My Thursdays usually consist of waking up at 6:30 am to get Jemal dressed for school, then walking him there with my youngest, Jamen, on my shoulders.
When I get back home, I make Jamen breakfast, turn on Nick Jr, pour myself a cup of coffee, start up the laptop, and begin the business of the day (booking shows, returning emails, blasting to blogs, going over marketing plans). In between all of this, Jamen and I go over ABC’s, read books, play Pokemon, and I lay him down to nap.
By 2 in the afternoon, my wife is home from work, and it’s my turn to go. I’m a manager in the service industry so you can imagine how that is. A whole lot of hustling, smiling, and not enough thank you’s most of the time. On this particular day every week, we get our order in, so I have to oversee getting it unpacked and put away.
I usually leave the job around 11:00 pm, go home, and continue to work on the business of the day til at least 3 in the morning (sometimes overnight). Then I wake up and do it all over again.
No big deal, right? I’m just doing what many people in this world are doing, especially indie artists and musicians like myself who are working hard to make their dreams a reality while living in real life.
What if I told you that while doing all of this, I am clinically depressed?
For those who may not fully know or understand what depression is, imagine feeling like you have a permanent hole in your stomach that is trying to expand throughout your body. Now picture the amount of energy and will that it takes to fight the emptiness from spreading. Feel how exhausting it is. Then think about doing that every day, all day.
Each one of those daily tasks is a mental journey of self doubt to affirmations, but I do them because I know that I have to. I am a father, a husband, and an independent artist. Responsibilities come with each. Sadly though, that’s not enough to keep fueling the ongoing fight waging in my head.
Without casting judgement on anyone that does, I don’t believe in taking medication to help with my depression. For me (reiterating the FOR ME), it would be admitting that I don’t have the self control and discipline to overcome. Besides, there’s a reason for everything. Maybe the depression is preparing me for something that’s going to require me to be mentally tough.
Maybe that thing is fatherhood.
Maybe it’s marriage.
Lord knows that the music industry requires intellectual durability.
So I embrace my depression. I might even go so far as to call it a blessing. Approaching it this way has allowed me to analyze it without panicking, then come up with a few unique ways of dealing with it:
Always look at the bigger picture.
For me, the easiest way to sink emotionally is to live in the moment because that’s when everything goes wrong. Some examples that have sent my plane crashing in the past are:
Keep my emotions in check.
I probably should have put this first. It’s definitely the hardest and most important of the three. Even though most people can’t tell, I’m always a broken egg away from breaking down. Literally, I could spill a cup of juice on the floor, and trigger a crying episode. Over the years though, I’ve trained myself to look at the solution with logic. In other words, rather than focus on the fact that the floor is a mess, I think about what I need to do to clean it up.
Another thing that I’ve found helpful is to smile as much as I can. When I act happy, I tend to become happier. Sounds crazy and overly simple, but it works.
Imagine the worst that can happen.
Let’s say my album isn’t ready in time for its original release date.
Here’s what I imagine:
Producers will probably get pissed off and take back the track they gave me, the promoters and clubs will cancel my tour dates, my fans will stop listening to my music, and other artists may refuse to work with me because they view me as unreliable.
Here’s what really happens:
I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for or relate to me; instead, I want to give you perspective. Despite my condition, I manage to be a dedicated father, a loyal husband, a hard working employee, a driven artist, and an entrepreneur. I’ve released 13 albums, a documentary, a book, and currently working on a series of short films. I’ve booked, planned and promoted my own national tours. I am my own manager, publicist, creative director, investor, and executive producer.
If I can do all of this with what I go through, then most you should have no apprehensions. Excuses are over people. Go get it!
For decades, artists have used recording studios not only as a means to record their music, but also as a space to be creative in, and generate new ideas inside. The traditional recording studio is not only a room with equipment, but also an engineer (turns the knobs), a producer (provides input regarding song structure and album concepts), and multiple assistants. Today, more and more people are pursuing recording as a hobby, and setting up recording studios in their living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, and garages. This is a much more affordable way of recording your music, but doesn’t come without its disadvantages.
If you’re the artist, you have to ask yourself “What do I want to get from this experience?”. Do you want other musicians? Do you want production advice? What’s your budget?
There are many small studios popping up that have exactly what many people are looking for - good quality recordings of their work that they can share.. As you know, it’s easier to get music out to the masses than ever before, and if you have recordings on bandcamp, soundcloud, myspace, or other websites, you can share your music with the world.
That said, larger, more established recording studios can afford more expensive tools to make you sound better than you thought possible. It’s up to you which option is right for you. Larger studios have a greater overhead, and therefore need to pay the bills. Rates at these studios are generally higher than that of small studio rates. Rates at a well established studio can be anywhere from $75 - $200 per hour. Lesser established studios generally charge between $15 - $40 per hour. If you figure that your standard hip-hop album takes 10-12 hours to record, you’re looking at around $1,000 - $2,000 to record at a large studio, and somewhere around $200 - $500 to record at a small studio. It’s a big financial difference, and if you’re happy with the quality from the small studio, it’s the perfect situation.
Another perk of the small studio, is more often than not, really inspired people set them up and work in them, so you know that a lot of love goes into the work. Sometimes in large studios, the workers are just there to put in the hours. Also, since the rates are lower, you get more work for less money in the small studio.
The other option which many people are turning to is home recording studios.. Extra bedrooms or garages make great spaces, and you can get an incredible setup for less than $2,000 that will offer you a lifetime of recording in your own home. For a good hip-hop setup, you need a computer, recording software, a microphone, and an interface that allows you to plug the microphone into the computer. Here are my recommendations priced out -
Computer: Hewlett-Packard, custom built from their website - $800 (Mac equivalent is 3-4k)
Recording Software: Pro Tools 9 - $500 (You pay more, but it’s the
industry standard, and well worth the price)
Microphone: Audio-Technica AT4033 - $200-$300 on the “used” section at guitarcenter.com
Interface: Edirol UA 5 USB Mic Pre-Amp - $289 at soundprofessionals.com
There you have it - everything you need to have a great home studio for under 2k.
As I said before, it’s up to you to decide what you want from a studio. Do you want to build a home recording studio so you can record at your house 24/7? Do you want an affordable professional recording experience, where you walk away with a CD in hand ready to distribute to the masses? Or do you want to go all out and spend the money for the big time recording experience, and have the next platinum single? Choose your own adventure..
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.