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recording career questions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by git727, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. git727

    git727 Active Member

    I'm currently a recording arts major in college and am in need of a certified engineer's assistance answering some interview questions for a career research paper. The major problem is that i'm running out of time to write the paper fast and i'm getting a lot of yes I will do the interview and then no response.. If there is anyone out there who would take this seriously I will list the questions here and hope they are answered. Sorry to sound desperate but at this point I am.

    Short bio information: Name; Work history in the industry; ect...
    1. What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?
    2. How long have you been involved in this field and what are some of the more memorable moments/experiences during this time?
    3. Where did you attend school or receive training to assist in your fields education?
    4. What are a few main points you either dislike or like about this career choice?
    5. What advice would you give to a student seeking a degree or certification in this field?
    6. What communication skills are required to be successful as an engineer or in the industry as a whole? (Artist, Producer, ect)
    7. Are their any certifications or courses that you would recommend to a student seeking this career that may not be required or common?
    8. Would you recommend to someone new in this career field to find their niche and stick to it or to venture out?
    9. How important are proper contracts in your opinion to the longevity of this industry?
    10. What characteristics would help a starting engineer/producer be successful long term?
    11. Anything you think would be relevant that I may have missed, overlooked, or over thought that you would like to be added?
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    This aught to get interesting.
  3. git727

    git727 Active Member

    i hope it does this is really bothering me at this point...
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Okay, I'll play.

    1. I needed a way to record my own music
    2. 37 years . The day I got my first paycheck. I could not believe I could get paid to do something I love this much.
    3. Hard Knocks
    4. Most flaky people I've ever met and some of the most alive and fun.
    5. Don't do it if you are looking to feed a family
    6. Proficient in all area's. Great hearing! recording, mixing, producing, mastering, programming & sound design and also very important - marketing. And it also helps if you are a musician, preferably keyboards.
    7. Possibility post, knowledge in gaming and animation would be hot on my list.
    8. No Idea.
    9. networking is everything. The world is "who you know".
    10. see # 6 and have impeccable hearing.
    11. see # 6 and have a really positive attitude.

  5. git727

    git727 Active Member

    with the exception of your real name that is believe it or not just what i needed to a tee and greatly appreciated. I would be 100% gracious if i could get the name but would definitely not ask you to post it in public as it is not in your profile either. Either way thank you very much.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    as an up and comer i'll answer.

    kyle gushue, bought a 4trk in 1998 to record my band. became obsessed. did some sound system repair for local clubs after 8 years of 'for fun'. did engineering live for national hip hop acts ghostface, biz markie, jada kiss, john jones, as well as other local groups. built a project studio, after discovering build it like the pros, then landed a job on staff, after building a more professional studio for a stranger (tony) i met thru luck. currently learning the ropes thru tony ricci, and phil greene. phil is obnoxious, but is the man behind the boards on new kids on the blocks 'hangin' tough', and marky marks album. as well as dropkick murphys live on st patties day and a bunch of other commercially successful cds from the late 80 thru early 2000's.

    1. recording my band and catching the "bug". other jobs seem like 'work', and getting $30 for something i'd do for free.

    2. about 15 years. standing on the same stage behind ghost face, who i listened to on the way to high school. lol i have a pic of him/me that he autographed.

    3. got associates degree w/ 3.6 average, pursued a bachelors in finance at state school, and stopped 8 classes before a degree. decided i didn't like the options like working at a bank, or being a financial guru. altho i can use my general credits to get a music degree fwiw, i probably will.

    4. love it. but it is not easy to find new clients for a new studio.

    5. as a student i say good luck. most of the reason i get work is due to system repair, studio construction. they are not kidding when the mags say you need to be well rounded. Communication is clutch.

    6. say how people suck to their face. lol. nicely. knowledge of the equipment you use/want goes far w/ studio owners. be open to ideas.

    7. certifi mean ya are familiar, doesn't mean your good. you will have to certifi yourself when you go for the job. no place is made the same, so if you know the basic software shortcuts, the sense on balance is the real test.

    8. do whatever pertains to the field that has someone willing to pay that makes you satisfied.

    9. lawyers cost money. need em sometimes. people should generally pay COD at the end of session. otherwise it's up to an individual agreement. lawyers rates are usually more than audio engineer's, so it comes down to personal skills. if a label is involved, lawyers are need on both sides.

