Stoic Serenity
Stoic Serenity
4: Who are you? What do you? Why are you here?

4: Who are you? What do you? Why are you here?

A music producer revealed 10 secrets about music-making. Other producers will hate him for that. He said.

The secrets themselves are not important for today’s message but you can go watch the video on YouTube anyway.

Let’s assume this producer is right. Then the video reveals what it’s actually about, which is truth and…

Your true identity

He said music producers use shortcuts and they don’t reinvent the wheel. They get massive help from mixing and mastering engineers who „do more work than you think“. And they use loops, songwriting formulas, and templates because time in the studio is expensive. That’s why they’re doing it. I think that’s understandable.

Still, if a music producer was asked in a radio interview:

  • Who are you?

  • What do you?

  • Why are you here?

He would say, for example:

  • Hi, I’m JayJay, a professional music producer.

  • I produce Grammy-nominated music.

  • I’m here because God sent me here. (no blasphemy) - or: I’m on a mission to make the world a happier place. (Think of anything meta or meaningful that sounds like you’re not a miserable person.)

Not being in self-promotion mode but telling the truth, how would he answer then? Let’s see:

  • I’m George Buttknock. I sit in front of the computer for eight to twelve hours a day. There, I click knobs and buttons to influence acoustic oscillations. This produces sounds that people find pleasing. And they pay me for doing that.

  • I never won a Grammy but it sounds nice to say that I was shortlisted with my work. It inflates my ego.

  • I’m here because 20 years ago I saw that people pay money for doing something that I enjoy doing. So, I might as well turn this into a career and not only do it for fun.

Sounds very different. And now your perception of Jay or George has turned into a different direction, right?

Nothing sells better than the truth.

Believe or not, these are the words from an agency. It’s what Daniel Harmon, Chief Creative Officer at Harmon Brothers, said.

But back to the music producer because he also talked about competency.

4 Levels of competence

He said:

There’s four levels of competency.

There’s unconscious incompetence which means that you don’t know what you don’t know.

There’s conscious incompetence which means you know that you don’t know.

There’s a third level which is conscious competence. It’s that you know that you know something. […]

Once you practice there at the conscious competence, once you know that you know it becomes […] a habit and this is called the unconscious competence.

The guy then confused the 4th stage a little when he said:

This is where you don’t know that you know something and this is where the majority of professionals are.

So in the flow of what they’re doing, they don’t even know why they’re good. They don’t even know what they’re doing. They don’t even know why they made that decision.

It gets confusing. But he tries to make an argument with the meaning of something that has another meaning. He probably was looking for an angle or hook to sell his premium membership.

However, quoting Wikipedia, this is what the 4th stage of competence looks like and what he wanted to say…

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

So, it’s not that the producers don’t know what they’re doing. They know so well that their knowledge has turned into muscle memory. And that’s where it can seem that they’re just in flow all the time.

Ok, so he confused the psychological states of competence or (and that’s maybe more likely) he tried to prepare his sales pitch by bending the definition of it.


And on a side note: You can know something and be good at it without being able to express it or sell your knowledge. That’s why artists - who are deeply immersed in their craft - have marketers and managers who do that for them.

But let’s still assume he told the truth by saying:

The pros don’t even know what they’re doing. I had a whole biology degree at Villanova University and all you do in biology is observe patterns. And that’s all I do. I bring it to you in the music production space because the pros don’t even know what makes them great. And I’m sure you can watch any masterclass right now - I’m not bashing any other companies or anything like that - but I’m sure you can watch interviews, YouTube videos, masterclasses and you’ll be like… Wow, they’re literally saying nothing. They don’t even know their own craft.

His point is that high-level producers are just fumbling around because „they know not what they do“.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and sometimes that’s what matters. So…

Try the exercise yourself

And answer the three questions:

  • Who are you?

  • What do you?

  • Why are you here?

Consider that…

A professional Grammy-nominated music producer is struggling and still hasn’t figured it out. Sometimes they don’t even know who they are and why they’re here.

Then it’s time to cut the pedestal of stardom. Bring them down to your ground because that’s where they are.

And that’s when social status becomes irrelevant and that’s when a 13-year old can produce a globally recognized pop song.

Stoic Serenity
Stoic Serenity
Stoic philosophy. Written and read by Published on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday.