|Example of a professional production environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
1. Every professional musician needs a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
I love working with a computer that allows me to run about ten music, audio, graphic design, and video programs simultaneously without a hiccup. Add to that easy-to-use music software that yields professional results. Today there are so many great apps and programs available that soon most musicmaking will be completed on "the cloud". Until then, be sure to get a high quality computer that can run your music without slowing down. For those that work in multimedia, like myself, you will have to spend more money on better processing power and be sure to get a backup hard drive for all of your projects.
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If you end up blowing all of your money on your studio computer and don't have any cash left over for music software like Pro-Tools or Logic Studio, do not fear. The internet has hundreds of free, shareware, apps and inexpensive music software programs available. Some simple programs include the free audio editing program Audacity, Apple's Garageband, Fruity Loops, and Acid, not to mention hundreds of apps that are making music easier and easier to produce.
While having better audio software will give you better music, in the end it is your musical talent that will make great music. I spent the two years after my undergrad composing in my makeshift home studio using only a free MIDI program, Quicktime, and the original archaic version of Garageband. In that time, I had a couple of film soundtracks make it to the top ten of Miramax's Project Greenlight, Turkey's Cinema for Peace, and the New York Independent International Film Festival. Really, it's you that makes great music.
3. You need top-notch headphones and/or studio monitors.
Depending on what you can spend, you can opt for professional studio headphones or studio monitors. Headphones will cost a fraction of the speaker cost, but you don't want to spend all day jamming with headphones on. You might damage your ears. If you can't afford studio monitors, then just make sure you take a break every hour while mixing.
4. Your music studio needs instruments.
Depending on the type of music you write, you might decide to go with a live recording setup, a MIDI setup, or a hybrid setup. Do you record your vocals live and play the acoustic guitar? Then invest in a good mixer, microphones, and sound insulation. Do you work in post production and MIDI? You might only need a controller. I have a Malletkat, keyboard, and mic with pop filter, all to record the hundred percussion instruments I have lying around the house. I also have a guitar, but haven't mastered that instrument yet.
5. Location. Location. Location.
Ideally, your home music studio is a separate room or building that is well-insulated from any outside noise. Realistically, your music studio might be in your living room or in the garage. Make the most of your situation. Try to record during quieter times of the day or night, kick roommates and family out when you need to record live, insulate the room as much as possible, and turn off any unnecessary devices like the air conditioner.
Once you have set up the basic home music studio, you can start adding audio software and hardware to your setup. Remember that you, and not your equipment, determines how awesome your music sounds. Happy mixing!