Industry Insight: Getting To The Essence Of Surviving Tough Times

Despite the fact that some businesses aren’t doing well; others are surviving. Some are even thriving. What makes the difference?

By Michael MacDonald November 11, 2016

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on PSW in 2011, but the wisdom remains relevant today and is worth repeating.

It’s not earth-shaking news: we currently live in trying economic times.

We have to do more with less, have seen friends leave jobs, and, in some cases, leave the pro audio industry completely.

Companies of all types are downsizing. Smaller budgets, dwindling revenue, reduced staff and less time to get the job done make our work tougher.

At the same time, the demand for performance is increasing, not decreasing!

What gives?

Despite the fact that some businesses aren’t doing well; others are surviving. Some are even thriving.

What makes the difference? Are the companies doing well at this point in time simply smarter? Do they have more cash? Perhaps they’re just better looking!

It got me thinking, so I took a closer look at some of the companies that are doing well. What’s their edge? After this analysis, I came to the conclusion that the difference is attitude.


The Wayback Machine
I’ll back up about 30 years and share some personal perspective. When I started doing sound, like all new sound practitioners, I wanted to work with the best. The best equipment, the best acts and in the best venues.

Everyone starts in this business with visions of grandeur, and I was no exception.

The time was the mid-’70s and the economy was staggering, not unlike today. I had a chance to work for a small sound company in San Diego by the name of Sound West, owned by a gentleman named Charles Akins.

Charles taught me many great lessons that will forever leave me in his debt. The lesson I believe most important was that “professionalism is a matter of attitude.” It was the company slogan, emblazoned on T-shirts and posters in the warehouse.

Charles never told me if he borrowed it from someone, or if it was original, but regardless, I won’t ever forget it.

At the time, he explained to me that equipment did not matter, the act did not matter, and the location did not matter.

Instead, what he stressed was when Sound West was hired to do a job, that job was the most important event in the customer’s mind and we had to do it right, and with the right attitude for everyone involved.

In a lot of ways, Sound West was a “typical” small sound company, and, like most other companies of this ilk, we handled the odd assortment of low-end work combined with a few choice projects. Being the “low man on the totem pole,” I drew most of the bottom-end work ¬ talent shows, fundraisers, music festivals in the park, radio station promotions and parades.

But I learned, event after event, that Charles was exactly right. In the final equation, the difference maker is your attitude. Even if the event is something a bit less than “professional,” the entire goal and focus is to deliver professional quality sound and all that goes with it.

Tireless service with a sincere smile.

Read the rest of this post


About Michael

Michael MacDonald
Michael MacDonald

President. ATK Audiotek
Michael is the president of leading production company ATK Audiotek in Valencia, CA, and has been involved in the professional audio industry for more than 35 years. Beginning as a freelance mixer/engineer in the 1970s, he transitioned to working for manufacturers and has been employed by, developed products for, and consulted with major companies such as Yamaha and JBL Professional.


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