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Recording School, What now?

I just graduated from a recording school and find myself asking, what now? I have learned a lot from my professors and have a good start at becoming an engineer. The only problem that I face is how to market myself, how to get my foot in the door, is it a waste of time to be a runner at a large studio making minimum wage and barely making rent? I am interning at one facility now, is it a bad idea to pick up another internship? where do I go, what do I do? I know making it in this industry is not an overnight thing, it can be, but most of the time it is not. I have received a lot of advice as to what to do, but more would not hurt. I love working in audio and I would like to turn it into a profession that does not require me to work three side jobs just to pay the rent. I dont expect to be rich, at least not anytime soon, but making a living wouldn't hurt either.


Thomas W. Bethel Sun, 09/24/2006 - 05:28
Seedlings wrote: Find a job you love and learn to live on what it pays. If you're doing what you were meant to do, something that comes natural and something you're excited to do every day, you can easily have a lifestyle built around that.

Just some advice.


Good suggestion. I have a friend who is a trouble shooter for a large corporation. He drives BMWs and has a very nice very large house in an affluent suburb. He is doing very well to say the least. What he really wants to do is be a studio musician/engineer and producer and if you go to his house it is all outfitted with the best studio equipment around and he has much more fun working at home than doing his corporate troubleshooting. He has told me that he knows he cannot support his family on what he would make running a recording studio or being a musician so he has the best of both worlds, He is successful in both worlds but enjoys the world of being a musician but knows he cannot make it on that alone.

Member Mon, 09/25/2006 - 11:55
Well, I know a very well respected, multi-grammy winner engineer/producer here in Los Angeles who started out parking cars!

There two separate issues here:

1) you career

2) food and lodging needs

Why are they separate? Because usually, when you first start out they are NEVER related. Let me explain:

Your career depends largerly on two key issues: WHO you know and HOW kick ass you are. That's it. Without taking too much time, if you were the newphew of a big shot producer or record lable would be MUCH closer to being there however, you would have to also PROVE yourself as worthy of whatever gig may be offered to you. Even a record exec has to justify the pick of a mixing engineer over another to producers, artists, etc... So, it's not as though you would be mixing A list artist right away.

IN short, try to make the right moves for your career but, don't get sidetracked by the immediate needs of food and lodging. You can always take on a different gig to satisfy those immediate needs.

For example: let's say you get offered to work on a project involving a yet-unkown artist/band that you think are really, really good. Maybe they have some light sponsorship and they can pay you but, not enough to make a living. If you take that project and it turns out to do well and become a small indie hit you'll have a very good foot in the door. But, you'll have to struggle a bit taking some extra work to make up the rest of the cash you need to survive.

Now, let's say that you also get called to do a gig for a wealthy individual who wants to record material that he/she wrote but, that will NEVER amount to anything (maybe because it sucks or because he/she just wants to do it for personal reasons). Hoever, you'd make DOUBLE the pay offered to you on the first project. Which do you take?

So, there are steps that you can take which will allow you to get closer to where you want to be. In general, common sense should help you out in most situations though, there will be exceptions.

Being at the right place at the right time is a combination of luck, planning and perseverance.

Being a runner can get you to meet people and eventually get some assist. gigs on big project and...eventually your own gigs on big projects. However, I have known guys who did it for 2 year and got tired and in the end partened up with a producer and started their own studio.

In Los Angeles studios are CLOSING, not opening. Just since I have been here (almost 5 years) two major studios around the corner from mine closed door: Larabee West and Cello. And many more big ones ceased operations throughout town.

I would suggest also, if you have a passion for it, to look into mixing for video/motion picture/tv. There are other fields which are actually on the up-swings.

Whatever you do, break a leg!

Thomas W. Bethel Sat, 09/23/2006 - 04:28
It sounds like you already have your "foot in the door". Good for you. It is always easier to look for a job when you already have one. The best thing to do is to learn as much as you can in your present job while you look for and land a better one. The professional recording scene in many areas is going down hill rather quickly with the advent of the bedroom/basement studio. Lots of bigger studios are closing their doors or have become one person operations with no room for interns or assistants. Some of the bigger recording areas with more studios and more chance for employment would be New York, LA, San Fransisco, Chicago, Nashville, Florida, Minneapolis, or Boston. If you don't live in one of these areas you still can find work it just may not be exactly what you are looking for long term.

You have to be able to show a prospective employer that you have their best interest at heart. You want to show them that you are going to generate enough work to make them some money as well as make yourself some money to live on. The days of hiring someone to do the dull repetitive work in a recording studio have long since passed and what people, such as myself, are looking for are people that can come in and help me make money. It is a cliché but it is a dog eat dog world out in "recording land" and everyone is scrambling to make money today. You can read about all the studios with brand new SSL or Neve desks in them but if you look under the covers you will find that the studio is up to their necks in debt and trying hard to make it just like everyone is today. Audio is a great profession and one that I have enjoyed being in for over 35 years but it is also changing quickly and some big players will not be around for much longer and some newer facilities will be picking up the pieces because they are leaner and have a better business model for the way things are today. One word of advice make sure that whenever you go for an interview you are yourself. No one likes to hire someone only to find out they have misrepresented themselves in order to get the job.

Best of luck!