In June I got a call from my friend Luke Tozour, a music producer who I’ve known since I moved to L.A. 10 years ago. He needed help setting up the recording studio of recording artist Kwanza Jones.
Luke knew I had experience doing freelance technical troubleshooting for composers and he knew I was looking for work.
When I got to the studio there was an array of state of the art recording equipment, brand new, in unopened boxes.
I spent the next couple weeks setting up monitors, routers, organizing & labeling cables to keep them tidy and out of the way, communicating with manufacturers to get the settings right for everything, downloading software, organizing studio supplies and manuals.
Along the way I ended up doing some price comparisons online, running errands. Then I learned to use the automating software that comes with the new touch screen monitors (which I had never seen before) so that I could teach the other producers to use it.
Then I created short videos to show users how to start everything up and shut it down in the studio.
I’m what you might call a jack of all trades. Not really.
There are things that I’d say I have deep “mastery” of, playing guitar for example, songwriting. There are also things I wouldn’t say yes to, but I like solving puzzles and I like working in the studio.
The other producers at the studio had deep skills and tons of experience at running a recording session and using Pro Tools and the outboard gear. At first I was a little intimidated by all the things I had to figure out for myself on the job. Then I realized that Luke had hired me because he knew I could figure it out and that I was willing to say yes to any problem and solve the things that would be a distraction for the other people in the studio.
Sometimes I feel regret if there’s a piece of software or skill that I know enough to get by but not as much as an expert, but it’s specifically because of my taking an interest in all things that has given me the ability to help people with the odd music-related things that they need done.
It’s not easy being a jack of all trades. Some people hire a specialist when they really need a generalist. Some people hire a generalist when they need a specialist. Experts can’t be experts if they have to keep switching gears to solve random problems that come up. Having somebody who will say yes to the random tricky challenges is key.