Lately I have seen WAY TOO MANY “newbies” who have NO CLUE of the magnitude of the journey they are about embark on when they enter into the realm of music production. Thus I am offering these 10 Newbie Commandments as a Guideline of what steps should be followed before one considers purchasing Studio/Recording equipment.
Ten “Newbie” Commandments
- Thou Shalt “LEARN ABOUT MIDI”
“MIDI” is the language in which just about ALL music production equipment made within the last 20 years speaks! It is IMPERATIVE that you learn as much about MIDI as possible. Learn what it does and how it works. If you DON’T have a good grasp of how MIDI works, I suggest you DON’T BUY A DAMN THING! Purchasing Music production equipment without a basic knowledge of MIDI is like an American being dropped off in Russia and trying to communicate with the locals. You MUST know MIDI because I guarantee you that at some point in your budding production career you WILL have to deal with it. Plain and Simple
- Thou Shalt “READ THY MANUALS”
It NEVER ceases to amaze me, how many people come to forums like these asking for answers to complex questions that are covered DIRECTLY IN THE MANUAL! Why on earth would you totally disregard the knowledge given to you by the ENGINEERS, you know, the people that MADE THE DAMN DEVICE! I know that some manuals can be VERY difficult to read but you are gonna have to just “suck it up” and RE-READ it as many times as it takes for you to UNDERSTAND it. Sure, someone will eventually SPOONFEED you the answer if you ask nicely enough but why take someones word for it when the answer is ALREADY GIVEN TO YOU. Stop being so DAMN LAZY and USE the materials at your disposal
- Thou Shalt “LEARN ABOUT CABLES”
You SHOULD have a basic knowledge of WHICH cables you need to hook up your gear. This is something that can be EASILY researched. ALMOST ALL of the gear you will use will have to be hooked up to something else at some point and knowing what cables you need is an ABSOLUTE MUST. Once again I have to suggest, If you DON’T KNOW about the various different cables used in music production, DON’T BUY A DAMN THING! You might be able to get someone to hook up your studio for you but if you are gonna RELY on that person every time you get a new piece then you might as well leave the music production to them.
- Thou Shalt “RESEARCH THY GEAR BEFORE BUYING”
I have seen too many poor souls fishing around in music gear stores who don’t have a clue as to what they need and why. There are a great many things to be considered before you start to purchase gear. You should put in the hours BEFORE HAND to make sure that the gear you purchase CAN ACTUALLY DO the things you need it to do. You are gonna get taken advantage of if you walk into a store and say. “What do I need to buy so I can make Beats” The internet is available to you so use it. Often times various websites have the Manuals uploaded before the gear even comes out so there is no excuse to end up with a piece of gear that doesn’t meet up to your expectations. In all the years that I have owned gear I have NEVER ran across a piece of gear that could not do what it’s Spec Sheet and owners manual SAID IT COULD DO. It’s up to you. You could do some research now and get the RIGHT piece for the job OR you can go out “Half-Cocked” and end up wasting lots of $$$$ on stuff that didn’t do the job you needed done.
- Thou Shalt “PRACTICE THY CRAFT”
Once you DO decide on a purchase, be committed to it. Don’t be so quick to give up on a piece of gear because it is difficult to learn at first. ALL gear has a learning curve based on its complexity and your personal music production knowledge. The more you use a piece the more its operating system will become familiar to you. Eventually you will be able to operate the gear effortlessly but it takes TIME. If you keep hopping from one piece to another you will never learn anything. Sometimes it will be rough but that’s what the manual is for. You also have places like this to help you out. Just make sure that if you end up parting with a piece of gear that it is because you outgrew that piece or it was not right for you. NOT because you didn’t KNOW how to use it.
