Can you teach yourself a musical instrument?

It’s easy to access the tools and resources needed to learn a new instrument. But is it possible to master a musical instrument by teaching yourself?

Getting your hands on a musical instrument, whether it’s a guitar or bagpipes, is only the first step; the tricky part is learning how to play the thing. Is there a vital need to take lessons to learn how to play a musical instrument?

Generally speaking, yes, it is definitely possible for someone to teach themselves an instrument and be able to play it well. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. However learning a musical instrument boosts your mood and improves your mental health, boosting self-esteem, with benefits depending on the instrument like improving your breath control and multi-tasking skills.

Everybody learns in different ways, and you never know until you try.

Why would you want to learn a musical instrument on your own? It sounds hard

Not everybody wants a teacher bossing them around and dictating what direction their learning path will take. Plenty of people find they flourish best when not being judged by someone else. Teaching yourself a musical instrument also means you save money on music lessons.

Perhaps you’re just after a new project, or looking to challenge yourself. You never know what natural talent might emerge once you pick up an instrument.

Serious about teaching yourself music? Time to get organised

Research is the first step to teaching yourself a musical instrument. Start by listening to famous music featuring your chosen instrument, getting familiar with the sound it produces and different musical genres associated with it.

When it comes to the teaching itself, you know your own learning process better than most. Say you’ve been handed down a violin – are you content with mastering a few well-known folk songs, or would you rather complete a course to learn techniques that will give you a grounding to play a whole range of music? Having a think about what you want to get out of the process and setting goals will help to streamline your learning, saving you time.

There are YouTube tutorials out there for even the most obscure of instruments, and you can’t go wrong with teaching yourself from an educational music book. A vital step of learning an instrument on your own is establishing a routine right from the beginning of practising every day.

Is it worth it?

There are unique challenges to teaching yourself an instrument. Some instruments are arguably easier to learn than others – if you’ve zero knowledge of music or music theory, an easier instrument like the piano might be a better starting point than something like the cello. Saying that, plenty of determined learners crave a harder challenge.

Teaching yourself an instrument does pose the danger of learning bad habits, which a beady-eyed tutor would normally spot before they become ingrained – things like breathing techniques and hand positioning. There’s also nothing like being mentored by a talented music teacher with musical life experience to draw from, eager to introduce you to their own unique way of playing an instrument.

Consider whether you need the structure of music lessons to motivate you to keep learning. Some people find they need the motivation of being monitored week to week, craving that competitive feeling that nudges them to keep practising and not let their teacher down. If you find you’re struggling to motivate yourself, consider documenting your progress on social media, perhaps setting yourself a challenge to give yourself accountability.

The sense of pride and achievement that comes from teaching yourself a musical instrument is hard to beat. You know you got there by your own hard work, and you’re in total control of your own destiny. Everybody learns in different ways, and you can always take a few lessons later on if you’re struggling learning advanced techniques by yourself.

With all the online resources available, as long as you’re in possession of an instrument there’s absolutely nothing to stop you teaching yourself how to play it.

How to write a good music artist bio – 5 Top Tips

Not sure how to write an artist biography for your music profile on streaming platforms? Get started with our guide to writing a great music bio.

Whichever streaming platform or download store your music is on, from Spotify and Tidal to YouTube Music and beyond, the bio on your artist profile is a crucial chance to tell your story. It’s the first extra information about you that a listener comes across after discovering your music, a free promotional tool before fans head off to find you on social media.

The best artist bios combine useful facts with an engaging tone of voice that swiftly gets across the character and feel of your music. The shape your music biography takes depends on what type of artist you see yourself as – your bio can be as creative as you like.

Still not feeling keen? Read on for some inspiration, with our five pointers on how to write the perfect artist bio.

Why so serious?

When it comes to writing a musician bio there are two options. Either take the traditional route, with a simple but effective introduction to your music and your own history, or you can go a more artistic way and build a mythology around your music.

