How Pro Tools Expert Began

11-04-2013 11:00 AM

As we celebrate our 5th year this month I thought it might be an appropriate time to share some history about how this blog came into being and why I did it in the first place.
I’ve managed to track down the actual DUC thread from 2008 when this mad idea was born, you can see it above. Some of you will know that one of my favourite mantras is ‘it only takes a mouth the criticize.’ It does seem that wherever one looks today, especially on social media there are endless articles and comments about what’s wrong with the world, our industry, a certain brand, product. It’s easy to write those things, it’s harder to come up with the answer to a problem. This thread shows that some people were struggling with using the AIR virtual instruments and somebody needed to do something. My wife was just about to start a post-graduate course in addition to her full time job, so there was going to be about a year when she would be studying most evenings and most weekends. So I had time on my hands, a problem presented to me and a challenge to make a contribution.
When I started the blog I was simply another member of the DUC. I had no contacts, no influence, no money or mandate - but I saw a need and hoped to be able to make a contribution in solving the problem. In fact in the early days many of my emails were ignored, except for one person at Digidesign at the time, David Gould, who contacted me and invited me to meet some of the team to see how they could help. In some ways the biggest help was just having that encouragement from David and some of the gang at Digidesign, it was unofficial but it still helped me to know at least one person cared enough to try and build a bridge from Avid to the ordinary man. Thankfully many other Avid team have reached out and try to build bridges as best they can, some are sadly no longer with Avid and missed greatly, like Mark Williams, his work behind the scenes when he was at Avid was immeasurable in building an effective communication line with Avid.

The early years with our very first video
When I started it I had no experience of building web sites (hence the blog), no idea of how to make video tutorials, how to screen capture, where to host them, I didn’t even consider the idea of how it would be funded. I just had bags of experience in the recording industry and had been given so much help along the way by some of the best people in the business, I knew it was time for me to try and pay it back - or indeed pay it forward.
The blog was built on this basic principle - give people the help they need to use AIR instruments and as it grew it expanded to Pro Tools, this is still the core principle of the site today.
AIR Users Blog HQ in the early days - my back office at home
At the end of the first year in 2008 we had 3,320 visits to the site, at the time I was amazed that anyone was interested in what the site was doing. I simply carried on trying my best to fulfill the vision I had, if you watch some of the early videos they are hysterical, they look and sound pretty ropey and they also include mistakes I made as well. Do you recall the early days of the blog? If so email us and let us know your memories or stories.
This year to date the site has had 3,192,854 visits. I want to share that number for a simple reason, when I started I simply wanted to help a few people and had no idea what this community could become. If I can do this, then anyone can and I want to encourage and challenge some of you with this, if you see something that needs changing then why not be the answer. You may think you have nothing to offer, I disagree, often all it takes is a willingness to be the answer, the rest will follow.
I’m not saying it is easy, it is not. In the first year the blog took up around 40 hours a week of my evenings and weekends, I had a day job. I made lots of mistakes, struggled with lots of technology issues as well as figuring out how to pay for it along the way. In reality those things never change, they just become bigger and more complex issues to solve. Thankfully there’s a team who give up their own time to continue to make this possible.
I was once told that people over estimate what is possible in 2 years and underestimate what is possible in 5 years - I think the blog has proved that to be the case. So is this it? Is the vision complete? In some ways yes, but in other ways no, we still have lots of ideas to make our contribution to the Pro Tools and recording community even more useful.
In my next installment I’ll share more about how important a great team is to making any dream a reality - this blog is no exception to that truth.