    10. if people like you or not, can you solve a technical problem right away, do ya 'get' their sound.

    11. personall interaction combined w. tech expertise makes people come back. if you make mistakes during tracking/mix/master but the artists likes you, they will be more likely to come back. if they hate you, you need to have an undeniable skill of production, for them to return.
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Name: Max Dearing
    Owner/Operator/Engineer/Producer/Electronics Tech/Babysitter/Pshychologist/Janitor: Dark Pines Studios, Inc.
    Percussionist for 48 years
    Recordist/Live FOH & Mon Engineer for ~20 years.

    I obviously lost my damn mind.

    I started out as a drummer/percussionist at age 6, played professionally at age 12... so, a fairly long time in comparison to my career as a professional photographer, artist and electronics engineer.

    School of Hard Knocks, University of Life.


    Do something that you can earn a living doing... accounting, IT work, Janitorial services... ANYTHING but the recording arts and sciences.


    Certifiable Insanity certainly helps... and believe me... it's REAL common.

    Get a real job mowing yards, or accounting or IT work... anything but this field.

    ESSENTIAL. Without knowledge of international copyright and IP law, you have little chance of having a successful career. The politicians are seeing to that.

    If you're really foolish enough to choose a career in the recording industry, a real love of peanutbutter sandwiches, ramen noodles and rice go a long way. Understanding that you have to dig in and do every single $*^t job that needs to be done. Being one to twenty steps ahead of the client and who you are working with is also pretty important. Otherwise, you're just in the way.

    In the fairly near future, there will be little need for audio engineers, producers or even many musicians. What few jobs will actually be there, will require location recording expertise more than studio environment knowledge.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Right on guys, Lets let them have a dose of reality here, rotf.

    I should add, I knew I was into sound the day I took all my door panels and dashboard apart of my first car to fix the rattles.
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    My very first recordings were tracking my am/fm radio into a mono cassette tape to make mix tapes. Probably circa 1969/70.

    I actually ended up finding a reflection point where I could get pretty decent LF response out of that old mono unit.... after that, I knew my heart was still in the fine arts, but my butt was glued to audio.

    My family all said I was in need of therapy... little did they know how right they were.
  10. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    5. Unless you are independently wealthy I would NOT go into this as a profession.

    If I had kids, which I do not, the last thing I would recommend would be a career in audio, audio production, recording arts or anything else to do with being an audio engineer. The field is severly overcrowded, there are simply too many people for the number of jobs available and there are still a lot of audio schools turning out thousands of graduates for non existent jobs every year. Not a good scenario by any strech.

    I have been in the Pro Audio field for 43 years and have always earned a good living from it but that is all changing and not in a good way.

    I would get a four year college degree in what ever field you want and do audio on the side as a hobby or avocation. Right now any form of engineering (except audio), medicine and business seem to be the fields that are still doing well and are hiring.

    Best of luck in your life.

    Hope this helps! http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/05/24/Technology-and-Science-Majors-Earn-Much-More.aspx#page1
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here's my outlook on this:

    I think this "business" is extremely healthy but not using the traditional methods a decade or more back. Electronics are like sugar on a cereal. Once you get a taste for that, it is addicting.
    However, the older we get, the more we realize too much sugar has negative effect on out body. We loose interest in "what's hip" for a variety of reasons.
    So, most of us after 30 start eating better and learn whats good for a longer life, thus, our taste in food become more health minded and focused.
    But try and tell that to your kids while they eat sugar laced cereal for breakfast and listen to ear-buds. Electronics are sugar to me. And it is an electronic world. Crazy though, we just gave our kids an open door to the sugar factory called a DAW with plug-ins.

    The music industry is having fun making and playing music with all the plug-ins. Unfortunately, its at the expense of tradition. Real music that sounds like our parents isn't top on the food chain right now. But it never has been right? And this generation is no different. They have it easier than ever to make music. It takes no physical talent or big money to make music. About the only thing real happening now is singing. I'm still trying to make a robot do that for me.
    But we have some great vocalist now.Some that I suspect don't need autotune. Listen to the singers on American Idol. Its starting to sound like rap, opera, dance music to me. We are high tech Karaoke lol. This isn't a bad thing though. Its just how its going. I do miss the old days though.

