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Jeffrey P. Fisher
There's no such thing as a free lunch is the quote you've often heard. I
disagree. If you are willing to part with some of your time, experience,
and maybe a tiny bit of cash, you CAN get lots of free things to use to
further your music and sound career. What do you have to do to get this
free gear? You just need to take the initiative
 Free offers
Keep your eyes open and take advantage of free offers you see in
magazines, newspapers, and online. When manufacturers offer free
samples of their wares, ask for your share. By just responding to offers in
ads and such I've received free DAT tapes, production music and sound
effects CDs, newsletter and magazine subscriptions, and other doo-dads.
Many manufacturers want you to try their stuff and they use free
samples as a way to get you to try -- and later buy -- what they offer.
Take advantage of these offers and you'll get all kinds of neat things.
Don't just be a freebie seeker, though. If you like what you get, you
might consider becoming a regular customer. Much of the gear and
software I now use (and pay for) came from free sample requests.
Another way to get free gear is to enter contests. Magazines,
manufacturers, and music stores are always offering contests that earn
winners free music gear and related material. For usually filling out a form
or postcard, you have the chance to win. I'm not a big contest fanatic,
but when presented with the opportunity, I'll add my name to the list. I
don't mail dozens of entries or advocate staking your life -- or career -- on
winning a contest, but it can be fun. I've walked away with T-shirts,
books, and other door prizes at local music stores and conferences after
doing nothing more than putting my name on a card. At one music
store's invitation-only sale, I printed my name on the back of the ticket.
This was dropped into the box upon entering the store. The next day the
music store called and said I won the guitar they were giving away.
 Write in exchange for free gear
This next method requires the most work on your part. However, the
rewards are greater, too. You won't spend much money, but you will
spend some of your time. The basic strategy is to contact magazines,
newsletters, Web sites, and manufacturers and offer to trade your
musical expertise for something else. In short, propose an article, review,
or tip sheet about a piece of gear. I've scored several hundred dollars in
software and other gear in exchange for writing reviews and articles. In
many cases I was paid for the articles, too. At the very least, I used the
articles to plug books and other resources that I sell. Simply send a brief
letter or e-mail to the target publication or manufacturer. Describe your
article idea, what is important about it, why it's important, and why you
are qualified to write it. Follow up and see what happens.
 Get free stuff, the easy way
Of course, there is a wealth of free information, samples, software, and
more yours for the taking on the Internet. Just login and a grab what you
need. Start here: http://www.jeffreypfisher.com/free.html
Why pay to make your musical life better when you can get some of
what you need free?