A conventional bio on a streaming service generally needs to answer who you are and where, why and how you came to make music, without boring the reader to death. A more creative artist bio needs to entice the reader to learn more about you and your sound, not drive them away with pretentious jargon. Either way, the artist bio should be written in third person (he/she/they) rather than first (I/we), and the most important information should go at the top of the section.

Keep it snappy

As an emerging artist, it might be an idea to keep your musician bio simple at first, as you gain traction and release more tracks. A very short artist bio with a hook will entice listeners to dig further and search you out on social media, keen to find out more about this secretive artist.

Another good idea is to keep consistency across all platforms – using RouteNote you can get your music on all the major streaming sites for free, and it’s vital to make sure your brand story is the same no matter where listeners find you. You might also be uneasy at the thought of writing about yourself, but be flattered that listeners are curious enough about you to explore beyond your tracks.

Don’t be so modest

The artist bio is all about you and your creations – so writing a musician biography is your opportunity to show off a bit. What do you consider your biggest achievements? Was your first EP released to rave reviews? Do your live shows always reel in the praise? Drop in a couple of examples – whether it’s playlist adds or blowing up on TikTok. It shows what sets you apart from your peers, and is great free advertising.

Who do you want to be?

It’s called a biography for a reason, so make sure you put in where you’ve come from – where the band formed, or where you grew up. Even if you’re trying to paint a mysterious picture, it’s good to include at least some information to legitimise yourself as a musician or producer, even if it’s simply your name and that you hail from New York City.

Listeners like to form a connection with the artist. In your music bio you can refer to your musical inspirations, to give fans an idea of what to expect from your discography.

Sum up your sound

The artist bio is all about lifting the curtain beyond the static images on streaming platforms. What do you really want to get across to listeners that they might not hear in your tracks, and how have your life experiences affected your music? Maybe your band has stuck together since school and perfected your sound, or you’ve travelled the world by yourself discovering new cultural inspirations.

Have a go at summing up your sound. Where is the ideal place you imagine people will be listening – dancing in a club, or reclining on a sofa? Use descriptive language that pulls the listener to a place and time. If you’d rather let the music do the talking, a simple biographical introduction will do the trick.

The only mistakes you can make with your music bio is to mislead listeners, or to not bother with one at all and not type in a single word. Spend a little time researching other artist biographies on streaming services until you’ve got a feel for structure and content. And don’t forget to update your artist bio regularly – there’s nothing worse than a music artist’s biography that’s five years out of date, missing lots of achievements, making it seem like they’re no longer touring or making music.

Still not got your tracks up on streaming services? RouteNote can help you earn money from your music, with free distribution to all the major music streaming platforms. There’s never been a better time to get your music out there. Find out more about how Routenote helps artists and sign up here.

The top free VST plugins in 2021

What are the best free VST plugins out there right now? Everyone has a favourite. We’ve found 6 top free plugins to bring something new to your music producing.

Producers of all kinds are lucky to be living at a time when there’s so many delicious free plugins available to download, ripe for stuffing any DAW fill to the brim. Falling into a rabbit hole hunting out free VSTs can get overwhelming, fast.

It’s sometimes hard to separate the good from the bad and the ugly – while there’s thousands of free music software plugins out there for producers and musicians, they need to be stable and from a reliable source.

As a taster, here are six of the best free VST plugins available now, from great virtual instruments to stunning effect plugins. Let’s dive in.

Tape Cassette 2
Image Credit: Caelum Audio

Lo-fi hip-hop and bedroom pop sounds are still all the rage. Luckily you can get the perfect vintage dreaminess and add a warm classic sound with the Tape Cassette 2 free plugin.

An update on Tape Cassette 1, Caelum Audio’s free VST can be used on your entire track or on individual channels for a hit of nostalgia. Mess around with your synths for added experimental textures and create cosmic soundscapes.


  • Selectable Type 1 Cassette Impulse Response (IR)
  • Dynamic saturation curve algorithm implementing hysteresis and including oversampling
  • Wow & Flutter engines rebuilt to focus on smoother emulation
  • Real sampled noise from a Type 1 Cassette
  • Low Pass range increased down to 5kHz

Get the Tape Cassette 2 free plugin and find out more here.

