Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting Fired Moments

One of the instructors I worked with at McNally Smith College of Music, Bryan Forrester, used to described the Pre/Post monitor fader buttons as the “get fired buttons.” The idea being that if you decided to play with those buttons after getting a monitor mix going, you might subject your talent to a burst of ear-damaging noise and get your lame ass fired as a result. I adopted that in my own laboratory classes and expanded the concept to include things like damaging equipment, being late to a class/session, acting unprofessionally, and being lazy or slow. “If you ever notice that I am working harder than you, assume you won’t be called back to work with me again.”

Most “students” convinced themselves that I was kidding, that the working world wouldn’t be that harsh. At a dead minimum, 99% of the school’s graduates have only “worked” in a professional musical environment once or twice before retiring to their parents’ basement and a part-time career in fast food service. The problem with doubting reality is that reality could give a shit what you think.

In a competitive market, and it’s hard to imagine a market that could be more competitive than music and music technology, there are more reasons to fire someone than to hire them. While the media is packed with feel-good stories about people who failed and became successful, real life has a much larger inventory of people who failed and crawled back into bed. The difference between the two is how hard the first group worked to prove they weren’t members of the second group.

In a world booby-trapped with “get fired” moments, I recommend that you consider the possibility that your mother isn’t the best judge of your talents; for better or worse. You are unlikely to find an employer who will put up with laziness of any sort. You are unlikely to get second chances; let alone third, fourth, and so on chances. You need to listen carefully, take notes, do what you’re asked to do, do it fast, and try to make your self useful to your customers, whoever they may be. Any other approach is not a serious effort.

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Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.