They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. So how are you going to spend your time?
10,000 hours: 417 days, 59 1/2 weeks, 13.6 months, or just over a year. The time it takes to master a skill. Broken down by a daily practice routine, 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, would take you almost 20 years. 20 Years?! That's a long time! While 20 years sounds like forever, this is just an estimate of the length of time it can take to master the skill. The basic principle is this; immerse yourself in the skill you wish to master. Learn it, live it, love it.
The cost of studio gear has come down considerably. This is great for aspiring musicians to get their foot in the door. The recording process used to be out of reach for so many people. Gear was limited to large studios and those with funding. While this accessibility is a great starting point, it has its downfalls. You can create great tracks as a musician, but you have to decide where to spend your time. Going back to the 10,000 hours idea, you have to decide where to direct your efforts. Will you spend time on your skills as a musician, or as an engineer?
With the drop of gear prices, this allows studio owners to purchase gear and pass on savings to potential clients. While there is still the value of the knowledge, accessible gear is a blessing. Coming to a realization of how to spend your time can be a long, arduous journey. At some point, all engineers made a conscience decision to pursue their career. Just as a working musician usually makes the decision to take their craft from hobby to career.
For some, like myself, it was a realization that I did not enjoy the hours of dedication to a skill that seemed boring when utilized by myself. I always found more pleasure performing in a group, than solo. So, spending time practicing solo was an off-putting experience. Others find it very rewarding, making a career as a performing musician. Once I started recording and layering myself, the spark I was looking for burst forth. I found myself enjoying the process of building a song piece by piece.
Knowing this about myself helped me hone in on a skill that turned into a career. I found spending my time recording and making other people sound the best they can. Immersing myself into the recording process, instead of practicing music. While you can still find time for both, focusing your time on one more than the other to further yourself as a musician or engineer can be beneficial. The world needs engineers, and musicians. Find what skill sparks passion and stick with it. Immersing yourself in your passion makes practice fun and no longer feel like a chore.
So spend your 10,000 hours on what makes you happy, and master your passion. There is always time for your other hobbies, just make sure you don't take time away from your skill of passion.