- Thou Shalt “RESIST THE URGE TO BUY ON IMPULSE”
One of the biggest pitfalls of new producers is what’s commonly referred to as G.A.S. or “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” There will ALWAYS be new and exciting pieces of gear on the market for you to spend your hard earned $$$$ on. Just remember YOU CANT OWN THEM ALL. You have to stay FOCUSED and remember why you got into music production…TO MAKE MUSIC, not to buy gear. Most young producers have limited budgets for gear so for most this wont be a problem but for those who are fortunate enough to spend whatever they like, remember this. The more stuff you buy the more stuff you have to LEARN. I am sure you may have heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, Master of none” Well the object hear is to MASTER the gear that we have and to make only those purchases that are NECESSARY for the advancement of our craft. Having a room full of gear might LOOK nice but it wont make you a better producer only a POORER one.
- Thou Shalt “BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS" (SALES PEOPLE)
Keep in mind that the ONLY job of sales people is to SELL STUFF. When you go into music stores sales people WILL help you but their primary job is to sell you something. If you go in UNPREPARED and UNINFORMED there is a much greater chance that you will end up with the Most expensive gear that they can convince you to buy. It has been my personal experience that MOST of the sales people I have encountered had an EQUAL or LESSER amount of music production knowledge than I did! I am by no means a scholar, just someone who uses every available avenue to increase my knowledge about things that are important to me. Your BEST defense against these “False Prophets” is to have your homework DONE when you go in the store. Know what you want or at least what TYPE of gear you want. Know WHY you want it. That way you can keep a salesperson focused on getting you the gear that will best help you to achieve your goals, not the gear that will help him/her achieve their goal. (A Large Commission)
- Thou Shalt “CONTINUALLY SEEK KNOWLEDGE”
There are MANY opportunities for us to learn more about music production. As an aspiring “Super Producer” you should seek to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about music production. The industry is FLOODED with others just like you, who want to make their mark AND make that money. Anything you can do to separate yourself from the “Pack” will be beneficial. Go ahead, Read that article on “Getting better Vocals”, go to the library and check out that book on “Proper Mixing Techniques”. You MUST realize going into this that it is a NEVER ENDNG cycle of learning that you will be involved in. There is SO much knowledge out there and you SHOULD want ALL of it. Read EVERYTHING that may have some knowledge pertaining to your craft. The more you STUDY the better you will be at what you do. It’s like going to school for the REST OF YOUR LIFE…now ask yourself….ARE YOU READY FOR THAT!?!?
- Thou Shalt “PROTECT THY EARS" (HEARING)
I see a lot of people doing STUPID stuff to their ears all the time. Understand this…YOUR EARS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT YOU HAVE! You HAVE TO take care of your hearing in order to do your job well. I know you like to BLAST those headphones when you are working out. Well guess what? You are going to have to give up a lot of the BAD HABBITS that you have learned over the years. No more “Rumbling” down the street with that brand new 1000 watt stereo ALL THE WAY UP in you new pimped out ride. No more playing Splinter Cell on X-BOX with the surround sound MAXED OUT. You have to use common sense. I Personally would MUCH RATHER lose my sight than lose my hearing. Without your ears there would be no music business! Let me repeat that….WITHOUT YOUR EARS THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR A MUSIC INDUSTRY BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE NO MUSIC……..Only Silence..
- Thou Shalt “REMAIN HUMBLE”
I know a lot of you are wondering…What does being HUMBLE have to do with music production? Well, I’ll tell you. Remaining HUMBLE will enable you to do EVERYTHING ELSE on this list. Humility will keep you GROUNDED so you will always have something to STRIVE for. Once you THINK you know everything you will become complacent. You will lose your DRIVE and slowly start to lose sight of your goals. Remembering that there is always something you can learn from the “Next Man” will keep you HUNGRY in the game and help to fuel your ambitions. We are ALL imperfect creatures and thus there is ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT. Never become so cocky that you are not willing to LISTEN to the Ideas and Advice of other people. Always remember that this journey you are about to embark on is one of COMMITMENT, DETERMINATION and FOCUS. These are the things you will need aid you in you quest for SUCCESS…..
The race goes not to the SWIFT, nor to the STRONG, but to he that ENDURETH FOREVER!