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  • Writer's pictureTim Hocks

What I'm good at...

When reflecting about my strengths I feel a bit like revisiting all the points I made in the previous blogpost. Nevertheless, there are some aspects I would like to highlight: First of all, I would personally consider songwriting, especially writing of pop songs, as one of my main strengths and also one of my most natural ones. I’ve always written own songs and made up own music, to a point where my piano teacher really struggled to get me away from my own material for a reasonable amount of time during lessons so I wouldn’t neglect learning from playing classical pieces. In the meantime, especially during my study years, I tried to push my knowledge in this field to the next level to not only rely on my talent/ natural abilities in this field, but to also equip myself with some expert level tools and techniques to be at hand whilst writing songs for own purposes or with fellow musicians.

Secondly, the ability of playing multiple instruments, or in other words: all standard instruments needed in a rock/ pop band, is to be considered as a major advantage. Not only in terms of playing, but also in terms of instrument-related knowledge when it comes to arranging, recording and mixing and especially to working with guitar, bass and keyboard players or drummers in the studio, because communication will probably be much easier for me than it would be for someone not capable of playing experience. Moreover, I specifically like the idea of being independent when it comes to recording songs relying on a band setup. Of course, there’s players who are much better than me, especially on guitar, and fortunately I knew quite a lot of them, but for a start, I’m able to perform a whole band arrangement by myself.

Also, my background in terms of musical education in the fields of music theory, musical ear training and musicological background knowledge will probably not be a disadvantage when wanting to become a professional in the music industry. My rather broad knowledge of musical genres, including western classical music, jazz and different kinds of pop music gives me a background to reference unknown musical material with.

Furthermore, the experience of having worked in large professional studios and having dealt with all kinds of ‘real life’ artists from different parts of the world, strengthens me when facing new situations in the studio, to a great degree when it comes to working with socially problematic artists.

On top of that, having run my own studio as a freelancer has definitely provided me with even more insight of how to run a business, getting jobs, negotiating salary, dealing with super-friendly, easy-going aswell as extremely charmless and arrogant clients in a professional and businesslike manner.

Now, when considering my current weaknesses, it is to be said that, of course, there is room for improvement in all fields I’ve just discussed. Going even beyond, there is a whole lot of things I feel I can, should and/ or must improve in during the next couple of years.

First of all, I feel like having an advanced understanding of all sections of music production, as there are production, recording, editing and comping, mixing and mastering, but as I want to become a professional in all of these areas being able to challenge the work of classically trained ‘tonmeisters’ back in Germany, I want to level up my skills in all of these fields to a severe extent. Moreover, I would really like to get my head more into pro level critical listening, chiefly in terms of EQ, frequency spectrum and spectral balance, and to become as advanced in that field as possible.

I’ve also never used Pro Tools to a serious extent which for I’m really keen on improving in this field too. Being totally familiar with the industry standard DAW appears crucial to me and I cannot wait to learn more. Being totally at home in Cubase and having basic - and expandable !! - knowledge of Logic ProX will not hurt me anyways.

Also, I want to improve my skills on the guitar as much as possible during the next two years, because it is my weakest instrument and I only have very basic playing skills so far.

To sum things up so far, all of these intentions of improvement can be solved by hard work and dedication which I’m both ready to invest.

My main weaknesses, as I see them, are to be located in yet another field. I definitely feel like being a bit of outdated when it comes to my use of social media and even electronic devices like computers and smartphones. I’ve so far very much relied on keeping myself out of the social media world as possible and never had much interest in having the latest fancy gadgets right at hand. In fact, I replaced my first ever smartphone just about two weeks ago. As not being present on the internet and not being at least informed about ongoing technical developments isn’t much of a opportunity nowadays, especially in the music and media industry in general, I will have to keep up in that field. My first steps are already taken: I’ve started a FB fanpage when I officially opened my own studio to at least be ‘googleable’ and equipped myself with a MacBook and Iphone before moving to England. Additinally, I also have some weak spots when it comes to expert knowledge in the fields of music business and law which I would like to eliminate within the next two years.

Lastly, I’ quite happy about so many of my fellow students totally being into hip-hop and EDM, because although I know quite a lot about all different aspects of band-related music, I’ve had very few contact with EDM and hip-hop so far. When looking at current charts listings or the acts having been proposed for Grammy awards this year, it is obvious that this has to be changed and SAE seems to be the right place to approach this topic.

In order to finish my considerations, I would like to make another point here, which is that I feel there is a clear need for me to get deeper interlinks and grow my social network in the music business community. Moreover, I’d really like to take the next step in terms of the clients asking me to work with or for them. On my journey so far, I’ve mostly dealt with unsigned artists and bands just starting out and recording their first album or EP which was perfect to getting some experience without the danger of falling to deeply when failing or making mistakes. By now though, I feel confident and experienced enough to take it to the next level and approach more advanced artists to collaborate and explore musical genres I haven’t worked in so far which is a point I would like to focus on in my next blogpost which I would like …

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