You can copy me and take away all the guesswork. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s build a beginner home recording studio from scratch for very little money.It’s hard when you’re first starting out, I know. You’re confused about what to buy, what you can get for free, if the components are compatible with each other, if you’re going to have to buy something else to get this or that gadget to work properly.It can be very frustrating. Let me tell you a short story about an experience I had when starting out, and you see if it sounds familiar.I did some research on the internet and decided I needed a new MIDI device, or a MIDI cable to hook up my existing keyboard. I wasn’t sure which. So I went to a “reputable” music store. I asked the two salespeople what I needed, and do you know what I found? They knew even less than I did! I was throwing out terms that they had never heard of. I was shocked and dismayed.Then I went to another, even more reputable, music store and asked about the MIDI device I had pretty much decided to purchase. But I had one question…whether or not I needed a new sound card. This salesman acted like he knew exactly what he was talking about when he told me, “The sound card has nothing to do with it.”Even I knew that wasn’t right. So I decided I would have to go it alone.Through trial and error, (and NO help from anyone at any music stores!) I finally built a really cheap and top-functioning beginner home recording studio on your computer.Here’s what I use and recommend to all beginners looking to get started:The software, which is the foundation of your studio, is very important. Get the wrong one, and you will be either stuck not being able to do much with it (the free stuff), or not being able to understand it and use it easily (the expensive stuff). The one I use is EASY, CHEAP, and FEATURE-RICH. That’s the winning combo, folks, and I’ve only come across it once in my search.The microphone is the next most important factor. Most of them require extra equipment just to be able to use it with your computer. I know a great one that is a USB plug and play model (unusual), very high quality, and also doubles as an audio interface for your guitar or other instruments.Finally, the MIDI device. This is not required if you just want to play guitar and sing, like unplugged recordings or something. But if you want to add virtual instruments to your mix, and control all the parts easily via a keyboard, then you need one of these. And I will personally confess that this is the coolest piece of equipment you can get for your studio. Highly addictive and fun to play with. If you don’t think you need it now, you will wonder what you ever did without it after you’ve used it for a couple of weeks!
I finally bought a Blackberry. The first few days I had it, I wanted to kill myself. I couldn’t figure out how to send a text-the icons were different. It was weird talking into a flat slab. At least my flip phone seemed like a phone-something that curves around your head.On the fifth day, it locked up completely. I was freaked out-I was on the road, hadn’t brought my laptop-I couldn’t even make calls. This thing was garbage and I was obsessed with trying to get it to work! My texts and e-mails were in there, but I couldn’t get to them-ARGH!! Kill me! Now I had nothing!When I took it back to the store, they simply pulled out the battery and put it back in and reset it. I didn’t know this little trick. What an irritating waste of time!During all this I had to change my e-mail settings so messages would go to the Blackberry. My web provider arranged for messages to stay on the server so the Blackberry and my desktop could receive them. They asked how long I would like the messages to stay. I said 24 hours should be enough. They never told me I would have to go into Outlook and change the settings myself. Why ask me how long if I had to do it?Today I discovered my server inbox was full and I haven’t been getting e-mail for over 24 hours. People think they sent me an e-mail which I never got. And the bounce back message only got to a few of them. I look like a slackard who doesn’t respond to e-mail. Dig up my dead body and kill me again.Having the Blackberry is great-I can check e-mail and don’t have to lug my laptop everywhere. I can access the web and get directions and phone numbers easily. But some days technology seems like one step forward, two steps back.Oh-Microsoft discontinued my financial software so I have to switch. If I wasn’t already dead, I’d beg you to kill me.Tips for technology1.) Don’t assume. E-mails don’t go through, texts don’t go through, even voice mails don’t always get received. Even if someone does get your message it doesn’t mean they immediately read it – they might be away from their electronic gadgets. And even if they got it and they read it, it doesn’t mean they understood it! Believe it or not, you may not be as perfect and flawless a communicator as you think you are.2.) Use the right technology or even go old school. Please don’t break up with or fire someone via e-mail. Have a soul for God’s sake! Or maybe I should say have some guts. It takes courage to do things the right way, not just the easy way. Any time something gets emotional, pick up the phone or better yet, talk to the person face-to-face. Do unto others if you would have them do unto you. I also believe in e-karma. You break up with some via text message, woe unto you. Just wait – you might get a text while standing at the altar: “Chged mind – sux 2 b u!”3.) Have a back-up plan. If I had had a back-up plan, the Blackberry lock-up wouldn’t have been such a big deal. I should have carried my laptop with me for the first week or so. But no, I set off assuming everything would work perfectly immediately. I was clearly insane. But I’m had shock therapy and will run Microsoft Money until I am 100% sure Quicken works. (I still want to be killed rather than deal with what I see as a huge pain in the behiney.)4.) Be careful what you say and do electronically. Be careful what you send in an e-mail. Heck, we’ve all see CSI – those things last forever. That cute note to your senate intern can kill your presidential bid. Or that Internet search for “hired killer” will send you straight to jail. Oh – and think twice before you post a pic on Facebook of you and all your drunk friends. You probably don’t look as hot as you think you do and any clients or prospective bosses will think you’re an alcoholic. Assume everything you put online will be seen by everyone in the world, and you’ll be safe. Um – yeah, sending those naked pics is probably a bad, bad idea.5.) It’s okay not to play. If someone sends you a chain e-mail or involves you in some crazy game, cause, whatever on Facebook it’s okay not to participate. You don’t have to link to or friend everyone either. You get to decide how people can interact with you. But also don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond to your request. They may be busy or don’t use the program much or only link to certain people. Let it go. This ain’t high school and you’re a big boy or girl.Remember, technology is supposed to help us be more effective and efficient. Use it wisely. And if it makes you suicidal, e-mail me. We’ll start a Facebook group.