Spitfire Audio BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover
Image Credit: Spitfire Audio

Get every exquisite sound of the BBC Symphony Orchestra within a simple free plugin from Spitfire Audio that’s compatible with all major DAWs.

No more tinny, fake-sounding virtual orchestral instruments. Fill in a simple survey and you’re on the list for a huge free 33-strong orchestral instrument library worth waiting the 14 day online delivery for. The sounds work as individual instruments in your DAW.

Ever wondered how to be a classical music producer? Now’s your chance.

Get the BBC Symphony Orchestral library free from Spitfire Audio here.

DearVR Micro

Whack your headphones on to experience the 3D capabilities of the DearVR Micro free plugin. A collaboration between Sennheiser and DearVR, the Micro is the redesigned successor to the previous AMBEO Orbit plugin.

The updated plugin has got full 360° panning, immersing you directly in the middle of your track. Put your sounds anywhere in the stereo field – not just left and right but above your head and behind you. Freaky and completely free.


  • Full 360° panner
  • Highest audio quality using Dear Reality’s advanced HRTF filters
  • Azimuth and Elevation control
  • Width control
  • Adding spatial accuracy by defining shoebox-shaped binaural room reflections
  • Five different wall materials to control the reflection timbre
  • Focus parameter using the patented AMBEO Clarity algorithm for a maximum spectral balance
  • HRTF selection to choose Sennheiser AMBEO Orbit HRTFs
  • Support for mono and stereo input signals

Download DearVR Micro VST free here.

Diablo Lite
Image Credit: Cymatics

Cymatic’s Diablo Lite free plugin beefs up your 808s, enhancing drums to cut through your mix. The Punch transient shaper and clipper features make the loudness of sounds hit so much harder, making your kicks smack just as powerfully as you dreamt they would, without affecting the .dB. Get your teeth into that.

Find out more and get the Diablo Lite plugin free here.

Satellite Plugins 2.0

This collaboration plugin lets you work with anyone in any DAW at any time, so you can work together without bouncing tracks. The audio or MIDI recorded into the Satellite Plugins 2.0 plugin automatically syncs between producers working within major DAWs. You can work together in real time and easily export audio.

Especially valuable at the moment, when remote working is the norm for so many musicians.


  • Collaborate with anyone, anywhere, within your own DAW
  • Connect Ableton, Logic Pro X, FL Studio, Cubase, Studio One, Bitwig, Pro Tools, Reason, Reaper, GarageBand and Digital Performer DAWs through Satellite Plugins 2.0
  • Invite collaborators to your session, record and export audio and MIDI
  • Assign Host, Co-Host, VIP+, VIP and Viewer permissions to determine who can upload/download tracks and invite others to the session
  • Use Satellite Plugins 2.0 in your streams on Twitch and YouTube and invite your audience to collaborate
  • Back-up your sessions seamlessly to the cloud
  • Perfect for remote session work, bands, and mixing/mastering engineers

Satellite Plugins 2.0 is free for a limited time so grab it quick here – apologies if you’ve missed the boat!

Image Credit: TAL Software

A cheeky little free VST. Small, simple but effective – turn the stereo width and wet/dry knobs and press the two buttons to recreate the chorus from the classic Roland Juno-60 synth. Two settings, one to add a subtler texture and the other a richer sound, together faithfully recreating the much-loved synth.

Get the TAL-Chorus-LX plugin free here.

Hungry for more free plugins? Of course you are. Check out these great free synth plugins, top free guitar and bass VSTs, best free mixing and mastering plugins and best free effects plugins.

And there’s far more besides… what’s your favourite free plugin? Show off your knowledge in the comments.

Want everyone to hear how incredible those VSTs sound in your finished tracks? RouteNote can get your songs onto all the major streaming services and stores. Before you know it you’ll be earning money from your music – and the best part is, it’s free. Find out more here.

