Writing this as the new head of Pro Sound News feels a bit ironic; ostensibly, I’m introducing myself and yet I’ve been here for years. Decades even. 250-plus issues. In short, I’ve been working this gig for a long time.
Whenever I interview someone for PSN, I always ask what got them into pro audio. For myself, it was a summer’s day in 1989 when college-aged me liberally—and quite out of character—blustered his way into Abbey Road Studios. I mumbled something about being an intern at MTV back in the States (which was true) and how I’d been told to visit the studio while on vacation to see if MTV should do a news piece on it (which was definitely not true). Whether or not they believed me, I wound up getting a facility tour and it was an eye-opening experience.
For years, I’d read about world-famous bands working there—trumped-up accounts that portrayed it as a mythic temple of creative alchemy, where the very essence of divine musical brilliance was snared against its will from the ether, to be captured and dispensed to a grateful world. Abbey Road was and is a legendary studio for many reasons, but what I discovered that day was that it was actually a work place, where real people used real technologies to do their jobs (albeit jobs they clearly enjoyed). While the studio was brought down a peg in my mind to the realm of mere mortals, what really stuck with me afterwards was the equipment in use there; I hadn’t understood much of what I’d seen, but I wanted to know more.
Fast-forward five years, and I started at Pro Sound News; the mid-twenties version of me figured being the new Live Sound Editor would be a pretty simple job. I now knew a fair amount about audio, and what I didn’t know, I’d learn. The hard part would be writing it all down, and writing was easy—I’d worked at a number of magazines in the intervening years.
Of course, I quickly discovered that I didn’t know nearly enough about audio and if I was going to keep this “simple” job, I had better start learning, pronto. I’m still learning to this day, and it’s a good thing, too: All journalism is about learning—asking questions and then taking what you’ve found and turning it into something that hopefully makes sense and is worth reading.
I also discovered that writing is only easy if you aren’t invested in what you’re writing about; the words flow fast and free because you don’t care about the outcome. As time went on, I got to know the live sound world and the larger pro-audio industry, too—met the inventors of important gear; folks who had mixed legendary concerts; scrappy entrepreneurs who were beating the odds to create great companies; producers and engineers who shaped music you know better than your own name; and many others.
Pretty soon, the words didn’t flow as fast anymore, because now they mattered. I was invested in exploring how the pro-audio industry worked, how it flexed and grew, adapting with the changing times. Working at PSN, I got to witness the rise of DAWs; the fall of the big recording studios; the adoption of line arrays, digital desks and networking on the live side; the careening fortunes of the music industry; and much more.
Working alongside some of the best tech journalists around, and under the guidance of Frank Wells for the last 15 years, we parsed it all, shared what we discovered and kept our eyes peeled for what was around the corner. During those years, I became news editor, social media editor, managing editor, and now I’m the one in charge.
Now that we’ve been introduced, let’s find out what happens next.