The Best Tools For Audio Freelancers

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In the world of creative freelancing, there are many different pathways for profitable careers. One of the most diverse creative freelance markets is in the audio field. Within the broader field of “audio,” there are freelancers who produce, compose, edit, master, sing, mix and more. But one trait that all audio freelancers have in common is within the tools they use. While all creators have their preferences, in the end, it’s all about producing the best audio for their clients. Here are some essential tools to have if you want to be an audio freelancer.

Hardware and equipment

Audio freelancing requires an upfront investment in equipment to get started. Without these tools, you wouldn’t be able to do your job. That said, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Assuming you already have a decent computer, you can get everything you need for less than $500.

Headphones

Headphones are an essential tool for monitoring sound because they allow you to hear details you wouldn’t normally notice on speakers. Although there are different price ranges for headphones, it’s best to invest in a studio quality pair if you’re aiming to be an audio freelancer. The Audio Technica ATH-M50x are a popular mid-range option, and will get the job done for any kind of audio freelancer. (Here is a helpful guide that covers different headphones at different price ranges)

Studio monitors

Just like headphones, a pair of studio monitors are essential for monitoring sound quality. If you only produce something using a pair of headphones, you might be in for a rude awakening once you play the same track on a pair of speakers. Although headphones help you key in on smaller details, studio monitors will help you fine tune those adjustments for different settings. (Here is a guide on the best budget studio monitors on the market)

A capable computer

Whether you’re mixing, mastering, or recording, you need a capable computer to handle the stresses of the process. This means having a Mac or PC with a strong CPU, RAM, and enough storage space to store your files. If you aren’t familiar with computer parts, PulseBlueprint has a helpful guide which covers the basics. 

Instruments

If you’re composing or producing your own music, you’ll need instruments to create the sounds you want. It all depends on what you’re trying to produce, but nothing matches the quality of playing actual instruments. If you want to save money, or have a lack of space, there’s plenty of software that can simulate instruments. All you need is a MIDI controller or keyboard to play the sounds.

Recording Equipment

Finally, recording equipment like audio interfaces, microphones, cables and accessories are things you’ll need to round out your hardware. If you’re recording vocals, microphones are essential. And to send those signals to your computer, you need an audio interface. These will allow you to connect things like microphones and instruments into your computer so you can record them.

Software

One of the most important tools for any audio freelancer is their digital audio workstation (DAW). They’re the programs that allow us to produce our work. DAWs come in all different shapes and sizes, and it all boils down to preference when it comes to choosing one. Here are six popular DAWs, including two free options, and four paid options. 

Free

  • Audacity (PC/Mac): Audacity is one of the most popular free DAWs. Although it lacks the extra features that many others possess, it’s fairly straightforward to pick up, and gets the job done if you need simple recording done.
  • GarageBand (Mac): For Mac users, GarageBand comes free, and is one of best DAWs for beginners. It comes packaged with a decent amount of extras, and even has a mobile option. 

Paid

  • Logic Pro (Mac): If you want something more advanced than GarageBand, Logic Pro is the next step up for audio producers. It’ll feel familiar if you’re a GarageBand user, and strikes a good balance of accessibility and advanced control. One of its drawbacks is that it’s only available to Mac users.
  • Ableton (PC/Mac): For producers into sampling, Ableton has some of the best built-in sampling features in the DAW marketplace. It takes a little bit of work to get the hang of, but when you learn it, it’s one of the most efficient DAWs available.
  • Pro Tools (PC/Mac): An industry standard in professional studios, Pro Tools is one of the most trusted options in the DAW marketplace. It’s a great option if you do a lot of traditional studio recording. 
  • Reaper (PC/Mac): Reaper offers the best value out of most DAWs on the market. It’s cheaper than the options above, and matches them when it comes to work rate. 

Platforms

Some more tools for audio freelancers to consider are the many platforms available to them. These are places where you can post your own music, find gigs, and make money.

Soundcloud

One of the most popular music distribution platforms in the world, SoundCloud allows you to upload your work online for free. It’s also a place where you can reach new audiences, and find new music. Although you won’t make money directly from uploading to SoundCloud, it’s a great place to start, or maybe even get noticed. 

Social media

Your own social media networks can be full of potential opportunities. You can use social media to distribute your work, build your brand, interact with clients, and find new gigs. It’s one of the fastest ways to let your network know what you’ve been working on.

Music Distribution Platforms

If you want to get your work out on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube Music, you’ll need to pay a distribution service to give you the permissions. A website like Distrokid will do it for a cheap fee, and you’ll be published on all major platforms. You’ll also keep 100% of the money you make on those platforms. 

Bandcamp

If you want to avoid paying for a distribution service, and sell work straight to customers, Bandcamp is the go-to choice for many industry professionals. The platform allows you to sell your music at the price point you want, and making an account is free. Bandcamp does take a cut, but the platform does a good job of giving artists more freedom with their work.

Marketplaces

If you’re in search of gigs, there are plenty of marketplaces where you can either offer your services, or have clients come to you. In the audio freelance field, you can find work in popular marketplaces such as Fiverr and Upwork. There are also audio specific marketplaces like SoundBetter, MelodyNest, and AirGigs. Whether you’re a producer, musician, or composer, there’s something for everyone.

With any freelance field, there are helpful tools you can use to grow your business. Tools can make parts of the process easier, but you still have to put in the necessary work to see meaningful results. The audio field is no different, but it’s full of potential opportunities if you play your cards right. 

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