    Electronic gadgets and mobile devices are whats fashionable and trendy . So you can imagine where the majority of this generation is in sound and what it all means to them. I don't think mastering is big on the priority list. If they can make it with what they have, they identify with it and a new culture evolves. Smash and play

    If you want to stay busy, you need to know what this generation is doing and offer things they cannot do themselves. Join in and try your luck or accept your demise.

    The "music business" hasn't changed since I started. Its always been about sounds and trends. Once you understand music and how to blend the sounds together, its all the same. Once you figure that out, the rest is easy. It might not be as fun as the old days, but its still music and its still everywhere.
    The key is being able to spot what cereal is the flavour of the day and offer something better without loosing your audience and real reason why you love this business in the first place.

    Why did we get into this business in the first place?

    I know my answer: I was born this way, its a gift and a burden. Its the blending of sound that does it to me every time. I think its extremely important to be versatile and prepared for change. And spot it long before the majority are in it.

    Thus “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I was inspired by discovering my secret talents as a child. Probably due to the severe brain condition I've had? I think I fall somewhere between an autistic and a savant appearing to be mostly normal. Sort of? Actually far from it.

    I knew this was going to be my lifelong career at age 7. Tape recorders fascinated me. Took them apart, put them back together. Always wondered what those leftover parts were for? LOL. Exposed to studios and radio and TV stations since that age. Audiovideo captain of my elementary school at 12. Build a production studio for cutting commercials when I was 12 of old World War II radio consoles and 1950s tape recorders, preamps, turntables, microphones. Novice Ham license at 14, third class FCC radiotelephone license at 15. Working as a volunteer engineer at the community college of Baltimore, two days per week at 15. In charge of audio and orchestral recording and editing for the Maryland Ballet Company at 15. Offered a job as chief maintenance engineer for the largest recording studio south of New York City at 16. Got the production job I wanted instead there at 17. Major market diss jockey at 19. Designed and built Baltimore's second-largest recording studio at 22. And within the next couple of years worked in a recording studio in New York City for almost a year, a multimillion dollar advertising agency for a couple of years in Fort Lauderdale, NBC for almost 20. My own remote truck for the past 20 overlapping with my NBC and the advertising agency. My only regrets? Giving up that job offer from Sir George Martin almost 30 years ago. Yup, been kicking myself in the ass for that one for a long time now.

    Can I interest you in a nice remote truck for sale? Screw that bridge in NYC.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    ^^^^^ Lots of good advice and insight..

    Today everyone seem to want everything RIGHT NOW and are unwilling to take the time or the trouble to do things right. They don't want to practice their instruments or learn how to sing on pitch but instead want to use some DAW to make them into something they are not - Musicians. They go to GC but a lot of equipment that they never take the time to learn how to operate, the get the equipment on Friday and want to put up their recorded, mixed and mastered material on the WWW on Monday of the next week. Everything is hurry hurry hurry and many people seem to think once they have posted on YouTube they have "arrived" and are "famous". They don't really realize how long some albums from the past took to record and think that they can "just do it" without any regard for how and why things are done professionally. Too much music today sounds like "scratch tracks" that would have been tossed once the real tracks were recorded. A lot of the stuff on the WWW sounds like it was done in someone's bedroom with no thought to acoustics or to proper recording techniques and it is distorted and over compressed and the musician say, in an effort to save face, "that's the way I want it to sound" when someone questions their material.

    Good music is still being made and is available. The problem today is you have to wade through so much crap to get to it.

    I personally don't think this business in the US is particularly healthy and is currently on life support. Maybe it is different in Canada.

    As to adopting new ideas...one idea that seems to be prevalent with many people is that music is not worth anything since anyone who knows the least bit about computers can illegally download almost any song off the internet for free and the devaluation of music means it has become wall paper for our lives instead of something to be listened to and enjoyed on it own merits.

