During this season of gift giving and gear lust I would like to remind us all (myself included) that it’s not the gear that makes great music. You’re the one that writes, plays, and produces the music, not the equipment. In fact, I bet, if you put your mind to it, you could write a cool beat with a kazoo and some cardboard boxes, and nary an AC outlet in site. But, instead, you’ve embraced high-tech music gear as your recording instrument of choice.

Sure, quality recording products give you the tools to make excellent sounding recordings. Assuming, of course, that you have some basic knowledge of music and recording engineering. However, ultimately, it’s the quality of the song that matters the most, because no matter how well a bad song is produced, it’s still a bad song. By comparison, a well crafted song that is also well produced has the potential to be a hit.

So, when purchasing your next amazing high-tech music making gizmo, keep in mind that it will not be able to magically make your songs better. If you already own all the equipment to record your tracks (for example, a computer, DAW software, audio interface, MIDI controller, and quality studio monitors), and you imagine that this next piece of gear will make your productions that much better, think twice before you spend your hard earned cash. Sometimes, it’s not a lack of gear that’s holding you back, but a lack of knowledge about how to use the gear you already have to its absolute fullest potential.

Fortunately, there is today a wealth of resources available to help you improve your craft, on both technical and creative fronts. If you can play an instrument and have a decent grasp of music theory and notation, you’re ready to jump right into production classes (such as Pro Tools 101 and Producing Music with Reason). If you’re shaky on the fundamentals of music and have not mastered an instrument, than you should start at square one and study music theory and an instrument (such as Music Theory 101 and Berklee Keyboard Method). If you’re not currently in a position to take Berklee Online courses, to start you on your way, treat yourself to a couple of books from Berklee Press (such as Producing Drum Beats and Recording and Producing in the Home Studio: A Complete Guide).

Lots of enthusiasm for making music is excellent, and most certainly a necessary ingredient to being successful in this industry. However, along with all that enthusiasm you’ll also need to know which end of a microphone boom to sing into. (See the YouTube video below.)

Happy Holidays! Have a safe and musical New Year!