A database and spreadsheet of your equipment.

I keep an up to date Database and Spreadsheet containing the details of all the hardware and software in my recording studio. I refer to these lists when I need tech support, if I need a serial number to upgrade software, when I get insurance, if there is a robbery, if I am moving and when I sell something. Since I am a Mac user my favorite apps for the task are Filemaker Pro and Numbers. However, there are many other options and my equipment lists are of quite simple.

I’ve been using Filemaker since version 3 sometime in the mid-nighties. It’s a rock solid program and it has never lost any of my data. As you type a key it makes a file save. For safety you can set up a script so Filemaker requires a password upon launch. You can keep databases on your .mac disc so you have your info “in the cloud”. I have the following fields in my Serial Number Database:

• Date Purchased
• Manufacturer
• Serial Number
• Price Paid – The actual price I paid.
• Method of Payment – Did I use Paypal? If so which account? Or did I use cash?
• Replacement Cost – If it were lost or stolen the amount it would cost to replace it.
• Purchased From
• Description
• Receipt – Filemaker allows fields that hold PDFs or .Doc files.
• Container – You can put a photo of the item here.

    I switched from Microsoft Excel to Apple Numbers to avoid MS bloat. Numbers is also capable of some pretty charts and graphs. The spreadsheet for my studio gear (which I usually use for my insurance company) is very simple. It’s only 4 columns of data with fields for: Item, Serial Number, Price and Replacement Cost. The Replacement Cost field has a total sum calculation at it’s bottom.

    Don’t forget to include your software in these lists. You are expected to have hardware keys and sometimes installer CDs covered by your insurance. For example, Steinberg will no longer replace your hardware key if you loose it. Don’t forget to add items like chairs or sound treatment. If a fire hits your studio you want your insurance to cover your Herman Miller Aeron or RealTraps. Lastly, check your list monthly and update it with any new purchases, delete sold or obsolete items and adjust some replacement costs.

    For those Wire to the Ear readers who own Filemaker you can download a clone (empty) version of the Serial Number database I created and use it as you like: click here to download

    Hard drive stolen right out of computer during set.

    I was just checking out this post on the Brooklyn Vegan blog about a gig Matthew Dear had last week. Apparently he was playing at Galapagos, a club/art space in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and someone pulled the cable out connecting his external hard disc and ran with the drive. Of course his set crashed and the gig was over.

    Matthew, who was celebrating his birthday yesterday, had been playing a killer set for 2 hours or so. Suddenly he got a message on his computer saying that his hard disk drive was unplugged… The music stopped, he checked and found out that the drive was actually missing… basically someone STOLE his hard drive in the middle of his set and ruined the all show!!! – brooklynvegan.com

    There is also a long thread over at the Ableton Live forum about it. You can find lots of colorful comments including the expected “he was spinning MP3’s he deserved it”. A more useful comment I found from Ableton forum from member “hambone1″ was that he should have had a Kensington Lock. Agreed! Check out the thread: here

    I have all my music equipment insured even when it’s on the road. I also state in my booking contract that the organization is responsible for security and any losses I incur. I usually ask whomever I put on the guestlist to keep a watch out for me (yes I am paranoid). My old music studio was just a few minutes from Galapagos. Williamsburg is an increasing great place but as the rents rise people of lesser means are pushed out. I always though this caused a clash especially when you throw drinking, drug dealing and nightlife into the mix.

    photo credit: 100five

    Secure your recording studio from thieves.

    Attack Bunny on Guard - photo

    I’m currently living in Berlin, Germany. It’s a non violent place to live and I always feel safe. However, theft and petty crime is rampant. A few months ago our storage space in the cellar was robbed. Last year my wife’s bicycle was stolen from our courtyard. What about recording studios here in Berlin? Unfortunately, I hear about a new robbery every few weeks. In the Prenzlauer Berg studio building complex I am in Jazzanova and Tobi Neuman’s studios were hit. Just last week Richie Hawtin’s custom Xone DJ Mixer was stolen when the Minus office was broken into. In Kreuzberg mySecurity Stencil - photo friend Rob Wolf recently opened a project studio in a newly renovated building and already there were two robberies reported.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t a Berlin specific problem. In 1996 my studio was robbed in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. They stole almost everything including my underwear! The only things they didn’t take were my DAT tapes and my Electrocomp-101. Those were the two most valuable things I owned so I consider myself lucky. In the end it worked out for me because it forced me to move into Manhattan were I was much happier.

    So what can you do? Nothing can stop thieves if they really want to get in but you can do a lot to deter them. Here are some ideas.

    Secure your door. Make sure your door is metal or have an aluminum plate added to weak wood doors. Have at least two strong locks with key hole tampering shields. Have a deadbolt going into vertically into the floor 3-4 inches. Have a peep hole put into Continue reading →