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amount of intellectual firepower and one that is not forgiving when it comes to creative
performance pressure regardless of age.
Bill Cavanaugh, a prolific sound engineer, has been working nonstop in the industry since
the 1970s and his clients include everyone from popularized music video channels to the
History Channel. When asked about how age, creativity and experience were valued in his
industry, Bill replies:
Depends on whom you’re dealing with. Like a lot of industries from investment
banking to my business, a lot of people are there for social reasons as well as doing a
job. If a 22-year-old female producer was coming to a room and sees me she’d say,
‘I don’t want to work with this old man.’ She’d say, ‘I’m looking for someone I could
get laid with.’ I’ll be discriminated against in that case.
If that producer doesn’t know what in God’s name she’s doing and completely
panicked this happens a lot with music channel producers -- networks use
them like toilet paper. (PAUSES) There is this woman who’s a big cheese at a
music channel. I met her at a party one day and we talked about it. She’d
book me with inexperienced producers and she knew that I would do the job and
make the music choices. Music TV works backwards in their promo world. In
most commercials, they shoot the picture and edit the picture. Music channels
would take prerecorded artists and grab snippets of them and cut up a sound track
first. Because they want it to function if the television is on and you’re in the
other room that it’s still entertaining you even though you’re not seeing the
picture. You have to make an entertaining soundtrack first. These people
would come in with a stack of 50 or 60 CDs and say, ‘I don’t know what do you
think?’ I’d say who’s the artist? Where are we going? What is this about? Is it about
a show a special?
Bill is often finding himself in a mentoring role with younger producers and that
arrangement has worked out quite well. Although he is quick to point out that many
producers in their 40’s and 50’s say, “I don’t want to work with a kid,” and he explains:
This producer couldn’t get me to work on a show because I was pretty booked. He
worked with a younger guy on the staff and later said to me it’s so good to working
with you again. With the young mixer, he was looking for a piece of music the
French National Anthem and he called it by the French name and the kid didn’t
know what it was. Had he wanted the Soviet national anthem I would have known
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