5 easy ways to customise loops for beginner producers (2021)

Improve your music producing with these tips of how to flip samples and manipulate loops in your DAW. Take your tracks up a notch and get creative editing loops.

There’s lots of high quality royalty-free loops out there for music producers who love to work with samples in their tracks. Often however, using someone else’s original loop doesn’t quite scratch the creative itch. There’s more to samples than dragging and dropping them into a track.

For the uninitiated, samples and loops aren’t a complex thing, though the way producers talk about them can sometimes seem it. They’re simply audio files of sections of other people’s tracks that you use in your own songs. Bear in mind that if you’re looking to release a track commercially and you’ve used samples, it’s important to make sure to have permission from the copyright holder, and make sure any sites that are “royalty-free” are legit.

But, whether you’re using a stock loop that came with your DAW, or a royalty-free sample downloaded from a loop store, often it won’t perfectly fit with the vision you have in your head. Luckily, you can edit loops just like any other audio or MIDI in your DAW – using The Edison audio editing plugin in FL Studio, for example. Part of the fun of working with sampled loops is taking a loop and putting your own producing stamp on it.

After manipulating the loop into something new, your tracks will sound fresh and original. For beginners, a good way to get your head around flipping samples is to find a loop you like and start experimenting with manipulating it in a DAW. Here’s 5 loop tips to get you started manipulating samples in music production.

Hit reverse

Most DAWs have functions where you can reverse the sample – so the loop plays backwards. A cool riser effect is sometimes achievable in this way. Or try selecting just a small section of a beat to reverse, to create glitchy effects.

Rearrange your sample

Experiment with slicing a sample into smaller chunks, creating separate sections which can be rearranged however you like in a new pattern. That’s “flipping” a sample.

Make it as crazy as you like. Drop a drum loop in, chop it in a similar fashion, and see how the loops work on top of each other. You’ve then got a unique foundation to add other elements on top.

The chop feature in FL Studio can split samples into patterns for you.

Mix it up

Change up the sound of the loop completely by experimenting with effects plugins. Add reverb for some classy sound design. A touch of EQing will change the sound still further, bringing out the high end or low end, or try panning different parts of the loop to create a ping-pong or pulsing effect. Get creative and see how the sample is transformed.

Stretching loops

Alter your loops with time stretching, extending how long the sample lasts for cool warped effects. Time stretching is super useful for making sure samples fit the tempo of your song. You can also get creative slowing the tempo of only certain sections when flipping a sample to create artistic effects.

Keep it smooth

If you’re chopping and changing up your loop, even when you’re going for an experimental feel, beware of harsh attack transients between the new sections of your loop that will cause pops and clicks in your track. Use the fade in tool or declick tool in your DAW to smooth out the volume so there’s less jumps in frequencies.

Plenty of articles and YouTube tutorials kicking around the internet give in depth explanations of how to edit loops. Don’t let it be said that using samples is cheating – when used creatively they’re a composition tool, and no two producers will use one loop in the same way.

Use these tips to open your mind beyond using unedited samples into your track. Take some time to mess around and get comfortable with the process of how to flip samples, and your producing and creative enjoyment will improve as a result.

Finished your track? RouteNote can get your song on streaming services and stores for free, so not only can everyone hear it, but you can earn money from your music. An independent music distributor, we specialise in getting producers’ tracks online without it costing them a penny. Find out more and sign up here.

How Being An Independent Artist Allows You To Be More Creative

Image credit: Kieran Webber

During our ‘DIY Till We Die’ article series we chatted to an array of independent artists, one thing that stood clear was that it allowed them total creative freedom.

Recently, throughout our ‘DIY Till We Die’ article series we interviewed a variety of independent artists from across the world. It was an insightful project that helped us gain a wider knowledge of just what life is like as an independent artist, there were of course lots of advantages and disadvantages. Today we want to focus on the main reason why a lot of artists decide to operate independently and dissect each of the aforementioned artist’s answers regarding this.

