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Getting work as an engineer- hard?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Multani, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. Multani

    Multani Guest

    hi guys- this seems like the best place to talk about this-

    i am 17- almost halfway through my A-levels. studying biology, physics, chemistry, Design Technology. i have no ambition of going to University, evennthough it seems like the rest of the world IS.

    i am not bothered about money much in life- just give me a decent guitar and amp and everything else can be second rate. so i am not looking particuly to make a bundle.

    most important thing to me- to like my job. i love music- rock, jazz, blues, classical, but most of all metal. i play guitar and am very commited. i dont have much ideas of how it is to be a sound engineer but id think id like it- always being around music and other people who love music- that would be a dream.......is it that good?

    apart from guitar skills i dont have anything a recording studio would want from an engineer though- how do i go about getting a job in one? there are about 6 or so local to me- hours drive away at most.

    so do qualifications help? or is experience more important???

    i have a small knowledge of sound in general- you know- frequenceies decibels, different effects, some recording techniques and i can work cubase.

    are most sound engineering jobs in a studio gonna be computer based? is analog gone now?
    should i just learn computer recording?

    what should i do?!?!? start working as a tea boy and work up form that?

    go on a course? learn at home?

    help please- the world scares me!!
  2. Reggie

    Reggie Distinguished Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    I think you might have a hard time even getting an unpaid gig as studio monkey boy without some kind of education/experience/references. But all you can do is ask. Most studios are relatively small businesses based on 1 to 3 people: owner, assistant, perhaps manager/secretary. It isn't exactly like a corporate structure where there is a training system and orientations and entry-level jobs. You MAY get lucky and find one willing to take in a kid to handle some of the menial, but time consuming, tasks of the studio. Transfers, CD burning, customer call-backs, coffee distribution engineering, cable rolling, microphone adjusting, headphone managing, studio promotion, spit mopping, bassist waking, etc.
    Along the way you may have opportunities to actually get your hands in the recording stuff and learn what is going on little by little if you pay attention. If you are a bright lad and get to the point where you can be trusted to know what the heck is going on, after a few years you may even start to get paid for working sessions.
    BUT the trick is finding a studio with enough business that they can pass some of it off to you to handle. Otherwise, if the studio owner is only getting the amount of business (or less) that he can handle himself, it would be bad business to hire some dude to suck away expenses.

    OK, now that I've depressed the lad, someone come and tell him an inspiring story of making it in the big time from meager beginnings. (or just make something up) :D

    Of course things may be different in the UK, but these are my impressions.
  3. wags

    wags Guest

    "i am not bothered about money much in life- just give me a decent guitar and amp and everything else can be second rate. so i am not looking particuly to make a bundle. "

    Hey kid, the guitar thing might get you chicks when you're 17, but 10 years from now it will be MONEY. Trust me.[/quote]
  4. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I'm kind of in the same spot as you. I'm 22 and have played guitar, well, forever. I saved up for a year or so and got a decent home setup for $1500. It's nothing special, but it is a great way to learn and make a little cash on the side. I'm sure you know of a handful of people who would like to record something. Do it for dirt cheap (tell them it's not gonna win a grammy) and use it to hone your skills. At your age, go get some certification if you can and network as much as possible.
  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    With all the schools turning out audio engineers who can't seem to find jobs I think you are going to have a problem finding work.

    However I have found in my life that the best people are the motivated ones and not the ones who have the degrees and no motivation. So if you are motivated and can find someone that will give you a chance and you stay motivated you may have a good chance of finding and keeping a job.

    My associate, who was my intern, is just such an individual. He is a GREAT musician but had no engineer chops. He came to me to "shadow" me for a day and then he started working here as an intern and is now my associate in running my business. He is motivated, leans quickly and has started getting his own clients. He has learned much and contributes on a daily basis to the studio making money. His is a good success story and I am sure if you can find some one to give you a chance you will do likewise. Just make sure you stay focused and motivated.

    Best of luck!
  6. Multani

    Multani Guest

    so what is my best route? search all local studios for a monkey job on weekends?? and maybe do a course later?

    i dont wanna be stuck after my a levels with no job at all..........

    Can you point me in the direction of good books/websites to learn basic audio engineering stuff??

