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Stop blaming it on the technology. How often do you hear people say, “I never got that email.” Never got your text” or “My phone never rang”.

Stop it! This isn’t 1980 when tech was still glitchy.

How about the “My laptop crashed, and I lost all the notes from the preproduction meeting.”

“Didn’t get those edits done. Premier flipped out, the rainbow wheel of death started spinning, and I lost everything I had done.”

Stop it!! Today’s tech auto-saves, and if it doesn’t, most of them have recovery methods.

This blog rant started the other day in a recording session. The techs just installed a new piece of gear. One that was requested by the recording engineer. She swore it would save my session so much time and give us a ton of new options. Having owned an engineering service facility for over twenty-five years in the music industry, I am always suspicious about adding a new piece of equipment on the day of the session.

She swore she had worked with the beta version in other studios. The device was rock solid, and she knew her way around its functionality. After two hours of her making phone calls for operational support, causing the session to start and stop, it eventually killed the musicians’ vibe. As we all know, when that happens, you might as well call it a day. Which is exactly what we did.

With the session over and the studio techs starting to wrap up our gear, I sat beside her and asked, “What the Fk!? I thought you had a handle on this. I was fine not using it but I trusted your recommendation. You’re an awesome engineer. What happened?”

She went right to the worse statement you can say to an experienced producer/engineer. “I know what I’m doing; the box wasn’t responding correctly.” My reply should have been expected by her, after all, she knew who I was and knew my background, I said, “If that was the case, how come I heard you asking tech support operational questions, “Where is that control? I don’t think I entered that menu? I didn’t know I couldn’t do that. How do I get back to the main menu?” Her response to me just pushed her further down the rabbit hole, “I know how to use it. I’m just not familiar with some of the functions, and there must be something wrong with this device. Besides, I would have figured it out eventually.”

Right now, many of you are saying maybe she was right. Maybe the device was acting funky. Maybe she hadn’t been that familiar with some of the functions. Maybe…Maybe …

All good points, and maybe you are right. Here is where that thinking goes astray. Yes, gear fails, new products especially. No one can be expected to be totally familiar with new toys when they first come out.

But knowing your limitations is critical to your reputation.

Whether you’re recommending a piece of gear, a person, or an organization, it’s your reputation that you’re actually recommending. You need to be one hundred percent sure of your recommendation or make sure you qualify how you recommend something.

I’d rather have heard, “Joe, we just got this new widget. I have only used it a few times, but it’s been killer. You wanna give it a shot at some point in the session? If it starts getting wonky, we can just bail and move on.”

That simple revised statement moves the responsibility from her and to me. It also enhances her reputation of being truthful and respectful of my time and money.

Anyone on the front lines of the entertainment production industries can smell a cover story three words into the cover. Once I hear someone deflecting problems from them to gear without a solid explanation of what it’s supposed to do verse what it’s not doing, the alarms go off in my head.

YES… tech fails. My service company has made tons of money fixing gear because tech fails.

Let’s be clear as to what I’m saying, Don’t BS your boss, client, or anyone for that matter. She may have gotten away with her story several times before me in this situation. She just happened to come across someone who happened to have a ton of technical experience. But why play Russian Roulette with your career. Eventually, you will run up against a “Joe,” and then your cover and reputation for being trustworthy are blown. Trust is the foundation of any successful career.

All of us would rather have someone tell us their limitations or their limitations with the gear rather than “fake it till you make it” and cost us money and time. I rather know all the circumstances up front, and together we can find a workaround rather than crash in the middle with no way out.

Every one of us has had limitations at one point or another. Those limitations force us to grow, learn new skills, and expand our career opportunities. Faking it or exaggerating our skills to the point of killing a project or costing others cash has no upside. Even if you somehow skate by once or twice, I guarantee you will get caught, and when you do, just hope it’s not with someone who has a lot of influence in the industry that can affect your career negatively.

Oh, and if you’re wondering?

That engineer and I had this exact conversation (the shared points in this blog). She totally got it and was extremely apologetic. I have since booked her on two more gigs, and all went perfectly. She is a great engineer!

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