*Photo Cred for Picture on the Left: Quinn Strauser (Instagram: @quinn.strauser).*
I decided to take a slightly different approach for this week’s blog post. I sat down with my boyfriend in his 1999 Honda (which we have cleverly nicknamed Rhonda the Honda) and asked him a couple questions that I was always curious about. Since the age of 13, Kwame Badu has dedicated countless hours (and dollars) to music. He’s not your typical rapper- he sings, writes lyrics, records artists, plays guitar, mixes and masters audio files, samples music from several genres, and produces original beats. Since I see him almost every day, I have gotten used to the fact he is a multi-talented person. I rarely stop to think about how ingenious it is for someone to become so self-reliant so quickly. I started to realize that anyone can achieve self-reliance even if they’re not interested in being a musician. These are his pointers for becoming a renaissance man or woman in your desired field.
Never Solely Rely on Anyone
Badu realizes that you should consider the advice that others give you, but believes that you should never get yourself into a position where you NEED to rely on someone else. Once you have relied completely on someone else, they’re in total control of what you can do. It never hurts to collaborate with people, but the more you can do on your own the better. He gave an analogy that cracked me up, but had a lot of truth to it.
…You’re building model planes and you have a pretty good idea or concept, a so-so idea that you always use to build model planes, but you have to go to Jeff to sand it because Jeff is amazing at sanding planes. Screw that! One of these days go to Jeff’s place and ask him, ‘Hey Jeff can I try this, mess around with it or something?’ If Jeff is cool enough to let you do it then, ‘Yeah’. If not be cool, save up some money and get a cheaper sander. Get a sander you can afford. If it just does what you need it to do, then it’s all you need at the moment. Then start building from there and start sanding yourself. Then Jeff is going to wonder why he doesn’t hear from you so much.
Moral of the story? If Jeff isn’t willing to teach you what you need to know, go and learn it yourself. It’ll be hard at first, but you’ll be thankful you did in the long-run.
Teach Yourself New Skills Through Tutorials and Forums
We never realize how lucky we are to live in the digital age and to have access to the Internet. Even though Badu has learned things from fellow musicians and sound engineers, he is primarily self-taught. When I asked him about how he was able to do that, he explained to me how useful video tutorials and music forums are.
YouTube tutorials are great. You can learn open-heart surgery off of YouTube …what I’m trying to say is that you can learn anything.
He has learned several things from YouTube and Udemy videos. Currently he is learning how to play piano and further his animation skills off of Udemy. Apparently you pay a one-time fee per course and you always have access to it when you log in. This is definitely a site that I plan on checking out myself!
Learn the Basics Before You Experiment Too Much
When you look back at every class you’ve ever taken, the professor starts off teaching basic fundamentals before throwing you into outlandish theoretical situations. I even use basic templates to create my weekly infographics. Each week I find myself slowly straying away more and more from the original template I have chosen. Badu says it’s the same thing when it comes to learning a new skillset. You should take advice on the basics from established experts, but then once you perfect those try to find out what makes you unique. This is what Badu said when it came to audio engineering:
Learn what most people do and then go from there. If you just jump right into experimenting, don’t be surprised if when you go back into your car it’s not going to sound like what you heard in your house.
Stay Humble and Be Willing to Work with Others
You might think this contradicts being self-reliant, but believe me it doesn’t. Other people can provide great insights and collaborating with them can produce amazing results. Even if you are a jack of all trades, someone might have something to offer or add to what you have done to create one awesome masterpiece. Badu believes a lot of producers lose sight of this.
…remember a producer (if they don’t rap or they don’t sing) basically needs the artist as much as the artist needs them. That’s one thing that a lot of producers forget. I think producers get this mentality that, ‘This artist needs me and I’m doing him such a huge favor,’ and they get this cockiness. I get that Kanye West has a cocky attitude and so do other producers out there, but I think the best thing a producer can do is to be humble and try their hardest to work with other people.
Pass It On- Don’t Keep What You’ve Learned to Yourself
The “teach a man to fish” principle is one that Badu lives by. He explains that if the artist is interested in learning the sound engineering or producing side of making music, that he will sit down with them and explain it step-by-step.
I try to go out of my way to teach the artist I’m working with what I’m doing. I want them to know the features and I want to show them if they’re interested- what a compressor is, what the attack, what the ratio, what the release is and what all of that stuff does. I’ll tell them how there are no set rules, but show them what I usually do.
He believes knowledge is meant to be shared not hidden. I’ve personally noticed a theme of open knowledge sharing in many fields recently, especially in marketing and advertising. In the old days, corporations relied on one-way communication through TV, radio, and print advertising. Now with social media, companies are forced to engage and communicate with their audiences in real-time. The average consumer has more control than ever before and that’s wonderful! Luckily, this school of thought can apply to everyone.
So what should you take from all of this? This week’s post isn’t meant to teach you how to become an audio engineer (unless that’s what you’re looking for), but it’s meant to take these key principles and apply them to your life. No matter what industry you’re in (i.e. making music, marketing, jewelry making, building model planes like Jeff, etc.), you can teach yourself a little bit of each skill you need to grow your business. And by your business, I’m referring to you as an individual.
Infographic of the Week
Question of the Week:
What is one skill that you’ve been wanting to teach yourself? Comment below!