For the last couple of years, off and on, I’ve been working on new music. I have old production equipment and have been looking to update but I have been hesitant to go ahead and drop the money into new gear. The primary reason is because technology has changed and continues to change very fast. When I first started producing music I purchased the quintessential gear for hip hop production at that time; an SP1200 drum machine and a Roland W-30 sampling keyboard. In my generation you either used this equipment or you had gear from Akai such as the MPC60 and the Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard. Couple that with my turntables, mixer and 10,000 records I could make new music all day. Over the course of my life I have written and produced about 60 complete songs with 100’s started but not completed. Most of you know the story of why I stopped so I won’t revisit that but it’s here if you want to read it again.
If you have a gift or passion for something no matter how much you try to walk away it is always with you. My wife and my daughter have always encouraged me to return to creating music but I….just didn’t. One day I felt the calling on my like never before and so I started researching new gear. I went to the familiar companies that I listed above to see what they were doing new but their gear just didn’t seem to fit what I was looking for, and being honest I don’t know what I was “looking” for. I just knew that their stuff wasn’t it.
One day I am on YouTube and this dude named Jeremy Ellis is demonstrating something called a Maschine. I am intrigued with what he is doing on it so I start researching the company and after a couple of weeks of comparison tests I am confident this is what I want to add to my arsenal. Before I purchase it I start watching all of the YouTube videos that are available. The company has a specific channel and their vids are called Trutorials.Andrea refers to this as going to"Youtube University". I spend months watching these videos. The Maschine has amazing capabilities. YEAH I HAVE TO HAVE ONE.
Andrea asks me over and over again when I plan to purchase one but I am still hesitant. Do I really want to put money into something that is now more a hobby than a career choice? In the end I keep putting it off. Months go by and Andrea says, “Listen, I want you to have this thing. You are so serious about your music and all you do is study every video on how to use it. I am going to buy it for you on Father’s day.” I am speechless. She is seeing my passion and she wants to help me work on that passion.
Quick backstories; in the late 80’s I had an opportunity come up that would have put me and two other people on the map. When I told my then girlfriend what was about to happen she said to me, “I don’t want to be with no rap dj man.” She told me she would leave me if I pursued this contract. The contract was never signed. In the 90’s I was CONSTANTLY in the studio. My girlfriend at the time would call and I would tell her where I was. Sometimes I would even take her so she could see what we were creating. One day I call her to see what was up for the weekend and she said, “I moved back to Alabama. You don’t have time for me.” So to have SOMEONE SUPPORT ME…. Yeah I still tear up thinking about that look in Andrea’s eyes as she told me what she wanted to do. I learned my hesitation wasn’t really about the money, more so bringing old baggage into a new relationship. Ya feel me???
Father’s day 2016 rolls around and sure enough there is a brand new Maschine Studio sitting at the house. I am super stoked. I am getting ready to get my musical groove on!!!! There is a lot of prep work to be done before it can be used though. The Maschine is basically a hardware piece that I have to plug into my laptop to use and then you have to install their proprietary software on your laptop to make it work. I pop the CD in and…..nothing. It won’t install. My laptop has the necessary stuff needed but it will not install because it is "old". I have to buy a new laptop.
I research and two days later I have a new laptop. I plug the Maschine in, install the CD again and after about 20 minutes I have access to the Maschine. The installer device on the laptop tells me to enter a serial number to verify that I have an authorized piece of equipment. Guess what?? It doesn’t work. I try again. No dice. WTF?!?!? I contact Native Instruments, the maker of the Maschine. They tell me that my Maschine is not new and that I need to contact the seller to unregister the product so that I can register it. HOLD UP?!?!? What did you just say to me???? It turns out when Andrea bought the Maschine on Amazon the seller represented it as new when in fact it was used AND they were not an authorized retailer. This means the product is not under warranty nor will they service it if it breaks.
So basically we have a $1,000 paperweight at the house and WE ARE PISSED!!!! Andrea contacts Amazon, explains what happens. Because she bought it using the Prime service we are covered by Amazon’s return policy. THANK YOU JESUS!!!! They contact the seller. The seller responds to us and the emails reads, “Would you consider keeping the Maschine if we provide you a “new” registration key.” SAY WHUHHH?!?!? I respond, “You represented this as new. It is not new. You are not an authorized retailer. Please authorize the return and refund our money.”
A day goes by and they ask the same question but a different way. We contact Amazon and ask them to intervene. They finally get the authorization from the “retailer” for us to return the $1,000 paperweight. We send it back and it takes these people almost two weeks to refund the money. I researched the return address. It’s not even a business. It’s someone’s house in Florida. As the saying goes, “Caveat Emptor”.
Andrea wants to re-order the Maschine but this time through the manufacturer’s website but I noticed that something had changed. They had a sale going on where they reduced the price by 50% on certain pieces of software. I knew this meant something new was coming so I told her we need to hold up. I think they are coming out with something new. Andrea looks at me and asks, “Are you trying to avoid getting the Maschine?” “No babe. I really think something is about to change.” Months roll by. It’s now 2017 and nothing has changed but I just know something is coming. I. Can. Feel. It. Father’s day 2017, an entire year later, rolls up and nothing has changed. Andrea trusts me but I know she wants me to have the Maschine. AND THEN IT HAPPENS!!!! In October they introduce a new Maschine and it is 100% better than the one she bought me in 2016 AND it’s half the price of the one she bought me. YES!!!!!
I start watching EVERYONE’s videos that picked one up or got one as a demonstrator to promote the new Maschine. I WANT THIS THING NOW!!!!! Andrea is excited for me. I am finally going to get my Maschine. She asks me when I want it and I said let me educate myself a little more, about a month or two ok? I study, research, watch everything that comes out and FINALLY I feel ready to get my 2016 Father’s day gift in February 2018....and then it happens.
My two year old laptop that I bought specifically for the Maschine won’t turn on. I can see it has power but it will not boot up. AWW C’MON SON!!!! I try a different plug, a different electrical outlet, nothing. It is completely dead. I am so pissed. I take it back to Bestbuy. Guess who didn’t get an extended warranty? “We can send it out and see what it the problem is.” They call me a week later. “You’re motherboard is fried. $300 to replace the board and you will lose all data in the process.” WTF?!?!? I never dropped this thing. It stayed in a bag or on a desk. It doesn’t have a single scratch. The guy tells me that sometimes it just happens. I have an 8 year old BRICK of a laptop with Windows 7 on it. It is still running, slow BUT running. Apparently that doesn’t matter, “IT happens”.
This, my friends is manufacturers planned obsolescence, where you buy something and the manufacturers use cheap materials to cause stuff to fail OR change the requirements of software and stop supporting that older software thereby forcing you fork over money to repair or replace stuff. So now before I can get my Maschine I have to buy ANOTHER laptop which requires MORE research. Oh and this time I will get an EXTENDED WARRANTY…but I will get my Maschine asap.