Get Lean: Making music on the cheap

from Remix magazine…

Barring a government bailout package for the struggling music industry, our empty pockets and maxed-out credit cards are telling us we’ll have to come up with creative ways to keep the music flowing in this economy. Without sacrificing the quality of our art, this could involve spending less on gear and sweating more to become efficient with what we have.

While buying used gear can be an exhilarating way to score some treasures, products without warranties can become your worst nightmare. If you shop new, go in educated and with a focus on what you need, not necessarily what you want. Read product reviews and ask pertinent questions so you get the most for your dollar. And whenever possible, buy expandable gear that you can grow into if your finances improve.

Do-it-yourself projects — such as learning to make small repairs to your gear, wiring your own cables or constructing acoustic room treatments ( — are also highly gratifying. Home-brew synths and circuit-bending projects can also be a lot of fun and give you highly personalized sounds. Search Google or YouTube to find tons of instructional videos, plans and kits for cool D.I.Y. electronic instruments, filters and effects. Some are fairly advanced (, while others — not so much ( And, of course, explore freeware/shareware plug-ins. There’s a ton of really great stuff that challenges the expensive commercial products; is a fantastic place to start.

Finally, consolidate! If you currently have a studio setup and a live rig, consider beefing up one and selling off the other. That cuts your upgrade/upkeep costs in half. You could team up with local DJ/bandmates or find a production partner and pool your gear. As many a famous remix duo will tell you, having two creative minds is better than one. — Jason Scott Alexander

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