Updated: Sep 27, 2018

How To Invest In Your Audio Career

How To Invest In Your Audio Career

Wondering how to invest in your audio career? And, are audio equipment sales worth it?

Here’s the deal with buying software and hardware. You should probably reconsider that plugin on sale over there for 90% off.

Buying plugins, sound libraries, and other gear on sale can be an extremely tempting thing to do, especially if you’ve heard good things about it.

These will apply to you if you’re in-house, freelancing, or even an entrepreneur.

Software & Hardware Sales

The big questions of “when should I buy something?” and “what should I buy?” may have you thinking; “I’ll buy it when it’s on sale” and “the stuff on sale is what I’ll buy”.

Take a giant leap back and ask yourself some questions:

  1. Will this pay for itself, even if it wasn’t on sale?
  2. If so, how long will the ROI take?
  3. Are there more effective tools in the market?
  4. Is it worth it now if I need to upgrade in the future?
  5. Is there a better way to spend my money?

When To Buy Things On Sale

An even more fundamental question to ask is about what you have now, that you still haven’t fully utilized. Once you start to plateau with something, that’s a good time to start looking for the next thing.

If you’re eyeing a plugin or sound library that’s on sale, a 20% discount might be attractive. But, if you thought the plugin would just barely pay for itself because of this sale, it’s probably not worth it.

Things won't always go as planned and with the aim of making your money back even if it was full price gives you a 20% margin for error now that it’s on sale.

Buying things on sale is great, just don’t buy something for the sole reason of it being 90% off. It might just suck so much that it’s a last resort to make some money from their product. That or it’s good and on a great deal. Just think about it.

There is one huge issue to talk about if you are planning to wait for a sale.

Opportunity cost

Holding back on buying something that will help you make more money can be a risky move. You’ll have to calculate how much you’re saving and how much it could have made you if you just went ahead and bought it without the sale.

With that being said, is it even the right product for you? Sometimes things are all hyped up and blown out of proportion because of trends and everyone just wanting to play it safe and defaulting on buying what everyone else has.

Not everything works for everyone, and getting something just because it’s the industry standard, doesn’t mean it’s what you should be getting.

This can make it harder for you to save up again for the good stuff and can even turn you off from buying it all together.

Buy something because you need it, not because you might need it in the future.

Being frugal or “cheap” can also make you lose more money just by not spending it! Don’t take that the wrong way either, you need to be smart about it and not just open the floodgates of your bank account every time a penny gets trapped in there like a wild animal.

Look at it as an entrepreneur and assess whether or not it’s a business opportunity, able to make you a return on your investment.

Upgrading Equipment & Software

You might be wondering “should I just hold off on everything until I can afford the end-all-be-all?”

The answer is probably not (if it’s a long-term savings plan). What you want to do is buy what you can generally afford right now that will be of great value to you. If you have to save for a short period of time (like a month or so) then, again, weigh in the opportunity cost.

What you don’t want is to have an upgrade history of things that barely improve in value from the last. You probably only need to have a 3 tier upgrade on most things:

  1. Basic - This is just enough to get the job done
  2. Intermediate - This will hold its value over a long period of time
  3. Advanced - This is the end of the line (hopefully)

It’s not always going to be linear, nor 3 steps. For example, you might be recording in a situation that will have a high chance of damaging a mic - you’ll want to get some cheaper ones for that job.

You might also have a high paying client that needs better results - you might have to go and rent some advanced gear. Same with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

The point is, make sure you get the worth out of something and truly asses whether or not you need the next thing. There comes a point where you will get marginal returns and you’ll be pushing for that extra 1%.

Alternative Audio Investments

Sometimes the most effective tools you could buy (or get for free like the ones I’ll be mentioning) are ones to improve your productivity. These don’t have to be related to audio specifically either.

Being more productive will help you multiply the return on products you bought for work and there is plenty to consider, depending on what you’re trying to improve.

File Storage & Backups

Navigating through a wormhole of folders to find the file you need can be a problem on its own. Now, imagine there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you just wasted your time.

Probably should have made a backup.

The amount of time, energy, and willpower you can lose just by trying to get what you need can really add up over time. Not to mention, losing your data can be absolutely crushing on moral and deadlines that need it ASAP.

There are plenty of cloud storage services out there such as Google Drive and Dropbox (and git if you're dealing with assets in a game). But what if you lose internet? What if those services screw up?

Making that backup on a physical drive and storing it off-site can save you from an array of disasters (floods, fires, robberies, etc.).

Keeping Track of Things

Keeping track of ideas, deadlines, progress, etc. can be tough to do (at scale and efficiently) with a pen and paper or a word doc. Creating to-do lists are also an easy thing with the following tools.

Evernote: Make notes that are automatically backed up on the cloud. Put notes in folders, put folders in notebooks. Super easy to organize multiple projects and things going on in your life.

Trello: Make different lists of items you need to keep track of such as to do, doing, and done. Really easy to keep track of progress and what is being worked on. Good for content scheduling too!

There’s another one I stopped using called Work Flowy since I found the two above tools much better. But hey, it might be better for YOU.

Effective Communication

Trying to reach someone can take a lot of time and can be super destructive to your productivity if you’re relying on social media to do it.

Getting people into a chatroom can keep it laser-focused on communication. Check out Slack and Discord if you want some pretty good messaging services.

As for email, keep it all in one place. Running around to different email providers can really suck, especially when you need to stay on top of time-sensitive information.

If you’re not on Windows and using the built-in Mail app that throws all of your email accounts next to each other, you should check out Thunderbird. Both are pretty much the same and free to use.

Those are plenty of ways to be investing in yourself and your career or hobby. If you know of some ways that weren’t mentioned, please leave a comment below! I hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading.

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