Beat Making in Ableton Live

Master the processes and techniques for programming professional-grade electronic drum beats in Ableton Live.

We're not your average online course.
Find out about our mentorship approach.

Starts April 7

Six Week Mentor-Guided Course

Money‑Back Guarantee

Want to make huge-sounding beats that people can't help but dance to? Making great beats is about so much more than just writing in notes on a piano roll or jamming out on a drum pad. From Dilla to Diplo, Quincy Jones to Com Truise, or Fly-Lo to Flume, electronic beats have come a long way — and these days are funkier and deeper than ever.

In this six-week course, Ableton Certified Trainer Dan Freeman takes you on a comprehensive tour of Ableton Live's drum programming capabilities. Each week, Dan will guide you with in-depth videos, illustrations, and activities, while an expert Soundfly Mentor will follow up with you personally to offer encouragement, provide feedback, and answer your questions. With your mentor's weekly guidance, you'll practice laying out simple beats, manipulating them with effects, creating break beats, humanizing and randomizing them, and other pro tips for creating bigger, better beats.  

*Note: While not required, a basic familiarity with Live will help with this course. This course is all about making beats, rather than a comprehensive overview of the software.  

Dan Freeman

Ableton Certified Trainer

Dan, also known as CØm1x, is an Ableton Certified Trainer, artist/producer/bassist, and music technologist based in Brooklyn, New York. One of the world's leading experts on the integration of live instruments with laptops using Ableton Live, he does live electronic acid house and electro­ funk sets that integrate live musicianship with improvised sound creation and visuals. He has performed and presented at venues, festivals and universities globally including SXSW, Harvard University, Berklee, Sonar (Barcelona), Berghain (Berlin), Centro Cultural Español (Mexico City), IATEC (Rio de Janeiro), AIMEC (Curitiba, Brazil), The Strøm Festival (Copenhagen), La Universidad de Santiago (Chile), DJLAB (San Jose, Costa Rica) and the Festival Internacional de la Imagen (Manizales, Colombia).

Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Dan comes from a bi-cultural background: his mother is Nicaraguan and his father American, so he grew up exposed to a rich variety of music. He graduated Harvard University, and came to NYC to be a session bass player and performed throughout North America, South America, and Europe in venues ranging from underground Brooklyn loft parties to Broadway pits and Carnegie Hall. He also played keyboards for the RCA Records’ rock group Stellastarr*. In 2008, he formed the electro funk digital music and art collective Comandante Zero (CØ). CØ developed techniques for fusing live acoustic instruments with laptops running Ableton Live and created their own unique hybrid set as well as serving as a backing band for various artists including Polina Goudieva and Virgin Records’ artist Xavier.

Currently, Dan has a production studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn where he mixes, remixes electronic music and writes for film as well as performs with his electro funk digital art and music collective Comandante Zero (CØ). Dan has designed curriculum centered around Ableton Live for several institutions. Previously he served as a senior instructor at New York City's Dubspot where he taught electronic music production and headed Dubspot International. He is currently on the faculty of New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music where teaches producing music with software and MIDI. He also curates the Digital + Acoustic Sessions, a monthly event in Brooklyn, New York at ShapeShifter Lab that features artists using Ableton and live instruments in cutting ­edge new ways.

In 2015, he founded the Brooklyn Digital Conservatory, a platform that brings top digital music producers/performers and educators to emerging markets in Latin America and Asia for courses and performances. Since its foundation, the Brooklyn Digital Conservatory has run workshops and courses in Chile, Costa Rica, Italy and Colombia with workshops scheduled in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico for 2017.

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beat building
ableton live
dan freeman
drum machines
beat making

10 Days Left to Join the Next Session

Payment plans available. to find out more.

  • Unlimited access to interactive and video content
  • Weekly feedback and support from an expert Soundfly Mentor
  • Membership in our growing online Slack community of students and mentors

Price $499

Program professional-grade electronic drum beats

By the end of this course, you’ll have everything you need to be able to make more dynamic, interesting, well-designed beats in Ableton Live.

Master Multiple Beat Making Approaches

We explore a few different ways to create interesting beats with the Drum Rack instrument and other Live tools.

Give Your Beats a More Human Feel

We go through how to use velocity, randomization, and other tricks to make your electronic beats sound more human.