The recurring answer was having control of one’s art and creativity. “Complete creative control”, Isaiah of Jack Swing explains is one of the main reasons his band operates independently, continuing: “By operating independently we can make sure that things get done exactly the way we want them to, on our timeline, with no interference.”

Isaiah adds: “While working independently we get to decide completely how we want to present ourselves. This allows us to make every piece of our content the exact piece of art that we want it to be. Whether it’s a photo on Instagram or a video that we create for promotion each is an opportunity to create a unique piece of art exactly the way we envision.”

This is something mirrored by psych-garage rock outfit Magick Mountain, as they explain: “I think it’s pushed us to do what we think is right for this band, whether that’s sonically, aesthetically, or even how many vinyls we think we should get pressed / what a ‘marketing campaign’ looks like for us, without compromise.”

One thing that Lins of Magick Mountain says strikes a chord and is maybe an element a lot of artists forget to reconsider – “We’ve managed the release we now don’t owe any money to anyone and have retained all the rights while still being happy with what we’ve put out.” Total control from top to bottom whilst remaining in control of the masters and rights, something that is incredibly valuable and important. Not to mention, only possible to retain as an independent artist.

Bristol-based artist Milo Gore explains this point further: “These songs always meant so much to me, and I wanted to be able to create something deeply personal. I think it also adds to the journey, ya know?? Doing things DIY, I feel you really get to live the experience.” Having that connection to your music, to your fans and, your journey helps create something genuine. Real music by real musicians for real music fans.

Independent artists also benefit from being able to branch into as many genres as they like, again due to the creative freedom. As Rory of Brighton-based School Disco puts it: “If you want to make freak-out-post-black-metal-shoegaze-folk as a DIY artist no one is gonna tell you not to. You have complete creative control.”

Although going down the DIY road as an independent artist can be a tough one, it is certainly one that allows artists to reap the rewards of creativity, individuality, and integrity. You control every aspect of the music, advertising, and much more. And in today’s world, where the internet has made life easier for an independent artist to exist, you have a wide range of tools to use to help you be successful.

Especially in regards to distribution, which RouteNote is a master of, not to mention a free service.

6 best DAWs for recording a rock band (2021)

What’s the best music software for recording bands? Check out our guide to the best DAWs for recording live instruments.

All those hours of band practise have paid off and your songs are ready to record. There’s no need to pay for studio time – all you need is a good home set up, and a DAW to record your instruments.

Whether you’re a solo musician planning to record all the live instruments yourself, or a band ready to get your debut EP down for release, which music software to use for recording is a bamboozling question. It’s both a matter of personal preference, and slightly dependent on what style of music you’re playing.

As an indie rock band for example requires the recording of live guitars, bass, drums and so on, the DAW needs to have audio tracking capabilities and a smooth workflow to make recording effortless. Pretty much all DAWs have the capability for live instrument tracking, and most musicians find they can make any DAW work for whatever purpose they need.

However, some digital audio workstations were developed with electronic music in mind, rather than recording and editing live band instruments for genres like rock music, and their audio editing tools are simplified as a result. Loop and sample-based DAWs include FL Studio and Ableton. That’s not to say you can’t use them for recording a band – except the “Fruity” edition of FL Studio, which doesn’t allow audio recording – but it’s just all about making the process as efficient as possible. Recording live can feel nerve-wracking for the performer, so you don’t want to spend ages messing around getting the software set up.

A good beginner DAW for recording a band needs simple audio editing tools. That’s tools to cut up, trim and fade recordings. It’s also good to look out for plugin compatibility, such as amp and effect plugin capabilities. Number of tracks are also a factor, as some more basic versions or free DAWs have a limit.

Let’s explore some of the top options for the best DAWs for recording live instruments and recording your band.


An affordable and powerful DAW. It’s easy interface and great audio editing tools are a tempting bonus. Individual track mixing is a breeze.

Reaper’s price, only $60 for the complete full version, means it’s a great starting point for beginners looking to record their band, or a multi-instrumentalist just starting out with music software. Bonus – you can also try it for free.

