Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strange World - Cool Head


Taking on an Economy & Industry in Flux

For a lot of us (inside and outside the music and entertainment industry), this has been a strange and harrowing year fraught with economic adjustments and new challenges.

The music business has been undergoing a dramatic shift for at least a decade and still hasn't come to settle. More than ever, it has been incumbent upon creative entrepreneurs to carve out their own paths, and while it is true that artists now have many more tools and resources available to them to become more self-sufficient in business and production, it doesn't change the level of time, effort, and skill required to find a comfortable place in the industry.

While it's easy to see how one might feel like everything is falling apart, a far more valuable position to take would be to consider this a time for recalibration, reevaluation and evolution . This economic readjustment is, and has been, coming for some time now. New methods and mediums are still fighting for their role in the new economy, and, as always, some will flourish and some will fade.

What many of us who are working as freelance, self-employed creatives can take some heart in, is that things have not essentially changed that much for us. We wake up every day without any absolute guaranty that the jobs will be there, the projects will be paying and plentiful. Everyday is a challenge to find the work and keep things rolling even when it isn’t readily available.

Do I have any definitive answers? No. Who does? This is a great big recalibration long overdue and it is coinciding with massive technological leaps and shifts that have made the ground floor unstable for all kinds of businesses including the entire” Recording Industry”…

Remember that song “Video Killed the Radio Star” (The first MTV video ever!)


Yup, they were talking about the same kind of industry shifts back in 1979.

Every artist, era, market and circumstance is different, so there are no definitive answers.

I can only tell you the way I’m dealing with these times and inform you of the outcome of my experiments and efforts as they unfold. As I dive into this "Strange World", my motto is to keep a cool head, and figure out how to turn adversity into advantage.

The one thing that having less work than one might like provides, is the space and time to realize and address a lot of unfinished aspects of both the business and creative ends that tend to get left behind when the clock is always ticking on a client’s project. Of course one must prioritize making sure all ends are met, but we can all take an inauspicious time and use it wisely to set up for a win further down the road. Do more studying, research, and social media networking. Take steps to make your studio cleaner, more ergonomic, and efficient. Learn those keystrokes that could save you valuable time on your project work. Cut those new demos that you’d been meaning to get around to. Cut up and file those field recordings that are sitting on your media shelf and turn them into valuable organized assets in your sample library. Put together an improved and upgraded web interface. Talk to some new people and brainstorm. The list can go on and on, and many of these tasks don’t even require capital, just the will and the time.

Maybe now is just the time to take on new challenges. Attempt to achieve the unlikely… Yes, why not? What have you got to lose? There is no amount of moping, complaining or worrying that will ever float a boat, so if the old formula isn’t working try something new.

If you have faith in yourself, now is the time to invest it. If you don’t, then now is the time to earn it and get it! A lot of us have hidden masterpieces - novels, movies, songs, etc. locked up inside, waiting for the day when we have enough security and time to pursue them…All an illusion that never seems to arrive no matter where you are.

Perhaps the best time is NOW!

For myself, I’ve taken on a tall plate from the ‘all of the above’ column. This year I finished a screenplay in the action comedy genre, written with a collaborator/colleague and long time friend. We have now begun preparing a business plan to support that effort. With several music projects, a new compilation CD project (Rise of the Retrobots), and some sound design for a short film all on my plate in October, I have a lot to do and look forward to updating you with the results as these, and other projects progress.

I’d also like to hear your stories and experiments of surfing the entertainment industry during these strange and uncertain times. Feel free to share your appropriate stories, ideas and experiments as comments to this article.

Here’s wishing you all the best in your creative endeavors and careers.

T. Reed - Composer/Sound Designer/Music Producer