It seems everywhere you turn there is someone shilling some toolkit, some e-book, some program or webinar that you absolutely need to purchase in order how to figure out how to get your new life as an indie musician rolling. Not only have I found that a lot of the information made available by these types of networks not have a real value to most independent and emerging artists but I find it frustrating that everyone seems to want to syphon another buck out of what can already be an expensive hobby, never mind career path.
Despite (or perhaps in spite of) my history and experience working in professional recording studio environments and Canadian music industry, I set out to release my first album for as little money as I felt necessary to bring my ideas from abstract airspace and into the world.
And while I’ve made some upgrades or changes since I began, I still stand firmly in my belief that you should not and do not have to be made of money in order to find success as an independent musician.
So here’s what I actively have and use in my personal arsenal. Wherever possible, I use the freeware version of most software and products and take full advantage of things like free trials and demos to complete projects – there is nothing wrong with doing this but I’d caution if you find yourself regularly swapping out e-mail addresses to prolong your Adobe Creative Cloud license, it might be a good time to consider the value you get out of that product and take the plunge to go legit so that the people involved in its creation and ongoing maintenance can feed themselves.
Website Builder & Blogs
This website right here? The one you’re on? All made with WordPress.
You can start your own websites for free and I strongly encourage you as an independent creative to do so. Not only does it make it remarkably easy to lead your listeners/viewers to all your social media platforms, but it gives you complete control over how you present yourself to your new audience. This to me is a critical tool that all musicians should be mindful of and there is never too early a time to start.
I’ve since made some upgrades from my Free account in order to get things like my custom domain and a custom e-mail address and more flexibility overall. I haven’t taken the plunge to WordPress’s Business account yet, but that’s the next step for me once I’m ready to take advantage of their e-commerce platforms.
It’s amazing what you can get away with on a budget, so don’t think you need to jump to the highest end instruments or models especially if you’re new to the craft. The same goes for microphones and other additional – what’s most important is that you learn how to use what you’ve got to its fullest potential.
Don’t forget, some people can make a cheap Hello Kitty guitar sound like a Fender strat – because it’s largely about the player and not the hardware. Likewise, you’d be amazed what some people are creating using free production software like FruityLoops and mixing on Dollarstore brand earbud headphones.
Guitars & Amplifiers
For just about every recording to date, I’ve used the same 4 instruments and only 1 guitar amplifier.
- Gibson Guitars (Les Paul stock special custom with P90 pick-ups)
- Norman Acoustic Guitars
- Martin Acoustic Guitars (Dreadnought)
- CGC Bass (special custom Bass, modelled after a standard Fender P-Bass)
- Fender Mustang GTX50 Amplifier
Microphones, Headphones & Other Necessities
- Shure Microphones (SM57, SM58)
- Sennheiser Headphones (HD 280 Pro)
- Audio-Technica Microphones (AT2020)
- ART dPDB dual passive direct box
- AKAI MK3 Mini Pro Midi Controller
Recording Software and Required Hardware
Your software and hardware needs will likely differ from mine, so underneath what I personally use I’ve included some others that are worth checking out to see if they suit you better.
- ProTools 11 (Bought outright – you’ll pay a lot more over time using the subscription service options. Use it to try, but then commit to the product is my general rule here).
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo
- Apple Macbook Pro (2021)
Other Recording Software Options:
Universal Audio Luna
Other Recording Interface Options:
- CD Baby (this is my preferred distribution partner – I previously used DistroKid).
Graphics & Moving Media
- Canva (I upgraded to the pro subscription on an annual basis because I use this arguably more than any other piece of software. It’s worth it just for the resizing feature alone which you’ll find important if you cross post across multiple platforms).
- Kapwing (Freeware video editing)
- Adobe Premiere Rush
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro (Almost everything I’ve filmed has been done so on an iPhone)
- OBS (for Twitch and Live Sessions livestream events)
- Sessions Live