We talk a lot about being a professional creative, and there seem to be as many definitions of the term as there are those who work in the industry.
Some suggest it is about the gear you use or the people you hang out with. Some think it is about the amount of money you earn, or where you work.
For example, if you still use the term bedroom producer in a derogatory way then it says more about you than it does about the thousands of professionals working from home. In fact, I can't think of anything more sensible than reducing overheads by working from home. If you never have clients visit you then wasting money on renting expensive business premises is unwise if not insane.
If you choose to work in your bedroom, shed, cellar or spare room then don't let someone look down on you for making that choice. Remember profit is what you don't spend and every pound spent on rent is another pound not going into your pocket. You might need to own a studio facility to do your job, you may have to track drums or have clients visit, but remember if you don't need them then get rid of them, they are an unnecessary business overhead that reduce your profits.
Our Own Little World
Someone once told me there is more money made in the fresh tomato industry than the pro audio industry. It may be an urban myth but it does contextualise how important our world is in the grand scheme of things.
We have endless arguments in forums, social media or on the comments of blogs like this one about the gear we use. You see comments like "if you don't use this DAW then are an amateur." or "You need to use this microphone to get a professional sound." That's utter rubbish, in fact, I would suggest that if you can't get a decent result from almost any gear these days, then it says more about your skills than the gear. After all, a bad workman blames their tools, and the tools we have at our disposal today give us all we need at a fraction of the price.
Do we need professional tools to do the job? Of course. But let's not get so wrapped up in them that we forget why we own them. At times when you read online comments, gear ownership can feel like an arms race or a pissing contest. My advice is if you have the tools to do the work you do then that's all you need, everything else is window dressing.
It seems that too many of us think that our clients care about the same things those in the bubble of our industry do. Just like in politics, we are not immune from the echo chamber of social media, and we allow ourselves to think everyone outside the audio industry agrees with our point of view, or even cares!
When I take my car to be serviced, I have no idea how they are going to do the work and with what tools. It is likely that on their tea break the engineers are reading the latest information on car servicing techniques, they may argue with their fellow engineers about the benefit of the E4528 sprocket transmoglifier versus the K4000 flipbangler. I would have no idea what they are talking about, in fact, I don't even give a rat's ass about the subject.
All I care about is they do an excellent job and return it to me when they promise.
I'll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want
Our clients are the same - they just want us to deliver.
Part of the reason I don't have time to get drawn into endless industry discussions is that I have deadlines. Some weeks this can mean starting work at 6am and not finishing until 10pm, not for one day but days on end. I recently did days like this, I had to work the weekend and miss two bank holidays. I'm writing this article on a Saturday morning because it is the only free time I have to do it. Some of you reading this will know what I'm talking about, I'm describing your life too.
I have wonderful clients and get great work to do for them. We have banter, we exchange jokes, we share stories about our vacation and show one another pictures of our kids, but as they should, they expect excellent work, delivered on time. If I fail to do this, then I should expect them to find someone else to do it. Will that person use a particular DAW? Will they use a microphone brand everyone is talking about on our blog? Will they have the most popular plug-ins? Will they have a Soho studio? None of that will matter to the client. Not one of my clients has ever asked me what I use to deliver their work to them. Of course, you might get calls where someone will ask you if you can collaborate with a certain file format, but that's more about workflow than gear.
Clients hire you to make their problem go away, to fix the unfixable, to deliver the impossible vision, to meet the unattainable deadline. Our job is to make real the unimaginable, to fashion the unworkable and to make dreams come true. For our clients, their dreams are not riding a Unicorn across the field of sunflowers but simply making a project work.
Stand And Deliver
The only question for you as a professional is can you deliver?
If you can, then expect to make a great living from your creative talents. If you can't, then start changing the things that stop you doing it. Here's a clue, it has little to do with what you use and where you use it and much more to do with your attitude.
Two things matter to my clients QUALITY and DEADLINES. These are the things that should matter to you too.