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Becoming an enginner

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Chrza, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. Chrza

    Chrza Active Member

    Can someone please tell me (who is currently an engineer) what the hours of this job are like? I want to start doing this for money, rather than just recording my friends bands... but I don't want to go crazy working long hours and start hating it.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Long hours should not be why you wouldn't do something as a career. If you said this to me I would pass you off. People that choose this for a profession do it because they love it so much they would do it for free. Clock watcher kill spirit. There simply isn't ever enough hours in the day for me to get tired of this business. I love it to death.

    The music/ entertainment industry is full of long or short hours that go with the flow. The last thing I would ever expect to hear from an engineer is what you just said.
    Just being honest. This does NOT sound like a career move suited for you.
  3. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I have to agree with audiokid. This job is as much art as it is science, and art stems from passion, not obligation. If you need to ask how many hours then I would say this is definitely not what you should choose for a career. But to give some sort of actual response to your question:"It depends!".
    If an artist is facing a deadline because she's already booked and promoted her CD release party, and you have only three days to finish mixing 12 songs and get it to the mastering engineer so he can do his thing and send it off to the duplication house so they can get copies back in the artist's hands in time for her release party, are you going to tell her "Well, it's 5 PM, time to quit. I'll see you at 9 AM tomorrow" when you know you've got at least 4 days worth of work to do in three days? Believe me, this is a realistic scenario.
    And I haven't even mentioned the fact that it will likely take you years of practice and study before you begin to get truly "Professional" results from your efforts. Most people don't like to pay for amateur results.
    If you have a passion for something, long hours won't cause you to hate it, it will just deepen the love affair!

    Hope this is helpful, I don't want to be harsh with you, just giving you a dose of reality!

  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Lemme see... today is Christmas Day...

    Like most days... it's gonna be 12-18 hours long just in keeping up with the work I have scheduled this week...

    If you want a regular schedule, or can't handle 12-36 hour days... find something else to do... you'll be much happier.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I've never thought of it in such a lame way.

    I can already tell you that you're not cut out for this as 'work'. Keep recording your friends bands maybe one of them will put in enough hours to become successful and you can 'shirt-tail' yourself into working FOH for them.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    36 hour days, huh......LUXURY (Fully agree with the sentiment of the above posts though.)
  7. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    A 10 hour day is short for me. 72 hours a week is about my average but I've worked 6 months at a time 7 days a week, 12 hour days minimum. I am not sure what to do with myself when I work an 8 hour day. I start to find other projects and crap to do.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I've been working on this for +41 years and I still haven't gone to sleep. What's that tell you? It tells you that we love this more than anything else in the world. Time? Time has no meaning here I mean hear.

    Drive through open 24 hour recordings
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    It was the poor guy's first post and I think we scared him away! The truth'll do that to ya :)

    "90 HRS / WK AND LOVING IT" - Words printed on the back of sweatshirts worn by the team of Apple employees who developed the first Macintosh computer in the early '80s

  10. Beat Poet

    Beat Poet Active Member

    The crux of most music jobs is that there aren't any specific "hours". You could get whatever needs doing done in an afternoon, or you could end up pulling a couple of all-nighters in a row.
  11. Chrza

    Chrza Active Member

    Thanks for the helpful replies, guys. I didn't mean to come off as lazy and unmotivated, just don't want my life to become an "all work, no play" type deal. I'll just stick to it as a hobby. Thanks.
  12. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    I've never agreed with the whole notion that you gotta work a million hours a week if you want to be an AE. I don't know how you guys have families working 90+ hours a week. And Max, I love you buddy but working on Christmas day is just crazy. Sometimes you gotta take your own time in this business and learn how to say "I'm not available". My wife would kill me, for one.

    Truth be told I'm not a millionaire but I do alright and I don't put in 90 hours a week. If I sit in front of that screen for more than 10 hours I start to bug out and become useless. I believe that burning the midnight oil can often do more damage than good. Do you really know what you're listening too at the end of a 16 hour day? I may as well be deaf.

    Another thing is, I don't agree that "it's all for the love". I do this for money. I also happen to be obsessed about audio but never forget that my services cost money. I have bills to pay just like everyone else and "love" doesn't pay them. That being said, if I had a career that required me to work 90 hours a week just to pay the bills and support my lifestyle I would seriously consider a career change.

