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Like it or not, the holidays are upon us again. Where did the time go? Oh yeah, I remember; they were spent locked in my apartment, gripped with fear and crippling anxiety. Well, hopefully, the holiday season will be the start of something new and better. For one thing, we know we are close to the end of the year, and it couldn’t come any sooner. Regardless of how you’ll be spending the holiday season, it’s always a good idea to show the people you love that you’re thinking of them.
Is one of your loved ones a music producer? Do you need to buy them a gift? There’s good news! I’ve put together a comprehensive guide that will take all of the thinking out of it. Everything on this list is guaranteed to make any recording musician, audio engineer, or music producer excited. You can’t miss!
Here’s my list of the best gifts to get for music producers in 2020!
Improve their room
I’m sure if you were to ask most people what the best gift was, it would never be something that the recipient has to spend time building… but these wooden diffusers are extremely easy to put together as there are included instructions, and everything comes pre-cut. If you want to be an even better gift-giver, you can build it for them! Diffusers of this quality will typically go for up to 3-4 times the cost of just one of these kits.
Studios can get messy! Anything that will help me organize my space, so I don’t have to worry about cleaning up as often is something I’m extremely interested in. I found this nifty cable hanger randomly and thought it was a great way to easily store cables. I currently go with some cheap cup hooks, but this design is pretty genius and makes a great gift for any musician. We all have a ton of cables lying around our room. It’s part of the job.
Recording studios have cables. Lots and lots of cables. It’s more difficult than it should be to store them easily. This wall-mountable cable hanger solves that age-old problem by making it easy to hang and retrieve your most used cables of all sizes.
There’s no replacement for treating a room properly, but these portable reflection filters definitely help and are great to have around any studio. These things make it easy to set up and record quality sounding vocal tracks anywhere you want. With a good reflection filter, you can be confident that your tracks will definitely be useable when it comes time for mixing. I also like these when I record vocals without headphones, as they do a great job of blocking out the sound from the speakers. They are well worth it for the price, and any producer with a home studio would benefit and appreciate having one of these around.
Scott Iulianelli has been making some absolutely killer analog inspired art merch for the last few years. His work never ceases to amaze me, and I would buy it all if I could. You can’t go wrong with anything in his store.
This classy, sleek synth poster would look great on the wall of any studio or music room.
You really only see them in old movies and television shows, but I’ve always wanted one of these to hang in my room. This is the perfect accent for any home studio, and it’s something most wouldn’t buy for themselves, which makes it a great gift.
A musician’s solution to the classic dilemma that is misplacing your keys. These are handmade in the good ol’ USA and include 1/4″ plug keychains. Plug in your keys when you get home and unplug them when you’re ready to head out. The cherry on top is that the jewel light really works when you turn it on.
Improve their workflow
External Hard Drive
You can never have enough hard drives. Give the gift of more storage space this year. The Samsung T5 and the WD My Passport are solid-state or SSDs. Solid-state drives are more reliable and have much faster read and write speeds than your standard hard drives. These are best used as work drives to save projects and sample libraries. The 5TB WD Elements is a standard hard drive, which, although it has slower read and write speeds, is more affordable and a better option for long term storage.
This is one I included on my list last year, and it will probably be on my gift guide every year for the rest of entirety. If you couldn’t tell from my emphasis on hard drives, backing up files is important for all audio engineers and producers. Unlike painters that have to store large canvas, as musicians, our art lives in the digital realm, and services like Backblaze make it easy to preserve our most valuable creations.
$5 a month for unlimited cloud storage! $5 lets you back up as many files as they can throw at it. The desktop application allows you to seamlessly back up your drives as well as set up an upload schedule. Whoever gets this will never lose another session again!
Shortcuts or hotkeys are a combination of keys on a keyboard that perform a task on a computer or, more specifically for musicians, a digital audio workstation. Using hotkeys speeds up workflow drastically. Someone that is well versed in the hotkeys of their DAW of choice looks like a magician while they are mixing or editing, easily jumping from different tasks where it might take two or three times as long if they had used the mouse to do the same task. The only hard part about hotkeys is remembering them. It’s like learning another language. These keyboard covers put the hotkeys right in front of you. Not only is it a convenient reference tool, but it also teaches you hotkeys you might not have known before. If you’re buying this for someone, make sure you know what DAW they use and what type of computer they have.
The Stream Deck is the future! Originally developed for streamers and content creators, the Stream Deck can be utilized to map tasks in applications to buttons. You can make your own shortcuts in your DAW of choice and map them to the 16 configurable LCD buttons. You can even put custom graphics or text on each of the buttons. The possibilities are endless with this thing. You have to see it to believe it. Check out this demonstration video below.
