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Schooling/Career Decisions In the Music Biz

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Jimw27, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. Jimw27

    Jimw27 Guest

    Hey Everybody,
    Im a 19 year old looking for some help deciding on where I should go for schooling and what to do. I am an avid musician and have decided I want to do something with music for a living. My first idea was to work in the recording arts business, but hearing how the industry was doing I was unsure. I have looked at schools such as Full Sail, LARS, etc. I have also heard it may be better to attend a University or College instead. Also my dreams are not just limited in the recording arts field. I would love to work in film, tv, or video games doing any audio and sound work. Whether its indoors or outdoors, working for a big company like Disney, or somebody small idc! I love the biz and want to get a reliable job working in sound and audio. If anybody has any thoughts or ideas that would help me out that would be great!
  2. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    A few things I've noticed...

    Get an internship at before you choose to go to school. It shows the real side of recording. Like hours pretty much all alone mixing, tracking sessions until the early morning, the shittiest housekeeping jobs, all the things that make this fun pretty much.

    I would stay away from Full Sail, not just because of their reputation, but it may be easier for you to specialize in a field in a University program. A lot of juniors and seniors in my major have had internships with very non-traditional media companies. One senior was recording at Fisher-Price's headquarters for toys. It's an expansive industry, but you need to really expect the worst, so anything will be good.

    By the way, I'm a freshman in my program, and interning and just using REAL EQUIPMENT has put me ahead of my peers.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    This is a topic that has been asked and answered here multiple times. You may want to do a search for other posts on this topic.

    My best advice is to go to a four year college, specialize in what you are interested in but still keeping an open mind to other things.

    I started out as an electrical engineer and after the first six weeks decided that I did not want to do that and switched over to broadcasting. The reason was that I was already building my own equipment and I had taken two years of electronics in high school and had also taken physics and when I started in EE we were leaning Ohm's law and hole theory both of which I had already mastered. It is not at all what I thought I wanted or what I thought we would be doing.

    Doing audio is what I really wanted to do and it looked like I would be spending more time learning the theory on how things worked than I would actually working on designing or building equipment. It was a good decision on my part and I never looked back.

    A good four year college degree is a door opener even if you decide to get a job in some allied field.

    Full Sail is a great place to go if you have the money and all you want to do is work on world class equipment unfortunately in today's economy the number of studios that are going to be able to afford SSL or Neve consoles are fast declining and you may find yourself working in a smaller studio or starting your own. I have three friends that graduated from Full Sail and none of them is working in audio at the present time. One is a Cell Phone salesman, one works for GC and I have lost touch with the third but the last time I talked to him he was looking for a sales job at Sweetwater. They spent mega bucks (or I should say their parents spent mega bucks) and they got a very good two year degree but what they learned at Full Sail is not enough to get them a good job in other fields nor did they have a chance to find another profession while they were at Full Sail. They all say that if given the decision to do over again they would decide to go for the four year degree.

    Best of luck and let us know how things are going.
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Double Post
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm currently wrestling with these questions myself. My daughter is a Freshman music major at Duquesne. She is currently in the music ed track but is not enjoying the ed side of things. She's thinking of switching to the technology track, so we are discussing career options, etc.

    For the most part, I'm with Tom. With the music business in such flux that a very specialized education (no matter how good) is a huge long shot. However, I would not automatically recommend a four year college. I'm a math professor at Virginia Tech and I've seen too many students who have no real interest in college put in four years and spend a lot of money and not really get much out of it. If college is an intellectual challenge that you look forward to, by all means go for it. If it is just a chore, get a job in the music industry (even if it is sweeping floors) and take part time courses in music theory, composition, accounting, management, eletronics, acoustics, etc. Do what interests you enough to motivate you to work hard, get good grades, and learn the most possible from the courses. Develop skills, get experience, learn the business, and build a resume.
  6. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Hello JimW27,
    Welcome to the RO forum. I just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in on this subject.

    I too was considering full sail when I was 20 years old. I have had a good friend since High school that helped me get started in recording and music.

    When I was going to schools when I was in my 20's I found that none of the schools were interested in the spirit of music, that is what drives you to make the song in the first place. I being a sensitive and emotional personality have found it difficult to survive as an artist.

