Uncancel the Holidays! Our 2020 Musician’s Gift Guide

holiday gift guide collage

holiday gift guide collage

Now first things first.

Given most people who work in music are at best underemployed at the moment, you could try and WIN your holiday gift this year (and brush up with some music learning in the process) in our first ever Holiday Giveaway. Everybody enrolled in Soundfly’s all-access subscription by December 19th will be automatically entered to win loads of great prizes including gear for your home studio, autographed albums from some amazing artists, Soundfly swag, and more!

Check out some of the prizes below and click here to read more.

And while we’re shamelessly self-promoting — did you know that you can buy Soundfly mentorship sessions or course subscriptions as a gift for that special musician in your life?

It’s true! Just shoot us an email at [email protected] and tell us what you’d like to give, and we can send along a printable, emailable gift certificate for your loved one. (Plus, we’re running a sale through December, just mention code HOLIDAY2020 for 20% off!)

Now, let’s get to the gifts.

Masks for Everyone (and Everything) on Your List

Musical Face Masks — $7.99-$16.95

music face mask

It’s still 2020 after all, so show your love by keeping everyone safe and healthy. Etsy is full of amazing masks this year featuring instruments, staffs and notes, your favorite artists, and so much more.

Musical Instrument Masks — $39.99

COVID Flute Mask

But why only give to people? It’s not like you even see them anymore, anyways… You can now buy masks for that important instrument in your life! This one for flute is probably my favorite yet. (Note: This is neither medical advice nor an endorsement. I’ve never met a flute mask in real life, but I’m pretty delighted that they exist.)

Planning for the Future

A Travel Practice Guitar — $198

Folding travel practice guitar

I don’t know about you, but the minute I get that vaccine (and wait the prescribed amount of time for it to become effective and follow it up with a booster, if needed), I’m out of here. If you know anyone who will be on the plane with me, take a look at this guitar, which collapses down to just 34″ x 3″ so you can practice no matter where in the world you wind up.

Critter & Guitari Organelle — $595

A perennial holiday gift guide favorite, the Critter & Guitari Organelle got a facelift and all kinds of bonus features, just in time for the gifting season. There’s now a built-in mic, a more powerful speaker, MIDI in and out, and most importantly, battery power, so this is one more gift that can hit the road!

Dato Duo Synthesizer/Sequencer Combo — $296.63

If your 2021 plans involve seeing other people, then check out the Dato Duo, a very cool little instrument that allows two people to collaborate at once, creating some fun synthy sounds. A synthesizer on one side and sequencer on the other, this machine is both very accessible for beginners and has the ability to connect with the rest of your gear for endless creative possibilities.

(And if you want to brush up on your synth skills to impress your friends when you actually get to see them, don’t forget about our new premium course, Advanced Synths and Patch Design for Producers!)

The Gear We’ve Got on Our Lists

Moog Werkstatt-Ø1 — $199

This is what our synths course author and instructor John Hull is asking for for Christmas this year. It’s a fully DIY version of the famous Moog synth and makes an awesome beginner synth, educational tool, or just a fun project to test and stretch your synth knowledge. No doubt that John will be using it to make sure his son is well-versed in the fundamentals of analog synthesis by his first birthday.

Audio-Technica LPW40WN — $299

If you’re anything like me, your two toddlers pressed all the buttons on your turntable so many times in the past year that it doesn’t really work anymore (too specific?). If you’re in the market for a new record player, Audio-Technica recently revamped their full lineup, adding a new, colorful set of options and updated features to their entry-level LP60 — now LP60X. But I’ve got my eye on the new LPW40WN, not just for how pretty it is. But seriously, mostly for how pretty it is. Also for the way the controls sit under the dustcover, which I can then put a child lock on.

Splice Sounds — $7.99/month

A membership to Splice Sounds will only run you $7.99 a month and is one of the most powerful music making tools out there. Get access to a nearly endless library of one-shots, loops, FX, MIDI, and presets, totally royalty-free. Curious what the samples sound like? Check out this sample pack from Charles Burchell, instructor of our Hip-Hop production course.

And if you need help setting those one-shots up, check out this article key-mapping for one-shot samples on the Splice blog.

