Fashion Slave

The fashion industry blows my mind. A handful of top-tier designers make a purse, assign an absurd dollar figure to it, then convince Beverly Hills trophy wives that their teacup poodle's life won't be the same without it. All for what?

Status.

Having a $12,000 purse slung around your arm conveys a few things:

  1. I have the capital (or credit card debt) needed to buy this purse
  2. The brand name on the side of this purse bolsters my personal value
  3. If you don't have something similar, you're not in the club.

Pretty sick, huh?

We audio folk to the exact same thing.

We buy into the ideal that having the most expensive tools, knowing all the right brands, and being able to talk about all the latest semi-obscure techniques will give us a leg up on our competition.

We've exchanged true artistry for a bill of goods. And i'm just as guilty as you are. This isn't news to most of you. I'm not the first guy to raise his and ask why we're all building houses in the land of diminishing returns.

Disclaimer: There's nothing wrong with carefully choosing what gear to invest in. Before you do, I simply want you to ask yourself one question:

Why am I buying this?

  • Steven Slate told me my drums will sound puny without it. 
  • A random guy on gearslutz told me my converters were crappy, so I need new ones.
  • I'll be able to brag about how awesome and expensive this analog summing unit is to my friends.

You mean Phil Collins or John Bonham couldn't get great drum sounds before they bought Trigger. Really?

Here might be some good reasons to make a gear purchase:

  • This piece of gear will help me do a service I couldn't do before.
  • I wore out my old unit and need to replace it.
  • This helps me make more money. Honestly.

Real talk for a minute. When is the last time one of your non-music friends asked you, "Did you end up going with the LA-2A or the 1176 on this vocal?" Probably never.

I get it. Gear lust is super easy to demonize. The core of the issue is our inner desire to stand out, be better than others, and be known.

How do we deal with this?

I'm glad you asked.

We must buy into a different story. A story that stands against our incessant need for more. A story that empowers to use what we have and be completely satisfied with it.

I'll let you in on a secret: Your gear isn't the problem with your music. You are. But it is sure as heck easy to blame it on your gear.

Audio tools honestly sound better and are more affordable than ever before. This is fantastic news! I'm really glad tape machines and 72 channel desks helped get us where we are, but I'm ready for people to stop romancing the past. Exchanging your car and your left arm for a vintage Fairchild does not make you a great engineer.

If I spent half of the time I have wasted thumbing through Sweetwater catalogs on practicing my craft, I bet I'd be a much better mastering engineer.

The digital age has given more people than ever before access to some amazing tools at a fraction of the cost. It's slowly pushing over the ivory tower these good ole boy engineers have holed up in. With a MacBook and $300 in gear, you can make great music.

You know what's the sad part? Just like Gucci designers, audio elitists are still trying to keep that gap alive. They crush others by saying their music will never sound great because they use Brand X's preamps. Or they'll never be a pro mastering engineer until they stop mastering on headphones. Tell that to Glenn Schick.

These Pharisaical pricks simply put others down so they can feel like their status and gear gives them power. It makes my blood boil. Why?

Because I used to be a slave to their line of thinking -- that until I had a "real analog" setup, I'd never be a true mastering engineer.

Then one day I discovered the freedom of simplicity. Inspired by Mr. Richard J. Foster and The Gospel, I finally felt at peace.

No longer am I running the exhausting rat race of gear lust. Now I don't look down on myself for being "in the box". I no longer feel obligated to read all gear the magazines just so I can keep up with the industry.

There are more important things that gear and status. Much more important things.

Like music.

We are not defined by what's in our racks. Have you ever experienced this freedom? To be freed from the Gucci grip of greed?

You can start with one question:

Why?

Michael Curtis

A mastering engineer and composer who loves helping you sound awesome.