Trent Howard: Audio Engineer/Composer and Musician

As my first blog post, this will be an introduction to who I am as a practitioner of audio, and ultimately, where I want my skills and knowledge to take me, as well as establishing which industries/sections of industries I want to become established in.

A requirement of this trimester is what I am doing now; establishing my professional identity, and delving into what makes me tick as an eventual professional practitioner, while summarizing and reflecting on material provided to me about the creative industries on a weekly basis. This post will discuss two topics:

  • The basics of working within the creative (new) media industries
  • Understanding my potential income while practicing my craft (audio)

Working In The Creative Industries

For the first lecture, we discussed the need to understand the industries I will potentially be working in, and what to expect while working within the creative (new) media industries, detailing the potential hurdles and struggles that all practitioners will have to surmount. A summarized version of a study undertaken by Prof. Rosalind Gill was presented, depicting how creative professionals are portrayed in media, and discussing her ’10 key features’ to living the new media life that I will be a part of and share with other practitioners. These key features ranged from basics such as most likely having to work and long and undesirable hours, to more introspective concerns such as being able to visualize a future and ensuring that a goal is always being worked towards.

From the above summary of the lecture, I summarized it to myself even further: Resourcefulness and maintaining a passion while developing your resume. I believe these are keys to being successful creatively. Entering into my audio engineering course was a scary decision, because like most other people, I want to live a (relatively) comfortable life and feel stable and secure, but at the same time, I want to be doing something for a living that I actually enjoy. Obviously, I’ve decided that music/audio is the path for me. Because of that however, I feel that I have chosen a high risk vs. high reward scenario, as my impression of the audio industry (and any other creative field) is that it is ruthless. Long and often undesirable hours, very few stable and secure positions while having a relatively large number of practitioners, and having to be a networking and marketing guru on top of the workload to maintain and expand my income, are life skills that aren’t exclusive to working in audio. Alex Williams is head of the BA in animation and visual effects at Bucks New University, England, and he states that, “You’ve got to get the life skills in place before you leave university. Everyone wants to work in media, and as a result, it’s really competitive” (Gurney-Read, 2013).

When I think of this though, I try to remember back to when I first a song that I really connected with emotionally, or how I played a video game with an incredibly moving soundtrack accompanying it, or watched a movie with a score that provided or amplified emotional context, and realize that at the end of the day, I want to be involved in that process, regardless of hurdles. I want to be a part of something amazing, something that I have put all of my time and effort into, whether individually or as part of a team, that makes people feel something (other than indifference!) about what they have just heard or witnessed. Ideally, I would like to be doing that within the video game and film industries, and I want to do this because I love it. Essentially, even though I have had my moments of doubt in the past, I realize that I now accept the high risk vs. high reward scenario, and that in itself is very rewarding, knowing that I can dedicate my future to making it work, and I am doing this course with a number of others in the same situation. A burden shared is a burden halved after all, and the relationships I build now will serve to ensure that I have a better chance of being stable in the future. Building networks and a solid reputation within the community will take me as far as I allow it to (Bunting, 2010).

I can now spend all of my time being resourceful, which leads into the second topic: Income!

Income In The Creative Industries

The second lecture addressed our need to think about how to find and maintain our potential income from being a creative professional. It followed in a similar vein to the first lecture, essentially a list of different ways to earn money with pros and cons listed for each, ranging from salaried positions, to crowdfunding, to direct consumer sales, to freelancing.

I did have a basic understanding of this situation already, but upon paying closer examination, one thing that I noticed amongst all of these different methods of earning money, is that the internet is extremely important. With an abundance of creative professionals looking for work, there will always be competition, therefore marketing and self-promotion is key. What better and easier way to promote myself than to utilize a platform that millions, even billions of people use everyday? Save for salaried positions, potential sources of income can be found and even created online. Obviously, I am not the first to realize this, and my competition will be taking similar steps to promote themselves. A number of professional artists/musicians have made their money by finding the right place to promote themselves. Jack Conte (of Pomplamoose fame) found his stairway to (semi) stardom by making the decision to go full steam ahead with working in music, decided to utilize Youtube, and ended up with requests to use his music in other forms of media. (Bylin, 2012).

Ironically, even though salaries offer stability (stability being something I listed earlier as being important to me), I believe I would vastly prefer to be freelancing in any of its myriad forms. As much as I want to be secure, I am not studying this course to become another cog in the machine. I want to be able to tap into my creative juices on a whim, to make something that I think is amazing. If I was to work to someone else’s brief, I would definitely do what I was asked to, and do it exceptionally. However, freedom (even the illusion of it) is very important to me, and I will take whatever steps I deem necessary to create enough income to continue working in an ‘indie’ fashion, as many practitioners have made it work in the past, therefore, I can as well.

In summary, from the lectures that have been presented to me thus far, I have learnt that no matter which path I take, there will be difficulties. The best workaround to any of these issues? The same answer as every other job and industry: be exceptionally good at what I do. If I look after my craft, my craft will look after me!

Bibliography

Bunting, S. (2010). Getting into the Industry. Retrieved 24/2/16 from http://totalproaudio.stevebunting.com/475/starting-out/getting-into-the-industry/

Bylin, K. (2012). The Most Honest Interview About The Music Industry Ever, Featuring Jack Conte Of Pomplamoose. Retrieved 24/2/16 from http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/11/the-most-honest-interview-about-the-music-industry-ever-featuring-jacke-conte-of-pomplamoose.html

Gurney-Read, J. (2013). Student life: getting into the creative industries. Retrieved 24/2/16 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life/10526412/Student-life-getting-into-the-creative-industries.html

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s