Protect their gear
Cases and dust covers. We hate to buy them, but we all need them, which means they make a great gift.
Take them to school
David Byrne is a musical Yoda. In his book “How Music Works,” Bryne elegantly explains how music is shaped by our surroundings. He also gets into the beginning of recording technology and the profound impact it has had on the world we live in. If you’re looking to open up a musician’s mind and have them look at their art form in a new exciting way, this book is the perfect gift.
My favorite book on mixing. It’s one of the only books I will go back to over and over again. Even after reading it multiple times, I’ll still pick up something new. Books make great gifts, and this is one every mixing engineer should keep on their shelf.
This might be the most valuable resource for any recording musician, music producer, or audio engineer. These well-made tutorial videos allow you to work right alongside some of the greatest minds in the industry.
Tools of the trade
Everyone needs a Leatherman. And by everyone, I mean every single person that exists in the world. Receiving your first Leatherman is a right of passage that all audio engineers need to experience. Trust me, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience; imagine walking around with a single tool that could do as much as 13 individual tools. Can you imagine the power you would wield? No, you didn’t just become Superman; you’re only holding a Leatherman. You can even store it in the included sheath and attach it to your belt, like it’s Excalibur.
This guitar multi-tool has everything you need to adjust guitars. Great for having around the studio in case any guitars need some fine-tuning.
Stringing a guitar is annoying. This tool makes it less annoying.
This spray can be found in just about every studio around the world. A little spritz of this stuff helps protect, lubricate, and improve the conductivity of electronics. It also helps reduce intermittent connections, arcing, and RFI, as well as wear and abrasion. Not the sexiest gift but definitely something useful that anyone with a lot of gear could use.
This cool little gadget tells you if your AC adapters are working properly. Simply plug in a synth or guitar pedal power adapter to the hot tip, and it will light up if it is receiving the correct amount of power to the device. If you have a lot of AC adapters, you know that they don’t always last forever, the hot tip allows you to quickly check if an adapter is working properly.
Improve their productions
This guitar effects router allows you to use any guitar pedal as a piece of outboard gear. That means with this little orange guy, it’s possible to send anything you want out of your DAW to your favorite delay, distortion, or any other guitar pedal you may have lying around. Start putting those pedals to use on more than just a guitar!
This 500 series module lets you use the reverb tank on a guitar amp as a piece of outboard gear. Use the Tank Driver to send anything to a guitar amps reverb tank, and record it back into a DAW for a truly authentic-sounding spring reverb. Pretty nifty.
This badass palm-sized, battery-operated synth is a real workhorse. The synth is made up of a ribbon keyboard controller, 5 knobs, and a single switch. The simplicity makes it easy to get started, but the unit’s more advanced capabilities are truly remarkable. The included delay and original MS-20 filter put it over the top. I also love that it has an aux input, so you can use the filter on any source external source. It’s an incredible value and insanely fun little go-anywhere synth.
This little battery-operated amp sounds better than you probably think. Connect the amPlug to the input of your guitar and use the headphone output to hear that sweet vox tone. With this thing, practicing at night will no longer be a problem.
The Jammy G might have the worst name ever, but it is a great idea and extremely well done. This digital midi guitar can be used to control any software instrument or device in a DAW. The guitar has 15 frets with sensors that track finger position, string muting, and bends. The built-in USB port allows you to connect it to ur computer easily. But the best part about this thing is that it has nearly zero latency, which makes playing it much more seamless.
It’s definitely not a replacement for a guitar as the feel of the sensors takes getting used to, but once you do, it’s hours of fun and a legitimate production tool. It’s a new world being able to play my synths and software instruments like a guitar. As a composition tool, the Jammy G gives me a fresh approach to writing chord progressions and melodies. I’ll often find myself creating things I wouldn’t have been able to if I was using a standard keyboard or using my mouse to click in notes on the piano roll.
This 4-track portable recorder makes it easy to record anywhere on the go. Capture any sound you want quickly and easily. The built-in Stereo X/Y condenser microphones sound remarkably good, and there are also analog XLR/TRS mic and line inputs.
Can’t miss industry standards
Everyone needs two of each of these. The Shure SM57 and 58 dynamic microphones are staples of recording. Every recording musician would be happy to have more of them! The Sony 7506s are the classic closed-back over-ear headphones with a pronounced mid-range. They can be found in just about every recording and broadcast studio around the world. The Radial Pro DI is a little green box that does its job and does it well, whether you’re using it to DI a bass guitar or a synth; there’s nothing I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting through this bad boy.