Knowing what you don’t know.

I have a friend and I pay very close attention to the things that he says. He is older than I am and he is much wiser than I am too. He says things that stick with me for life. I like to call these things “nuggets of wisdom”. It is a good thing that his nuggets of wisdom stick with me, because although they require time to digest and fully understand, they are very true.

One of the things that he says is that he considers himself successful, in part, due to the fact that “he is aware of the things that he does not know”. He then goes on to say that he finds people that know those things that he does not know, and he lets them do what they do best.


What my good and wise friend is saying, here, is that he is well aware of the fact that he knows about a few things in life. However, as I think you might agree, sometimes in life we all need help. As much as we often times want to, we can’t do everything ourselves. The stuff that my friend knows almost nothing about, he leaves alone. There are professionals out there that can take care of “that stuff”. Knowing what to do ourselves and what to “farm out” is the secret to my friends success.

For example, he knows precious little about the court systems. Matter of a fact, he knows nothing about practicing law. If he ever got into trouble (with the law) he would not ever try to defend himself. He would hire an attorney, and let that attorney do what they are best at, i.e.,  being an attorney. That makes sense when you hear it put ion those terms, right?

 I love talking with my friend. He says great things like that all the time. But you might be asking “what does that mean to todays modern producer”?

The answer is, “Lots”!

We like to do everything ourselves. The way things are today, we think we should do it all. Especially in the music world. Computers and software has made things seem easier and easier to tackle.

Here is an example. We like to learn to play instruments “by ear” and never take lessons. We like to write music all by ourselves. We like to record music ourselves, track by track, in todays multi track D.A.W.s. We like to mix music by ourselves. We like to master music by ourselves. We like to market our music by ourselves. See where I am going with this?

It is true that we can learn to do everything involved with being a modern producer ourselves. Listen, just because we can do most of these processes ourselves, does not mean we should. “Farming out” the work that others can do (way better than we can) is smart. They will do a much better job, and get it back to us faster than we can do it ourselves. Plus, there are always a lifetime of tricks and tips that only someone with ten thousand hours of time in a field of learning could know.

Time is a big player in todays music. It is a fact that clients want a product to sell to their fans, as fast as we can get it up for sale. If you want to make a product that also sounds great, then I say learn who you like to work with. It is common for “Modern Producers” to have a list of people that they can call for help. These folks are great at the very stuff that we might know very little about, like: recording engineers, studio musicians, mixing engineers, mastering engineers, and even live production teams.

It might be true that you can do a lot of that stuff yourself, but not if you wish to be successful. To be successful you might need a lot of clients, all doing projects at the same time. You can’t possibly do all of the required tasks that being successful demands. There are tasks that simple need time, like scheduling, advertising, promoting, recording, mixing, mastering, song writing, singing, and the list never ends. Do yourself the favor, and hire talented professionals that can take some of the work load off of your back.

Let me leave you with a quick (but real) peek inside todays music business. This is a very cool video that Propellerheads software made back in 2012. Here is what Propellerhads had to say about the clip, “In 2012 Niles Dhar, also known as The Cataracs, stopped by Musicians Institute in Los Angeles for a Propellerhead Producers Conference. Niles gave an incredibly inspiring talk about production, but not the technical details we often get wrapped up in. His talk gets to the heart of the philosophical points of what it means to be a producer, work with people, and how to maximize what you’re good at while knowing when to collaborate. It was too good to not share”.

Here is the link to that video, .

I love some of the things Niles Dhar has to say. He understands that we can only get very good at one thing. Allowing others to “add that one thing they do so well”, to your project, makes so much sense. No one can do it all, no matter how badly we want to. There is no shame in wanting to do it all, because that shows your passion and your determination.

Remeber, if you wish to become successful, you must allow others to help you. Know what you do not know.