As a bedroom producer, my formal education for music production with Ableton isn’t very extensive. Yes, I’ve taken a few online courses, but the real experience has been out scouring the web looking for answers to very specific problems. And, of course, thousands of man-hours behind Session View. The following sites have been helping me out along the way – most of them free.
Official Ableton Forum
Yes, this is number zero. I believe it goes without saying, but the official Ableton forum should be your starting point for all questions you have about how to effectively use Live, regardless of the situation. Tons of in-depth articles, and thousands of active users – a great community of enthusiasts.
Online Ableton Schools & Programs
1. Berklee College of Music
I received my Specialist Certificate in Electronic Music with Ableton Live from Berklee. Yes, it was a little pricey – but, I thought those 3 semesters were worth every penny. Unlike some of the video-only online programs, Berklee has lessons, homework assignments, and weekly live screen share chats with its instructors. I wanted that type of environment, to help push me versus a self-paced plan I likely would have breezed over. Plus, Berklee is one of the most notable music schools out there, as they lay a solid foundation built upon music theory – not just Ableton. Special shout out to Loudon Stearns, one of Berklee’s best instructors, featured here in this Push video over on Ableton.
DubSpot is an Ableton Certified Training center in NYC. I would have loved to attend their DJ / Producer program or workshops in-person at their campus, but just couldn’t make it work. They have tons of great online courses and certificate programs as well. Plus, they offer tons of great video content with tips and tutorials. Here’s one for building a trappy hi hats drum rack:
3. Warp Academy
Completely Ableton-based, and offering courses, tutorials and webinars. Plus, tons of free templates, racks and downloads. I took the Art of the Remix webinar course with Myagi, aka Andrew Mavor. It was four weeks, and we watched (over his shoulder) how he approaches the dissection of a raw track, and the techniques and workflow for isolating key elements for a remix. As a bonus, he gave us access to one of his own tracks, Dirty Girls, opening it up for students to remix and present back to the class. Below was what I did with it:
Mixing & Mastering
4. Pensado’s Place
Dave Pensado is the godfather of mixing & mastering. His video tutorials and interviews with today’s top engineers never disappoint. If you know what’s good, you’ll subscribe to his YouTube channel and soak in as much as you can. And for a Grammy award-winning engineer, he remains surprisingly humble. Don’t let his SSL console scare you, he stays “inside the box” in ProTools for most tutorials. Here’s an interview with Noah ’40’ Shebib of Drake fame.
5. The Recording Revolution
Graham Cochrane has a daily post and tons of great video content for mixing your tracks in home studios. He’s primarily a ProTools guy, but his fundamentals work for Ableton too. I learn at least one new tip per week that I can immediately put into practice. I even signed up for his Rethink Mixing video series, and his workflow was a real eye-opener.
Certified Ableton Trainer, producer, DJ and saxophone player, Vespers has tons of great tips and tricks for getting the most out of Ableton. He offers courses in sound design, synthesis, beat creation and more. I learned a very valuable lesson regarding the proper progression of song production steps – video is here:
7. Zeitgest Mastering
I haven’t used their mastering services (although they do look highly affordable), but I did take an online video series via Loopmasters called Mastering in the Box with Ableton Live. What an eye-opener, holy shiz. The course comes with an Ableton template and a dozen Ableton-built mastering and metering plug-ins. Is this the same as sending out your pre-masters to an engineer? Absolutely not. But, this course, along with Rethink Mixing mentioned above, have helped bring clarity, balance, width and volume to all my mixdowns. Highly highly recommended. Here’s a video they did for pre-mastering: getting your mix set up properly before you move to the final mastering stage.
Loops, Samples & Music
This is a great resource for audio samples of all types: loops, hits and sound packs. WAV, REX and even Ableton-ready packs. They offer some great artist-curated content collections too. Check out the Deadmau5 Xfer pack. I use his big analog kicks in a number of my tracks.
A House DJ’s best friend. Great catalog, new music every day, and a pretty decent sub-genre collection. It’s safe to say I use Beatport monthly to keep my sets up-to-date. Plus, they offer multiple formats: 320kbps MP3, AIF or WAV.
Please note: for trap / hip hop and other popular tracks, I rely on Amazon Digital Music Store: 256kbps DRM free MP3s for about $1 each.
10. DJ Tech Tools
I love this site. The DJ Tech Tools gear reviews and interviews are great, and I’ve also had the opportunity to check out the DJTT headquarters at a recent SFDG MeetUp here in San Francisco. Everyone was really cool.
One of their key contributors, Mad Zach, has put out a number of hardware and software reviews, along with tips and tricks videos. Plus, this guy has incredible finger drumming skills. This example shows him with Push, the Traktor remix decks, and a MIDI Fighter. Awesome.
Anything I’m missing? Let me know in the comments.
- 10000When packing for a recent gig, I noticed I was carrying way too much shiz in my bag. I was familiar with the venue's booth, but something always tells me to be prepared, just in case. Bad cables, missing adapters, poor lighting - who knows? I splurged on a dedicated MONO EFX 365 bag. It comfortably seats my…
- 10000Here is a selection of products I am currently using in my home studio, out at gigs, or have had my eye on for future purchase. This collection includes various MIDI controllers, synths, studio gear and DJ accessories. All products are available through Amazon, my preferred marketplace (mainly because of free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime). If…
- 37When I stumble on a good mashup during an Ableton session, I just want to capture that shiz and share it. Mashups force you to split your roles to both DJ and Producer, making Ableton the ideal environment to play. On one side, you can be highly experimental and responsive in Session View; on the other, you're editing and mixing down the arrangement. Here are some…