halloweenYou know I couldn’t let Halloween go by without some sort of Halloween-themed post, right? Right.

I’ve had plenty of “scary moments” over the years in my studio. After all, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into the thing, an it definitely hurts when things don’t go exactly as planned.

If you’re just starting out, here are a few things you want to avoid as much as possible. If you’ve been recording for years, you should read this too and make sure you’re not getting lazy. Any of these can happen, and most of them are avoidable.

Losing Your Work

This is one of the scariest scenarios. You’ve been working for months, maybe even years, on a project. You’ve logged countless hours putting together this masterpiece of audio glory.

Then one day it happens.

You walk into your studio, fire up your computer and your hard drive and…nothing. Two hours later you have come to the horrifying realization that your hard drive has crashed, and your data is lost forever.

Now, there’s a good chance the data can be recovered, but it’s not unheard of for the drive to be damaged too badly to recover anything…or the data could be corrupted.

I’ve had this happen to more friends than I can remember. It’s not as “rare” as you might think. The truth is that your hard drive IS going to fail…one day. Are you running your entire studio off of one hard drive? If so, you need to stop what you’re doing right now, find a separate drive, and back everything up. Seriously.

Nothing demoralizes you more than losing something you’ve worked so hard on. The chances of you being willing to start over from scratch are slim.

Always, always, ALWAYS back up your projects. Some folks would say back them up to two different places. At least back it up once.

I’ll be honest, I go through spells where I’m lazy and don’t feel like backing up. But I remember how horrible it would feel to have to do that work all over again, and I start backing up.

There are lots of solutions for backup — automatic backup (Time Machine) and automatic online backup (services like Carbonite). I usually just drag and drop the files to a separate hard drive. Whatever you do, have a system in place and BACK YOUR STUFF UP.

Losing Your Gear

If your interface dies, your studio is dead in the water. Same with your computer. Are you doing everything you can to protect these important parts of your studio?

Taking care of your gear could be as simple as not letting it sit in the back seat of your car on a hot summer day, and making sure you put your condenser microphones back in the case when you’re done with them.

However, there are a couple extra things you can (and probably should) do.

Power Conditioner

If you don’t have a power conditioner in your studio, you should start budgeting for one. You can get a decent one for under $200. I’ve told you before why you need a power conditioner. Power surges are a fact of life. Electronic equipment doesn’t respond well to these, and that little $3 plastic power strip you just found in the closet won’t do much to protect your gear.

You need something that will withstand a powerful surge. I think of it as life insurance for my equipment. And it’s completely worth the investment. There are other benefits to power conditioners too, which you can read about here.

AppleCare and Warranties

If you’re a Mac user like me, then seriously consider buying AppleCare with your next purchase. It extends the warranty coverage out to 3 years, which is a really long time in the life of a computer. I don’t like warranties, and I don’t buy them…except for AppleCare. It could save you thousands if your computer decides to die on you 18 months after you bought it.

Also consider buying more gear from Sweetwater. They’re awesome (and here are a bunch of reasons why I think so), but they also have a free 2-Year Warranty of virtually everything they sell. That’s a big deal. All you have to do is buy your gear there, and it’s included. Very cool.

Losing Your Time

And finally, if losing your work and your gear isn’t a nightmare enough, it can be just as painful to lose your time. What do I mean?

I’m talking about those projects that you are so excited about at first, but then they take you months and months to every complete…or perhaps you never complete them. There are two reasons why this happens:

Poor Planning

If you don’t finish a project, it’s probably because you didn’t plan it well. Perhaps you got so excited about having that first recording session that you decided not to actually listen to the song and do some pre-production on it beforehand. This is by far one of the biggest time-wasters in the studio. If you spend 10 weeks on a song, only to realize that you wish you had rewritten some of the chords, added a bridge, and recorded it 5 bpm slower, you’re stuck. It’s nearly impossible to go in and make those changes after you’ve recorded a bunch of parts.

Take the time to plan out the song. It doesn’t have to be a big, complicated process. Just take a half hour to make sure YOU know how you want it to sound in the end. That way you can work towards that goal.

Poor Goal-Setting

Speaking of goals, you need them in your studio. Another word for goal? A deadline.

Deadlines force you to finish projects. Without them, you’ll just click around the screen, night after night, until the next thing you know it’s 5 months later and you haven’t finished a dang thing.

Set a deadline and go for it!

What about you?

Got any nightmares you want to share with us? Got a question? Leave a comment below.