Re-definition and change are constants in the world, most certainly including the music industry and the world of professional audio. Accordingly, the Society of Professional Audio Recording Services (SPARS) is in the process of reviewing and resetting its direction. On both macro and day-to-day levels, our actions will follow logically from our stated mission.
As a SPARS board member, I have found it beneficial to articulate my views of the organization, the community we serve, and a possible vision of how we can best preserve and connect the legacy of our past, elevate the present, and positively shape the future.
One way to explore the essence of our association is to examine the individual words that make up its name:
Society: Given that we tend to exist isolated in our respective caves, there is a community need for socializing, exchange of ideas, networking and bonding, mentorship, cooperation and collegiality.
This is an important social, business and psychological function that SPARS can provide on a national basis, similar to what EARS, the Engineering and Recording Society of Chicago, has been doing since 1986.
Professional: We publicize, promote, market, advertise, illuminate, educate and advocate for our profession, which incorporates a variety of disciplines.
Our membership consists of all who join us; they work in every imaginable environment with all types of equipment. We should encourage the democratization of audio creation, while also cultivating the highest levels of professionalism and expertise in its every aspect. It is up to us all to recognize and foster excellence in our field, and resist its erosion.
Magazine articles and ads for schools, software and hardware imply that everyone is or can be an engineer/producer. Some of our most visible and successful experts connect their names and reputations with products whose ads proclaim “professional results” to anyone.
However, it’s worth pointing out that what makes these pros amazing and admirable cannot be captured in a preset, and has little to do with the gear they use; they’d make amazing records with any tools.
It is both truthful education and rightful self-promotion to point out that there is no substitute for mastery.
Audio professionals are the industry’s greatest asset, embodying training, experience, technical and listening skills; social, business and communications abilities, “sixth sense” and so much more: a deep well of wisdom and lore. All this is passed along through mentoring and education, the noblest and most critical of our missions.
Audio: Love of listening likely motivated most of us into the audio industry, and is what drives it economically. We naturally gravitate toward pleasant experiences. Oddly, great-sounding playback systems are less common than in the past, and it is gratifying to witness people’s delight when they’re exposed to them. The music and audio industries are better served by striving to elevate our art and its appreciation, than focusing on other unfixable perceived problems.
Recording: SPARS carries the wonderful opportunity and responsibility to record and disseminate our culture and 130-year history, as transmitted through those who know and live it. Who better than we, who capture moments every day, to preserve and perpetuate our past? Time is critical in this, as the generations continue to turn.
The traditional method through which this legacy has been continued is mentoring in a guild-like structure. This still exists, but to a lesser extent. Even when it was the main avenue, few people were able to be a part of it. There is much greater access now to information in books, magazines and on the Internet; and with it, a need for accurate and complete presentation.
Services: We must point out the many benefits and efficiencies of the services we provide our clients, and continue to adapt, using methods old and new.
Studios never were the only place that audio is recorded, but there will always be a need for facilities that compromise as little as possible in every aspect. Clients value the ability to focus on creating at any time in a dedicated environment, without distractions and with professional assistance.
There is no question that audio professionals will continue to provide these services, and it is an honor to take part in a society dedicated to them. We sincerely invite you to join us.