    I found a very small film school called Film In The Cities (FITC) back in 1990, that is where I spent most of my time making the best recordings on minimal equipment. When you have less financial issues paying for your school you have more time to relax and explore where your heart is with the spirit of music inside of you, that is, if that is your goal.

    I tend to see the songwriter as a fragile creature, so don't waste your time with money it takes to go to a school where all the most expensive gear is. If your heart is with the spirit of music you will tune your self into finding like minded people and record with them. Spend your money on the gear and finding like minded musicians that you like. That'
    s my 2 cents,

    Best wishes to your recordings,
    I look forward to hearing them!

  7. Jimw27

    Jimw27 Guest

    Alright thanks guys. I was curious because I have heard mixed reviews. And I would love to buy my own gear and start out with some people i know in the biz, only problem is its my parents money that im going to school with hahaha. I dont think they would like that idea too much. But thank you for your input! And i have heard a 4 year is better than going to a school like Full Sail, I just wasnt sure. The big recording schools show you amazing numbers of how the graduates get amazing jobs working for sony and disney and all that yet it seems that those are the top grads and very few actually get those jobs. I guess getting a 4 year in say audio engineering would be best, just incase that doesnt work out i have a 4 year degree and can fall back onto something else. But now i have a new question, what kind of jobs can I get with an audio engineering degree??
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The thing about a four year audio engineering degree is that you will have the same first two years for basics that just about every engineer has: two years of math, physics, statics and dynamics. And a lot of the audio related courses will focus on general topics like wave motion and resonance. I know all kinds of engineers who started out in one specialty and migrated into something else. Study hard, keep your eyes open, try to figure out how the physical world works rather than which knobs to turn on a preamp and you'll be fine.
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The choices of jobs with an audio degree are endless. Recording, post production, on location film recording, forensics, audio for video, ADR, Foley, voice over recording, game sound and the list is even longer if you get into allied fields like scientific research and industrial applications.

    Just make sure whatever you do when you go to college that you are committed to learning and not to just going to college for the social life. I don't want to sound like a parent but a college education is something you have to really want and have to be committed to full time.

    Best of luck and let us know how things are going,
  10. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Also make sure that when you go to college you do have a social life, because lets face it, being happy and having a great network of friends licks anything else.
    Also make time to practice actually playing an instrument. Especially if you want to work in the music industry.

    It's all well and good to get great marks and make your lectures think you're the Bee Knees but at the end of the day your only young once.

    Yes you can go too far, you need a balance between learning and living. Finding that balance is the hard part. Everything else falls into place around you once you're balanced. Instead of you falling around the place.
  11. Jimw27

    Jimw27 Guest

    Alright thanks for the advice! Im def looking at a couple schools for an audio/sound engineering program, or a multimedia degree in communication. Im looking into the Art Institutes, and a couple of others.
  12. Jimw27

    Jimw27 Guest

    Hey everyone,

    I have been doing some research and have found some schools. I currently have a friend enrolled in a photography program with the art institutes and he is enjoying it very much. Now I know that a program at Full Sail or LARS isnt very useful because it is so one sided, but I was wondering what you all think of the art institutes. I am looking at the Art Institute of Washington, in Arlington for an audio production AA degree. It has some regular courses that are mandatory in all colleges and univ(E110, Math, etc,) and it has a broad range of audio courses. So it seems pretty good, it seems like I could get a job in just about any field that includes audio and sound.
    Any intake would be great!!
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Gonna take a different tact here...

    This is gonna be pretty harsh, but... well... better to hear it now, than after you spend mom and dad's hard earned money.

    I'm probably older than your parents, so I'm gonna sound like a old fart...

    Get a 4 year degree... period. Forget the recording arts... go for something that you can actually make a living at... like computer sciences.

    You probably don't have what it takes to deal with this industry. Fully 3/4 (or more) of the guys and gals I meet in this "industry" don't have a clue or a prayer at making a decent living. The majority of those who do have a chance at making a living, only barely make a living wage. There are very few opportunities to make a really good living in audio anymore.

    The one's who do, have known from birth that this is in their blood. They cannot, and will not, do anything else in their lives that will make them happy... and it's sad, but the reality... lots of super talented people can't get much more than a part-time wage at a fast food chain.

