When recording an album, the last step in the process is called audio mastering. You send your tracks to someone who has an expert ear and who applies things like “compression”, “normalization”, and “equalization” to make your music sound crisp. It’s the final bit of polish that makes what you hear on a CD sound different (better) than what you record on your iPhone.
I was thinking about that process as I get ready to launch my new podcast: Beer, Beats, and Business. I’m recording and producing it on my own, and while I have gotten some great help from friends who are podcasters, the finished result isn’t going to sound like it’s on NPR (at least, the first episodes won’t). It reminds me of when my band was recording our first albums and trying to make our music sound like what we heard on the radio…to varying degrees of success.
It can be frustrating, because I want the end product to match the image that I’ve created in my head. So I sit at my computer and keep trying to tweak the sound to get it just a bit better. What’s actually helped is re-framing my expectations. I don’t have to master this at the beginning. My job isn’t to create a professional radio show (not yet, at least). My goal is to create fun and useful conversations with interesting people and share those with our audience.
When you are starting something new, don’t compare yourself to the experts and the professionals. That can be paralyzing and you could stall. Be the best amateur you can be. Focus on where you are, and work to take the next step. Mastery is a journey, not a destination. That’s been my mantra. And, oh yeah, watch for Beer, Beats, and Business on Feb 11th!