Letters to the Editor - December 1989

As you have noted in recent articles, a fear is sweeping the land, a fear that the production world is rapidly passing people by. Yesterday's expert is yesterday's news! While a mouth and a splicing block sufficed in the past, samplers, synths, sequencers, and MIDI are today's pre-requisites.

There exists a notion, accurate or not, that to truly compete in today's market, a production director needs to be a combination musician, mathematician, computer whiz, recording engineer, nuclear physicist, whatever -- mostly the attributes of the truly gifted, to be sure. Meanwhile, for many, bit and byte might as well describe what a dog did or does to the mailman! Actually, though, what really separates the former from the latter is just plain, good old-fashioned hands-on experience, a luxury that is simply not available to those stuck in stone-age facilities and with equally Neanderthal management.

We come then to the following suggestion: Why don't some motivated, "state-of-the-art" MIDI production types put together the kind of package that has been so successful for folks like Pat Martin in the air talent realm: the definitive, practical, modern, "how to" production seminar -- replete with expert instruction, written manuals, audio cassettes, step-by-step hands-on exercises, and, perhaps most importantly, real live MIDI gear. The seminar could travel nationwide, and could even be made available in conjunction with trade schools or college programs. Surely, many people would be in the market for such a product.

A certain amount of start-up capital would be needed, and some business acumen wouldn't hurt; but, I don't think an M.B.A. need be added to the already imposing aforementioned list of credentials. The time and resolve to actually do it is the key factor.

And you needn't worry about saturating the market with qualified production people just waiting to take your job; by the time they do:

a. You'll be so stinking rich it won't matter.
b. New technology will no doubt render all this stuff obsolete and you can start all over anyway!

Books, manuals, articles and the like are wonderful; but, let's face it, ours is a hands-on profession, and you can only really grow by doing. If someone has unbeknownst to me already thought of this idea or it is already on the market, then to quote the late Gilda Radner: "Never mind" (but do let everyone know about it). Otherwise, any takers?

Bill Reitler
Sonic Images Inc.
Costa Mesa, California

Dear Bill,

The notion is accurate to a degree, a degree that is apparently increasing. (Check the want ads on page 14 of this mag.) Even so, let's not forget that these new toys are just tools we use to decorate our message with, and our message is in our copy. How creative we write and how well we deliver the copy will always be the magic in a strong spot or promo. Still, you can't ignore the digital revolution, a revolution we've tried to minimize in last month's and this month's feature articles.

You have accurately stated the means necessary for solid growth in the technical area: hands-on experience. It's interesting to note that for decades, many of us in our early days dealt with regular rejection from this industry because we didn't have any hands-on experience. Then one day, someone gave us a chance and we learned how to use old Ampex 2-tracks and razor blades. As studios fill with the new technology simply because the old is no longer available, amateurs will get their hands-on experience just like we did; Someone will give them a chance on equipment they know nothing about, and they'll learn.

On the other hand, today's established production types are caught in the middle of this change, and we're being forced to learn the new technology. A touring "hands-on" production class is a great idea, but who's going to pay for it? How much would YOU be willing to pay? How much would your STATION be willing to pay; and if this station has this gear, wouldn't they hire someone with the experience before they pay to train somebody else? Can anything substantial really be taught in a one-day seminar? Are one or two days of "hands-on" enough? What's the use learning how to use an ADS sampler if the first one you get to work on is an Ensoniq? -- They're completely different. For every ten jocks in a market, there's about one production guy. That projects about 10% of the takers Pat Martin had and 10% of the income for the same amount of work. Remember that we radio production types are a minority, and that works to our advantage as we become increasingly valuable.

So we come down to books, manuals, articles, and a tipsheet like this one. As the technology plants a firm foot in our industry, trade schools will pick up on it and offer more production classes on this level. There are many local MIDI seminars and the like going on everywhere, but they're designed for the musician. After all, these are their toys. Nevertheless, you still get hands-on experience on the same types of equipment. Check with your local music stores for calendars of such events. They're usually put on by manufacturers of the gear who are trying to sell it, but many are done by the dealers.

If anyone knows of an upcoming seminar in your area, call or write R.A.P. so we can share the info. Of course, there's always the possibility that we can all look forward to the first edition of "Radio And Production - The Seminar!" Thanks for a most interesting letter.

jv

 


A comment on Ed Brown's statement in the October issue, "Realize that you're a highly sought minority in the business." From ROMANCING THE BRAND, The Power Of Advertising And How To Use It, by David N. Martin, page 192 under the heading of Genius Is Rare:

"The United States Census tells us that there are only 8,190 people in this country who classify themselves as copywriters, and 8,925 more who are artists and art directors. Think of how small that number is! It's frightening to realize that the entire output of the $60-billion advertising agency industry rests with them. Apply the 80 to 20 rule (80% of the work is done by 20% of the workforce) and you have about 3,400 creative people you might say are those with 'peculiar genius.'"

Glenn Miller
WKDF, Nashville, TN

Glenn,

I think that pretty much sums up this page. Thanks!

jv

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