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Author Topic: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?  (Read 5642 times)

klaus

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What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« on: November 13, 2013, 06:19:14 am »

I am starting to have second thoughts on the issue of giving free expert advice to people whose ultimate use for that advice is their financial gain: avoiding financial missteps by getting authoritative information up front, or using the advice to negotiate a better price, or sellers getting a better idea how much to ask for something which they have really no experience with and no clue about- all without paying for it.  Is all that rightfully expected to be given on a gesture of goodwill, and for free?

If the subject were health information, or how to avoid a dangerous situation, or how to be a better mensch, it would be self-evident that help should be generously and freely given (and expected). But we are dealing here with an inanimate collector's commodity, an investment. Yes, there are investment advisors who give free seminars (mostly to peddle what they have to sell), who prove to me the point that advice from experts whose word I would take to the bank, I'd expect to pay a commission or an annual fee for.

I have done this without compensation forever now, on the phone, on my forums, but start to feel it's an uneven trade: I give- you take. I loved and still love giving back what I have learned after 30 years involvement in this specialty- it's still fun to play microphone detective- but, if the whole point of the exercise is to save you money, and give you an economic advantage through my expertise, then I don't feel it's such a fun game anymore.

I welcome other opinions on this subject, because I am still unsure what the right(eous) path in this situation is.

A postscript: The most annoying interaction with those seeking advice is when they tell me that "another expert" told them something diametrically opposite of my advice. Then they attempt to play one opinion up against the other, while milking both for more (free) information in the process. Just went through this with an eBay seller of a rusty VF14 who threw bogus jargon at me he received from a hobbyist on an antique radio hobby site he consulted. Now I am supposed to defend my truth against a neophyte's?

The upside: I am constantly forced to realign my priorities and ethical approach to the mercenary world around me, to come up with an equitable, fair, just response.
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Klaus Heyne
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soapfoot

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Re: M49-does it look OK? Or: How to verify authenticity.
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2013, 11:18:37 am »

Speaking to the issue raised--

I think often about what information is out there for the greater good, particularly information that's valuable and rare/esoteric. I also think about the fact that none of us are guaranteed to be around even one more day. While there's certainly an incentive (and a right) for experts to protect their unique asset (their knowledge), there's another side-- in order for that information to continue to remain valuable for future generations, it has to be shared with at least one person.

I imagine the world 50 or 100 years from now when there will be no more people alive with an intimate, first-hand knowledge of the golden era of tube and discrete electronics, analog recording, etc. There are a few alive today, and if those valuable people happen to leave at least a few bread crumbs of their expertise for the rest of us, then future generations will be much richer even in their absence.

Information can easily become extinct. I imagine what it would be like if someone asked this question in 75 years, and there was literally nobody alive who could help them identify the microphone's originality (regardless of the price offered for such a service). 
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Uwe

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Re: M49-does it look OK? Or: How to verify authenticity.
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2013, 11:27:45 am »

Amen, soapfoot!

Klaus, in this context I have several questions.
Among them: How did you acquire your knowledge? Did you have to pay for it? Or did you follow the experts before you and try to expand and build on their most often freely shared input? Isn't the open exchange of unique knowledge and information one primary purpose for the establishment of any forum?
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Jim Williams

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Re: M49-does it look OK? Or: How to verify authenticity.
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2013, 02:15:48 pm »

It's called legacy for a reason. No one lives forever, but your words may. Maybe Klaus has suffered financially for the information he has given out for free, but I suspect the gain in new customers and reputation easily makes up for those losses.

Charity is a virtue, if that means anything these days.
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radardoug

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Re: M49-does it look OK? Or: How to verify authenticity.
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2013, 02:42:14 pm »

Klaus, speaking to the wider issue of imparting knowledge, you have spent many years amassing your knowledge, and your life is finite. But the knowledge is usefull to others who will come after you. So I feel that it is good to pass on the knowledge, and the internet gives us a great resource to enable the knowledge sharing. And the knowledge passed on does not cost you directly, apart from the time taken to impart it.
I personally feel that I have a lot of knowledge mostly in areas such as analog tape, old analog consoles, and early digital units, and would like to know that I have passed on at least some of that. So I try to teach the youngsters when I am doing studio maintenance. Pass it on!
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klaus

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2013, 03:09:28 pm »

Quote
Information can easily become extinct. I imagine what it would be like if someone asked this question in 75 years, and there was literally nobody alive who could help them identify the microphone's originality (regardless of the price offered for such a service).

A most eloquent argument for sharing knowledge, with which I agree.

Quote
(…) And the knowledge passed on does not cost you directly, apart from the time taken to impart it.
It did cost me in terms of energy and time spent, especially when you consider that I could have gone into a much more lucrative field- software development, for example- instead of dedicating the majority of my life to this specialty, and its meager compensation. I know some who did exactly that, and who were eventually compensated in shares of Google, Twitter, Apple and Facebook. (These folks are single-handedly responsible for the dearth of skilled microphone specialists today!)

