On the Art of Letting Go

I recently discovered that I’m not so good at is letting go of the sentimental attachments that I’ve arbitrarily assigned to objects, especially when it comes to audio recording equipment and musical instruments.

Being a good consumer I had, over the years, unintentionally trained myself to associate feelings with purchases; they made me feel good when I bought them.  I often had strong emotions at the point of sale such as:  It’s my birthday, I’m going to spend £1300 on a guitar. Once the product is associated with an event it’s harder to let it go.  However, memories are not memorabilia and something needed to change.

I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that re-living the good-old-glory-days is no way to progress a career, let alone a life.  To compound matters, I had spent myself out, project after project all funded with loans, credit cards and store credit and I now needed to get my ‘house’ in order both financially and aesthetically.

One of the hardest things to do is convince yourself that a new paradigm is a better way forward.  I knew I was going to have my work cut out, so I started reading books, watching documentaries, looking at different approaches on social media and keeping myself motivated.  As I read, and looked around at the hundred of audio “things” I had amassed over the years,I began to realise how tough it would be, so I decided to set myself some ground rules…

Rule 1: Quality over Quantity.  Work out exactly what gear you need to do most of the recording, mixing, mastering work you do and have no more and no less.  You can always leverage extra gear when you need it (see Chapter 6).

Rule 2: No extraneous gear. If you don’t use it constantly; sell it, donate it or give it away to someone who will use it.

Rule 3: Pay back all monies owed on all lines of credit as soon as possible (this was aided by Rule 2 of course).

Rule 4: No buying anything on credit unless there’s a clear plan where it’s being used enough to pay for itself. (E.g. I buy a mic for £1500, monthly payments are £150 for 10 months, but I’m hiring it out for £200 a month).

I knew I had to have the rules in order to provide a framework for letting go of those sentimental attachments to this equipment.  I knew that if I didn’t change my mind about this “noise” then I would be destined to repeat the same credit cycle I had been lost in for the past twenty years!  For me this process was a phase shift not only in the way that I approached  consumerism but also it had an transformative effect on the way I approached my audio production work.