Get Creative with Sample-Based Beats

We show you the classic art of creating breakbeats, and how to use samples to create more unique music.

Shape Your Drums with Sound Design

We explore how to use EQ, compression, and other effects to let you get more creative with your sounds.
Are you an educator? If so, you can access educator discounts. !


Our expert mentors do whatever it takes to ensure that you achieve your musical goals for the course and leap forward in your learning.

Martin Fowler

Producer & Composer
  • Produced & composed works for TV, film, & podcasts
  • International touring & recording artist with over 15 years experience
  • Studied bass & music technology at Berklee College of Music

Sam Friedman

Producer & Songwriter
  • Original music featured in The Fader and Bullett Magazine
  • Music featured in ads for Taco Bell, Converse, Coke, etc.
  • Producer for Mophonics agency making music for ads and major clients

Jamie Billings

Engineer & Sound Designer
  • Audio designer at MIT Audio Labs
  • Pro Tools Certified Instructor
  • Graduate in electronic production and design from Berklee
  • Leads production workshops at NYU


Course Outline

  1. Start
    Section 1


  2. Start
    Section 2

    Working with Presets

  3. Start
    Section 3

    Building Your Own Kit

  4. Start
    Section 4

    The Pencil Tool

  5. Start
    Section 5

    Velocity & Variation

  6. Start
    Section 6

    Sound Design

  7. Start
    Section 7

    Slice to MIDI

  8. Start
    Section 8

    Advanced Techniques

  9. Start
    Section 9

    Final Project


What will I learn in this course?

You'll learn how to program drums, create your own unique Drum Rack instruments, get creative with sound design, sample breakbeats, randomize drum fills, humanize your grooves, synthesize huge sub kicks, and more!

Is there a money-back guarantee?

YES. If you sign up and the course isn't what you expected, we will give you a full refund as long as you tell us before the start of the second week. The reason that the second week of the course is a cut-off for our guarantee is simply because if we go past that deadline, our mentors will have likely put in a lot of time, energy, and effort already.

We're also happy to move you to a subsequent session, if you end up not having as much time as you expected. Once again, let us know as soon as possible!

Are there any pre-reqs?

There aren't any course prerequisites, but you'll need a copy of Ableton Live. While beginners to Live are welcome, it's important to know that this is not an introduction to Ableton Live course, but rather focused very specifically on beat making, so you might need to reference Live's documentation occasionally or ask your mentor for help. If you don't have a license you can follow along with the free demo.

What do I get as a Mainstage student?

The Mainstage experience is built on our science-backed active learning model, which helps you learn more efficiently and effectively than typical online courses. The key difference is our mentorship approach — one-on-one coaching with a trained Soundfly Mentor who has extensive experience in the subject. When you sign up, we'll pair you with an expert who will tailor the course to your experience level, offer detailed weekly feedback on your work, answer any questions you have, help you blow past obstacles, and keep you on track to accomplish your musical goals.

You'll also get unlimited, lifetime access to all the course content — including in-depth lessons, activities with answer keys, quizzes, video tutorials, and downloadable resources — so you can review anytime and keep your skills sharp.

As an extra perk, you’ll get lifetime access to our tight-knit musician community group on Slack, where you’ll find peer-to-peer feedback and support, lots of inspiration, and fun, musical conversations with fellow Soundfly students, mentors, and staff.

What does it mean that the course starts on a specific date?

As soon as you purchase a course, you can begin exploring the course material immediately. On the start date, the session begins, which means you'll begin the guided experience that includes weekly activities, feedback from Soundfly Mentors, and much more. This is intended to help you stay accountable and get the feedback you need to succeed.

Can I take this course without a Soundfly Mentor?

We believe strongly that accountability, feedback, and support are critical to active learning — where you learn by putting you knowledge into practice and engaging thoughtfully with what you're learning. And we think that active learning is a more effective path to learning a new skill than passive learning — where you're simply watching videos and reading text.

However, if you don't need the mentorship component of our course, whether it's because you're working with a private instructor, or don't have the time, or maybe you are a private instructor and want to use the course content with a student, you can buy unlimited access to the course content for $129.80. Please email [email protected] for a code to purchase the course content at the discounted rate.

Will there be future sessions of the course?

Yes! Check back shortly for firm dates, or sign up for a Soundfly account to receive email updates about course dates and new course launches.