    FWIW and YMMV
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    versatility is the key. it's only the largest studios today that have a real maintenance crew. it's up to the dude behind the board, or keyboard/mouse, to go get food and clean the studio and do the booking/billing. it's ironic to me that i'm competeing w/ people who were like me ten yrs ago (home hobbyist), and that the allure of professionalism is a tough sell to recording in mom's basement.

    the scratch tracks element is the truth. performances have gone down hill, and it's very affordable to clearly record bad performances. i don't think great records need to take long time. i think the doors did like 10 days at sunset and recorded and mixed a hit album. but it was captured by pros. they did LA woman at their practice space. recorded by a pro. the relevance of a good performance has never gone away even w/ unlimited tracks ect. it's up to the new breed of audio people like myself to maintain that, and i honestly feel (hope) people will tell the difference. it's just people sell themselves short by excepting mediocre performances of themselves and put it out. so as long as there are people playing acoustic instruments, there will be a need for something more than a button pusher and a pluggin preset. everything just happens in cycles so eventually some of the people used to earbuds mp3's and auto tune will 'discover' a great human performance captured well.
  15. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    On that subject, I'll throw this into the mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-wtmV0fAAg

  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    My name is Donny Thompson. My company was Audio Images Recording, (eventually shortened to " A.I.R. " around 1990) from December 1981 to December 2005.

    1. What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?<<

    It was purely eceonomic. I wanted a way to record my own music without paying other studios to do so, at a time when even small 8 and 16 track studios were getting $40 - $80 per hour. The big 16 and 24 track rooms at the time were getting around $100 per hour and up.

    2. How long have you been involved in this field and what are some of the more memorable moments/experiences during this time?<<

    As of this writing, a little over 30 years. I am now, for the most part, retired, with the exception of a select few clients that I still work with, and I still occasionally go to other studios as a hired gun engineer, session player and producer.
    As far as the experiences, there are so many over three decades....Most of the experiences I recall the clearest were those where the client was either ridiculously moronic or over-the-top egotistical.

    I recall working with a band where every member insisted on being in the mix session. As I called up a preliminary mix, turned each track up on the desk, as predicted, each band member would then complain that they needed "more me". At one point, I made a snide tongue in cheek comment that if they wanted, I could go get a metal file and physically cut away the metal, giving more room in the fader slot to allow us to keep turning things up. The response was "You can do that? Great!" .... My response was "Yes, of course. Because why wouldn't I ruin the fader slot of a 30 thousand dollar Neotek Elan so you could hear yourself?"

    I also had a client once who asked me for a mirror. Assuming that he wanted the mirror to cut up coke (Peruvian Marching Powder was very popular in studios in those days) I informed him that he couldn't snort coke in my studio. He assured me that the reason he wanted the mirror - a full length mirror - was so that he could see himself while he was recording the lead vocal track. Oooooookay then.

    Working with Producers like Don Dixon (REM, The Smithereens) among others, was a great experience. There's nothing like working with a pro producer who was also a bad ass engineer.

    3. Where did you attend school or receive training to assist in your fields education?<<<

    I was largely self taught until about 1986, at which point I was very lucky - privileged - to meet a gentleman by the name of Steve Hebrock, who worked in the development department of Audio Technica.
    Prior to that, Steve had been head engineer at the infamous Caribou Ranch in Colorado, where he engineered recordings by artists like Amy Grant, The Beach Boys, etc. I began private instruction with him that lasted almost 3 years. There is absolutely no way I could have accomplished what I did without him. He was a fantastic teacher, musician and friend. He was also very firm with me throughout my tutelage. I believe that Steve is now Doctor Hebrock.

    One of the best days of my career was the day I was the head engineer on a session - and he was my assistant.

    4. What are a few main points you either dislike or like about this career choice?<<

    Being an engineer isn't all that difficult, it's not like brain surgery - but owning your own studio - or any business for that matter - is incredibly difficult. I ended up spending just as much time - if not more - on things like PR, accounting, and all of the other things it takes to run a business... things I was never particularly good at, nor did I ever want to be.
    The other thing is, as I took on more and more clients, it left less and less time and motivation for me to record my own stuff, which was the original motivation to build a studio to begin with. I ended up selling my time, talent and creativity to clients on a daily basis, leaving very little of the above left for myself.
    One of the things I loved, was when I was cooking a session that was really working - great musicians, great songs, flowing creativity... unfortunately, in my own experience, these moments were all too rare.

