The Freedom To Not Upgrade

2014 Apr 19, 2014

I hate feeling like I’m not in control. This is definitely true when it comes to gear upgrades. We’ve all been there: we excitedly bought a new piece of software, maybe your DAW, and a few months later a newer version is released. It has more power, better features, and a slick new design.

Dang. Suddenly my “new” DAW doesn’t seem so awesome anymore.


Via Adam Jenkins Flickr


Permission To Stay Behind

The real scary thing about this “upgrade syndrome” is that it is a never ending cycle. It literally has no end. There will always be a newer version. Eventually your old version won’t be compatible with the latest computers or OS. You’re doomed.

So that really only leaves you with two choices: stay on the crazy cycle of perennial upgrades OR do something that most people are afraid to do. Stay behind.
That’s right. Don’t upgrade. Don’t keep up with the latest version. Keep making music on your outdated DAW running your outdated OS on your outdated computer. I’m giving you permission, and you’re welcome.

I’ve done this myself in many ways:

  • At church we’re recording the sermon and live band multi-tracked each week on 5 year old software on a 10 year old laptop.
  • My favorite pitch correction software and mastering plugins (until recently) have each been outdated 9 year old versions.
  • I rocked the same audio interface for 8 years.

More Than Simply Saving Money

Before you start to roll your eyes and assume that this is simply a “money saving post,” hear me out: this has less to do with saving money and WAY more to do with saving your creativity and brain power.

You see, every time you upgrade something (DAW, OS, computer) you have to reorient to the new addition. Even if things look and feel practically identical, you still are diverting time and brain space away from music creation.

And for what? A few extra features? A bit more CPU power or efficiency?

In reality all of those things are desirable because they should lead you to making more music! And yet we can unknowingly spend a crazy amount of hours doing software updates instead of making music. What’s the point?

Would You Want A New Console Every 12 Months?

Imagine with me for a moment, that your DAW were an actual analog console. About every 12 months or so, the manufacturer releases an updated model with more features, tracks, and “better sounding” preamps.

Even if you were flush with cash, so rich that you were blowing your nose in $100 bills, that the cost was negligible, and even if they sent out a team to install and wire up the new console FOR you, it would still be a total pain to learn the new one.

You’d have to take at least a day or two to familiarize yourself with the new features, design, and functionality. And for what?

Would there be a tangible difference worth the time lost on music creation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Remove The Burden Of Needing To Keep Up

Clearly I’m not entirely against the idea of upgrading your DAW or plugins now and then, as I’ve done it several times in my career. But trust me when I say it’s a trap that never satisfies. NEVER.

The lie you tell yourself is that “this time will be different.” “This time I won’t need to upgrade for a good long while.” But then a newer update comes out and your discontentment grows.

What a burden. Just remove it. Forget all this upgrade nonsense. Stop trying to keep up (whatever that means). You’ll never keep up, so instead do the opposite: resolve to stay so far out of date for as long as you possibly can.

Make as much music as possible on that old interface, old DAW, old OS, and old computer. Squeeze as much value as you possibly can out of your current rig. With no pressure to upgrade, you’ll likely be more fruitful and creative than ever before.

In fact, it’s kind of fun to be out of date and know that it doesn’t stop you from accomplishing your goals.

Take The Challenge

So what do you say? Will you join me? Will you take the permission to stay behind and enjoy the freedom of not upgrading?

What is one thing (DAW, plugin, computer, OS, audio interface, etc) that you will commit to NOT upgrading for as long as possible? Share your answers below.

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