The Best Gifts For Musicians (That You Can Actually Afford)
You may be a musician, you may not. Either way, you may be looking for gift ideas for your musician friend or family member.
Well, in this post, I’ll cover some of the best gifts for musicians that won’t drain your bank account.
Why DIY Musicians Love Gifts
Most independent artists aren’t like Chance The Rapper — most of us don’t have a ton of money or even their own team.
Many musicians make a solid living and never “hit it big.” But many more artists are fighting to make a living doing what they love.
And that brings us to why these musicians love gifts — because they don’t have a ton of money. I know this because I am one of those musicians.
Now, I can’t speak for every DIY musician. But for the most part, that seems to be the case. Hence, we love free stuff of value.
How I Decided On The Best Gifts
Musical gear has a habit of being super expensive. At least that’s what most non-musicians think.
There are actually a lot of things you can get for a musician that are still affordable. So I wanted to list gift ideas that were valuable to musicians but also not ridiculously expensive for you.
And as a musician myself, I feel I have a knack for knowing what a musician wants (because I want all these things).
9 Affordable Gift Ideas For The Musician In Your Life
Now it’s time for my hand-selected gifts. There’s something here for every type of musician: performer, home producer, songwriter, and singer.
This is the easiest gift you can get a musician. But it’s also one any musical person will love.
“I want you to get something that will help you move forward in your career. And I know you know exactly what you need. So go get it.”
It puts the power in the musician’s hands.
I’d recommend a gift card to Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend, or even Amazon if you want to go the easy route. You can also see if your local music shop offers gift cards, as long as they have a good selection of anything a musician may want.
Guitar or bass strings
As a guitarist, I love getting a free pack (or two) of strings. When you’re trying to “make it” as a musician, every saved dollar counts, and a pack of strings is about six or seven saved dollars.
So if you buy guitar strings in bulk for the guitarist in your life, they will love you.
Subscription to a music streaming service
Every person who creates art consumes art. I know I listen to Spotify every day, and I hate the ads that interrupt my music listening.
So your gift could be a year’s worth of Spotify Premium or some other streaming service. The monthly cost of Spotify Premium is about $10 (although sometimes they give deals to first-time customers). So a yearlong subscription would be $120. Or you could do six months, three months, whatever.
Any length of time would be appreciated.
Your musician friend may already have a microphone — it’s one of the most essential pieces of gear, so they should already have one. Even so, it’s always nice to have a second or third or fourth mic to record multiple sources at once, or for doing A/B testing.
If you’re not a musician or gearhead, it may sound overwhelming to pick out a good mic. Let me help you out.
Here are three mics that are all reliable yet affordable options:
- Shure SM58 (the industry standard for performance mics, works well in the studio)
- Audio-Technica AT2035 (I’ve owned this for several years and it’s beautiful)
- MXL 990 (I consistently see positive reviews for this one)
Headphones, like microphones, are a very important piece of gear, especially for musicians who spend a lot of time in the studio. And, like microphones, it’s nice to have an extra pair. That way, you can record with a friend or have a backup pair in case the first pair breaks.
If you’re not sure which headphones to get, here are three great options:
- Sennheiser HD280PRO (I’ve owned these for years and they’re very nice)
- Audio-Technica ATH-M40x (Audio-Technica is a reliable company and these are great headphones)
- Sennheiser HD 559 (Sennheiser is good and so are these “cans”)
Reflection filter for singers
If you’re looking for a gift for your singer loved one, a reflection filter is a valuable but often-overlooked present.
It’s a U-shaped piece of metal or plastic-lined with sound-absorption material. This device cuts down on reverberating frequencies. In other words, it makes the vocal recording sound less reverb-y and echoey, thus isolating the singer’s voice.
We don’t need to get too technical, but just know it’s great for recording vocals.
I’ve wanted Izotope’s Ozone for a long time. I just can’t afford it right now. And this is exactly why any musician who records at home would love this gift.
It’s a piece of software that guides you through the mastering process. Mastering is the final stage of creating a professional-sounding song. It brings the loudness and overall quality up to industry standards.
And the basic version, Ozone Elements, is just $129. Which, for this program, is a great investment.
The musicians you know should always be trying to learn and grow. Otherwise, they’re probably not that good.
That’s why I’d recommend buying them access to an online course for musicians. These are especially helpful for beginners.
I’d suggest checking out the Middle Class Musician course, which is all about how to be a blue-collar musician, working hard and making a living. I took it and it was super helpful.
You can also check out Skillshare, a website full of all sorts of online courses. They’re usually taught by fellow musicians, songwriters, and producers who are sharing what they’ve learned.
Mixing With 5 Plug-ins
I think anyone who records at home should know the basics of mixing. To me, it’s part of the art. It affects so much of a song’s sound that it should be within the artist’s power to use it.
That’s why you may want to give the gift of an online course about mixing. Audio Issues has quite a few products and courses, like Mixing With 5 Plug-ins. It’s all about how to polish up your track, make it sound professional, and do it with just five plug-ins (i.e. pieces of software that work with the main recording software).
And the most basic version is only $99. Definitely worth checking out.
[Björgvin’s Addition]: Books!
I can’t publish a shopping list without including books as one of the crucial gift categories! If you’re looking to give the musician in your family a good book to read that will improve their career, check out our post on the Must-Read Music Production and Audio Engineering here.
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