Thursday, May 27, 2010

Does using ProTools make you a pro?

There's quite a bit of controversy over a cracked version of ProTools HD and M-Powered for the Mac floating around the Internet (see for some of the discussion). This cracked version allows ProTools software to be used on a Mac without the ProTools hardware that it has been tied to for decades. (Some even refer to the hardware as a rather heavy copy-protection dongle.)

Russ Hughes over at the Air Users Blog wrote a couple of days ago: "The only downside for every one of us, is there's now a thousand kids out there with a cracked version of Pro Tools, heaven knows the shit they're going to make with it!"

I have run into people over the years who tell me they have ProTools on their computer (or Reason, Logic, Cubase or any one of a number of audio applications) and that they are now a producer, sound designer, engineer or something of the sort. As an instructor in post-production at the Toronto Film School, I used to hear this sort of thing all the time.

It should be patently obvious, however, that having software like ProTools on your computer doesn't automatically confer audio credentials any more than having Microsoft Word on your computer makes you a speech writer.

Credentials come from clients. They are the ones who recognize ability when they see it and are willing to pay for something that has value to them. Clients are what separate hobbyists and enthusiasts from professionals, and until you have at least one, you're not in business.

In a similar way, the fact that a dealer stocks a particular product doesn't allow him to say truthfully that he sells it—you actually have to make sales and collect money in order to say truthfully that you sell it. As Griff McRee used to tell us at Synclavier, "The sale isn't complete until I've spent the money."

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