    5. What advice would you give to a student seeking a degree or certification in this field?<<

    LOL... Don't. I say this with some sarcasm but the truth is, in my opinion, there's never been a worse time to enter into this business. Big studios are dropping like flies, due to competition from smaller project studios and reduced label budgets. If you want to get into this biz, do it because you love doing it - and know that you probably won't get rich. If you can pay your bills doing it, consider yourself a success. ;)
    Your best bet would probably be to consider seeking employment in a corporation that already houses its own small production department, and many companies do indeed have these small departments. Ad agencies, Film and Video, of course, but even also many regular other companies will house their own small scale production rigs to do things like training videos, seminars, etc. You'll be bored to death, but it'll be a much more regular and consistant pay check.

    6. What communication skills are required to be successful as an engineer or in the industry as a whole? (Artist, Producer, ect)<<

    The same skills that it takes to be able to be successful in any field of endeavor. Be able to switch your dialogue and dialect between street, musician, religious, corporate, etc. For example: The head of R&D at Rubbermaid is calling you to provide sound FX for a new line of toys that they are releasing. Their budget is $6000. At all costs, avoid calling this person "Dude" or "Dawg".

    7. Are their any certifications or courses that you would recommend to a student seeking this career that may not be required or common?<<

    Be as knowledgable as you can in computer technology, both PC and Mac. Work in every platform you can. Pro Tools might be the industry standard, but there may come a time when you need to work within Cubase or Sonar as well. Understanding that they are all designed to do the same thing, but that every platform is different in its GUI, layout and even terminology.

    Take a course on Advertisement copy writing. You'd be amazed at how terrible most ad scripts are for V.O.'s. (You can also charge the client for a re write of the script. ;) )

    Get familiar with all forms of media outlets... sound for film, Foley, TV, web, corporate, etc. Know your formats, know what is required to give your client what they ultimately want to accomplish... because trust me, unless your client is an engineer at Skywalker, your client won't know.

    Also, continue your training whenever you can. Attend seminars, continually research new technology and tools, never stop learning, especially in this field of study, which advances and changes rapidly.
    And, don't be hesitant to go back and relearn certain things you may have forgotten along the way. I do it all the time.

    8. Would you recommend to someone new in this career field to find their niche and stick to it or to venture out?<<

    Create your own niche. For the most part, my clients came to me because along with being an engineer, I was competent musician on several instruments; drums, bass, guitar, keys and vocals. Many of my clients were solo artists or songwriters, and they liked that they could come in with a rough working copy of their song, with them on acoustic guitar and vocals, and walk out with a full production.

    9. How important are proper contracts in your opinion to the longevity of this industry?<<

    I think you already know the answer to this question or you wouldn't have asked it. Contacts can mean the difference between getting the contract or not. Don't stalk these people, but maintaining contact with these people from time to time is a good idea... and you already know this.

    10. What characteristics would help a starting engineer/producer be successful long term?<<

    Be good at what you do and be easy to work with. I'm not saying to be a pushover, because clients will take advantage of your generosity...

    If you are getting into this field to primarly record music, then it's essential that you are also a good musician.

    Also, don't limit yourself to just one genre of music. Listen to EVERYTHING. Find out what makes certain styles tick. Metal to Classical to Country to Jazz to Ska to New Age... Listen to all of it, study all of it.

    11. Anything you think would be relevant that I may have missed, overlooked, or over thought that you would like to be added?<<

    Hone your hearing. Protect it as well. If you lose that, you've lost everything. Use your ears to mix, not your eyes. Contrary to what many new engineers think, the best way to analyze audio is by listening, and not by looking at a waveform.

    It is essential that you understand what every tool does. Anyone can open up an EQ or Gain Reduction plug in. Too few understand what they are really designed to do. Research multiple mic arrays for recording. Study acoustic principles. And, by all means, experiment... but learn all the rules before you start bending and breaking them. Listen to every kind of music imaginable. Study it, listen for nuances that makes that style what it is. You don't have to like it, but you'd better be familiar with it. We don't always have the luxury of picking and choosing our clients. If you have a classical violinist in your live room, you'd better be familiar with the sound and performance style(s).

    Understand that there will be days where you'll wonder why in the hell you ever decided to do this... but also know that there will be those great days and sessions that will reaffirm why you chose it.

    The bottom line is to like what you do, because, for the most part, you probably won't get rich doing it. But, there are other pay-offs along the way that can't be determined by the money earned.

    Good luck to you. :)


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