The Beat Mercenary
*** ill o.g. ***
With my recent article about being a beat making minimalist, the main point I was trying to convey was that it's not in me to have a huge studio or make over-the-top beats. Instead, it almost seems that I'm destined to make minimalist beats and have a very simple set up, one that I'm perfectly content with.
When talking about minimalism, the subject of "stuff" is quickly brought to the forefront of the conversation because let's face it - most of us have way too much stuff. By stuff, I mean things that we don't necessarily need, that we've accumulated over the years. Normally, when mentioning this "stuff", we're talking about furniture, clothing, or collections - but what about a recording studio?
How Much Stuff Do You Have?
I've seen countless beat maker studios as well as full-fledged recording studios that have tons of gear and software. There are wires all over the place, patch bays with cables going this way and that way, racks upon racks of effects units and compressors. There's also beat makers that have a huge collection of plug-ins on their computer and an extensive vinyl collection - but is it all necessary?
If you were to take a look around your studio, I mean a good, hard look and see what you have - are you overwhelmed? I never really had lots of stuff in my studio but even the stuff I did have I tried to downsize as much as possible, and maybe that's something that you need to do as well. If you have old MPC's lying around or an SP-1200 that hasn't been touched since the 90's, you can either donate those pieces to me or do something about it.
How Do I Make A Change?
If you're overwhelmed and you're looking for a change, then that change is entirely up to you. That's the beauty of being a minimalist (or a variation of one) - it's what you make of it. A change could mean you simply clean up your studio and re-organize your clutter, putting your old gear into a spot where it's on display for all to see, or you could go as far as selling some of your stuff.
Selling is probably the best option, in my opinion. I've always had a rule for myself that if I haven't touched something in a year, or better yet, if I didn't even remember that item was there in the first place - I get rid of it. If you sell your stuff then it doesn't mean you can take that money and go buy more stuff, instead just put that money away. It doesn't always have to be about buying new gear!
Since it's not always about buying new gear, then it's not always about money either. As I just mentioned, making a change could mean that you simply clean up your studio. Rearranging your setup is one way to go, or just literally cleaning everything will make a difference. Get rid of the empty bottles of whatever, throw out the trash, and wipe everything down.
A good way to get started on cleaning up your studio however, is to begin with your cables. Just recently, I went through all of the cables that I had and one by one I decided if I still needed them or not. Now you must understand that I kept cables from the 90's all the way until now and some of them I never even used! I had a huge collection of cables, from RCA to MIDI, to HDMI, and I ended up tossing a lot. There were cables that I forgot I had, but mostly it was stuff that I always thought I might need someday, but that day never came.
So by starting off with cables, it could very well get you into the mood of cleaning things up and eventually working your way to your hardware or software.
Most of us have tons of plug-ins that we installed on our computers to play with but then rarely used them, or not used them at all. Plug-ins are great to have and are very useful during the recording and mixing processes, but we don't need them all. Go through your software and see what you have then decide if there's anything you don't need. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff on there that you don't necessarily need, and you maybe even forgot you had!
As I mentioned, selling is a great option if you have certain gear that you never use anymore. It could be an MPC or maybe just a small MIDI controller, but either way, someone out there will more than likely pay you money to take it off your hands. I sold an old VCR just last year!
For recording gear however, it's a huge market. I would recommend hitting up Kijiji for your local area and start selling. If you've never used it before then I'll offer some tips.
- Take GOOD pictures
- Put a really good description, don't just copy and paste from the manufacturer's website
- Personalize your posting by being honest about the condition
- You can lie a bit about the condition, but don't over-do it
- Check to see if anyone else is selling your exact item and price yours similar to theirs (unless their price is ridiculous)
- If you can't find your exact item, look at items similar to yours
So let's say you're selling a MIDI keyboard that you bought a few years ago for $500. Depending on the condition, you could ask (for example) for $300. But hold on a second - do you want to walk away with $300? Or is that the price you're going to post? You have to always remember that whatever price you're asking, you won't get. Everyone that shops on Kijiji is ALWAYS looking for a deal, even if it's a $5 item, trust me.
If you're looking to walk away with $300, then you could put $350. I recommend always putting more than what you actually want that way when the buyer counters with $300, you can agree on it and be happy. Here's a few more tips for selling on Kijiji:
- If a seller offers a lower price than what you're asking but it's too low, don't be afraid to counter it
- Always meet the buyer in a neutral, public place, unless it's a big item
- If it's a big item and you tell them to pick it up at your house, be very careful and have a friend or two with you
- Never hold your item for anyone, it should be first come, first serve
- You will get plenty of emails with offers, and even when you reply to them, most won't follow through
- Always remember that most buyers on Kijiji are complete dicks
It's entirely up to you. Maybe you excel with a cluttered studio, maybe you don't. I've always found it distracting to have lots of things around me when I'm trying to make beats, that's why I now make all of my beats solely with Maschine, then mix down with Sonar.
A common practice amongst minimalists or just people trying to clean up their stuff, is to take everything out of the room. Everything. Take it all out then wash the entire room, from the floors to the walls, and then turn your attention to your stuff. At this point, what you need to do is put all of your studio stuff back into the room, one at a time. As you're doing this, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?".
Now what does this exercise do?
- You get to wash down the entire room from top to bottom
- You get to decide if every single item in that room is needed
So, should you get rid of your stuff?