Making a living as a sound engineer/technician

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Blackdove05, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. Blackdove05

    Blackdove05 Guest

    I just want to know how possible it is to make a good living by working in a recording studio, or making your own. How hard is it to get a job at columbia records or some other huge record company. Is it a practicle idea?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Blackdove05 Ahhhhhhh the big $5 question?

    There are still plenty of good jobs for almost any technically competent person, in virtually any technology oriented company. Therein lies the problem. Becoming technically competent with anything. It's one thing to go to school. It's another thing to know how to do it. Many of us started in less than stellar positions. I am helping train a nice young man for Voice Of America television, who has been hired and who thinks of himself as an audio engineer and went to school for it. He is learning not to fade a microphone up but to " ZIP" it up. Something they thought him not to do in school.

    Generating your own income with your own facility can be quite financially challenging. I should know? To quote a famous Beavis "we're there man". (you're probably too young to remember them?)

    Record companies aren't what they used to be. Working for a huge company can have its advantages but it may also require some compromises. For instance, I have wasted a good chunk of my life as a television audio person as opposed to the successful platinum selling producer/engineer I fancied myself to be. Oh, excuse me I meant television "sound" person. Most "sound" in television isn't what I would call "audio". It's mostly the sound of talking heads spieling bad news, 24 hours a day with weather and traffic on the " 8's"! However, it can be technically challenging and financially worthwhile. That's the practical side of being a professional audio ooopppss, I meant sound person.

    Gold Rekerds"?? Oh, you want to be in the music industry?? There is an excellent streetcorner over there with your name on it. Thankfully, you won't have to crank the handle on the side of of that wooden box since it is now computerized and solar powered. The little live monkey is optional however.

    Making my living for over 36 years in a "SOUND INDUSTRY"
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Blackdove05

    Blackdove05 Guest

    Bevis and butthead... are you kidding!?!? i know who they are. Anyways thank you for the input. I will keep what you said in mind. I would really love to get paid deicent money from working in a studio though...
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Best of luck! (you'll need it)
  5. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    I don't know anything about making a living in the audio - erm - the sound business. I only pretend to be a professional in this field.

    My day job is designing machinery.

    I think there are some parallels, however, as audio engineering and mechanical engineering require very strong technical skills and creativity.

    While I'm generally fairly modest about my talents, I happen to know that I'm a very good engineer. The thing is, what makes me good is not the stuff I learned in school, and most of it is not what I have learned from experience.

    I work with plenty of other guys who have just as much education as I do, and some of them have as much experience - but when everyone else has tried to solve the problem and failed, they get me involved. If I can't do it ... well often it stops there.

    I'm not saying I know it all - not by any means. I'm always calling on others for help with this or that. We all have different strengths and talents. If you want to "make it", however, you need to have more than education and experience. You need to be GOOD.

    I'm sure those who have REALLY made it are REALLY GOOD. There are also those who REALLY want to make it, but they just don't have the right stuff. Those who can accept that, find their strengths and learn to leverage them will do well. Those who keep trying to be something they're not - well that isn't recommended.
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    Remy, me thinks a pit of parsing of the words may be in order to truely reveal what you are hiding as your TRUE inner feelings...

    Let's explore shall we?

    There are still plenty of good jobs for almost any technically competent person... and if you ain't yer' screwed.

    When it your's and it's on the line... you either get competent, or you sell life insurance!

    Record companies aren't what they used to be.

    Remy... really... sound industry? Who in this industry is actually "sound", much less sane?

    All fun aside, and please accept my appologies Remy...

    It really is possible to make enough money in this industry to live well enough to call it a "living"... but with many caveats... and understated understandings...

    Lemme site a couple of examples...

    I recorded 4 song demo for a bright young singer/songwriter... gratis as a friend.

    He packed it all up and went to Nashville to take on "The Machine" and give it his best shot to become something and earn his living in country music.

    I talked to him about 2 weeks after he moved there. He got a job at the Ryman!!!... granted it was giving tours and eventually was doing stagehand work... but he was working at the Ryman!

    He's met a couple of other "Nashville cats" and they've done a few more tracks and put together enough material for a 10 song demo. They're still hopeful that something will pan out.

    In the meantime, he's giging anywhere that'll give him 15 minutes on the stage, open mic nights, wedding receptions, etc.

    Another young dude I know went to Full Sail for the certificate program. When he got out, he hooked up w/a RAP act. He toured with the act for about 6 weeks. He's working in an auto sound shop now... doing installs and side sales of aftermarket add-ons.

    Finally, a bright bass player that I tracked his band, called me a few months ago looking to rent a couple of mics from me... The audio software company he works for was wanting to do a live recording of their software in a performance setting... 3 months earlier he had been in London (England) recording, as 2nd engineer, the London Symphony.

    The first and third guys are going to be able to "make it" in audio/sound. The second guy is already toast.

    What seperates them all? This is hard core brutal environment. You WILL start at the bottom. You will have to prove that the prospective employer is getting someone who eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff.

    Unlike the second guy... he started bitching about money, expenses, hotels, etc. They cut him loose.

    If you are looking for a cush job in a cushy industry... you'ld better stick with selling life insurance.
  7. djrr3k

    djrr3k Guest

    Well, here are my thoughts on this topic. I don't work for major labels, I work with them. I invoice them for the work I do, and I get paid. I'm responsible for my own taxes, and bringing in my own work. Fortunately, I just finished one of the biggest rock records in 2006 and I'm in talks of getting a manager to negotiate the workload. I went to school for engineering and learned a lot of theory. I went on tour and learned a lot about how it really works. Then I went in studio and learned how that really works. I make a decent living, I'm not rich by any means. Paying off the debt from school, but I do what I love to do for a living and that says it all. Best of luck.


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