Ask Weiss: What Should I Focus On?

Transcript:

Hey, folks! Matthew Weiss here — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and mixthru.co.

Welcome to the Ask Weiss series, and today’s question comes to us anonymously per request of the asker, but I thought that it was a great question, so here we go.

The question goes, “I am an artist, a producer, as well as an engineer, and I’m not sure what I like the most. Do I want to be a recording engineer, a mixing engineer, a mastering engineer, a producer, an artist? Help me figure this out.”

Alright, so before even going that far, I would back up one step and ask myself, do I want to be doing music as a career at all? This is a really big question that I think a lot of people don’t ask themselves quite thoroughly enough.

I came from a family of musicians, and my mother watched how much my father struggled to make a living wage as a musician, and I wouldn’t say she discouraged me, but she cautioned me very heavily, on the border of discouraging me from getting into music as a career, and it’s understandable. It’s very, very hard work.

The saying goes, “If you do what you love for your job, then you never work a day in your life.”

That is a flat out lie! That is so far from the truth, I can not put it into words. The fact is, is that once this becomes a job, it truly becomes a job. You will work hours on end for very little pay doing work that you don’t necessarily want to do, because it is a job.

You have to be very honest, because if you want to be doing for fun, that is awesome! There is absolutely no shame in that. Music is a beautiful way of having fun building your own songs that you can blast on your way to the beach, or do whatever you want to do in your life, and I think for a lot of people, just keep it that way, you know?

If you want to do music for fun, do it for fun.

Now, for some people, music is a field where there isn’t really another option. It just seems like this is what you’re meant to do. You feel compelled, and that’s also very understandable.

So, I ran into this very same situation myself, and it was actually in a conversation with KRS-One, where I really sort of figured out where I wanted to be, and I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went, it was a very long time ago, but at the time, I was making my own music, I was performing as an artist, I was writing songs, I was recording, I was mixing, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or if I even needed to necessarily choose, and he said, “The way that you figure out what you –” or, how did he phrase it, he said something really good… He said something like, “The way you find your own light, is to help somebody else stand in theirs,” and that’s a really, really profound statement, because if you’re doing – a job is something you do for other people. That’s the nature of it. So if you’re doing something for yourself, that’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not really a job.

If you’re doing it for somebody else, and that service, or that product that you create gives you a sense of fulfillment, that’s what you should be doing.

So, when you asked yourself this question, you should ask yourself, “is this something that is giving me a sense of purpose because I like it, or is it giving me a sense or purpose because someone else likes it? Someone else is reacting to this in a way that substantiates what I’m doing.”

You don’t have to necessarily pick and choose. I know a lot of people that are very good producers, as well as very good engineers. I know a lot of people who are artists or in bands that are great engineers or great producers, and there’s a lot of mixing and matching.

You don’t necessarily have to choose, but when it comes down to what you want to focus on, I would say if you do it, and it makes somebody else happy, and that in turn makes you happy, that’s what you should be doing.

Alright, so thanks for the great question. If you or anyone else you know has a question, feel free to leave it in the comments section below, or on The Pro Audio Files’ Facebook page. Don’t forget to like this video and to subscribe to the channel, and I will catch you next time!

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com.
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  • Ash the Phoenix

    Hey, Matt! I’m a young, passionate musician, who, like you, has received the “it’s a tough road” speech from mh mom, but she also encourages me to pursue it a music career, as she realises that it’s a passion of mine, and recognizes that I won’t be happy in any other profession. I also struggle with the whole producing-vs-rapping-vs-mixing dilema, but I figured out a way around it that I think will take the entire music industry by storm! I wanted to ask though…What would you say is the best way to go about a music career as a producer, writer, and artist, when you are this passionate and talented (sorry for sounding so arrogant, I’m just confident in my ability)? Would you suggest that I leave school, and pursue, or should I stay in school, then get a job, and work part time in music till I can fully support it? And if I should stay in school, what are some college courses that you would suggest to accompany a career in music? Thanks in advance for the help!

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