Canadian Musician - March/April 2023 - Page 62


Hearing the Future : Out of the Pandemic and Into the Next Generation

Part One
By Josh Moyer

As I ’ m sure you ’ ve heard , the pandemic changed everything about the world – especially the way we work . Remote conditions look to be a permanent fact of our business landscape and there is much to consider looking ahead . Fifteen years ago , I started as an intern at Pomann Sound , a full-service audio-post production house in New York City , where I am now the executive producer . To some , this experience may be considered unique because of the opportunity I ’ ve had to witness changes both within the company and the industry at large .

Prior to the pandemic our team worked together for over a decade . The facility was a bustling place . Driven by the wide range of mediums we work with ( recording , mixing , and sound design for TV / radio and long-form series in animation , unscripted , documentary , and features ), there was constant activity and chances for us to bump into one another . Exchanging ideas , problem-solving issues , and building personal relationships , we were learning and growing as individuals and as a team – a system fine-tuned by continuous collaboration . That foundation built by years of us all being at the studio together and with our clients created a lot of shorthand , trust , and institutional knowledge .
Now my day is spent in a relatively quiet studio , with only one or two other engineers , while the rest of the team works remotely . We are now a truly hybrid business . Our mixers have carved out quieter , customized spaces at home where constant interruptions have been reduced to G Chat , a couple of phone calls , or the occasional Zoom meeting ( with all those awkward “ who ’ s looking at who and who ’ s going to talk next ?” issues ). And what I ’ ve discovered is , it works . Especially , when considering overall productivity and employee satisfaction .
I have to admit I did not arrive at this conclusion right away . My wife never thought she ’ d see the day I wrote these words , but I now vouch for our hybrid model as I see first-hand how it benefits people ’ s lives and our studio .
Yet , for all of this “ quiet ” time and lack of interruptions , our hybrid environment presents us with a new and urgent challenge . How to do we go about training the next generation ?
I think back on my time as an intern , and how I learned so much by being a fly on the wall . I learned skills that can only be observed ; the use of body language , intonation and words to work through creative and technical challenges . Learning , sometimes even embarrassingly so at times , when I made a faux pas with a room full of clients . The facility was a busy place . There was a lot of activity , and it was all happening in front of me — on site .
An easy answer would be to throw out the hybrid model and bring everyone back to studio in the name of fostering new talent . But I don ’ t believe it ’ s in our best interest to return to the past , and in all honesty , we as a company are operating the best we ever have . Much of that owed to the many years of face-to-face collaboration , but equally to the quieter , less interrupted spaces we currently find ourselves in . That said , the first part of a solution would be to not look backwards , but identify the beneficial parts of our past experiences and develop them into our business routines .
The lack of in-studio collaboration fosters several urgent dilemmas : How do we pass down knowledge and the continuity of our craft ? How do we provide opportunities similar to ones we received while accounting for extended training periods ? And , most importantly , how does our own business and industry continue to grow by engaging the next generation ?
Without the continuity of our craft , we risk entering a period of stagnation . It ’ s in our best interest to make an effort to engage with the next generation . I ’ m already seeing a lack of know-how within our industry .
Opportunities also need to be continually broadcast so that future generations know they exist . Otherwise , aspiring talent will seek out alternative careers . This industry is already a tough one to break into ; we don ’ t want to be responsible for limiting it any further .
From a business perspective , training is going to be a much slower process without the immediate feedback of in-studio collaboration . The times when a new intern can get dropped into the midst of a studio and learn day-to-day by bouncing off clients and the staff are limited . In addition , we are also losing out on our own learning experiences . The next generation has its own point of view , and can offer us fresh perspectives or different approaches to new challenges we might face .
Stay tuned for the next installment of this piece in the May 2023 issue for more insight and potential solutions .
Josh Moyer is the Executive Producer of Pomann Sound . Established in 1984 , it is the longestrunning , sole-proprietor audio post-production house in New York City . Go to www . pomannsound . com . He can be reached at josh @ pomannsound . com .