to make instrumentals on software they made music with hardware devices such as drum machines and piano keyboards. (And believe it or not, at one point playing live instruments was the only option for producers!) This article will show top 3 advantages of using beat making software and why it’s become so popular.
1. Ease of Use
As stated earlier, in the past producers used piano keyboards and drum machines to make beats. Music hardware devices such as the Akai MPC, Ensoniq ASR10, and midi keyboards (Korg, Roland, Yamaha) were used to make beats. Producers who made instrumentals within these devices did not have the advantages of being able to visually see all aspects of their music production. Furthermore, when it came time to sequence music and mix the instrumental(s), the process was a lot tougher for musicians than it is today because of the hardware limitations.
Many music software programs offer thousands of features that previously were not available on their counterparts. For example, quantization features on old music hardware devices were often limited. With the new software tools we have today, producers can quantize their instrumentals up to 1/64th! Some digital audio workstations (DAWs), like Logic Pro or Pro Tools, allow quantization to go even further than that! Hip hop producers, such as Lex Luger, have been known to take advantage of these features in dirty south beats using Fl Studio.
Another example of how software has made things simple for musicians can be found in sampled beats. Hip hop music has its roots in sampling pieces of old music and re-creating them. In the past, a device like the MPC was used to sample a song. Now because of the improvements in music software programs, producers can create a sampled beat using a program like Propellerhead Recycle. Propellerhead Recycle is audio editing software that allows a beat maker to “chop” a section or sections of music so that it can be manipulated later on with a midi keyboard. The great part about the program is that you can re-edit and save different versions of the audio easily and effortlessly. This was previously either not possible or very challenging to do with music hardware.
2. Reduced Cost
Another major reason why more producers are using software to create music is because of the reduced cost. Keyboards like the Roland Fantom, Korg Triton, and Yamaha Motif were once reserved only for producers who could afford to purchase them. With the beat making software available now, producers can duplicate the sounds created by these pieces of hardware and save money! A high end piano keyboard such as a Roland Fantom used to cost about $2000-$5000. Producers can now purchase a DAW, like Ableton Live or Cakewalk Sonar, for less than half the price and still make high quality music.
These DAWs also allow musicians to emulate the sounds of live instruments through the use of virtual instruments. Virtual instruments are music software programs that can be used within a DAW or as a standalone program. These software instruments have been used for scoring films and television shows at a dramatically reduced cost in comparison to the live equivalent.
3. Ease of Access
Music production software is easier to use and cheaper than hardware, but the biggest reason why beat makers are using software is because of its accessibility. As stated before, beat making and music production was reserved for a select group of people at one point in time. These people had the money and talent to purchase high end music hardware, but then along came the personal computer!
As music consumers began to purchase more affordable personal computers, software programs had to keep up. More powerful computers led to more powerful software. This led to computers being accessible to almost anyone trying to make their own beats. This opened up the doors for a whole new generation of music producers.
Upcoming beat makers have benefited tremendously from the technological advances in music production software. They’ve been able to save money and make beats easily through simple, intuitive beat making software programs. Although music hardware hasn’t gone “extinct”, it is clear that using music software to create music is the way of the future.