As you know I’m all for sharing knowledge and I do a lot of learning myself. But there is a very fundamental issue about advice that I wanted to address.
10 years back when studying music technology I had the chance to learn from one of the most respected music producers/mixing engineers in Finland. He has a very impressive professional track record dating back to 1975. He was working on big things before I was born. He’s worked on tons of albums and movies and won numerous industry awards.
And he had a lot to say. You can imagine I was excited – the stuff I was learning truly was groundbreaking for me at the time.
Of course I tried to take in as much as I could, and of course I anxiously started applying all of the freshly learned magic on my music.
Turns out I was so excited that I had forgotten about something VERY important. I was blinded by all this knowledge and had accepted the advice as such, without applying it to my own individual situation.
Obviously my teacher knew what he was talking about, there’s no question about that. So I EQ’d exactly like he said. I started doing compression the same way, and so on. And of course I was thinking everything sounded so much better.
Then it hit me:
Every situation is different, and mine were drastically different from his.
The knowledge had worked against me, as I didn’t fully understand the mechanics behind the tricks I was using. I was making things worse by trying to apply the same solution to everything.
By the time I started to understand these things, I had already built this stuff into strong habits in my production routine.
I actually had to learn out of those habits, which was a job on it’s own right!
Only after that was I able to really make use of the things I had learned. Some of the stuff I could adapt into my way of production, some simply didn’t work for me at all.
This was an important lesson for me:
It is imperative that we learn to identify the real issues before taking action.
Do why first, then how.
Whatever you do, always have a reason for everything. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Advice can be harmful unless you have a real understanding of how, where and when to apply it.
It’s natural for us to learn the hard way, and failures are part of gaining experience.
But remember when getting advice:
You are the only one who can have the full understanding of your situation. Learn to trust yourself with confidence.
Welcome good information but always follow your own gut with execution.
What do you reckon? Have you had a similar experience? Let us know in the comments…