The Emergence of the Laptop Producer

Guest Blogger: Jake Perrinne is the author of both Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering with Ableton Live and Producing Music with Ableton Live.

During my years as an instructor of Audio Production at the Art Institute of Seattle from 1999 to 2010, I noted the steady emergence of what I like to refer to as the “laptop producer”. This is someone who would like to produce music – professional, world-changing, dance floor frenzy-inducing music – using little more than a laptop and pair of headphones. Most of the time, they tend to be making either electronic dance music or hip-hop, and they often come from limited financial means. The exponentially increasing attendance at electronic music festivals and the recent Grammy nod to “underground” dubstep laptop producer Skrillex are symptoms of what I am talking about.

Where so many youth used to pick up an electric guitar in hopes of one day becoming the next Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Nirvana, for many, the laptop is steadily taking its place. Instead of fetishizing classic amps, pickups and pedals, the laptop producer scours the internet for new freeware VST plugins. Long hours of learning chords and scales are replaced with operating system and audio application upgrades, and watching YouTube videos to learn the latest editing and sound design techniques.

The laptop producer does not want a career as an audio engineer behind a mixing board in a studio. Recording multi-track performances of a band’s live performance of their compositions is rarely their aim: instead, the laptop serves as an editing tool for cutting-up and rearranging previously recorded sounds into something entirely new. They want to create their music in their bedroom, or on the bus on the way to their day-job, and when the weekend comes, go perform it as a DJ at a house party, club or festival.  While this is entirely possible with the advent of multi-function DAW (digital audio workstation) environments such as the now ubiquitous Ableton Live (, you still need to know some things about sound and computers in order to excel at this craft.

This knowledge gap is what a growing percentage of musicians are looking to fill, and it is what inspired me to write my first two books for Hal Leonard: Producing Music with Ableton Live and Sound Design, Mixing and Mastering with Ableton Live. These books seek to simultaneously train a new user to use Live to make music, and give them the audio and computer fundamentals they additionally need in order to understand what they are doing. The tutorial-based format provides a linear “path through the woods” to learn the program while also learning workflows for building a song from start to finish. It is aimed squarely at the laptop producer who does not have a degree in audio, computers or music theory, but wants to learn a specific subset of skills cherry-picked from each of those topics that uniquely pertain to their music making goals.

Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering with Ableton Live

Go beyond the basics of Ableton Live with this book of audio making and mangling recipes, tips, and mixing/mastering techniques. Ableton Live is undoubtedly the most flexible audio application available today: Use it for sound design for music, film, theater, and games; composition; improvising with other musicians; live looping; DJing; and of course mixing and mastering music. Author, mastering engineer, certified Ableton trainer, and power-user Jake Perrine will inspire you to use Live in new ways, and to improve how you already use it. Striking a delicate balance of artistry and theory, he will expand your repertoire for both the studio and the stage.

Producing Music with Ableton Live

Learn to make electronic dance music with the innovative application that started – and is still leading – the revolution! Start producing your own music from the ground up! Ableton Live is a groundbreaking program whose unique nonlinear, incredibly flexible features set it far apart from all the other digital audio applications. It is equally at home with making beats, remixing, live recording, DJing, live looping, sound design, electronic music, hip-hop, and much more.


Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on April 4, 2012, in Music Industry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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