Sometime way back in the mid nineties, we had this basic tool. I call mine AOL online lol. It was a dial up, slow arse means of wandering into dingy chat rooms, waiting for MSN news to load, not knowing entirely why your even using it, or maybe it was just more exciting than Encarta? But slowly and surely, we started talking to people on the other side of the world and doing things we couldn’t do before. We might have had a pen friend, a hard to reach relative or a passion for places we will never visit.
It opened doors. It opened so many do quickly, we became ‘online sentient’ in a peculiar way. Even today, when we are not buying crap from eBay or fighting over a senseless clash of personal opinion on a subject completely meaningless, we are communicating more than ever.
With this new era, and as technology and telecommunication advancements came to fruition with super fast porn,sorry broadband access, for a few quid a month, we can now work together, talk to someone face to face whilst watching a full HD movie that used to require a journey to Blockbuster.
The one thing i really like about the internet right now, today, is we are learning to accept one another and help someone with no tally or score sheet. Tutorials, walk-throughs and guides, You Tube videos, live webcasts, hangouts and more. Support groups by the score and an answer for nearly every question known to man via a voice activated search engine.
The time before this? Before we could just randomly ask someone 5000 miles away how to setup VE pro on a slave pc?
We kept everything close to our chest. As creatives, we shared very little in fear of losing an edge, losing your contact. You had to drive up and down the country, send out a million costly CD’s with maybe promo packs, setup meetings, phone calls and book expensive studio time for quite a simple session by today’s means.
Whole communities of composers would just be part of a small known clique. Its probably a sensible and survivalist way of handling yourself when you consider all those factors. The immense time and money price you pay to forge a career in an age where everything was a conscious effort. Maybe that is exactly why we shared so little. Not because it was so hard to do, but the effort that goes into breaking a new contact, massaging that deal?
The work on the table was effectively shared and by very few. Most of us couldn’t just jump on a flight to LA and expect to groom relationships or check out of LAX and be greeted by a suit taking you to a big studio, network etc.
But today?? Now we can hook up with anybody in a matter of minutes. The downside is saturation for sure. One giant global door that has no locks, no checks or clauses, no restrictions, no real effective Policing of your personal ethics and morality. At least not on a civility level of basic manners and respect.
The upside of this is the way we are embracing this big open door. This huge portcullis. We are more equal than ever and willing to hand out information to others. We can conduct full remote sessions with entire orchestras several thousand miles away, or have a full set of custom stems sent and then loaded into our DAW’s only hours after a Skype with someone.
So what does it mean to be willing to help? How does this work exactly?
For me personally, all that i have found from trying to give something back, is you need to remember where you were a few weeks ago, months or years. The early days when you were asking a million questions and finding everything so intimidating, you questioned if you would ever learn your industry.
The reward for all of that is really simple. Its not a monetary gain on any level, its not a means to get something buck free or start a spreadsheet on who owes you how much time and favours.
Its about teaching yourself something along the way. The process itself of being asked, is like asking yourself those questions and what they all mean to you. Its a means of growth.
You can overdo it like anything else taken to excess. If you spend too much time everyday trying to help someone else, your work and family life can easily suffer.
There is a balance you must strike and through some stumbles and silly mistakes on your part, you will find a happy medium of working with others and the time you need to stay afloat. If any of this sounds like too much hard work, i still think you would be missing the whole point.
As long as you work by some simple rules and guidelines, you can offer so much of your time and none of this should feel like an effort. Be upfront with people your working with and say, “im only too happy to help, but i will be busy during XXX days or after 5pm i tend to switch it all off and spend time with my family”
Maybe you can try a system where you can ask that person to leave you a bunch of questions and you will get back to them as soon as you can??
If its hands on creative help, that’s fantastic, but you still need a basic framework to operate under.
But i think the most important thing is, learn to walk away. Sometimes, just sometimes, no matter how many ground rules you set, what you think is fair and just, isn’t seen the same way to others.
I cant say everyone is in this like you will be. I cant promise you wont meet one or two people who just ask and ask relentlessly, forgetting those ground rules you mentioned, and become angry and disillusioned with you are no longer on 24 hour call.
Over the last 4-5 years, ive seen this quite a lot, but its human nature. For some, just a few, you will encounter those who only want to take, and are passive aggressive when you don’t come up with the goods.
You have to rise above it every-time. Chalk it down to something that didn’t work out, but don’t stop.
People aren’t inherently all bad, selfish takers. Never allow one bad experience mar this journey you are taking.
There are reasons some people dont want help even when they verbally ask you for it. Quite simply, its pride.
There is nothing worse a feeling for some, when they have to admit they need to ask but once they have that info, they find ways to disassemble who you are, what you know. Everything you say and stand for has no currency or credence and they are long gone.
It can however, work like a dream. Its all a little Utopian in a way, without having to mention it, to call out, but when the chips are down, its great when you see so many people selflessly lay down what there doing and come to your aid. Its not a pay it forward system, but i guess in an unspoken way, it has the right message behind it all the same.
If no one helped no one, all you had was your solitary wits, your sense of ruthless survival, we would end up in that world when we couldn’t reach anyone like we can now. It would descend back into a system of “pay me for my time” and thats it, doors closed.
I do like helping when i can. I like to stave off obvious problems. Stop your friends from walking into something, or a contract that will eat them alive. We have the time and love to raise a friend or relatives spirits, its the same thing when you reach out online in a community.
I tell my son he can do anything, that nothing is beyond his grasp if he works really hard at it. The teaching or ethic behind that is the same you pass on to others. No one ‘likes’ to see others hurt, failing or walking into certain danger. Its not about opening your diary and telling someone everything about you.
Its not giving up all your leads and contacts, offering them all your best production tricks and hints, sending them freebies or anything inbetween. But it is still a process of giving something.
I think it sends out the right kind of energy and vibes back into the world too. Im a big believer in creating that space, that world you want to live in where someone can just do something for you and want nothing in return. Where manners are second nature, and you can make time for people who may be just starting out or fumbling around for some sense and reason in what there doing.
Its not an easy thing to just let that part of you be so willing. Yes you will face those who will take a dig at you, undermine what authority you have to be helping, that you are far from qualified to advise anyone.
That side of it will actually never stop. Its the price paid for just putting yourself out there, so learning to ignore the detractors is a task in itself.
Usually, its spurned by jealousy and resentment born from comparisons to what you are doing and what there not doing. But dont give in! Always always rise above it.