Essentials for the "OTG" Producer.
As a producer you may need to work "on the go" in different settings and environments. But, as you move around between studios and workspaces you can take comfort in knowing that you have everything you need with you to capture ideas, create and make hits with your musical collegues. This may not have come to mind as most producers are working from home in their bedroom or a spare room converted into a studio. Having a homebase is good to have but once you really start getting into working and making a living off of your music, travel may be required. You definitely don't want to lug around a desktop or an 88 key controller everywhere you go so I made a list of essential items and gear we should all have ready to go because you never know where your journey is going to take you.
1. Backpack - This is probably the most obvious item on the list but you shouldn't just grab any old book bag. Make sure it serves your purpose, keeps your gear safe and keeps you organized. The best part is that you don't have to break the bank to pick one up. Below I've listed a couple I found on Amazon that would be great for this purpose.
Why these? Because they are big enough to carry the rest of the items in my essentials list comfortably and safely. However, there are bags specifically made and marketed specifically towards Producers that are great as well but are a little pricier. I'll link a few below.
One of my Favorites... Mono Creators bags for producers. They are purpose made for carrying laptops and controllers. They are tough rugged and look awesome. If you prefer messenger bags they have those too. Check out Mono Creators.
Novation has a solution for carrying 25 key controllers as well as other essential items that's definitely worth checking out. Novation Backpack case.
2. Laptop - This one is also very obvious but, you want to make sure that you find one that suits your needs. I personally prefer working in windows so it's a surface pro for me. I've been able to create and handle full blown mixing duties from my Surface Pro 4 for a long time. Others prefer mac and that's basically the industry standard. But don't just do what you see other's do. Work in an environment that you're comfortable working in. I won't spend a lot of time on this one as there are so many contributing factors that go into picking a laptop.
3. External Harddrive x 2 - This goes with out saying. You don't want to crowd your lap top or computer with gigs worth of audio files, sounds and projects. I mean, then what space do you have for your DAW and VSTs? So make sure to pick up an external HDD to carry with you on the road. It makes keeping and taking your work with you easy.
Why 2? Because if one fails you have another handy and ready to go (reduces downtime) and you always want to make sure your work is backed up in multiple places. I know what it's like to lose years of work and 100's of gigs worth of sounds, samples and project files. It's not a place you want to go emotionally. :(
I'm going to suggest I've used with success in the past. Keep in mind that you could use regular HDD's too but I prefer solid state drives because they are more reliable.
A bit of caution to the reader. Please take this part very seriously. Losing work can be extremely demotivating. I've seen a lot of people quit making music all together because of losing all of their work. If this ever happens to you please remember that 1. If you did it once you can do it again. 2. You were given this talent so you can create. Even if you lose old work you can still create new work.
4. Midi Controller - Some of us can get away with using the laptop's built in keyboard or clicking notes in. Personally, I don't find it comfortable. I mean, I will if I have to but I'd much rather work with a controller. However, you don't want to be lugging around big expensive controllers or work stations. I find that a 25 key midi controller works best for travelling so it's always good to keep one handy. My favorites for this are the following.
Why these? With the exception of the midiplus controller, these are all sturdy reliable and options with great build quality. Now, the midiplus controller isn't anything to write home about but it gets the job done in a pinch and it's under $40. Also, If you noticed I included both options with pads and knobs and with out. This ultimately impacts price yes but it also impact how you are able to work. At the end of the day you know what you need and don't. I just want to make sure you know your options for this.
5. Audio Interface (optional) - Having an audio interface may come in handy when working remotely just incase you have to record vocals or a guitar for your work. let's face it inspiration doesn't always come while we're in the studio. there are a couple of great solutions for this. For the sake of being practical, I am going to stick with those that work for both windows and mac platforms. I also wont be comparing them but I will give my insight on each option.
- The UA arrow is a phenominal interface which is why I put it up there but personally, I am reluctant to carry around an $800 interface with me where ever I go.
- I use audient converters in my mix room so I know that the quality is there when I suggest the EVO. I especially like this one because it's so compact.
- I've worked using both presonus and focusrite and can vouch for their reliablitiy and quality.
- The SSL is good but wasn't as great to me as I thought it would be but thats only base on other gear I've used by them.
- The Native instruments Komplete is solid and it does exactly what you need it to do. Honestly any of these will work for simple record and playback functions. However, If you're just making beats they might not be necessary. Yes, you'll get better quality audio from one of these than the built in audio on your laptop but you're also adding a piece of gear to your backpack.