Auto-Tune Harmony Engine — $249

The Harmony Engine allows you to create stunning vocal harmonies from a single voice. Carter Lee, host of our in-house podcast Themes and Variation went on a deep dive into the Harmony Engine after breaking down Bon Iver’s iconic vocal performance in “715 – CRΣΣKS.” If you know someone going for a Bon Iver-inspired sound, this is your gift.

Steven Slate Audio VSX Modeling Headphones — $479

Given the price tag, this is a little more of a wishlist item, but Marty Fowler and John Hull, producers of our series of audio mixing courses, have their eyes on these new headphones from Slate Audio. These closed-back mixing headphones come with software that allows you to model the sound you’re mixing in a variety of different listening environments. Super high-tech.

Not ready to shell out quite so much on a gift? Both John and Marty currently have Audio-Technica M50xs, and at about $150, they’re a steal for a pair of headphones you can reliably use for professional-quality mixing.

Soundtoys 5 — $229 (on sale from $499)

soundtoys 5

Another repeat entry on our list of favorite holiday gifts. Soundtoys 5 is the plugin pack recommended most often at Soundfly HQ. You can get years worth of music making from this set of effects before you ever need to start looking elsewhere for sounds.

Novation Launchkey 37 [MK3] MIDI Controller, Slate Digital ML-2 Virtual Modeling Microphone, and PreSonus Eris E5 Studio Monitors — Free! (If you win…)

Naturally, we’re all hoping to win these items in our Holiday Giveaway at the end of this year. (Don’t worry, we can’t, it’s against the rules. But you can!) But if you don’t win, these three bits of gear are well worth your investment and would make great gifts.

The Novation Launchkey 37 is the perfect step-up MIDI controller if you feel like you’re starting to outgrow your basic keyboard-style controller. It’s compact, intuitive, and fully integrated so you can start making music immediately.

The Slate Digital ML-2 is a truly revolutionary microphone that provides a nearly perfectly linear sonic response, and comes with a full digital microphone rack of customizable presets that model both vintage and modern classic mics in the Slate Digital software. We don’t like to say “one size fits all” when it comes to mics, but in this case, I think it might be true.

And finally, check out these PreSonus Eris E5 studio monitors. These speakers are both affordable and likely a step up sonically from whatever you’re using right now. With tight low-end projection and crisp high-end frequency response, the E5 series monitors are definitely worth the investment.

(Keep in mind that we’re giving away not just gear, but also signed LPs from great artists and Soundfly mentorship sessions and swag, all for free. Learn more here and enter to win!)

Ableton All Day Every Daybleton

Ableton recently announced they’re launching the next release of their flagship product, Ableton Live 11 sometime in Q`1 of 2021 and we’re amped. And wouldn’t you know it… we’ve got an Intro to Music Production in Ableton Live 10 & 11 course coming out around the same time! Sign up for our email list or simply subscribe to Soundfly to be notified when this exciting course launches.

Here are some gifts for those other enthusiasts in your family who can’t seem to get enough Live in their life.

Ableton Live 11 — Preorder Only

Like a lot of the software on this list, this one you can’t really surprise someone with, but if you know any current Ableton Live 10 Suite users, they can preorder Live 11 now for 20% off. The presale is currently limited to existing Suite users only, so you’ll have to coordinate with your giftee to get them access.

Ableton Live Unisex Sweater — $21

You show up to your next gig wearing this? Instant Gram Glam. Producers, beware of jealousy.

Ableton Live Coffee Mug — $19.95

Don’t let this model’s grumpy attitude fool you, she’s plenty caffeinated. And when you get to relive an epic electronic production session every time you bring your coffee mug up to your mouth, you would be too! Get this mug, it ships free.

Ableton Live 100% Wet Shower Curtains — $57.14

This is a shower curtain for real producers, who understand the value of a great pun and can take a joke about how obsessed they are. If you are such a producer, you should not leave home without this… wait that’s not right, definitely do leave home without this.

Fill Those Stockings

Moleskine Music Notebook — $19.95 plus $8 for personalization

With blank pages on the left side and staff paper on the right, this Moleskine notebook is the perfect gift for the “always songwriting” songwriter in your life. Plus, you can personalize the cover with an image and two lines of text!