    Thanks peeps.
  7. Multani

    Multani Guest

    ooh, an online course at berklee studying pro tools. would that get me anywhere?? it costs $3000 though :cry:

    i dont really wanna go an do a sound engineering course at a college cause those are pants.

    hey what about i buy the program myself and just self teach it? (ie pro tools). i could et pro tools le and learn all of that- does it differ much from the full blown version??

    as long as i can use the program they will consider me for a job right? or does it look better if you have it written on a certificate??
  8. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    What I'm learning is that the hard part is just getting your foot in the door in the first place. It doesn't seem to matter to the local guys whether you have certification or not, as long as you have a strong knowledge and learn quickly. If you want to work in a larger, more "corporate" setting, I'd say get the certification.

    Either way, get a small setup you can afford, because there is a strong chance it could be a while getting a job with or without certification. Be prepared to work your ass off for little or no immediate gratification, so find a day job to pass the time and build up your equipment and skills. If you're lucky, that day job can be cable-monkeying at a studio.

    Also, the online schools seem ok, but only if you are strongly self motivated. And don't forget: you'll spend $3000 on the course, but will have no slick $10,000 TDM system to learn on like you would at a college. A physical school would also allow you to network with people who are already in the business.

    As far as where to look for info, here is a great place to start. Maybe you know some guys doing the same sort of thing. A buddy of mine took the Digidesign course at a local school, and let me study through his books when he was finished with them, that was an invaluable resource.
  9. dayn72283

    dayn72283 Active Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Oh, and I don't think there are any huge differences between operating LE and TDM except that the TDM system is MUCH faster and able to handle more tracks and plugins, as well as handle higher bitrates.
  10. Multani

    Multani Guest

    ok, thanks for the help........
  11. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member

    Dec 11, 2004
    i was in your same situation when i was about 15, i started on my tascam 4 track tape recorder that me and a couple buddies bought used for like 400 bucks. Played on that for a while with no intensions of wanting to do that as a carreer. about 2 years later, i decided that i liked recording, and that I wanted to try and record some local friends and charge money. by this time i had upgraded to a fostex 16 track recorder. Found a place to put my stuff at, which happened to be a garage at a friends house out in the country, in which i could play any time of the day i want. i recorded a couple of bands which turned out kinda bad because i sucked at recording guitars, but drums always sounded decent because i'm a drummer. i read some books on recording, and got online and read some articles and how-to websites. my recordings got better when i realized more about eq, compression, and mic placement. After I graduated highschool, i went to the recording workshop in ohio, i did very well there and learned a whole bunch of usefull information, from removing bad frequincies, to better mic placement, and about finding a mic that sounds good, and not a "name". learned about SIGNAL FLOW and other very usefull stuff on both analog and digital consols. after i left there i got a regular job just to make money before i would start looking for internships/engineering jobs. but it ended up instead of looking for a job, i just kept buying different and new recording gear, new mics, more stands, a mixer to allow me to record more things at once, stuff like that. then i started recording my buddies bands again, in a different location, and the recordings were coming out very good for what they were on. the first band that i did actually got played on the radio and they had an interview and all that. then i did my own band, spent countless hours getting the eqs all right and compression all good on tracking because my recorder at the time had terrible eq and compressors on only two channels. and also at that point i had starting buying a bunch of cheap preamps thinking that it would make everything sound better, but it wasn't noticable. i got some nice monitors, everything was coming together, i still didn't record that many bands, mostly just myself or some of my close friends. i had lucked into this new place for me to put all my stuff in for super cheap, i could be there when ever i want, and the ceilings were high, and it was a decent size practice space for my band, so i then set up all the recording gear in there, finnally bought a new recorder (after countless hours of consideration and reviewing) which happend to be the dps24, i started getting nice mics, a couple decent budget preamps/compressors, and then applied all knowledge i had learned, and the recordings came out better and better. and now i have my "own" studio, where i have the perfect price point to charge, that gets me more business than i can handle at the moment, due to "myspace" which is your friend (imo) to help get me more business, one band hears another band, and that band wants to record, and so on and so on. i've even contacted a local record company to partner up with, and i also want to take a stab at producing some young rock bands. fun fun.

    now my buddy who went to fullsail, learned in million dollar studios, and paid 85 thousand dollars more than me for schooling, is excited that i asked him to come work for me. he has been working at another "basement" studio doing mostly hiphop work where he gets no expirence recording "bands" or "instruments in general". i've listened to both of our mixes and material that we've done, mine from my project studio, and his from his studio using protools with all kinds of plugins, and my mixes blew him away.

    I've never attempted to work in a "real" studio, but i'm happy with what i've got, a studio that gets great business, and a regular job with heath benifits and security.

    good luck dude, do what you like, and what you enjoy, working with "musicians" can sometimes be a pain in the ass, if you can handle that then your set.

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