Get Better Recordings, Save Money, And Build Confidence

2015 Jan 19, 2015

Today I have a simple suggestion for you. One that will help you get the results you want in the studio, put more money in your pocket, and remove some of that insecurity you might be feeling towards recording and mixing.

It’s so easy (and liberating) that I’m surprised more people don’t do it.

My advice?

Stop buying more stuff for your studio!


Via Erich Ferdinand Flickr

We Love Believing The Lie

If you get what I’m sharing today then I will know I’ve helped at least one more person out there.

You see, tomorrow I jump on a plane to California for the annual winter NAMM show – the mecca of all things music gear related. Over 100,000 people will descend upon Anaheim to stroll the long halls of the convention center so they can be the first to check out all the new software and hardware that’s arriving in stores this year.

This entire event embodies our obsession with gear.

The latest audio interfaces, microphones, plugins, monitors, DAWs, and even instruments will all be on display. Each only marginally better (if at all) than last year’s model.

And that’s the funny thing – we all believe the lie that gear (more/better, or less/worse) is the solution to our recording and mixing problems.

And what’s weirder is that we actually WANT to believe this lie.

I can’t even really blame clever marketing or the NAMM show for convincing us that gear is what matters. Deep down in our hearts we want to believe that the difference between a great recording and a bad one is simply money.

Why do we love this myth?

Because it takes the pressure off of US to get better at our craft, and transfers that burden of responsibility onto an inanimate object. One that anyone with enough money (or credit card debt) can have.

What If Gear Wasn’t The Answer?

Believing this lie is sad to me. It robs us of so much joy.

You see – it’s not that I don’t want you (or me) to ever get better recordings. Quite the opposite.

The truth is that the way to better recordings isn’t through more (expensive) gear, it’s actually through sticking with what you have, learning it well, and focusing on what DOES make a difference: better songwriting, arranging, performing, mic placement, gain staging, EQ and compression.

None of those require additional purchases (unless you are starting out of course).

What they DO require, however, is some humility; an honest acknowledgement of where you are skill wise and where you’d like to be.

If you can admit that your gear isn’t what’s holding you back, but rather the problem is you (and me) – then my friend, we can make some serious progress towards getting killer recordings and mixes.

The Two Side Benefits To Not Buying More Gear

And not only will you begin to get better recordings by using what you already own – but two very awesome things happen as a result: you’ll save money and build confidence in your ability.

The obvious benefit to not buying stuff is you get to keep your money. Enough said!

That money can be spent on much better things like paying your rent, getting out of debt, saving for the future, or even investing in some training or education to grow your skills.

The second side benefit, however, is what is more interesting to me.

For the home studio owner who refuses to keep riding the gear acquisition train and instead focuses on using and learning the gear he or she already has, the inevitable result is a growing confidence.

You see if I spend the next 12 months buying a handful of microphones, plugins, and maybe a new preamp – even if I end up getting better recordings, I’ll never really know why. In fact, the only conclusion I’ll be able to draw is that my gear is what helped.

But if on the other end, I refuse to buy a single piece of gear this year and instead commit to doing as many recordings and mixes as I can with the gear I already own, and I get better results as well – the only conclusion I can come to is that I have improved as an engineer.

And that’s where confidence comes from.

Looking back on your past accomplishment and knowing that it was YOU not the gear that made a difference. YOU are actually getting better at this recording and mixing thing.

And that confidence is priceless as it only propels you to do more (and better) work next time – which then increases your confidence some more.

The NAMM Challenge

To me it’s simple cause and effect: stop buying gear you don’t need, use what you have, get better at your craft – you’re recordings WILL improve, you’ll save money and build confidence.

So all that being said, why am I going to the NAMM show?

Not to see the new gear – to see the people.

You see an event like NAMM brings some of the industry’s biggest names to one building. I make the effort to go (i.e. spend my money) in order meet and learn from the world’s best. I know that no amount of gear will give me better recordings like simply learning from those who are better than me will.

That’s why I go – to learn, to grow, to be challenged.

And in that vain, I’d like to issue you a “NAMM” challenge.

Do YOU want to get better recordings this year? Do you want to save money and build confidence in the process?

Can you commit to not buying any new gear for a month? 6 months? A year?

Sound off below and let me know if you accept the challenge. I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did.

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