The Home Studio Musician's Manifesto

2017 Nov 03, 2017

If you’re going to make music in your home studio, you need to know what you’re doing.

Not just how to record a song and all the intricacies of mixing, but more importantly you need a vision for how to get the most out of your gear, your songs, and yourself.

Because trust me, working in a home studio is very different than a pro studio. You can achieve great results with both, but they each have their own approach.

Today I want to give you a simple but effective manifesto (a core set of beliefs) that drives my music making in the home studio. This will help you stay focused, get better sounding recordings, and have more fun.

My Brand New EP

To give life and application to the following manifesto I want to use my most recent EP as an example.

Just this week my band at church released a brand new EP of 5 original songs, called Revive. I’ve been working on it since May and it’s been a blast to see it come to fruition.

The entire project was recorded in my tiny one room garage studio, drums and all.

We used affordable mics and preamps from Rode, Focusrite, and other brands that you’d find in many home studios.

We had a calendar that we stuck to in order to get each band member’s parts down and stay on track for an October release.

I played multiple instruments (like many of you have to) and got to benefit from the art of overdubbing.

I mixed the entire EP in the box and even mastered it myself. (I tried using robots but they didn’t do as good of a job as me!)

And I released the EP directly to our fans through all the major digital platforms like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Spotify.

Everything about this project was done in and in the style of a home studio. Which brings me to the manifesto.

Stream my new EP on Apple Music, Spotify, or download wherever you purchase music.

Your New Set Of Beliefs

A manifesto is a person or group’s views, core beliefs, or motivations. It’s like a vision statement or a worldview even.

How you make music (and how well it turns out) is greatly influenced by your beliefs in regards to the home studio. And how I was able to produce my band’s most recent EP is a direct result of my home studio manifesto.

Now I’d like to share it with you in the hopes that it will be a tool for your music making.

I’ve broken each point down into what I call “beliefs”. These are what I truly believe to be true and so I operate out of these three core beliefs.

Core Belief #1 – Limitations Are A Good Thing

The most obvious “issue” with home studios is the sheer amount of limitations.

Acoustics aren’t as good as a pro studio, outside noise is an issue, space is limited, and the gear isn’t as expensive (usually), just to name a few.

If these “limitations” bother you, you’ll never make a great record at home.

If on the other hand you embrace these limitations and see them as actually a positive thing, you’ll be unstoppable.

It’s an age old paradox: the more options you have available to you, the more likely you are to shift your focus and energy away from your original goal at hand, namely being creative in the studio.

When it comes to home recording, embracing limitations helps keep us focused on the right thing: making music.

If you want to record your acoustic guitar for a new song and you own 4 different mics, you’ll more than likely spend a lot of time deciding which mic to use. Maybe you’ll try them out and listen back, or you’ll read online to see what people think about the mics you have.

But if you only had one mic at your disposal, you’d be free to start learning mic placement and getting a great sound into your session.

What you need in your studio are a few important tools to accomplish your recording goals. Then you need to focus on using those tools to their full potential.

What you don’t need are too many options to choose from that might distract you from developing your craft.

Too many people spend days, months, and years of their lives feeling like they are knee deep in the recording world, when they actually haven’t made any traction on improving their skill.

I don’t want that to be you.

Embrace the belief and mindset that limitations are a good thing, and then you can actually get on to making killer music at home.

Core Belief #2 – If You Know Good Music, You Can Produce Good Music

At the end of the day, being a good recording or mix engineer is all about knowing what good music should sound like.

If you are a musician or huge music fan then you’ve likely listened to hundreds or albums and songs and you have developed your tastes.

You know what you like. You know what cool drums sound like, and a rocking vocal, and a fat bass. It’s in your head.

Or better yet, it’s a reference track in your DAW!

When recording and mixing your job is to simply use the tools at your disposal to turn what’s in front of you into what you hear in your head.

No “golden ears” required. Just normal, average, everyday, music loving ears.

Because at the end of the day, music is all about connecting with the average fan.

Your job is to simply make a song that is fun to listen to. It’s a lot simpler than we make it out to be.

Core Belief #3 – Deadlines Are The Secret Sauce

Are you not finishing your EP or Album because you feel you don’t have enough time?

If so, you’re not alone. We all have an idea of what “enough” time is for a given project and if we feel the time is not available, we give up, get discouraged, or at best trudge on but with super low expectations of completion.

Ironically, it is US who get to determine how long a project takes. Not the project itself.

Enter Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Let me repeat that: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Work expands – it always does. You and I both know it to be true.

If we are given a month to write a term paper for school, it will feel like a huge deal and likely take the entire 30 days to complete. However if we are given 48 hours to complete that same term paper, somehow we will get it done in just 2 days. And likely with the same (or better) level of quality.

Why? Because the time pressure forces us to focus. We eliminate all the unnecessary things and focus purely on what is important for the project’s completion and quality.


So what Parkinson’s Law is telling us is this: your recording or mixing project will take as much time as you give it. If time is short in your life, this truth is a wonderfully empowering statement.

By simply setting a release date (your ultimate deadline) and working your way back to create mini deadlines in order to make your release date, you will be hacking the power of Parkinson’s Law and the magic will happen as you somehow seem to get things done!

What Is Your Manifesto?

There you have it – my three core beliefs that make up my home studio manifesto.

These three beliefs are the foundation of all my music making and they have served me well for over 15 years. But what about you?

What set of “beliefs” are you operating out of? Whether spoken or unspoken you DO make music based on a worldview or set of beliefs.

Leave a comment below and share your 2 or 3 most important beliefs that would make up YOUR home studio manifesto. I’d love to know!

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