Buying Gear and Saving Money
As we aspire to grow as a musicians/producers (whether it be as a hobbyists or as professionals), one can't help but realize our craft is an expensive one. Therefore, in order to advance, stay afloat, and stay current in a constantly changing world of music technology, becoming a smart shopper is a must.
As a producer on the come up, I don't have the benefit of working with major budgets on the regular and most of my set up comes out of pocket from small projects here and there. Funds are low, yet I still need to make sure I have a set up that I can work on with very few limitations. As a result, I've become one heck of a finagler when it comes to acquiring new gear. Here a few things I learned that may help you in your search for new stuff.
Tip #1: Buying gear at a major retailer store should be a last resort.
Major retailers usually charge a premium for new gear. I've learned that unless there is a sale, I need an item IMMEDIATELY, or the item is relatively cheap ($50 or less) nine times out of ten I can find it elsewhere for significantly cheaper. It's possible to price match at some places (like Guitar Center) but they only honor authorized dealers who may have lower prices but not by a margin that can be found elsewhere. What is elsewhere? Well that leads me to...
Tip #2: Online shopping is freaking amazing. Use the internet!
If you are patient and have done your research, there are plenty of places online where you can by gear SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. The three sites that have saved me some funds of epic value are Amazon.com, Ebay, and Craigslist. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW POWERFUL THESE SITES ARE!!! I've also shopped at some online retailers like Music123.com and have saved tons of money taking advantage of their online coupons/promotions. Make sure you are buying from somebody who is a respected seller (check their rating). If they selling an item online but are based locally, take the time to visit them and check the gear out for yourself. I purchased my M-Audio Project Mix I/O interface for $650 from a local seller on Craigslist. It was in great condition. That leads me to my next point...
Tip #3: Don't be afraid to buy used gear.
So what if somebody has owned it before. There's a lot of gear out there that is marked down significantly after some gentle use. Do your research on the item and see if it is something that stands the test of time and works fine after some gentle handing. You have to be funny about things with sensitive parts like mics, tubes, speakers, and gear. Its not uncommon for expensive replaceable parts to be damaged or swapped out with a cheaper alternative. Use your discretion and you will find some gems.
Tip #4: Take advantage of being a student.
Are you a student? If you answered yes there probably is a discount just waiting for you to use. Take advantage of Amazon Student Prime Membership privileges. In 2011, I purchased 33 items off of Amazon.com taking advantage of the free two day shipping. If you don't mind waiting the two days, it makes physical stores even more obsolete... and guess what... it's sales tax free. Sites like Studica.com or Sweetwater.com offer great student discounts pending you provide the correct credentials. I saved over $100 on my Propellerhead Reason 6 purchase and almost $400 on my Pro-Tools 10 purchase (not to mention I get four years of free upgrades too!).
Tip #5: Friends are great resources.
This one is a short one... long story short, foster healthy relationships with those who work for resources. You never know when they might have an extra employee discount just lying around. I've had a few friends hook me up and saved anywhere from 15% to 50% on brand new items courtesy of their Employee Purchasing Programs.
These are just a few of the ways I have saved money while buying gear. We don't have to break the bank to build our set-ups. A little frugal shopping can go a long way. DO YOUR RESEARCH and i'm sure you'll find some great deals out there that will last you a long time. I hope these tips are of benefit to you and best of luck in your new acquisitions!
What are some of your tips and suggestions? Feel free to comment below!