Quote
Maybe Klaus has suffered financially for the information he has given out for free, but I suspect the gain in new customers and reputation easily makes up for those losses.
Yes, some professional benefit derived from notoriety. How much is unclear.

Quote
How did you acquire your knowledge? Did you have to pay for it? Or did you follow the experts before you and try to expand and build on their most often freely shared input? Isn't the open exchange of unique knowledge and information one primary purpose for the establishment of any forum?
Uwe, you know full well, that the kind of knowledge that could be turned easily into profitability is unavailable to outsiders and kept under lock (Neumann's capsule development and proprietary chips come to mind) and the kind of knowledge that is "shared freely" is usually worth much less.  As I said, I did pay for the knowledge- in dedicating my life to this subject. And that is hard to calculate in dollars.

So it comes down to this:
I feel an obligation to pass along specific knowledge I have attained, and I will continue to do that (I spend on average more than an hour a day with people making technical inquiries- forum, email or phone). But I feel no obligation to pass along my knowledge if I sense that the primary goal of the inquiry is personal financial gain- whether it's buyers wanting to avoid paying too much, or sellers wanting to negotiate the best deal, or competitors trying to use ideas for their gain, but without compensation.
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Klaus Heyne
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J. Mike Perkins

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2013, 08:52:13 pm »

Klaus:

I know you are working on it, but the easiest and best way to get some money for your knowledge is to finish your book and put it out.  I would buy the first one and I am sure I am not alone.  I would also be happy to photograph any vintage mic in my collection and give you those photos free.  I am sure others would also help you.

I understand how you feel about giving out free advice, but I am a huge fan of your mic detective posts.  They keep me coming back to this forum again and again.

Mike Perkins 
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gkippola

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 01:38:36 am »

I can't imagine thinking that someone is going to 'get' all my, or for that matter
anyone's knowledge in a tech post?---noone's ever going to take that away---but it sure would make me feel good to set some unenlightened person down a path to success, ----and to see that they accomplished what they set out to do would be worth far more than $.
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brightmillion

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2013, 02:29:00 am »

Being a complete newbie to vintage mics, I have used this forum/knowledge to get a crash course in vintage mics. I have benefited from many posts on this forum that have saved me $ by being a smarter shopper, knowing what questions to ask, what components to look for, scams to look out for,etc. I have also started a post that I personally received great FREE advice from many here that lead to me confidently purchasing a mic at a fair price.

Not being a tech, or having any idea what time it takes to work on these mics I cannot judge a dollar value to the expertise I received. I am not sure where one would draw the line between stimulating conversation and giving the farm away... however, I always like to go by my gut, that if i feel that something isn't right, it prob isn't,,, and what is "right" is very different for all of us. Possibly if someone (such as a newbie like me) comes in and asks for too much FREE info that it feels  "taking advantage of" and purely for shopping advice, then, maybe then they should get directed to purchasing that advice. I know this forum isn't supposed to be an advertisement for Klaus' services, and he might feel fishy to start soliciting $ from thread starters..haha! but, after receiving the free advice I have on my post, I know where all of my mics will go to get love if they need them ;) I am more than willing to pay for expert advice, and if I posted something over the line, and received a PM saying "hey, you gotta pay for that" I wouldn't be offended and would then decide to pay for the advice.

So as much as I love the idea of free knowledge, it is in the end one man's knowledge most of us seek... which does make it a bit more skewed issue. -- for example, I also am active on a vintage mercedes diesel car repair forum, where I learn & get a lot of free advice from far more experienced folks than me, but its a bit different because each post is an open conversation with everyone, as opposed to everyone plus one user who we all hope chimes in (Klaus)..

maybe a rule that posts can only be about mics that you actually own or mics in general, but not purely speculative, pre-purchase advice? (in which case, i lucked out by getting one last pre-purchase post in...!)

I understand many here are also knowledgeable about mics and have contributed greatly to this knowledge base, so will feel differently than me. they have sort of "earned" the right to this resource, where I do feel bad that all I can add the to forum is maybe a chronicle of my learning through having you guys teach me! (but, which can then hopefully teach others.)
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PhrazeMaster

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2013, 03:19:22 am »

Hi,

I am a long-time lurker and fan of the brilliant thoughts you put forth Klaus, et al. As an additional consideration, what about creating a private section of the forum that is paid subscription? Surely your time and talent deserve more remuneration than the penniless hours you spend here.

I realize there are not a lot of posters as this is a niche market, and as such the idea may not have merit. But I am certain I speak for most when I say your posts, and the posts of the many regulars here, are a treasuretrove of knowledge that are of inestimable value.

Thanks all for the insights and comradery.

Mike
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soapfoot

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2013, 07:57:47 am »

This is interesting because it raises other questions which I imagine are relevant on at least some level to all of us. Chief among them:

How do you monetize knowledge?

Obviously, there's "some professional benefit derived from notoriety", as Klaus stated-- but when one gets busy enough to approach a saturation point with their specialty service (and when there's a lengthy waiting list, one may be pretty close!), what are other ways to be paid back for (and even profit from) a lifetime of information-gathering? Raising the price of the service is an option in some cases-- shorten the waiting list, make more money-- but in some cases even that isn't feasible.

