My friend Doug Mann once pointed out something to me that I’ve kept with me for about 20 years.  Doug is one of the smartest people I know and has the ability to explain things in as few words as he needs to use.  Anyway, we were discussing a very wealthy investment banking acquaintance of ours and I said “How the heck did this guy make all this money?”

His answer was simple, awesome and made perfect sense.  (For reference, Doug and I go way back and have a history with recording studios and music).  He explained it like this:

“In much the same way you and I would go about making a record, he and his friends can go about making a million dollars.  You and I know the songs, which musicians, studio, pressing plant (remember those?), etc.  He and his friends know which people to call and how much money to put where and when to generate a million dollars.  It’s that simple”.

I guess it never occurred to me that making a million dollars could be so factual and simple.  Well, simple for the people who know who to call and where to put the money.

Yes, I’m taking the circuitous route to my point here, bear with me…

When I approach new project ideas with clients, I try to keep this in mind.  I try to simplify the project down into very simple phases that can be filled in with detail later.  If you try and agonize over which kind of microphone to use on a snare drum for a drummer you’ve never heard play, you’re wasting your time.  Get my point?  Maybe?  

Not to get too cosmic, but…I never let the unknowable get in the way of the known.  Once I’ve forged a relationship with a client, they trust me to fill in the details as they become known.  Always start with the songs, not the microphones.  It allows you to use the tools you know very well to do their job, and not try and solve a problem you don’t yet have.  We have to solve problems we’ve never seen before with EVERY project we take on.  It’s for precisely this reason I’m happy to go to work every day.