4 Lessons I Learned About Audio from Being Married
I’m a firm believer that audio engineers should live well-balanced lives. Don’t get me wrong; every engineer should specialize in his or her craft by spending years improving at their job. Along the way, I think it’s helpful to pursue other things to keep your mind, body, and heart energized. Additionally, these things can give you a different context or outside perspective for thinking about audio. To encourage this idea, I’ve put together a series of articles about lessons I learned from things other than audio.
I have been married for seven years. I have known my wife for a total of ten years. For some people, that might seem like an eternity of time for us to be together. For other people, that might seem like a fraction of time relative to their own relationships.
Compared to other things in my life, I’ve been playing music for almost 25 years and started recording music 15 years ago.
Although it takes a lot of time and effort to commit to something for many years, I’ve found that it can also be very fulfilling to stick with something for a long time.
By participating in something as personal as marriage, I’ve learned many valuable life lessons. Marriage has influenced everything in my life, including my lifelong passion for audio.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about audio from being married.
1) Partners Can Be Mutually Beneficial
Being an audio engineer is both challenging and fulfilling. As part of the music industry, audio engineers experience ups and downs as much as anyone. There are good days and there are not so good days.
If you are trying to do everything on your own, then it can be overwhelming. Working with a partner can help you survive in an industry prone to fluctuation.
It can be sustaining to feed off each other’s successes. Celebrating each partner’s accomplishments becomes that much more rewarding. Who wants to party on their own?
When the going gets tough, sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to keep going. On your own, it’s easy to get discouraged.
2) Accountability is Helpful
Left to my own devices, I have a tendency to burn out, flake out, and wimp out. I try to cut corners for short term, instantaneous gratification.
If I’m honest with myself, sometimes I need someone to hold me in check and kick my butt. It might suck in the moment, but I always end up looking back in hindsight and appreciate people that hold me accountable to a higher standard.
Working in audio is a constant, daily challenge. To really do your best, find someone who holds you accountable. This could be a partner or a mentor.
3) Division of Labor
It can seem reasonable to want to do everything yourself. Especially if you’re a control freak, it’s tempting to avoid giving responsibility to someone else.
In reality, specializing can be beneficial. Whether in audio or marriage, division of labor can increase your productivity.
I studied music in school and my wife studied economics. One of her economics professors attended our wedding. He had been married for over 30 years. During the wedding reception, we had a conversation with the economics professor which I’ll never forget.
He told us marriage is great because it makes your life more efficient than the alternative. It is more efficient for one person to cook for two people. It is more efficient to pick up two sets of clothes from the dry cleaner. It is more efficient to take out the trash once, instead of twice.
Looking back now from my own experiences, he was absolutely right. It’s a simple concept, but it’s true.
In our marriage, my wife specializes in some chores and I specialize in others. Sometimes we take turns on chores we both hate to do. It works to both of our benefit.
The same thing goes for audio. It’s inefficient to try to do everything yourself. You can do some things really well, but you can’t do it all.
Find a partner who complements your skill set. Do what you do best and surround yourself with people who make you better.
4) People Are Most Important
It doesn’t take being married for very long to realize the benefit of caring for other people. Alternatively, it doesn’t take very long to realize the consequences of being a self-centered jerk.
Similarly, if you want to work in audio for more than a second, then you should treat every person as a potential client worth respecting.
However, if you’d rather hang around audio forums and never get paid, feel free to be an arrogant, loudmouth, internet troll.
The audio world is, and has always been, a network of connected people. It just so happens that many of these connections now happen online. No matter how you are interacting with other people, be genuine and courteous. Present yourself in a considerate manner.
You never know who is going to come along, offer you a gig, and pay your bills for the next couple of months.
In conclusion, I am grateful for the partnership my wife has given me in life, and even specifically in audio.
In 2016, consider if you have the right relationships in place to make the most out of your audio career.