Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Melding Interests

In just a few short (short!) days, I will no longer be a music editor for SmartSound.

I am a little nervous about yet another round of uncertainty so soon (under a year), but so it goes when you are starting a career I guess. My employers have had excellent things to say about my work... Andy Muson, VP of Music (my boss) gave me a recommendation letter stating:
"Sean Malone has been a valued employee at SmartSound since February 2009. He has quickly learned the skill set for a complicated and detail oriented system. His position involved the management and oversight of outside programmers/suppliers for SmartSound plus coordinating the results of that work with our in-house team to implement in all related procedures. He has performed his work to the highest standards and I would recommend Sean for future employment without hesitation."
The CEO of SmartSound also wrote the following:
"Sean joined the staff in February as we were ramping up some new music library partners. In the eight months he’s been with us he has proven himself a highly motivated, self-starter who is able to grasp complex issues and reduce them to what is necessary to get the job done very quickly and efficiently. He is bright, amiable and a good team player. It is also clear he is an accomplished musician.
I can strongly recommend Sean. I believe that even in this economy he will not remain on the market very long, and if he were still available, I would hire him back without hesitation were the economy to recover sufficiently for us."
I've definitely enjoyed working with both of them and everyone else at this company. It's been a great change of pace actually working in the software industry instead of directly in entertainment if for no other reason than the rest of the crew on this side of the fence are a lot more sane, intelligent and decent people.

I have often been critical of the entertainment industry at large, though not nearly enough on this blog, I think because when I write essays here it's often my escape from the hassles of freelancing & working as an entertainment professional.

In just the past 3 years, I've seen a boss literally throw a full bottle of "Teas Tea" in anger at another partner while his back was turned. I've seen severe sexual harassment not only go unpunished, but instead witnessed the management's response of threatening the victim with termination if she did not sign a non-disclosure agreement and sign away her rights to a lawsuit. I've put up with bosses creating highly politicized office environments in which almost on a daily basis, we were to laugh at the stupidity of republicans (which I have to agree is often funny) and yet canonize virtually all democrats & prominent "liberals". In a year, only one time did I ever actually challenge one of the intra-office propaganda mailings and I suspect my credibility with some of my peers was hurt by it (although admittedly the bulk of the response was more along the lines of, "wow, you've really thought a lot about this issue but I don't really understand what you're talking about now!"). I've seen immense amounts of financial irresponsibility in everything from purchasing musical supply & equipment at retail prices (which I don't even do most of the time!) to $200,000 holiday parties, to keeping bottles of Grey Goose around the office for employees to enjoy when working 20-hour days. I've seen some laughable attempts at "organization" and work flow which wouldn't pass the efficiency standards of a 50-year-old truck.

All in all, I've seen a lot of absurd behavior by people who's success has been tied to who they knew and not their skills or intelligence.

So getting away from that for the past year to work here at SmartSound has really been wonderful. The management is great, the company has a good, future-oriented idea, and the atmosphere is relaxed and intelligent. Obviously it would have been nice to have had a bit more work, and to be full-time as I'd always expected, but otherwise I think it's been a good run. It's also given me some time to write essays and blogs and research & learn thing and develop the intellectual interests that are so important to me.

And that, in turn, has led me to my current plan of attack...

When I first went off to graduate school, I had no specific goals other than to write some music and work in entertainment. Now I do. I've realized over the past two years that I'd be wasting my time & talents by continuing to pursue a career devoid of intellectual meaning. It's no longer just "enough" for me to work on music & media production for just anybody with any message, and instead, it's time for me to start focusing my efforts on producing actually good film and multimedia projects dedicated to the support & defense of liberty.

I believe strongly now that I'm in a relatively unique position to do so, as well. Unlike most of the people currently involved in the production of this kind of material, I have an entertainment, rather than a communications or journalism background. This is a benefit in several important ways, I believe. First, while I personally care deeply about content and demand very high standards in logic & empirical support for the ideas I represent, I also recognize (and am sometimes frustrated by) the fact that most people care much, much more about the presentation of those ideas.

Unfortunately, I find that a great deal of the think-tanks that produce the kind of well-researched, properly reasoned contributions to policy & philosophy in the world are also some of the worst at presenting their ideas in an exciting and persuasive way. There are a lot of reasons for this in my opinion. First is because (as I noted in my recent essay commenting on the broad faults of Socialism) the solutions being offered by a free society are much more difficult to "see" directly than anything a government or authoritarian might do. It's easy to see, or at least imagine, how a man would be able to just "run the economy" and the wrong man - i.e. George Bush - would do it wrong, and the right man - i.e. Barack Obama - would just fix it. The truth, of course, is that no man "runs" it at all! It's merely the end result of billions of people on planet earth engaging in mutually beneficial trades.

The problem though, is that billions of individual people pursuing their separate interests driving everything that's good in the world is very hard to see, whereas one powerful guy in a nice suit giving prepared speeches (especially one who is on television more than any other human in recorded history) IS visible. Too visible...

Much like, as I mentioned via email to Jeffrey Tucker this morning, most of the problem with opposing things like Cash for Clunkers is that CNN can always find someone to interview who's excited to be buying a new car with a $4,000 bonus... And most people see that as positive. After all, that's someone getting something they want with the help of government... Hooray! But they never show the millions of poor people who are now relegated to taking the bus because the used car market suddenly lost 750,000 units. They also don't show how 2 years from now, taxes will have to be raised yet again in order to pay for the program since the money has to come from the taxpayer's own pocket ultimately anyway. It's very difficult to show all that, but I truly believe that it's not actually impossible.

So my goal is to find a new position within a respectable organization or as a regularly working freelancer helping to direct, produce and guide libertarian media into being of much higher quality, more emotionally hard-hitting and meaningful, and as a result; more persuasive - by making the difficult into a reality - by exposing the unseen to people who aren't used to seeing it.

Thus far, I've been more talk than action on producing multimedia simply because I've been working as an entertainment professional on everything else. I have bills to pay, after all! ;) But now's the time to make the change.

It's an exciting time, indeed. (PS... help finding said position is definitely appreciated!)

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