Jack of all trades – Learning new skills to keep the show alive
It’s been a crazy few weeks for me hence the radio silence on this blog. It’s been pretty challenging for me to stay on top of things, because we’ve been on the grind, working on some exciting content. I had an in-depth conversation with one of my peers recently, and he highlighted something that never really occurred to me until that point. We were having a conversation about having to wear multiple hats when you’re an independent artist. It’s crazy how we take for granted the fact that we cover a ridiculous amount of ground, usually single handedly. Often, you find yourself having to do various unrelated tasks during the course of a day. My day can involve emailing various stakeholders, writing/recording music, drafting and developing content ideas etc. Many times I find myself doing tasks that I’m not very strong at, like shooting/editing video footage and drafting proposals, which would normally be handled by professionals in a label setting. I would love to be able to hire professionals to handle things like video editing, but unfortunately their services don’t come cheap. I have tried approaching students to utilise their skills etc but I’m yet to find someone willing to develop our content without any significant compensation. That said the main takeaway from the conversation with my friend was that sometimes it is important to look at the glaring positives in such situations.
Developing different skills
What I have realised is that I have been forced to learn a few things that I otherwise would never be exposed to. I always try to avoid being a jack of all trades, because that takes away from the things that I’m truly passionate for. That said, being in a position where I have been practically forced into picking up new skills has actually been beneficial. With regards to video editing, I have found it easier to communicate what I need from production teams when we have worked on our music videos, this is because I have a working knowledge of the process. It has made the process of filming the videos so much easier. I have learnt a lot of the lingo used in the filmmaking world and that helps when communicating with the directors/production teams. The same can be said when looking at the process of writing proposals. Even though I thoroughly hated writing proposal documents when we started this journey, I have developed a healthy appreciation for the process. This is actually a transferable skill which can be applied in many different situations and it is something great to have in the arsenal.
Don’t stop learning
Something that I have done recently is push really hard to expand my knowledge base on all fronts. From a music perspective, I have found myself in various studios with vastly different engineers controlling the sessions. What this has afforded me is the opportunity to observe their workflows and see what works well and can be incorporated in our own process. It has also allowed me to ask questions regarding concepts that I’m not fully comfortable with. I have seen some remarkable improvements in some of the tunes we have worked on recently. When we shot our last music video, Body/Full Up, I was a pest to the production team asking a million questions without flinching. I remember the director of photography (DOP) saying at one point that he was going to start giving me false answers because he was now fearing for his job. Let me get it on record that I am very happy being a musician and have very little passion for filmmaking, so the DOP can breathe easy. That said, I learnt a lot during that video shoot which I have implemented in my process when editing some of the new visual content which is in production.
Making it work
Picking up different skills out of necessity is one thing, but implementing them correctly is another beast altogether. I can’t tell you the amount of practice material I have worked on in the process of honing these new skills. The reason I take great care when breaking new ground is because the whole point of picking up the skills is to further an agenda. In my case I want to push the Shottaz brand as far as possible, but different people will have their own unique reasons. The last thing I ever want to do is spend countless hours creating content that misses the mark because it is poorly executed.