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Thread: Turning Point

  1. #1
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    Default Turning Point

    It's been a long time since I've posted anything on here but I'm glad to be back. What I have to say is more of an observation about myself, but I'm wondering how often/if it happens to any of you.

    I became a member of this forum in early 2005. I've learned a lot on here from a lot of people. I've had helpful answers to many questions and I've even been made to feel stupid at times because of responses to my responses. I've learned to welcome criticisms despite the messenger (whether on 3dB or via clients). I've learned how to simply engineer while the client/artist calls the shots- even though they may have hired me to produce and arrange their music in the first place. It's been a long journey but I've gained so much experience that has impacted many areas of my life other than recording.

    I'm burned out, though. Not counting the lack of clients/work, I'm not driven to write or record any more like I used to be. It's been a tough past couple of months while I have come to this realization. I know that part of it has to do with my own personal standards of how music should sound versus what I've accomplished (IMO my mixes are not near the level a lot of 3dB-ers can do). I don't get it - I have decent equipment, a decent room, a good DAW, but what I've found is that regardless of my gear, my talent seems to have hit a brick wall. It's very discouraging.

    Do any of you ever feel this way? Do you feel like no matter how hard you try, your stuff always sounds the same? Like there's something missing that divides you from what the pros are doing? I'm not trying to start a technical discussion here, so please don't anyone take it there. Regardless of equipment and client talent and room size and... you get the point... Is there a plateau that we reach as engineers/writers/singers/guitar players/etc?

    I don't know what the answer is. Anyone? I feel like I'm stuck and there's something holding me back but I can't find it to know what to fix. Is it time to call it quits and follow another path for my life? Any professional advice or stories would be appreciated... maybe my answer lies with one of you.
    Last edited by TheMusicFactory; 04-05-2009 at 08:43 AM.

  2. #2
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    Wireline is offline 3D VIP 2004, '05, '06, '08, '09, '10
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    David,

    From reading your post, I think one thing that might help your current situation is to bring in a trusted friend/fellow engineer into your world, even if just temporary.

    I've found that first hand exposure of your gear being tweaked by someone else can be a very eye/ear opening experience, and can reveal both the flaws and the strengths of your operating methods. Sometimes, its just a matter of having someone else remind you of the basics, sometimes your guest can tweak an EQ or turn a phrase in ways that will reset your imagination.

    Sometimes, all it takes is someone else's influence to show you how good your stuff can really be.

    Good luck.
    Ken Morgan
    2010 3d VIP

  3. #3
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    As I read your post, I was reminded of this other post from just a few days back. Maybe you will find it encouraging, since it expresses a similar sentiment.

    http://www.3daudioinc.com/3db/showpo...8&postcount=11
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  4. #4
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    Or it could be something like this.

    When I was in the 10th grade I wanted to be a painter. This was not some crazy tangent since I had taken art classes for years. My hero was Albert Bierstadt. Here are two examples (internet thumbnails) of his work.





    I worked as hard as I could for a whole year and, despite encouragement from teachers and friends, I wasn't able to paint anything I thought measured up to his work. So I quit. I haven't painted since.

    It was about 10 years later (I was 26) that I realized I was comparing myself and my work to one of American's premiere landscape painters who had 50 years experience when he painted these amazing landscapes. How fair was it comparing my work at 16 with his?
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  5. #5
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    I'm not sure the answer lies with any of us, maybe? I would think those who know you best and are closest to you would be best able to give you advice in regards to quiting or changing of a life path.

    Without knowing you well, but hearing what you've said in your post, it sounds like a few things are happening.

    1. You are not satified with the sounds/quality-of-recordings/mixes.

    2. You have set your goals of sound quality very high. (nothing wrong with that, just stating what you've described.)

    3. You feel discouraged about your talent level supposedly not meeting your sonic expectations.

    4. You feel uninspired currently, burned out.

    5. You have thoughts of quiting.

    Feelings of inadequacy typically come and go. I'm sure even the best of the best audio guys/gals possibly lament their skills compared to others they admire. You should find out whether your feelings have merrit or if they are just feelings. I assume if you've been doing recording for a while, you are probably quite skilled, and perhaps are just feeling burned out. So that the issue could likely be more to do with how you are feeling about life, rather than the reality of your skill set and creative inspiration.

