Earlier this week Mike Asked the question - How Do We Survive In The ChangingWorld Of Pro Audio? Following on from that I have some questions to ask....
Can We Still Make A Living As And Audio Professional?
It’s a good question. Many of us think we can but how? We hear all to often of colleagues who have “had enough” and decided it’s time to get “a proper job”.
As a musician I know of only a very small number of players who are just making their living from playing their instrument. If you land a job with one of the top London orchestras then yes you make a living but its not great money.
Many orchestral players also play on sessions, they teach, do other musical things, all of which got me thinking. Does the“Jack of all trades” approach also apply to our world too and is it necessarily a bad thing?
For me as well as many of my friends and colleagues I think it does. I would call myself a musician first and a technical operator second. Not because I doubt my ability as an engineer or producer, but I feel it is the aspect of my skill set that sets me apart from others who also do the same type of things.
I can, and do, wear many hats on a session. I not only engineer recording projects, but also find myself as producer, programmer and performer; all in one days recording, swapping those metaphorical hats rapidly at times.
Do I think it is a bad thing? No. Do I think that sometimes the client may have got a better result had they had the time and budget to have all those individuals in on the project? Maybe, but at the level I work at (which is generally very high) the investment needed to engage many contributors on a track or album is long gone.
Now I am not going to get nostalgic for the old days because to be honest I am young enough to have not been this side of the glass for the times when there was such thing as an advance on an album. I am making the best of the industry as it stands today. Yes there are problems, but there is more music being made than every before. More people are using small studios like mine to get their musical ideas out into the world. Now quality of this output is not something I am going to get into right now but I am working and making a living. And I love what I do.
So other than the studio stuff what is there?
Well many techies (both qualified and not) go into teaching. I try to look at my role with Pro Tools Expert as one of a teacher or guide to all things musical and hi-tech. Teaching can be a great way to give back to your chosen art form and make a buck at the same time. Remember that teaching is not just limited to the classroom these days. One to one teaching is very popular and the demand for online content is massive.
I know some producers who also like getting their hands dirty. DIY is one thing but not everyone is quite so able when it comes to the skills needed for building, installing and testing small studios.
These are just some of the avenues that professionals like us in the music technology industry are taking to make a couple of quid, when maybe the studio is empty. There is nothing wrong with being a jack of all trades but be warned. Talking the talk is one thing, but you need to be able to walk the walk too. Don’t, having read this article, decide that you are going to start a studio installation company without having the skills to solder an XLR or wire a 3 pin mains plug. Nor do I think it’s a great idea to sell yourself as an educator if you are not a good communicator, remember that all these other skills will take time to learn, hone and perfect.
Jack of all trades? I'm not sure, no one would use that term for a full-service advertising agency. The world is changing and we need to do the same to survive, perhaps it's not only us that needs to adapt but also the language that tries to describe us with pithy cliches.