PreSonus Studio One

Developed to be used mainly for audio, Studio One is built for recording live instruments. As such it makes recording a breeze, and offers a dazzling array of audio editing tools. It’s also especially good for solo musicians, with intuitive composing tools included. It has a fully-featured set of virtual pedals and amplifiers and unlimited tracks.

It offers easy-to-use but powerful tools beyond just hitting record, too. You may think you don’t need all the bells and whistles or digital elements like extensive MIDI-editing capabilities, but who knows where your music-making might take you in the future. Just something to bear in mind.



If you’re looking for a way to get your music digitally recorded quickly and you have a Mac, don’t let the snobs put you off the surprisingly versatile GarageBand. It’s a free DAW that comes with Apple products, including on mobile.

When you don’t have the time or energy to invest into learning the ins and outs of a full professional DAW, you’re not bothered about getting a professional quality result or as a band you just want to hear how your first song sounds, GarageBand might be all you need.


  • Only basic capabilities
  • Only supports AU plugins
  • Only on Mac

Steinberg Cubase

Cubase is a popular choice for bands and multi-instrumentalists. The music software was built for recording live instruments, with extensive audio editing and recording tools. It’s also a great DAW for beginners, with its easy to navigate workflow.


  • Pro version is expensive. Elements starts at $89

Logic Pro X

Apple’s Logic Pro X is the grown-up version of GarageBand. Its live recording abilities are very accessible for beginners. With take management you can overdub a tricky part of a track with a couple of clicks, or use Varispeed recording to playback at a slower pace, for practise until you’ve nailed that section of your song.

The DAW also comes pre-loaded with decent amp simulators and effects.


  • Passable audio editing capability
  • Only supports AU plugins
  • Only available on Mac

AVID Pro Tools

The traditional studio-standard professional DAW, which professionals swear by as the best for recording live instruments and bands. It has detailed audio editing, and if you’re sending your tracks over to a professional studio that also uses Pro Tools it makes the process super-simple.


  • The price might make your eyes water (Subscriptions start at $30 a month)
  • Challenging layout for the beginner with a steep learning curve
  • Dated interface
  • Limited plugin capability – only compatible with AAX format plugins

If you’re serious about spending a lot of time in a digital audio workstation, outside of simply quickly getting your band’s instrumental parts recorded, it’s worth investing in a professional DAW. A good option is to download free trials of DAWs before you commit to buying any music software.

Happy researching. It’s never been easier to get your songs recorded to a professional standard – and you can do it all yourself from home.

Happy with the way your tracks sound? RouteNote can get your band’s songs out onto the biggest streaming services across the world, from Spotify to Apple Music and beyond, so you can start making money from your music – and the best part is, it’s free. Find out more and sign up here.

How to become a successful music producer

Eager to know how to make money from your music? Explore the best routes to success with these essential tips for music producers.

There’s no one easy route to becoming a successful music producer. A variety of factors come into play – talent, luck, and being smart about branding and promotion.

Have you reached the stage where you’re confident and ready for the world to hear your tracks? If you’re serious about making a success of your music, get it right first time with our tips for how to build a career as a music producer.

Master your music software

Wherever your producing happy place may lie – FL Studio, Ableton – learn it inside and out. Master all those little tricks to get the best sounding mix so that you’re confident with what you’re releasing to the world.

If you feel your current setup is holding you back, maybe try switching to another DAW. Most offer free trials so you can try out the software before committing. There’s also some surprisingly pretty decent fully free DAWs out there.

Get your music out there

Your dream of making money from music producing is more achievable than you think. But how to release your music? There’s no longer an urgent need to have connections in the industry, flog your CD at gigs, or have a record deal – you just need to get your music onto streaming sites. We can help with that.

RouteNote makes it simple to release your tracks on all the major platforms around the world with partnerships ranging from the likes of Spotify to Tencent in China. And it’s free. Find out more here – you’ll never know until you try.

Join forces and collaborate

Working with others enriches your own knowledge, so don’t be afraid to reach out on social media to other up-and-coming producers. You’ll be introduced to a whole new way of creating, and might discover fresh new sounds that will inspire your producing.

