When you think about your studio, what comes to mind? I’ll admit, it’s easy to hone my attention on the things I don’t like about it.
Perhaps the fact that a few of my mic stands don’t work very well anymore. Or how I need to stain the wood on my homemade gobo/booth.
Or that I don’t have a dedicated monitor switcher box to switch between speakers and sources and quickly listen to things in mono. Or maybe I think about how I need to tidy up the cables back behind my desk, which makes me think that I really should buy all new cables, so I don’t have mismatch of different brands and lengths.
It’s endless, really. And don’t get me wrong. I harp on “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” all the time, but there’s no doubt about it — gear is fun. Buying gear is fun. Studying gear can be fun.
Unfortunately, however, too many of us become so obsessed with the gear over the music that we end up sinking lots of money into a “studio,” even when that “studio” hasn’t released a single piece of music in years. (Or perhaps you’ve never finished a project in your studio?)
It’s a real shame. (And I can be as guilty of this as the next guy.) But to have all this gear and not be constantly pursuing new creative musical projects is something we should all fight against. Life’s too short to have a hard drive full of unfinished projects.
There has never been a better time to be in this business of recording and making music. I don’t care if you’re making money at this or not, if you’ve got a computer, and audio interface, and a mic, you’ve got everything you need to make a hit record.
But what if that’s not how you feel? Maybe you’re feeling like your studio gear is outdated or that you really can’t produce anything good with the gear you have. Maybe you have some legitimate issues with your rig — like lack of acoustic treatment, a noisy room, only a dynamic mic and no condenser. (While your system may be far from perfect, I still believe that you can create something incredible out of it.)
Either way, I’m going to share with you some ideas to give your studio a much-needed “reboot.”
I’m not sure if PCs are like this, but on every Mac I’ve ever owned, when things start to run slowly, or something starts to act stupid, a nice reboot almost always fixes the problem. The system just got sluggish, bogged down by something. It needed to be restarted from a clean slate.
Maybe that’s what you and your studio need – a REBOOT.
Quick side-note here. If you’re reading this, and none of it seems to really relate to you, keep reading. Perhaps you’re in “the zone.” You’re really excited about recording and its endless possibilities. That’s awesome! Think of these tips as ways to challenge yourself creatively. And also file this article away for a rainy day. Trust me, days will come when you won’t think your studio is all that great. You’ll need something to shake you out of your funk. So keep on readin’.
Let me reiterate this. I’ve been in your shoes. No doubt about it. I know what it’s like to look up three months later and realize I haven’t worked on a single project. I know how it feels to see the studio as more work than play. It happens. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. But when it does, waltz on over to your computer and pull up this article.
Okay, here are some ways to reboot your studio (and yourself). I’ve done all of ‘em, and usually one of them will do the trick.
Here we go:
Reboot Technique #1:
Take Your Limitations to the Limit
Whether you feel like you have not enough gear or too much, you could benefit from setting some strict limitations. I’ll be honest, I bet 80 percent of the people who read this will skip on over to the next one, and that’s fine. But I put this one first on the list for a reason. I think it’s one of the best ways to get those creative juices flowing.
Here’s how it works. I want you to try to complete an entire project while severely limiting your options. Here are some ideas to get your brain going:
—Record an entire song using only an SM57
—Mix a song using only EQ
—Mix a song without allowing yourself to touch the pan knobs
—Mix a song using only the faders
—Mix a song on iPod earbuds
—Mix a song in your car (Okay, I’ve never done this, but it sounds fun)
—Record, edit, mix, and master a song in one day (or one hour)
You get the idea.
Find a way to over-limit yourself. Force yourself to work within those strict parameters. And see what happens. What I think you’ll discover is that you have to think HARDER to make things sound like you want them to sound.
You’ll have to try things, test things, and use your ears. Forcing yourself to solve a problem with a DIFFERENT set of tools is a fantastic way to shake that brain loose.