To be more specific, these are actually 7 non-musical things you should invest in, and acquire in entirety, as A MUSICIAN. Confusing? Not so much when you dig deeper.
7. Portable Payment Processor
This ranks as number 7 because you have to be pretty successful in your career to need it. So unless you’re packing venues of 100+ people, you can skip this. If, however, you have the opportunity to perform in front of big crowds, where people are ready to buy merch, you MUST invest in a mobile card reader. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a little device that you can attach to your tablet or smartphone, and receive card payments! No more ‘cash only‘ excuses. You’re losing on serious money if you can’t process wireless payments. There are currently 5 types on the market (see HERE), and the most economical and effective card processor, is the Square Reader. If you have access to the .com version of Amazon, and you got some dollars to invest, you can buy The Square Terminal for about $300, with absolutely everything a vendor could possibly need. If you can’t afford the Terminal, you can get the magstripe reader, for only $10. Happy Selling!
6. Battery Power Bank
There’s a big difference between a power bank and a normal portable phone charger. The latter will only charge your phone about twice and your tablet maybe once? A power bank, however, has an impressive capacity to save your business, and possibly your life too. The gigs, the long hours in traffic, the train rides, the boring flights, the crappy motels, the canceled meetings, actually all of your activities related to your music career, require a source of electricity. And you know better than anyone, as a musician, that you can’t rely on external ‘help’. Often the bar outlet is broken, your charger goes missing, the cable is gone, or worse, some drunk chick is charging her phone so she can call a cab. If you can afford, I highly suggest you get the 72000mAh Renogy Power Bank (available on Amazon for $160). This beast right here can charge a Dell laptop up to 5 times, a Samsung one – up to 3 times. And check this out: it will charge your smartphone almost 20 times. If you got $160 laying around, invest in this thing. Worth every penny. But we got the struggling artist covered too: a 30000mAh Bextoo Power Bank. It will charge your phone over 11 times and your tablet about 2.5 times. And it costs only $37. Anything under 30000mAh is not really smart or worth it. You have to think long term, thus, big capacity.
5. A Plastic Business Card
Might get hate from Greta Thunberg supporters on this one, but we gotta lay it out raw like it is. I know you think you’re the next big thing, but seriously, do you know how many artists there are exactly like you, equally prideful and equally as good as you? maybe even more? The short answer: too many. You want the people you meet, to remember you AND to value you from the very 1st moment you meet them. Get a plastic business card. It feels exactly like the Visa card you have in your wallet. Except it’s your name, credentials, social media links, and phone number on it. In over 13 years of being in the music industry, I only got TWO plastic business cards from other artists and I remember both their names, faces, music, and am still following them on social media. They are so rare but give such strong impression to your new contacts, that trust me, the price is worth it. Do you honestly ever keep paper cards in your wallet? me neither. A plastic business card makes a real connection with the recipient, he/she gets to touch it, see it, analyze it, admire it, and in a dumb but effective way, it literally WEIGHS MORE than paper cards, therefore, it stays for longer in someone’s hands, and that makes the contact last longer, imprinting the image of your brand in their brain. Look for local services in your area as shipping them will cost you too much because of their weight. A good reference number is a dollar per card, under 100 cards. Over 100 pieces, the cost should lower per unit.
4. Professional Tripod
Oh, are you proud of the crappy performance video you uploaded of your band on YouTube? Would you, yourself, sign your band seeing this??? It’s funny how artists would almost never invest big money in themselves (because they know they’re lacking a lot of everything), and yet, they expect some record label to believe in the low quality content they’re putting out. NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Get a professional tripod, like the one by Amazon Basics which costs only $26, and set up your phone well in advance to record the whole performance. You will have a decent video that you can even include in a music video later on. No more shaky hands, blurred focus, or black screen. Level up!!!
3. A Gaming Laptop
Because they don’t make specific laptops for music producers or recording artists. Just yet. So save your money and get a gaming laptop. Why? They are made to give intense performance, compared to normal ones, with only average performance. Pro Tools, Melodyne, FL Studio, Magix, and whatever other software you use to record and edit your vocals, you NEED a high performing laptop. It will last you years and save you TONS OF TIME. Gaming laptops also provide high end dedicated graphics while normal laptops only have integrated graphics. Any video editing you’ll need done, even basic stuff, a gaming laptop will perform flawlessly. Remember that all phones are recording now in 4K, and soon 1080p will be a thing of the past. You need a machine that can deal with the quality of the industry standard. We highly suggest the Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop. It costs $2700. But it will be the bread and butter of your music career. You can’t use to the max that cool mic or soundcard you got, on an average laptop. Invest smartly! For broke musicians: get a 2nd job and work your ass off to get that money!
2. A Professional Smart Digital Camera
We call it smart because you will NEED autofocus tracking. Meaning you place the camera on the tripod, hit REC, and the camera will adjust the focus automatically on you even when you move or distance yourself from the camera. How many of us are tired of unskilled siblings who take unfocused shots/videos of our performances? How many of us have taped an X to the floor so that we know not to move from the focus area? Thankfully, all of that is now solved with a camera that you don’t need to ask nicely, and never feel like you owe them anything. We prefer the Canon cameras, as they’re top of the line and have incredible autofocus tracking capabilities. ‘The Autofocus Menu is available in the 5D Mark III, 5D Mark IV, 7D Mark II, and 1DX series cameras. If you use a Canon 80D, then it’s found in the “Autofocus” menu within the Custom Function (C.Fn) II menu.‘ The 1DX model costs over $4000, the 5D Mark III and 5D Mark IV go each for $2500, the 7D Mark II – $1150, and probably the only one you can buy sometime soon: the 80D – $870. No more Instagram photographers who can’t shoot your angles right.
1. A Multifunction Laser Printer
Lyrics, contracts, marketing plans, budget cuts, team assignments, expense receipts, tour schedules, addresses, checklists, tickets, and so many other things need to be printed and carried around a lot by a musician. I am dumbfounded at the amount of artists not OWNING a darn printer. They don’t even cost that much and yet… some are wasting time and money going to print shops to use someone else’s printer. Just plain dumb. Get a multifunction laser printer, meaning you can scan, you can print, you can copy, all on the same printer. And it is highly economical. Those old inkjets cost an arm and a leg. The laser cartridges – don’t. Get a printer by either Canon, Samsung, or Brother. They are the most reliable brands worldwide and know what they’re doing. The most recommended is Canon Image CLASS MF267dw All-in-One Laser Printer. It costs $250 and you’ll wonder how you survived without it for so long. Now get to work!