If this forum were subscriber-based it might lose a significant portion of its already-smallish membership-- but if Klaus were to get some of the money from the ads on the right-hand side (I don't know the arrangement with R/E/P), then profit could occur if the information presented (and discourse) remained at a high enough level to keep people coming. In this case, sharing the information might actually earn a little.

If there were something like a weekly "vintage microphone detective" YouTube channel, with a video detailing specific case-studies of vintage microphones and their originality, then each of those could make money (I think you can, or at least used to be able to, pull in about 10 bucks per 1,000 views). I know I would personally watch every single one, and judging from the volume of membership on fora like Gearslutz, Terry Manning's forum, R/E/P, TapeOp, and many others I'm forgetting, it's not hard to imagine that there aren't tens of thousands of people who could at least be aware of Klaus's existence peripherally who would tune in, sit through a 15-second ad, and watch the video to gain the knowledge-- while some of the proceeds would go to Klaus. I know there's a recording-themed channel called "Pensado's Place," and I had a look at some of the view counts. They seem to average around 20k, with the Chris Lord-Alge interview getting almost 65,000.  Obviously David Pensado is making some money from this, or he wouldn't continue to do it. I could easily imagine a Klaus rundown on vintage U47 characteristics getting at least 1/3 that much, perhaps even more if it got some notoriety/viral activity on the purple forum and other high-traffic internet communities. People could ask questions in the comments and could be linked to this (or another, private) ad-supported Klaus-moderated forum where they could ask questions, click ads, and ideally build a profitable community of vintage microphone enthusiasts (raising the overall public level of knowledge, while creating a carefully-moderated public record of same). It might be worth asking David Pensado how well he does with his channel. The side-effect: knowledge preserved for posterity in a first-hand, video account.

There's also the book idea, which it seems Klaus has in the works already (and which is sort of the "old media" version of the above idea). I'm not sure whether this would be more or less lucrative than the YouTube channel + ad-supported forum idea, but certainly at least a few people would buy it. And it would still be a great resource for future generations.

YouTube seems to be a valuable tool for monetizing information and even art (or the term I hate, "content") in this new-media age.



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Jim Williams

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2013, 02:01:48 pm »

As mentioned, there was a decision to trade a more lucrative software developement career for the "love of the game" so to speak.

The current dilemma is whether too much information has been posted that has cost income. To me, that decision was already made long ago. Otherwise this forum would not exist.

Any regrets can be corrected by deleting that information so it is only available for sale. Or, getting back into software developement if there is a need to pad your retirement portfolio. I doubt it has been that rough of a ride. Compare to anyone that used to hold a high income manufacturing job here in the USA. They are probably far worse off.
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Rick Sutton

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2013, 06:54:53 pm »

 In a similar vein I came to a crossroads in my career where I felt I had to decide to either become more protective of my knowledge or to be more open and essentially give it away.
 I've been in pro recording in my area for close to 45 years now and when the home recording boom started I began to be called on a regular basis for advice. I was at the same time flattered and somewhat upset that I was "giving away the store". I finally had to make a decision as to what my reaction would be to such calls.
 I chose to be open and as helpful as to what seemed appropriate both for me and the caller. I realized that I may be taking food away from my families table but I felt that there was a chance that being approachable would serve me better in the long run than possibly being perceived as closed or hostile. It is definitely a fine line to walk.
 I can say that in my case, now that I'm looking back at my career and how different paths and decisions have affected me that the open approach to information has directly benefited me. Although I have given out information that took some immediate work away from me, over the course of time I have received many, many projects that came from both the people I helped and people that they have referred to me. The referrals have been a substantial boost to my income and probably would never have happened if I hadn't taken the time and helped along the way. People want to deal with someone who is open and available.
 When the real job that requires an expert's hand comes around these people seeking free advice will turn to the person they trust and the person they feel is open and communicative. And they will pay.
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J Dog

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 01:31:37 pm »

There seems to be very few people in the world today who have as much knowledge on this subject as Klaus does, and indeed anyone who has earned the respect that has come with it, and for that reason alone surely he shouldn't be expected to give up hours of his valuable time for free answering for the most part questions where a buyer or seller will receive financial gain.

I have just purchased a C12 for a substantial sum of money and am delighted to have found someone who has the expertise to be able to help produce a detailed and thorough report on my investment, as I may well sell it at some point in the future, and I would like my buyer to know exactly what he/she is getting.  Any of you who own one or more of these sought after mics on this forum can stump up a relatively small amount of cash to pay for this knowledge, surely?  There is a wealth of knowledge already out there for free, but everyone has a right [and needs] to earn a living.
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Haolemon

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Re: What Microphone Information Should Be Free?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2013, 04:19:23 pm »

Well, you can approach it like George Massenburg or you can approach it like Rudy Van Gelder.

I admire Mr. Massenburg.
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