Collaboration with other producers mean you can support and motivate each other. It also opens up opportunities to reach new fans.

Engage with the music world

Give yourself the best chance of success as a producer by swotting up on the ins and outs of the music industry. Get up to speed with the boring stuff like copyright and music business terminology. And look for trends. Watch the trajectory of successful producers – what makes them so popular? How do they keep their fans engaged?

Market, promote, get social

Sadly its not enough to just put your music out there and sit back and wait for the plays to roll in, however great a producer you are. Now is not the time to be shy.

Boost your release by being active across social media, sharing content regularly and building up a strong follower base. Our pals over at have a host of promotional tools like Fan Links to have all your socials in one handy page, and Pre-Saves to build momentum before your release hits.

Learn from your mistakes…

…but don’t give up. If your first release didn’t get the traction you dreamt of, remember it’s all a learning process. Distributing your music with RouteNote means unlimited releases for free; so why not analyse your producing and marketing processes, get feedback from people you trust, and then try again with something brand new.


If you know your strengths, it can be tempting to stick with what you know. While it’s always good to build your sound around your natural skills first, don’t be afraid to then branch out into different genres and different tools.

Always worked with loops? Try making your own. Investigate some new free plugins, or check out the world of remixing. Keep exploring the music production process.

Every producer is different and there’s no magic answer to becoming a successful music producer. But by getting your music out there, playing nice with others, and investing some time to build your brand, you should be set to be in it for the long haul.

Thousands of independent artists use RouteNote to get their music out into the world. With Free and Premium tiers, there’s an option for every creator. Sign up or find out more about how to make money from your producing here.

Top FL Studio keyboard shortcuts to master for a fast workflow

Image Credit: Image-Line

Work faster and more efficiently in your DAW by getting used to shortcut keys in FL Studio.

When you’re in the creative flow making music in your DAW, knowing shortcut keys makes moving your mouse and clicking seem like moving at a snail’s pace. It seems obvious, but keyboard shortcuts in FL Studio really help speed up your workflow. After a while they become second nature for producers, just like how you copy and paste text without a second thought.

It’s almost like your computer keyboard becomes a musical instrument itself – something about the immediacy of hitting hotkeys gets you closer to the artistic process of producing. All the keyboard and mouse shortcuts for FL Studio can be found within the DAW software manual, with substitutions for Mac users, but read on for some quick examples of shortcut keys to get you started.

F Keys

F1 – Pulls up the FL Studio reference manual. Before searching YouTube for a fix to your problem, check the manual and chances are it can be found there.

If you click on a section and press F1, the help for that specific section will appeal.

F2 – To name pattern and assign colour

F3 – Open file window

F4 – Create a new pattern in the channel rack

F5 – Collapse/bring up the playlist window

F6 – Open/close the channel rack

F7 – Open Piano Roll

Ctrl + F8 – Pattern picker

F8Plugin picker. Forgotten which cool reverb effect you used in your last track? Seeing all your plugins laid out in front of you often jolts your memory.

F9 – Open/close mixer window

F10 – MIDI settings

F11 – Project settings

F12 – Close everything

Channel rack

Select multiple channels by holding down shift and clicking so the channels turn green.

Shift + Ctrl + R/L Arrow Key moves the channel steps sideways in the sequencer whilst keeping their position from each other, so that you can move multiple steps and keep the rhythm.

Piano Roll shortcuts

Alt + Right Click on note/group of notes – Play from that point.

Ctrl + A – Selects all the notes in the piano roll. No more clicking and dragging, or scrolling but still ending up missing a couple of notes.

Ctrl + Up/Down – Moves the selected note up or down an octave. You can create basslines in this way, and change up the spacing of your sounds.

Shift + Up/Down – Transpose a selected note by semitone.

Shift + Left/Right – Shift the selected note left or right, to change up the rhythm.

Try making your notes legato so that they connect smoothly from one to the other. Ctrl + L makes the notes connect to each other. Shift + D meanwhile shortens the notes, making them staccato.

