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The Value of Creative Work - Part 2: How You Could Define the Job

It's about the value of creative work. In my last article on this topic, I told a story that helped me a lot and changed a lot in my head. The good thing about this story is that there is a way to get the "customer" to understand the value of creative work. The bad finding is that of course this doesn't apply to all jobs. So let's look at another example today. Afterwards I summarized my approaches in four separate evaluations. I hope this helps you.


A few years ago I was asked if I would like to help design and produce a new musical piece. At first it was all about the studio production, i.e. making the song layouts for the stage. However, this should then be a by-product and have the quality of a reasonable production. In addition, it was essentially a club that did not have the means to rehearse or perform with live musicians for weeks. That is why the studio production should also serve as a playback for the stage. There were more and more gaps, the network was missing, the funds were very limited.

The client always needed more, a few examples:

  • There were still two songs missing
  • This resulted in 17 (including a few scenic compositions)
  • Singers and actors were missing

More and more gaps were revealed ...

  • no singers for the production in the studio
  • no singers for the stage
  • no vocal coach
  • poor planning (deadlines, schedules)
  • no good communication in the team (whatsapp, phone, everyone messes with everyone, nobody knows what's going on)
  • no project structure (responsibilities, hierarchy)

So were my roles in the end:

  • Producer (studio)
  • Songwriter / composer
  • Studio musician
  • Singer (studio)
  • Coordination of the whole network of musicians
  • musical direction
  • Vocal coach
  • Team leading

Now of course you can go there and say: why are you doing this then? One answer is certainly idealism. The other is that you naturally want to help and see problems or opportunities where the amateurs sometimes don't see them. Few people end up keeping things alive, which is basically okay! Only it gets in a slanting position when the difficulties are not even seen from the other side (client).

Summary, one can say:

  1. There were far too many construction sites for far too few resources / forces
  2. There was far too little communication between technology, direction, music and choreography
  3. The plans were not adhered to and arbitrarily changed
  4. There was no structure, not even under the “ladders”.
  5. The few professionals in the team were not listened to.

What is the result of this? Stress, resentment, anger. Unnecessary, avoidable, exhausting.


Complex question. Because of the missing pieces - which I didn't originally know about - I was now one of the authors of the piece and wanted it to be good, because my name had long been part of the story. Here and there I also took on roles because I thought that for the moment it would be better if someone did it at all.

Now that is certainly an extreme example. And of course, the whole displeasure discharged after the premiere, people screamed at each other, you could watch strange scenes. I don't know anything like that from professional teamwork.


So the bottom line is a powerhouse. Great result, a lot of great people there, unbelievable performance by many amateurs and less professionals in their fields. But on the other side of the balance sheet there is the above.

I felt bad afterwards. Was I wondering on the one hand (like some of the colleagues involved) what had happened to me over the past 2.5 years, and on the other hand whether I was not behaving professionally? Did I make the mistake here? What else could I have done? What else could I have caught? Haven't I given enough

After a little distance I can say: Everything is okay, as a project in my free time if that's what you want. But my learning effect is that in this case I should have left. Keep your hands off it.


... just without resources, stadium, team, player. It is really amazing what this club has achieved over the years. I have my greatest respect for that. My summary of the association's board of directors is different: Having a great idea and burning for it is really great. Great things can only be created with strength, that is clear to me. But here was simply not the know-how and just as little the means for the expectation of the goal. And so in the long end I didn't enjoy it.

In my opinion, good communication could always have solved a lot here.

What can we take away from this experience?


I believe that one has to learn to differentiate between these “types of inquiries”. In the music industry, idealism is in demand, no question about it. Big projects like the one described above won't be possible without a power performance. But that's not the same as a well-defined studio recording day or a gig.


1) The "Wedding Singer Tactic"

The way I do things at weddings is that I don't charge the couples anything and when they have their heads free they should just give me what it was worth to them. As described in the last article, I've been surprised many times!

2) The "clearly defined job"

A school book publisher wants an offer for the composition and production of a pop song for its textbook. You write an offer, hopefully you're right, do the job. Everything is defined.

3) The "Mammut Project"

Should I produce an album? With pleasure! I do an internal calculation and then calculate backwards. How many days do I have to be ready to have a top daily rate? In how many days so that it is still a good daily rate. And how many days do I have before the pain limit. It helped me a lot to be faster and to be able to see creative construction sites as “finished”. (They never actually are ;-))

4) The "affair of the heart"

Someone wants, as described above, to tap into your entire heart and soul for a “project” (I really hate that word)? It's your decision! Fancy a hobby: do it! Don't feel like it: Separate it clearly from your job and leave it alone!


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