Learning music production on Ableton Live means being able to understand how your digital audio workstation (DAW) works and how to create any genre of music in it. It also means understanding the different techniques and processes you can use to speed up your production processes. The good thing is that Ableton Live is a beginner-friendly DAW used by many experienced music producers to create music. In this guide, I’ll explain the ways you can effectively learn to produce music on Ableton Live.
Installation & Setup of Ableton Live
The first thing to do is install Ableton Live on your computer. Check and see if your computer has the minimum system requirements necessary for running Ableton. The documentation for finding the minimum requirements can be found here: https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/articles/115001663530-Live-Minimum-System-Requirements. According to Ableton’s documentation, you will need a minimum of 8 GB ram and 8 GB of storage space to run the most up-to-date version of Ableton Live (currently Ableton Live 11). Most desktops and laptops will meet these requirements for running Ableton Live.
After confirming your computer has the minimum requirements, you will need to download and install Ableton Live.
To install Ableton Live:
Navigate to Ableton’s product page and select Ableton Live. There are three versions of Ableton Live available: Intro, Standard, and Suite. I recommend getting either Standard or Suite since they will have all the features available to use. These features include 256 mono audio input and output channels, audio-slicing, and unlimited audio and MIDI tracks Ableton Live Intro unfortunately does not have all these features available. Having all the features is important for being able to follow along with any Ableton Live tutorial, as most tutorials will use Ableton’s full capabilities.
Once you figure out which version of Ableton Live you want, buy it and download it onto your computer. You will receive an email confirming your purchase and you will be provided with the download link. Follow any additional instructions by Ableton that may come up in the installation process.
Read the Ableton Live Manual
Once you have completely installed Ableton on your computer, you can begin learning Ableton Live and the music production process. One of the best things you can do to learn how to produce music in Ableton is to read the Ableton Live manual. The manual will have all the information you will need in order to understand the Ableton interface and comfortably navigate within the DAW to find sounds and plugins. However, many aspiring music producers may be intimidated by the amount of information and may skip out on reading the manual altogether. I would not recommend doing this.
There is a better approach to learning Ableton Live without having to read the manual in one sitting Instead, you can read portions of the Ableton manual at a time, and then create songs using the methods you learned from the manual. This way, you can practice what you’ve just learned and make it easier to remember in the future. The benefit of this is you can still create music while learning. You will also save a lot of time following the manual instead of trying to learn the intricacies of your DAW on your own. You can find Ableton Live’s online manual here: https://www.ableton.com/en/manual/welcome-to-live/.
Watch Ableton Live Tutorials
In addition to reading the manual, you will be able to find online video resources that can help you learn music production on Ableton. Watching Ableton music production tutorials on Youtube is great for visually seeing how to use the Ableton interface, and you can pause the video as needed when trying to follow along in the tutorial.
If possible, find a professional music producer on Youtube that uses Ableton in the music production process, and emulate the things they’re doing. For example, if you’re into making hip-hop beats, I recommend watching Kenny Beats. He has a ton of video resources where he is either making beats or providing information on how to produce a beat. Here is an example video pulled from his Twitch stream:
If you are more interested in electronic music, you can watch someone like Mr. Bill break down how to produce music in Ableton. Mr.Bill is a Youtuber and content creator that has a ton of videos dedicated to teaching new music producers how to use Ableton. You can check out his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJgBqh3tYway5A5VgV4dZRw
Specifically, find the videos labeled Mr.Bill Ableton Tutorials. There are over 50+ videos so be sure to start at 1 and work your way up.
Take Ableton Live Courses
So far I’ve only provided free resources you can use for learning music production in Ableton, but if you are someone looking for formal instruction and guidance, courses might be a better choice. There are a variety of Ableton courses available, but some to consider are Production Music Live and Seed to Stage. Both companies actually have multiple courses for different genres or music production stages within Ableton, so you can buy the course most relevant to your production needs.
Another option is using Coursera for meaning Ableton. There is a course on Coursera called Introduction to Ableton Live, which will teach you the basics such as navigating within Ableton Live, programming MIDI drums and instruments, and recording and editing audio.
Practice making music on Ableton Live
Once you have learned the basics of Ableton Live by reading the manual and using online educational resources, start making a lot of music. You want to have a streamlined process for producing a new song from beginning to end, and you can only know what should be included in that process by creating lots of music. Sometimes you will be in a situation where you want to use a new production technique, and when that happens you can always reference the manual or use the mentioned resources to try and learn how to use the specific technique.
How long will it take to learn music production on Ableton Live?
It will take you anywhere from a few months to a year to truly learn and understand the basics of how to produce music on Ableton. However, for most music producers, there are always new things to learn especially with each new update to Ableton Live.