I’ve never been that good at asking for help. I may have started calling someone or taking a few notes, but in the end, I would blunder on, pushing this and pulling that, to see if anything worked! This has been my mantra for years especially since owning a music studio.
When I first decided to buy this wretched facility, I literally walked into a shop, saw what I liked and bought it. This included a large mixing desk with more channels than I could count, two multi-track recording machines that were heavier than my house. Boxes that allegedly created echo, reverb, burps, farts and more silly noises. Speakers that removed all light from the room, and in excess of six kilometres of cables and plugs. What had I done?
I had innocently opened the Pandora’s box which became known as ‘The Home Recording Studio!’ Little did I know at the time that this was to become the industry norm and the way everyone would produce their music. Much to the demise and frustration of the larger ‘proper’ studios that had great acoustic rooms and real pianos. The advantages were obvious; you could play and record whatever you wanted. You could produce albums and soundtracks on smaller budgets. You could control you output. You didn’t have to ask for deals or special rates. You didn’t have to pay ludicrous hourly rates. You didn’t have to deal with truculent engineers taking deep breathes when you asked if you could record this or playback that. But it did mean you would have to learn how it all worked. I had at the time a very loyal engineer. “I’ll do the writing, and you can do the knob-twiddling”, I actually said to him whilst waiting in the shop where we bought the stuff.
One day, a couple of hours before a recording session he phoned in with Viral Man Flu. After a few choice words of panic, I asked him to give me an emergency remote starting-up-instruction list; how could I route this to that and stick it on tape. Strangely and quite rewardingly his instructions actually worked and I managed to record my very first session in my own studio. I realised that maybe this was the future. Self-isolation in practice. I could do it all on my own without any help. How wrong was I?
Over the years I have struggled with insecurity of how much or how little I do know. Those are the times when you do need help. I would prioritise and set up boundaries that I was fearful of crossing. I can write, I can play keyboards, guitars and other stringed instruments. But I can’t mix. So, I’d get someone in. Then I tried mixing and thought ‘This isn’t that hard’, but I can’t master. Then I tried that and found it to be interesting and quite enlightening.
Starting Topline Music, I have found that despite having a rather large collection of both new and old material, I have benefited greatly from asking advice, assistance and particularly co-writing with like minded creatives. It’s been a treat to get ideas from wonderful composers and players. It’s also been fun sending out noodles, ideas and audio streams of consciousness to other like-minded chums to receive back some excellent surprises. And the best is to be able to take an existing piece and transform it into a new vibrant and very different offering. Here are a few examples. Most of which feature in the extensive Topline Collections, found here and on all the usual streaming platforms.
If in doubt don’t struggle on your own. Ask for help; you may be surprised what comes back.