Amoeba Music Enamel Pins — $10.99

sade bowie lauryn hill

Amoeba Music — possibly the most iconic independent music store in the country — has had a rough year. They lost the lease to their original Sunset Boulevard location as the lot was rezoned for a high rise. And then just as they were preparing to move into a new location, COVID struck, shutting down their plans. But they’ve still got a thriving website full of music, merch, and original gifts like these enamel pins featuring David Bowie, Sade, Lauryn Hill, and dozens of others. Support independent music!

Music Theory Cheat Sheet — $4.88

Not that we’d ever suggest cheating at learning music theory… but sometimes it’s nice to give your brain a break and just stare up at the wall for the answers you’re looking for. This infographic is good looking enough to hang next to the show posters in your practice space, and is a whole lot more useful! (And then when you get down to business, we’ve got free theory courses for producers, pianists, singers, you name it!)

Drumstick Pencils — $8.15

We all know someone who can’t be handed a knife, pen, or chopstick without becoming the next Dave Grohl. So lean into it with a pair of drum stick pencils! Who knows, maybe they’ll even start writing down a musical idea or two!

Further Reading

Given we run an online music school, it should come as no surprise we are big fans of giving and receiving books for the holidays. Here are a few that will probably end up on our own bedside tables this winter.

Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works, and Why It Matters by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding — $24.95

Charlie Harding, who co-hosts one of our favorite podcasts, Switched on Pop, came on our podcast recently and blew us away with his encyclopedic knowledge of the history, structure, song forms, styles, legacy, and meaning of pop music. Listen to our podcast episode first, of course, but then go buy his book.

The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America by Marcus J. Moore — $16.31

This is a book with a ton of well-deserved buzz. It’s a poignant read not only about Kendrick, himself, but about his music and the larger context of hip-hop music, culture, and the world right now. It makes a great gift for any lover of Kendrick, hip-hop, or music biographies, in general.

Music Theory for the Bass Player by Ariane Cap — $35.53

Soundfly team member Martin Fowler recommends this book immensely, written by his former bass teacher, saying that this is “basically how I learned fluidity on the bass. And it’s now the book I teach from and turn to first anytime I’m teaching a student bass.”

Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands From NKOTB to BTS by Maria Sherman — $22.12

Soundfly Head of Curriculum, Mahea Lee is reading (and loving) this deep nerd out on the history of boy bands. It’s the perfect mix of serious musical study and fun, goofy romp.

The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon by Maxine Gordon

Flypaper editor Jeremy Young has been on a Dexter Gordon kick ever since one of our students told him the story of meeting Gordon in an airport and asking for an autograph. The student handed Gordon his music notebook to sign, and instead of an autograph, Gordon composed and transcribed an original piece of music, right on the spot. On hearing this story, Jeremy got musicians from all over to create “premier” recordings of this long lost Dexter Gordon original. You can read that story and listen to the tracks here. And then join Jeremy in reading this biography written by Gordon’s wife Maxine.

Wrapping It All Up

What’s on your list? Share your wishlist items or gifts in the comments below! And if you know a musician or aspiring musician wanting to take the next step in their musical journey, email us at [email protected] to get the ball rolling on a gift certificate.

And if this list has inspired you to work on your own musical chops, join the Soundfly subscription! We just slashed the price of our annual subscription so that you now get 6 months FREE when you sign up. It now costs only $19/month for access to both all our premium, creative music courses, and our online Slack community of musicians, experts, and students where you can get feedback, ask questions, find collaborators, and get inspired!

RJD2: From Samples to Songs

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


Metronome Games: How to Improve Your Time While Having Fun

Most musicians associate the metronome with boring practice exercises, but here are 3 ways you can improve your timing that are actually fun!


How to Recognize Chords Faster

Being able to recognize chords, tonalities and intervals quickly can help improve your ability to perform, improvise, write and arrange music.


Three Examples of Dilla Swing

In this lesson from Ian Chang’s course, “Warped Rhythms & Abstract Beats,” he explores three ways Dilla inspired his sense of time and feel.