What You Can Learn About Music Production From The World Of Poker
While music production may feel like a niche industry, you can actually pick up some of the skills needed from the most unusual of places.
The technical side of things is not easy to grasp, and specialized training and plenty of experience will stand you in the best place for career progression. There are many courses out there to teach you what all the buttons on a console do or how to mix correctly, and they are the cornerstone of any music producers progression path.
Other skills are not taught so easily, and they are the personal attributes that set the best apart from the rest. We recently ran an article titled What McDonald’s Can Teach You About Music Production? exploring the lessons a potential producer could learn from looking at the fast-food giants. The link there seems non-existent, but there were plenty of lessons you could learn from them. Indeed, even existing producers or industry professionals could look to improve their own personal skillset by casting an eye over the article.
Another unlikely source of learning is the world of poker. Poker is a game combining skill and chance, and that reflects real-life much closer than many. In poker, you learn the ropes as well as you can, but different scenarios offer different tests for you to master. Sure, you might understand which hands are better than others, but will that prepare you for the experience of playing poker in a casino? Poker.org explains how plenty of inexperienced players and online pros have to work hard to adapt their game to play poker in a casino. Will you understand when to spot a bluff, and can you handle multiple tables when playing online? In real life, simply learning a skill is not sufficient if you cannot adapt, evolve and develop over time.
Adaptability: that’s one great lesson a music producer can learn from watching poker players, but what are the others?
Over time, a music producer learns their craft and understands what fits and what does not, but that comes from trying new things. Experience is experimenting and understanding whether that experiment worked or not. Some of the most acclaimed pieces of music were the result of adventurous mixing or artists playing around. Sweet Child O’Mine would never have come into being, according to Kerrang.com, had it not been for Slash skipping practice and just trying something new on his guitar. In poker, the best players try new things, a bluff here, a big bet there, just to see what the outcome is. Being guarded and hiding behind your cards will get you nowhere, and the same goes for the recording studio.
Patience is a skill that has uses in any walk of life, not least in music production. If you do not have patience, you’ll never reach your goal, and reading interviews with artists will confirm that. Take Seasick Steve, the blues artist, as an example. He released his first critically acclaimed album at the age of 53, after years of trying. He was patient and waited for his chance. Fans of the popular poker film Rounders will have seen a similar lesson in the final scene, as Matt Damon’s character faces off against his antagonist. He has patiently waited for the right hand to come along all game, and when it does, he plays it right. The best things don’t always come to those who wait, but that doesn’t mean patience isn’t a worthy virtue.
Poker is a solitary game, not a team sport. It requires you to understand your place around a table and know the skills and weaknesses of those sitting with you. That is people management, and whilst you are not telling anyone what to do, to be the best, you need to understand them, know their tells, and how they act in certain situations. Making a successful record is the same; a music producer will work with lots of different people throughout making an album. Knowing their attributes, weaknesses, and how to treat them will make the process a lot easier to manage.
Even a music producer can learn a thing or two from the wild world of Poker. You just needed to know where to look. We hope you enjoyed this article, and as always — We wish you the absolute best in all that you do. Have fun and enjoy the journey!