It’s easy to look at photos like this and think the only way we can become a professional music producer is by acquiring a tonne of gear:
But the truth is, hit records are being produced with just one of these:
There used to be a time when the only way to create a musical recording was with expensive, specialist gear, like this:
But now the main bottleneck to creating great music is your imagination, not the gear you own.
The problem is, companies (like us!) have an incentive to sell you more things. These companies also create a lot of educational content and blog posts (like this!) and are able to influence musical culture.
Not all of this is malicious, mind. Many companies build great products and have noble missions, but the incentive for them to sell more stuff and make more money is still there and it’s difficult to get away from, given their survival entirely depends on being able to do this.
As a musician, it helps to be aware how you are being influenced, especially when it has the potential to affect you negatively. The truth is, you don’t need more gear, more plugins or more samples and they won’t bring you happiness or make you a better music producer.
Of course, you need ‘some’ tools in order to make sounds and create a musical recording and it’s important to have the right relationship with these tools, so that you can do great things together. But it pays to remember that you can do great things with one string and a voice:
Companies (like us!) deploy tactics that take advantage of your biases as a human and they are extremely powerful.
Slashing prices or having different subscription plans next to each other helps frame the price they want you to pay as a good deal, taking advantage of the fact that people not very good at judging things unless they can compare them to other things.
Time limited deals make you worry that you’ll miss out and create an incentive to hand over money.
Targeted advertising that uses powerful machine learning algorithms can convince you that you need a particular product in order to reach your goals.
The pro audio industry has influenced musical culture and whilst we should be thankful for the huge array of amazing products out there, we should question our lust for more gear and be aware of when and how we are being manipulated, even when it’s not being done maliciously.
Another thing to consider, is not just the monetary cost, but the cost of acquiring more gear to our creativity. Whilst it’s true some gear might be a better fit for you and help you unlock more creativity, there is also a cost in terms of effort required to learn and master new equipment, a cost of maintenance and space required to keep your new equipment and a cost in time for configuring your new equipment every session.
Nothing comes for free, so it’s worth weighing up all of the costs of acquiring new gear versus the benefits you will truly receive (not those marketing to you by the manufacturer!)
When it comes to the tools you use, it’s not so much a case of less is more or more is more, but ‘just enough’ is about right. Save your energy for being creative, playing and enjoying music and tell the pro audio industry they can have their gear lust back 😜