HOW TO LEARN FROM THE PROS
You’ll get the basics from this article, but to take your home recording skills to the next level, at some point you’ll turn to video tutorials on YouTube. And it’s great that such a wealth of information from so many different voices is at your fingertips. But it’s also a double-edged sword.
If the tutorial you’re watching recommends a particular VST or plugin, make sure you’re not watching a piece of sponsored content. This happens a lot. It’s a similar story if the content creator is selling a bunch of instrument presets—find another tutorial. There are plenty of knowledgeable studio engineers and producers on YouTube, so you don’t need to try to glean information from covert advertisements.
Find a producer or engineer who makes the kind of music you endeavor to make, or achieves a particular sound you’re striving for. Most importantly, make sure they’re using the same DAW. There’s no point learning how to set up a sidechain compressor in Pro Tools if you’re using Logic Pro. Don’t worry if they’re using slightly different VSTs or microphones, though: You won’t achieve the exact same sound as them, but you’ll learn a lot from copying the way they do things, and hearing the effect it has on your projects. If they offer a step-by-step project for you to follow, all the better. Keep mindful, though, that there’s rarely just one “correct” way to do things in music production. The tutorial you’re watching shows you one way to do things, and offers the comfort blanket of an assuredly good sound. Great producers build on this know-how, and develop their own techniques, creating a sound that others will want to replicate. Who knows—maybe one day you’ll be the one uploading tutorials.
If someone’s shilling software or gear, don’t follow their tutorials.