    They've been involved in music/audio since their early years. This isn't a career you can just learn. PERIOD. You MUST have a passion for it... and even then... most of us in this sector of the industry starve like hell for long periods of time... up to years.

    I'm not saying that you don't have talent or skills. I'm just telling you how it is.

    Take your senior summer off and go to L.A., N.Y. and Nashville with your instrument and walk into the local venues, media companies and studios and ask for a job... ANY job. If you get one, take it. If you don't, you'll know a hell of a lot more what it's gonna take to start at the bottom and work your way down from there, after 4 years of school.

    Seriously, VERY seriously... get a degree in something other than recording industry... information technology, business, accounting, etc... ANYTHING but recording technology! By all means, take it as a minor... but I just can't recommend it as a primary career choice.

    Think about these simple facts... How many people do you know have a computer? How many of them have an audio program like Reaper, Audacity, Garage Band, etc.??

    How many bands are there? How many good bands are there? How many GREAT bands are there?

    Any idea of how many record label's and studios there are? Any idea how many good studios there are? Any idea how many GREAT studios are out there?

    The market is absolutely flooded with gear... great gear, decent gear and crappy gear.... same with muso's, producers, studios and labels.

    The odds are definitely against everyone trying to make a buck... even more so for anyone young and has a lifetime in front of them.

    Get a good education in something that will give you a stable income and do this on the side, or go to work for a media company that you can use your "learned" career talents in... e.g. Echoing Bob's point of the allied fields.

    Life is hard enough, and will be getting even harder to earn a living in. Please don't set yourself up for failure and a harder row to hoe. You don't have to give up music, just be sure you have a decent day gig to put a roof over your head, and food on the table.
  14. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    This should be a sticky for people trying to get into the audio profession today.

    I got my college degree in 1966. It was in Broadcasting with an emphasis on TV producing and directing.

    I have been in professional audio for 40 years. I have seen a profession that was once one of the best steadily go down hill to the point were it is getting really tough to make a living being an audio engineer.

    When I started I worked in TV as an audio engineer. Today the station I worked for does not even have a designated audio engineer and the person who is doing audio is usually the least experienced engineer or the one that has been at the station for the least amount of time and is way down the engineering totem pole. At a couple of other stations in town have a beautiful big audio console with all the bells a whistles but all the controls are taped down and the only controls the "audio engineer" is allowed to work are the on/off channel buttons and the master fader. He or she is not an "engineer" in any sense of the word and are more of a glorified button pusher/operator than anything else.

    I worked for a college for 26 years but the politics of the place finally got to me and people that I worked with were judged more on how much they brown nosed the deans and how well they could justify their job than how much work they got done in a day.

    I started my own mastering business 14 years ago and was doing well until every studio engineer and every person who had a couple of plug ins started calling themselves "mastering engineers" and charging so little it is not a profitable business to be in. The most asked question I get today over the phone is "how cheap can you do this for" instead of "how great is this going to sound"

    I had to fall back on my college education in broadcasting and start up a video production company and that is doing well except that video seems to be the new buzz word and it will not be too long before that too is an over crowded field.

    Take MadMax's advice and get a good four year degree and minor in audio and do it as an avocation instead of a vocation.

    Best of luck!
  15. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member


    Edit** Image was a little large, even on 1280x1024.
  16. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    Do you guys really think it's that grim, even for very talented people?

    I knew the situation was pretty bad from some internships before I started looking at schools two years ago, but I'm hoping in (hopefully) four years when I graduate things will be different, but in the mean time I'm going to work my ass off and be the best damn student I can.

    Is there really no hope, even with Barack?

    Stanley, you can't die!
  17. Jimw27

    Jimw27 Guest

    Thanks again for the advice guys. After I did my initial research on Full Sail, and all those recording schools I did decide I wanted to stay out of recording studios. I know that biz is down but TV, movies, etc seem to be doing well. Schools like Full Sail give u a degree in recording and thats it. I looked into the Art Institute of Washington because it "isnt" as one sided. I can "get a job" in more fields than just recording such as a boom operator, concert sound reinforcement engineer, radio production engineer/producer, or television post-production editor/mixer, etc. Do you think the fields that hold these positions are dead as well? I understand that recording is gone to everyone buying equipment and putting it in their homes, but what of the other fields in multimedia.
    Thanks again, im trying to do as much thinking and research as possible.
  18. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    There will always be jobs for bright talented people who give 110% to every job they are given. Unfortunately today many people see work as a time filler between when they wake up and when they can party or sit at home and watch their 62" plasma television set.

