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I'm a loverman

Written by Tommi on 20.10.2008 23:22:19

Blog image for entry I'm a loverman I've spent quite a bit of time pondering the difference between amateurs and professionals lately, but from a bit different perspective than music, but most of it applies to this field as well, so here's a few thoughts.

Most of the key moments in musical history from my viewpoint have happened somewhere in the cross-section of professionalism and amateurism. Somewhere where taking music seriously meets passion for creation.

Amateurs = lovers

The etymology of the word "amateur" derives from the French term "lover of" and with love come all the things I personally can't get enough of in the context of music: passion, personal interest and dedication. These are some of the key characteristics of a truly admirable and probably very creative and original musician.

Being a true amateur - a lover - gives you the strength of excitement that no amount of training can provide. It provides inspiration, innovation and most of all, makes you feel alive like few other things.

The definition of "professional" is a bit less straighforward, but it more or less involves acquiring a formal training and practicing a profession in exchange for monetary gain and other such concepts. Obviously, there's nothing really wrong with either of those, but compare that to "lover of"... Man, there's just something so much cooler about the latter.

Passionate amateurs > bored professionals

In his blog entry "A passionate amateur almost always beats a bored professional", Chris Anderson (editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine) elaborates the point beautifully:

"No matter how much you love your job, you will eventually end up doing something that feels like work--something that you have to do because your boss asked you to or because the market requires it. At that point, your professional skills may be negated by your lack of authentic interest."

If you ask me, that's right on the money. If there's something the world doesn't need it's artists performing for the sole purpose of raking in the bucks, only barely fighting the tedium. Of course it's beneficial to build up formal skills and it's great to get paid, but if you lose your heart and passion in the process, is it really worth it? Why not get a real job with a proper pay instead?

I'm not saying professionalism is not needed too! If bored professionals is the ultimate evil, clueless beginners with little or no vision aren't that far behind. Like I stated in the beginning, there's a abstract perfect combination of professionalism and amateurism somewhere and that's where true genious lies. It's in a point where innovation and the skill to channel that innovation meet in proportion and magic happens. It can be The Germs having an amazing amount of vision and lust and just the right amount of chops to barely pull it off with style or it can be Deep Turtle with all the chops in the world but enough passion to use their firepower in a unique way. Or anything in between. The professionalism is manifested in a certain meticulous eye for detail that focuses the passion and keeps it in check when it tries to turn against itself.

So, whatever your musical level is, never forget the #1 reason for doing what you do: the need to create. Let that side be the guide and your professionalism be the filter and once you find the right ratio, good things will happen. But if you let your professionalism take over, you'll eventually just bore yourself and anyone who happens to listen to you to death.

Me, I'm a loverman and proud of it.

"Never underestimate the power of a million amateurs with keys to the factory"
-Chris Anderson, The Long Tail
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