Hi, Doctor Nick! - The Importance of Money and Whether or Not the iPad Is Just a Toy

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Don't take Nick Hook for granted. There are plenty of DJs and producers we know who can hardly get out of bed every morning, but Doctor Nick is different. The man is a hustler, someone who's constantly moving between the studio, the club, and the airport (inevitably to hit a studio or club in another part of the world). Somehow, amongst all the craziness that is his life, the good doctor also finds the time to stop by XLR8R on Thursday mornings and answer readers' questions about music, production, DJing, gear, life, love, travel, romance, and more. Nick Hook has got the knowledge and he's happy to share it. You just have to ask him. Hit him up at doctornick@xlr8r.com.

Yooooo. Sup? I can't remember what i wrote about last week, but I'm still making the world's longest rap song. I'm headed down to Atlanta next week and playing on the 21st with Treasure Fingers. I'm looking forward to it.

Ummmm. I dunno. I'm boring. This week I'm ASKING for demos, cool PDF books, stories, anything... and, of course, QUESTIONS! Send me shit. doctornick@xlr8r.com. Mad love.

Hi Doctor Nick,
Recently I've been messing about with the iPad. I've downloaded the MPC, Nave, Thor, and various other drum machines and synths. It's amazing what kind of "studio" you can amass for such a meager price.

My question is, with all the new apps and abilities of the iPad, do you think that it's more of a toy, or a viable tool for music creation? Where do you see it taking music production and how do you see its future in the live setting as well?

p.s. I enjoy your columns, thanks for your insights.

Hey man. Thanks. Glad you enjoy them.

To be honest, I just bought an iPad mini like three weeks ago. I recently did this video for Serato and they just dropped their own app, so I figured I should probably have that if I'm gonna be working with them.

I don't see it as a toy. I just see it as something new that makes you think and act in different ways. Obviously, you can't bang on the iPad MPC in the same fashion as the hardware version, but you also can't take out the hardware one on the plane or in the middle of the woods and record an idea that you can take back to your studio and manifest into something real.

I'm a big fan of trying to capture your ideas as they happen; that way, you don't have to remember or recreate them later. The iPad can help with that, and having something that does so many things in one little package is pretty amazing to me. I have also been around some companies that are developing things and I would definitely say that it is the future.

The thing that I love the most about the iPad is that you can adapt it to exactly what you need. I remember when the Lemur first came out and everyone dreamed of a touchscreen interface to do whatever you wanted. It was $5000. Now it's $50.

Also, I'd love to hear about everyone's favorite apps—music or non-music. Tell me in the comments section. The Animoog has been a bunch of fun for me lately.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I want to make an investment in something that will empower me to work on my music on a consistent basis. Some of my friends have recommended that I begin by purchasing something like Ableton Live. I’ve tried the software, and it seems enabling and important to have, but it is so damn expensive. I’m a student, so I don’t have much money or much time to make any, so I’ve got to be careful with how I choose to spend what I do have. Is an expensive program a good way to start, or should I go for some entry-level hardware, since I am, after all, a beginner?

Secondly, I was wondering what your viewpoint on money is in general. It seems so irrelevant to the enjoyment and celebration of good music, but then again, it seems so necessary (perhaps sadly) in order to participate in the creation of that music. A humble penny for your wisdom.

I mean... I think if you look hard enough, you can get all of these programs for free. There are also demo versions. That said, I come from the school that if you believe in something and if you are using it as your livelihood, it's worth buying. I don't know about you, but having a cracked plug-in make crazy static when it fucks up or your Ableton crashing during a show is NOT the look. It's expensive for sure, but Ableton is exclusively dedicated to making software and not selling computers and I enjoy that. To me, Apple kinda used the advanced users of Logic and then dumbed down the whole program and abandoned them after Apple went "mainstream" post-iPod/iPad/etc.

There are also a bunch of other options out there. Reason, Fruity Loops, Pro Tools. Maybe one works better for you, and is cheaper. I say steal it for now and see if it's something you really believe in. After that, spend the money.

My opinion on money... I guess there's the dream and then the reality.

I'm not sure really how I feel about it. I'm eternally grateful that I am earning a modest living doing what I love, that most of my travel is paid for, and for all of the perks that go along with it. I'm also older now, so living to a certain standard is important to me, whether it's going out and enjoying myself or using money to fly friends places I get to go. I also live in Manhattan and own a studio, so I have a pretty high overhead, but I love both. So again, I have to provide for all that stuff. I'm not trying to live on my homie's couch at this point in my life, but I'm also not trying to have a real job ever again, so I gotta keep all of this in mind, and be very aware of where opportunities are and how to monetize them.

I hate that there's some sort of negative stigma attached to earning money for doing music. We spent countless hours honing our craft and for the most part our job is to make people happy and detach their thoughts from "real" life, even if it's only for a minute. That's worth something, right?

I think money is important to the enjoyment of music. You pay for records/MP3s/t-shirts/tickets to shows, an artist makes a living off it, and can dedicate the majority of their life to it. Working 40 hours a week and then coming home to create is incredibly difficult. When an artist is free of that, having pure creative time (because they are supporting themselves off their craft) should make them better, simply because they'll have time to actually get better.

That said, maybe it would be awesome to live in some commune, wandering around naked with 26 wives and growing your own plants… with a sick studio, of course.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.