    If there are local engineers whom you trust and respect, and who know of your work, it might be worth scheduling a meeting with one of them to discuss your situation.

    Lack of clients may have more to do with the DAW-home-recording revolution and the current economic times rather than your personal engineering skills.

    Lack of inspiration probably has no reflection on your skill set either. Even the greatest of the greats in arts/music go through uninspired times in life.

    If you have any musical bone in your body, you're likely not going to "quit" music or recording in all capacity. So perhaps you will always record and write music, but maybe at varying degrees for different times in your life. Who knows. Some of us here may have some good general advice, but I'd try to get some more specific personal advice from those who know you best.

    all the best.
    Last edited by Mike Derrick; 04-07-2009 at 01:47 AM. Reason: edits

  6. #6
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    All good insight from you all. Thank you.

    I hate to think that I'm so easily swayed by something like the economy, but there is reality and unfortunately we all are affected by the real world in one way or another. It's easy to get wrapped up in my own world of writing and not pay attention to what's happening around me.

    There is a "real" studio in town that I've gone and talked to the chief engineer (great guy) about freelancing there. Obviously his facility is light years ahead of what I've got, so it's nice to be able to offer the "real studio" to those goofball clients who dont know how good/inexpensive/fast/relaxing it can be to work at the house. I will go talk to the guy and see if he'll let me sit in on some sessions and be a fly on the wall or a gofer.

    I do set my standards pretty high. It's the American way: my parents have a huge house and two cars and a pool, so why don't I deserve to continue living this way when I graduate high school? (I'm long out of high school, by the way lol). That paradigm has bled over into my engineering thought patterns: If *HE* can make it sound that awesome, I'm gonna buy all the same gear and be JUST as GOOD as HIM!

    Yeah right. We'll see.

    Thanks again...

  7. #7
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    David,

    A little story before I head off for spring break.

    Once there was this young man (when I start stories this way, the kids always know it's going to be about me), and he wanted to get into the music business. So he severed all his ties, moved 700 miles away from home and anyone he knew and immersed himself in recording. Totally. God was gracious and he did fairly well for himself, moving from intern to second to the hot seat within a year. He continued on and started a studio with some partners. So in the short span of 3 years he went from inexperienced wannabe to full partner in a two studio facility that he built himself, even was written up in RE/P magazine. Not bad.

    But he wanted more. He was still dissatisfied with the quality of his work. Though everyone around seemed happy, he held himself to higher standards and compared his work with other engineers twice his age with 7-10 times his experience. After about six years, he decided he would just toss it all. He was never going to be happy. He was so discouraged that he was really ready to walk away.

    Then he started reflecting on his past and recognized a pattern. As a poet, he became frustrated when he wasn't as good as he wanted to be and he quit. (After a grueling two years.) As a painter, he wasn't as good as he wanted to be and he quit. (After less than two years.) And now, he had spent six years, what seemed like an enormous amount of time and he wasn't as good as he wanted to be. So he was going to quit and pursue something else.

    Then he realized that giving his all to something, anything, for such a brief period of time and quitting was going to ultimately lead him to mastering nothing. So he decided to stick it out.

    Well, that was me. I spent probably 10 years of engineering at least five days a week before I felt like I finally had a handle on most of it and understood all the tools. Then after about another 10 years (20 total), I finally started feeling like I really understood it and was becoming happy with what I was accomplishing sonically. Now for the last 10 years, I've been realizing how much more there is to know and having my eyes opened to new things that I missed in the past.

    So, if you have the passion and you've given it 20 years and you still don't think it's working out for you, then I'll understand if you want to bail.

    But it's too hard a business to keep doing it unless you absolutely love it and don't want to do anything else--can't imagine doing anything else. I'm still there but I'm not sure that's enough anymore.

    For what that's worth.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  8. #8
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    Lynn that was very inspiring and up lifting to read of your personal struggles and self realization.

    My most enjoyable moments of playing music is when I am not analyzing my abilities but just having fun creating and being in the moment, no judgments.
    I need to learn how to have that same perception and move it to other ares of life.

    Thanks for that post it meant more then you know.

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