Saturday, February 17, 2007

Software Dev and Music Prod, pt. 2

Alright, lets talk about some of these points I mentioned in the first part.

Work harder than anyone else you know. This one seems obvious. And yet...

This one isn't a surprise to anyone, I hope, in any business. Programmers have a reputation of being work-fanatics whose problem might be characterized not as needing to working harder, but to work smarter. (Although, I know of more than a few programmers who talk about work more than they actually work). Musicians on the other hand... ah, the easy party life. Let's put it this way: in three years, the four of us produced and published over fourteen high-quality, full-length CDs. Our immediate competition barely got four out the door. And they had more people working on their projects! Our secret? One example: Roman and I would start at 8am, finish at midnight or later sustained on coffee and ginger cookies and capped with drives around a semi-sleeping Los Angeles, reviewing our work on the car stereo and checking for anything that might be a problem, and start again the next day. For ten days to two weeks straight, we'd kick some serious studio ass. It paid off. It's a lesson I learned and have brought to the coding of my new project.

Work hard. It helps if you love what you do (and is necessary in my not so reasonably humble opinion), but as Vonnegut said about being a successful writer: "Put glue on the chair". This will propel you past your competition, who don't work as hard as you do and will end up wondering how you got so much done before they did.

On a personal note, it's been a good three weeks for me here. Since my last day at the old job as an employee, I've taken two weeks of Flex training, a review of OO design patterns, and re-read some Hume, some Hayek and some Postrel, and started coding my new project in AS3. A lot of work, to be sure, but still not enough.

(Uh, I also found out that Hume and Hayek are two of Virginia Postrel's philosophical influences. Hm. No wonder I like her work..).

(Sidenote: You can't go wrong with Hume, Hayek, Hoffer, and the occasional Plato. Trust me.)

Don't fear the all nighter, or the near all-nighter. Look, there are times when you have to produce. Better yet, there are times when you're on a roll and lose track of time. At some point, your eyes feel like they're made of grade-D sandpaper, your mouth feels like the cotton-harvest-boom of 1919, and your head starts to feel like it's floating a half-meter to your left. At these times, I think to myself "Man, it must be midnight!" and it is, of course, 4:30am. This is a great all-nighter, or if you choose to crash at this point, near-all-nighter.

However, there are times when you and your business need you to just go. Do it. Go until it's done. There's not much for me to say here, other than there is nothing quite like the wolf at the door to hone your focus, energy and commitment into laser-like concentrations. If it isn't.. uh, this kind of work may not be for you.

Don't forget to smell the flowers. I.e., Balance! Lest you burn out and die young, here's one I didn't follow my first time around: balance! Relax. Take time out. Don't forget to stop speeding, get out, and smell the marigolds. It's miserably hard sometimes, at least it is for this writer, since I can go go go go go business 24/7/365. Ask my friends.. I drive 'em nuts. Won't shut up, I won't. So a reminder to myself is to relax.. do something else, and find some balance. How you do it is up to you. Personally, I find that there are a couple of restaurants nearby with excellent wine selections, superb food, and very pleasant bartenders that I will visit when I need to get away, relax, and smell the merlots. And the pinots.

Be a mentor to someone. I know I didn't mention this before, but it just occurred to me. At the moment, I have a fantastic mentor. I got lucky is all I can say. And ten years ago, I was a mentor to two talented musicians who knew nothing or next to it about computers and their use in music production. I became a mentor to them and taught them everything I knew about computer music, and computers in music production. They're now experts in their own rights, and I'm very proud of them. They in turn were mentors to me, and from them I learned volumes.

When you teach, you also learn. Go for it.

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