By now, you’ve seen all the ads and received an overwhelming number of emails with Black Friday offers. All the online stores and affiliate marketers are doing their best to get you to open up your wallet from now through mid-January.
But chances are, you don’t need most of the music gear and software they’re pitching you.
So before you mindlessly buy that shiny new microphone or that VST plugin bundle, consider doing these things beforehand. Your wallet and stress levels might thank you later.
1. Make a Wish List First
There’s a HUGE difference between buying something because it’s on sale, and buying something when it’s on sale.
A lot of people (myself included) fall into the trap of impulse buying during a sale. But chances are, you were never interested in that product before you saw the discount.
Truth is, you’re not actually saving money this way. You’re just wasting less money than you would have before.
So before you buy any new audio gear and software, make a wish list of things you’re already interested in.
Don’t deviate from the list. Only buy the things you were planning on buying anyway.
That way, you actually save money and don’t overspend on other stuff.
2. Just Because It’s “On Sale”, Doesn’t Mean It’s Actually On Sale
Most physical instruments and gear have a “minimum advertising price” (also known as MAP). In simple terms, these are prices set by the manufacturer that retailers agree to sell their products at.
MAP policies prevent stores from undercutting each other and devaluing the products they sell. It’s why you’ll see the same prices for the same items no matter where you check.
Sometimes the price drops are legitimate. Other times, they just put up a sale page and hope no one notices the price never changed.
Try doing some research to see if the prices are actually the same or different.
3. Beware of Bundles
Package deals and bundles can save you tons of money. They also eat up the most cash.
You see, bundles are a clever way of getting you to spend more money:
- Been eying that podcasting microphone? — Why not get an audio interface, boom arm, and XLR cable to go with it?
- That sure is an amazing synthesizer — Here’s a free carrying case to sweeten the deal (even though you’ll never travel with it).
- Those studio monitors sure look nice — Hey! I can save $150 when I buy them with a subwoofer, stands, and studio foam!
If you actually intend to use everything in the bundle, then it’s probably a good deal. But more often than not, it’s just extra stuff you don’t need.
Software bundles are especially easy to overspend on. There’s nowhere near as much overhead with digital products. So it’s easier for dealers to offer crazy discounts and manipulate the perceived value.
I’ve bought many plugin bundles and sample packs over the years. Most of those products end up collecting digital dust on my hard drive.
Every now and then, I’ll force myself to use a plugin out of spite. “I paid for it, so I better get my money’s worth.”
But in reality, I often fall back on my favorite instruments and effects in almost every project. Most other producers and composers I know secretly do this too.
4. Unsubscribe From Email Lists
If you’re reading this, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re subscribed to multiple newsletters from retailers, plugin makers, and online gurus.
But here’s the hard truth: Those emails are someone else’s to-do list for you.
Black Friday emails just present more shiny objects to distract you. Unsubscribing from email lists reduces the chances of you spending more money, and helps you stay focused on your music-making goals.
That, and it’ll reduce the amount of digital clutter in your life.
On a totally coincidental and unrelated side note, you can subscribe to the Sonic Atlas newsletter. I’ll send you helpful tips about music production, share news about the music industry, and give updates about other things around here. I’ll try not to spam you, and you can unsubscribe anytime if you don’t find them helpful — it won’t hurt my feelings.