    Proaudio is changing from what it once was, It appears to be going in a negative direction since more and more tasks that use to be done in a professional studio are being done in people's homes. Tracking, mixing and mastering are today done in people's basements or bedrooms. Jobs that use to be something that you could make a career out of are disappearing and are being replaced by people in their DIY studios.

    Other things are happening that further erode the AV profession.

    Today many churches, schools and businesses have audio and video studios and these are used for internal productions and in some cases producing shows on local cable channels. Work that use to be outsourced is done in house. These places, for the most part, do NOT employ skilled AV engineers and most of them use volunteer labor or they have someone already on the payroll do this part time kinda on a learn as you go model. I think in the military we called it OJT (on the job training)

    We recently did a remote at a church that had a video room that was state-of-the-art and many local television stations would drool over the equipment list and space that they had set aside for the studio. It was all staffed by "volunteers" with one person who was appointed "super tech" since he had been the one who got the church to put in the equipment in the first place but everyone else had nary a clue to what they were doing except that at a certain time they had to push this button or move that fader. It is this dumming down of technology that is making it harder and harder to get a real job in the profession of AV engineer.

    Many TV studios today use "operators" to do the work that was formerly done by engineers. There is a cost saving for the station and since much of the equipment that use to require regular maintenance has been replaced with equipment that basically never needs servicing so they can get by with less and less technically savvy people. Radio stations that once had their own "chief engineer" are now serviced by people calling themselves "six packers" since they provide technical support for multiple stations. The list goes on and on.

    When I started in to the profession of audio I knew almost every audio engineer in this area. There were very few of us around. Today everyone calls themselves an audio engineer even if they have no real knowledge of what they are doing or what is behind the equipment they are using. They are basically operators not engineers. But it certainly sounds better to call yourself an engineer than an operator.

    Technology has been dummed down. People don't crack tech manuals and seldom if ever read any of the instruction manuals that come with their equipment. They go to GC and buy whatever strikes their fancy and the more lights, switches and do dads it has on it the more they like it. They take it home put it on a table or in a rack and call themselves audio engineers and put out a sign on their front porch saying "RECORDING DONE HERE". Many times they don't understand what the equipment does or how to properly utilize the massive power they have at their fingertips and if they can use 15% of what they have they are happy.

    Will this all turn around or will it erode further. Only time will tell. I think people will always need music and will want to watch some type of video or movies but a lot of people seem to be happy with MP3s and the video quality of YouTube so I don't know if what was once considered good quality will survive into the future.

    Whatever you do get a good education that will allow you to adapt to changes and don't get a specialized degree that is so specialized that if the profession changes you are left out in the cold.

    I think most of the old timers would like to go back a few years when it meant something to be an "audio engineer" but I for one don't want to give up all the newer equipment that make my job more interesting and easier. I guess you really cannot have it both ways.

    Best of Luck!

  19. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    If you are asking about the general economy, who knows. I've been through several recessions. There are a lot of twenty-somethings (and young thirty-somethings) who have never seen this before and think it is the end of the world (or think that someone is going to wave a magic wand and make it go away next week). Probably not.

    As far as the music industry - my guess is that there are parts of it that will never recover. Music (and media in general) is a period of great change, and the current recession will shake out the weak businesses.

    Now the good news is people are spending a lot of money to be entertained today, and I think they will spend a lot of money in the future (even if things get tighter in the short term). I would guess that there will be some way for someone who understands sound, recording, music, video, etc. to be able to make money on that knowledge if he or she is willing to work hard.

    As Tom said - think of your career in as broad terms as possible. Be flexible. Get broadly educated.
  20. jashwicka

    jashwicka Guest

    Has anyone graduated or from Ohio University with an Audio Production degree or currently attending the school for it? I'm about 75% sure i'm going to go there next fall but trying to be 100%. If no students or alumni, has anyone heard any pros or cons about it? One thing I don't really like about it is it's required for you to minor in music to major in Audio Production. I wanted to minor in something else, but if it's worth it I don't mind. Thanks

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