A quick chop shortcut is Ctrl + U, slicing your selected notes into 1/16ths.

Quantize your notes immediately by hitting Ctrl + Q, moving your notes to the closest beat to keep everything in perfect time. There’s nothing worse than something being just slightly off.

Playlist shortcuts

Hover over each tool to see the keyboard shortcut appear in the Hint box:

P – Draw Tool           

D – Delete                  

S – Slip Tool

T – Mute

B – Paint Tool

C – Slice Tool

E – Select

CTRL + C and CTRL + V – Copy/Paste, the same as with lots of apps. Pasting randomly drops your selection into the track, so if you want to duplicate something over to the next available slot on the track, Ctrl + B is what you’re after.

Ctrl + Mouse Scroll for horizontal zoom, Alt + Mouse Scroll for vertical zoom.

Right Click + I – Insert a new track.

Right Click + G – Group a track with the track above.

Mixer shortcuts

Alt + L – Highlights which instrument or sample is being sent to the channel at a glance.

Select a channel and Ctrl + L – Sends the channel to the mixer and copies the name and colour.

Check out the full FL Studio manual and get those shortcuts memorised. Use DAW hotkeys often enough and your fingers will soon be moving to the keyboard shortcuts before your brain even has time to catch up.

Do you have a favourite FL Studio tip or trick? Let us know in the comments.

Spending most of your life in FL Studio and producing some amazing tracks? RouteNote can distribute your songs online so you start making money from your music. And it won’t cost you a penny. Find out more and get started here.

How to use Instagram filters to promote music

Add music to your Instagram stories and reels to bring them to life and promote your tracks to fans with the real soundtrack of your releases.

Social media is a powerful tool for getting your music out there and heard by as many people as possible. Having an active and lively social media presence can be the thing that connects with your audience and keeps them coming back for your new releases. We’re going to tell you how to get your music on Instagram and then how you can use it on your profile.

Using Instagram to promote your music is a great idea, there are billions of users on Instagram and users engage with content more personally on the platform than others thanks to its visual focus.

1. Get your music on Instagram

First things first, for your music to be available to share on Instagram you’ll need to upload it to their content library. At RouteNote we offer free distribution of your music onto Facebook and Instagram’s content libraries.

Simply sign up for free at then upload your tracks. When selecting stores, be sure to select Facebook so that we can send your music to Instagram’s content library. Once your release has been approved we’ll send it to Instagram where it will be added within a few weeks.

2. Time to create your Instagram Story or Reel!

Now your music is available on Instagram you can find it. First of all, head to the plus button so you can create a new post and then decide whether it’s a Story or a Reel you want to create.

If you’re making a story then record your video or add your image. Then swipe up on the screen and select the ‘Music’ widget so you can search for a track and put it there. Once you’ve chosen your track you can use the slider at the bottom to choose which section of the track you want to use

If you’re creating a Reel then you can choose your music first and record your Reel to the track. Select the music note on the left of the screen and pick/search your track. Then find the section you want to use and when you press record it will start from there.

3. Create your very own filter

You can even go another step and create your own filter which anyone on Instagram can search for and use. The easiest way to do this is with Spark AR, an augmented reality program that allows you to use simple tools to add layers and effects to people’s faces.

The Spark AR Studio is built by Facebook themselves, so you’re working with the real deal. It’s available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store for smartphones and devices. You can have fun and test different designs, images, and effects.

You can easily add in your own sounds to your filters, so you can create a filter using your music. Your music must be in .M4A format, 44.1 khz, and Mono for use in Instagram filters. Your final filter file size has to be 3MB and they can only be 15 seconds long, so ensure you choose a good part of your tracks!

Remember, whatever you make – make sure it’s fun so people want to get involved!

4. Share it!

Whether you’re simply adding your music to your Reels or if you’re making your own Instagram filter, be sure to share the news far and wide so that everyone can see it and take part themselves. Get fans sharing your music in their Stories and Reels and you’ll reach whole new swathes of people.