    Cheers :)
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Lets just say, for example, that you do only put in 10 hours "in front of the screen"....thats a reasonable time with a couple of breaks. The other part that you havent addressed is the total time setting up the session, taking down the session, backing up, filing, housekeeping, all the little things that are included with this job. They all take time, and most of the little things involving taking care of your room and keeping the organizational stuff within the sanity line are unbillable.
  14. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Working on Christmas Day is not a biggie... just talk to any farmer with livestock. Cattle don't care if it's a holiday or not. They have to be milked, fed and watered every day. Once the chores are done, you can do what you want to.

    Every single business owner I know works many "undocumented hours" as DD alluded to. There's everything from sweeping, dusting and washing dishes (daily), to cleaning the bathrooms, mopping (weekly), changing the air filters, repairing cables / gear, and bookkeeping, advertising, marketing (Monthly), filling the candy jars, mowing the yard, landscaping and even the management of eating, sleeping and family time. Not to mention keeping up with social media (grumble), forums and volunteer work in the community.

    Every individual is different, just as almost every studio is different – in that with my room/monitor combination, I can easily work on a "routine" mix for 12-16 hours (with responsible ear rest) with no problem. I've also worked in a few rooms/situations where after 4 hours, I was done and knew I wasn't going to get any more productive time in. So, that's also a factor you should understand for individual situations.

    I don't routinely put in 90 hour work weeks, but they aren't unknown to me either. My "average" work week at the console is less than 20 hours/week, but to maintain that 20 hours takes at least another 20 (and up to 40) hours of "undocumented"/non-billable hours... with the financial goal of minimizing that ratio.
  15. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    Sure, I get it, but I guess my room just isn't as big you guys' as I can do all that stuff in a day! I run a small studio and as far as setup goes, most of the time the mics, etc are setup and just require positioning and/or plugging in. Not a biggie as far as time goes. Most of what I do is permanently patched so I can literally get to the session and start working as soon as possible.

    Spring cleaning takes about 5 or 6 hours. Not too bad. Backing up can be done while I'm cleaning.

    My usual session time (unless it's specifically a night session) is from 10am to 6pm, which is 8 hours. If the session needs more time I will most likely oblige because I don't wanna kill the vibe but generally an 8 hour session is fine for most producers/musicians/bands I know. Truth be told I've done those 16 hour sessions and worked on holidays but I really prefer not to unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Maybe Africa is different but people here are pretty chilled and will often come late to a session and then leave early. Dis is Afrika, mon! I read an article in Mix once where the topic was something like, "how to balance being a producer [or engineer] with your personal life". The article really stuck with me all my career and the simple conclusion was that it was merely a choice. I like being with my family and I don't like draining my life away in a control room if I don't have to. I run my own audio business and I enjoy it immensely but not at the expense of my relationships.

    Just my 2c (ZAR)

    Cheers :)
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Mo Facta

    You sound pretty solid to me.
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I had a pretty big gap in my producing and engineering life while my kids were growing up. It was a conscious decision and one I dont regret. It also put a dent in my 'search for stardom'......LOLOLOL! Although there was a time when I could really play........(Now I'm great at faking whatever needs to be in a song).......I always stayed in touch with what was going on in the recording world....I even produced a few tapes and such ( TAPE?? WhUTS THAT DAD???!!!) while I didnt have my own facility but its not the same thing as pursuing it as a business and lifestyle.

    Now I'm prepping for my retirement in a few short years. By the time I'm done with climbing ladders and making things safe electrically for families and businesses, my producing and engineering chops and clientele will be what I can make of it.

    The great thing about it is this, all the things I learned as a kid havent gone out of style. No matter what technology brings us, mic techniques and choices, gain staging of input, listening with an open mind, making decisions and implementation of those, and other aspects of quality professional sound capturing havent changed much in all these years. Implementation changes as constantly as the gear available, but the basics still hold true to form. As long as the air surrounding the source is still full of the vibrations of the sound source, we still need engineers that understand the relationships between this and the pipelining of these noises into whatever device is currently in vogue.

    As an owner of a room, it sometimes means 16 hour days even if its a hobby.

    As a smart-ass aside to the OP.....Learn to spell engineer if ya wanna be one!

    Theres an old joke about that........" Ya, wheen first ah come to dis country I canna spell e-gyn-eear and now I ar one...."
  18. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Yeah, and for future reference: only one F in "professional" thumb
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Gee Dan I thought it was 'perfeshunell'..........
  20. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Thank god for spell check. When I was a grad student I wrote up a course description saying that I expected everyone to hand in work that looked like the work of a competent profesional. That was in 1982 and it still stings.

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