Remember that slogan, “Is it live or is it Memorex?” No? Check out this awesome commercial – complete with Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Mangione and his “Feels So Good” flugelhorn. Priceless.

It was this article about making music on the iPad that sent me spiraling off on the above tangent. The premise is that with the advent of technology even pesky little things like talent are optional when making music. To those of us in any creative field, this is old news. Every designer has a horror story about the client who paraded out the boss’s nephew as the next great “graphics designer”. Who needs an agency when you’ve got little Johnny in his bedroom with a PC and Microsoft Paint? He can build logos and web sites and get you that new brochure in Word by tomorrow. All for some Mountain Dew money and a new Rai comic.

By no means is this disturbing trend limited to designers. Videographers, photographers, and composers are all battling the technology demons. The same wondrous things that make our professional lives exponentially easier are also available in stripped down versions to the average consumer. And as technology continues to evolve, the line between professional and consumer hardware and software continues to blur.

I was going to go on a rant about all of this. But then I got to thinking. Is it really that big a deal? Truth is, any client that prefers hiring their cousin to an agency never understood the value of working with a professional organization in the first place. There is no better teacher than experience.

So I say go and hire that college kid to do your logo. (Just pay them, please. No one should work for free, or “experience.”) Make music on your iPad, become a virtual Guitar Hero. Film your kid’s soccer game with your phone. Color correct some family photos in Photoshop Elements. Have fun. We really are living in a wonderful age that makes all of this possible – and enjoyable.

I bet you’ll come out with a new appreciation for the people that do this for a living. You’ll understand exactly how difficult it is to produce quality, professional work on a small scale, let alone in the context of a large-scale marketing and branding effort.

When you’re ready to get some real work done, talk to a professional. When you need to prove the value of your marketing efforts, hire a pro. At the end of he day, it’s about measuring ROI and a tangible increase to the bottom line. And that always Feels So Good.