Are Music Producers Better Humans? Short Answer: Yes

I was talking with a friend the other day whose first show had been attended by me. And just me. He was bummed and I was trying to give him some advice based on an essay that I had read by noted nutburger Ernst Jünger called On Pain.

Jünger says that there are two kinds of people in the modern age: Those whose whole existence is based on avoiding pain and those who realize that pain is unavoidable and must be dealt with. “Pain” for Jünger is a broad term: It can be physical pain, or it can mean embarassment, failure or disappointment. And, by perpetuating the idea that it is desirable or even possible to totally avoid pain, we consign ourselves to a life of fear and mediocrity. Only the second group is capable of doing truly epic shit (my term).

In my experience, this is true. Because there is only one skill that I am absolutely convinced will yield more success. And that one skill is being able to deal with failure.

Losing. Blowing it. Embarrassing yourself. Not meeting deadlines. Humiliation. Regret.

And the amazing thing is that our contemporary culture and educational systems seem to be designed to shield people from experiencing failure. The only people who actually experience failure are those, like us, who take on projects of their own, independent of any institution.

The good news is that being an artist (ie. being you or me) means understanding failure. If you’ve never failed, then you’ve never tried. So, take heart and know that the lumps that you take when you drop your EP and no one downloads it, or when no one comes to your show, will serve you well when you attempt anything else. And this ability to deal with your failures and bounce back from them will surely be useful in other, probably most aspects of your life.

So, if you haven’t failed yet, you haven’t hung it out there far enough. And if you have failed, realize that you’re stronger and better prepared for life that many who surround you who haven’t dared as much as you have.

Just my two cents.

Let me know in the comments what your biggest (artistic) failure has been and what you’ve learned from it!

14 Responses to “Are Music Producers Better Humans? Short Answer: Yes”

  1. high&low March 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Wise words. Nice post sir, and great site. I’m learning a lot from it. Thanks :)

    • Anthony March 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      Glad to hear it!

  2. Duality March 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Word. An interesting side-effect of avoiding pain and failure is the delusion that one is better for not failing, and by extension, trying in the first place. Then you end up with a population of smug mediocre people whose only skills and mediums of expression are consumption and criticism, both of which they do with exquisite aristocratic detachment. It’s why no one really dances at night clubs anymore. I mean jumping around in a sweaty mess with yourself or whomever come who may like it was the Paradise Garage. Now you’re either drinking and commentating about how good or bad everything is (nothing can exist free of judgment), or you’re bumping and grinding with the hottest girl/guy whom you calculate to be within your reach as according to mass media norms. There is no room for sincerity, just cynicism and irony.

    I’ve failed my way straight into electronic music production. Actually, the only times I’ve ever really failed have been when I relied on other people for some part of the endeavor. Production is great because you can do it alone, indeed, it’s probably done best alone in many cases. You rise and fall by the dint of your own work and honesty.

    • Three Ninjas March 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      “Then you end up with a population of smug mediocre people whose only skills and mediums of expression are consumption and criticism, both of which they do with exquisite aristocratic detachment.”

      Also known as Reddit.

    • Three Ninjas March 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      By the way, you’re not from Seattle, are you?

      • Anthony March 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

        Haha, no, why?

      • Anthony March 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

        Oh, wait, just realized this wasn’t for me,haha.

      • Du-ality March 10, 2012 at 1:32 am #

        LOL. I am not from Seattle, nor from Portland, but the Sandy Eggo.

    • Anthony March 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Navarre: Spot on, my dude.

      Apropos of what Three Ninjas pointed out, Nietzsche could have predicted the whole internet.

  3. Mk March 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Nice article, failing is Definatly considered the best way to learn. If you can pick up something straight away what have you learned? How much effort did you put into it? Bet it’s nowhere near if you failed first time.

  4. Warrior Bob March 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    As tech blogs are fond of saying: fail early, fail often.

    The biggest failure in recent memory was when my little duo produced a song on a time constraint that we really shouldn’t have. We did produce something, but we weren’t happy with it a week later, and we made some pretty bad decisions due to the pressure and the looming deadline. It’s not a terrible recording, but it’s mediocre at best and should’ve been much more.

    That has influenced everything we’ve done ever since. It’s been a fantastic lesson in how to produce – make things, but don’t necessarily let them loose on people until they’re at least solid. Don’t use deadlines unless they’re useful. We tend to work based on feeling out an idea rather than having it up front, so make sure we can do that.

    It’s as much a lesson in how WE work as it is a lesson in how to work in general. Having gone through it, now I’m not sure how I ever got anything done without that experience.

    • Anthony March 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

      Dealing with time constraints merits a post of its own, really. I mean, in my case, I’d never get anything done without them, aha. On the other hand, if they are too aggressive, they can really compromise the work.

      Great anecdote, Bob.

  5. warren daly March 12, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    Great post. It give inspiration and encouragement. I know many artists who produced EPs or LPs, got a single bad review and then gave up.

  6. heatwolves May 15, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    just came across your blog today – really enjoying it during this slow day in the office! keep posting

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