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Microphone Month 4

Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

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The life of an Audio Engineer...

XenosoniK

Hi all,
College is coming up for me and I was wondering if there are any audio engineers or studio producers in this forum.
I have decided to study audio engineering or studio production for college. However, I have little idea of what the life of one is like. I have a few questions before jumping into a profession that so many tell me is too "risky."
What are the odds of landing a job as an audio engineer of studio producer after graduating with a bachelors?
How is the pay? Would I be able to survive on it? I'm not looking for a HIGH paying job. I just want to do what I love and to be able to survive in the world doing it.
What are the courses that I need to take for the major? What will I need to be strong in?
Are there any jobs related to studio production or audio engineering that I may be interested in?
In other words, to all the audio engineers or studio producers, HOW DO I BECOME YOU?
Any other information is gladly welcomed.
Thanks in advance,
X
November 2, 2001 @07:10am
Marjen

Hey, man. I know how you feel. I'm finishing high school and I want to be an audio engineer. First of all, where are you from? This is important because depending on where you're from, it's easier or harder to find info. Your best bet is to find a local college that offers the courses you need. I'm from Saskatchewan, but I'm taking my training in Edmonton at Grant MacEwan www.gmcc.ab.ca If you go there you will find things like how much you get paid for the job and the chance of getting a job. If you want, write me at marjen23@hotmail.com and I'll help you out as best as I can. Later man.
November 2, 2001 @06:08pm
eusagc

guys,
what's good is to hold on to your dreams and to be able to have a job that you like doing. it may not be the best sounding option financially (i mean, you could be a computer programmer or a company exec), but i have this belief that if you strive to become the best, however you can, then your perseverance will pay off in the future. it's just a matter of when...
i took a different route. i am an electrical engineer by profession, then gained the skills in audio production through apprenticeship at a commercial studio in my free time. my love for music and the guitar and the lessons i got from so many mentors in the field kept me going. i saved money and now i own a pretty decent home studio. my first projects were my own, but since 2 years ago, i have started doing local bands' records and stuff. it's not the best way, i know, but this is how i did it. going your route i believe is even better...
if there is one piece of advice i can give you, take care of your ears.
cheers,
albert
November 2, 2001 @08:21pm
narcoman

One key word here. Experience. You have to love this job to make it pay financially. In nearly every case experience is everything. Doing the college thing is fine, but get your ears up to scratch with extra curricula work. I worked for absolutely no money for about a year before getting some payed work. Love of the job is the single most important thing. The course will teach you lots of stuff about how things work and what effect different stuff has and also how to put basic mixes together. Only experience will get the real YOU to understand it. So work hard and dont give up...
there we go. Some harsh advice
cheers and good luck
November 3, 2001 @03:39pm
BagHun

Working for music publishers in Nashville, I have "produced" many song demos in numerous studios through the years. I know many engineers and can tell you a few things about them.
An engineer isn't in control of what kind of music he works on. That is entirely up to the paying customer. Good engineers enjoy the challenge and variety. Bad ones roll their eyes and go through the motions. Attitude is #2 right behind showing up on time.
Engineers work LONG hours on mundane tasks. They work with nice people and incredible assholes. They sometimes, at the request of a customer, have to make something sound terrible. Good ones can fix a technical problem before the client knows there is one.
Most engineers struggle for a living. The ones that can do all of the above AND make a track sound great are the guys that will get the job.
November 4, 2001 @02:02pm
XenosoniK

Good. It's nice to get feedback from others...
Is there anything I can be doing now to ready myself for this kind of future? What's the best approach to this profession?
November 5, 2001 @02:23am
eusagc

Originally posted by XenosoniK:
Good. It's nice to get feedback from others...
Is there anything I can be doing now to ready myself for this kind of future? What's the best approach to this profession?

naaah, you'll get along just fine. learn all you can in school, and in the end, just forget about all them rules...
learn to persevere, how to put attention to detail, and how to deal with other people, your future customer-base. don't forget to spend wisely on gear. start saving now while you can!!!
(damn, now i start to sound old. hey, i'm only 28, so it wasn't too long ago when i was in school, you know... )
cheers,
albert
November 9, 2001 @02:07pm
XenosoniK

Thanks, peeps. Here's a little more info about myself if there's anyone that needs it in order to help me out.
I currently live in Japan but plan to live in California during my college years. So far, I'm looking into Fullerton College for my first 2 years. I've heard that they have a good music program there but I'm wondering if it's just performance wise or what. Another school of choice was the California Institute of the Arts. Sounds like it has what I'm looking for but I need to really look into these colleges more.
Marjen,
I added you to my messenger buddies list. Do you have MSN Messenger? If not, let me know and I'll send you an email. Or, you can just hook me up with some info here in the forums. It's good to know someone who has the same interests as I do for college. What are you doing to prepare?
Ok, thanks to everybody who is helping me out. This is, after all, my future.
Waiting anxiously,
X
November 10, 2001 @11:33am
2legged

There are so many routes that you can take to become an audio engineer. School is probably the most comprehensive, balanced and well connected route towards getting internships and jobs. I have several friends that are graduates of CalArts (I live in North Hollywood, Ca.) and it has a very solid program that is respected throughout the industry. Technical schools like MIT and RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) are also renowned for producing many professional audio engineers. Keep getting more info and you'll make the best decision for yourself.
Check out www.aes.org and www.musician.com
Good luck, try to have fun when you can and work hard at learning your craft.
November 12, 2001 @07:17am
2legged

Recommended Reading: Recording
Handbook of Recording Engineering
By John M. Eargle (Chapman & Hall. Hardcover 3rd edition, 1996)
Yes, it’s a chunk of change at $115 a copy; and no, it doesn’t come with coupons for free outboard gear. But this is the bible. Eargle, for all his crankiness and insistence on procedure and correct jargon, is an engineer through and through. He covers more ground in more aspects of recording than most experienced engineers can even begin to comprehend. If you have a question, the answer is in here. —Dr. Analog
The Musician’s Home Recording Handbook: Practical Techniques for Recording Great Music at Home
By Ted Greenwald (Miller Freeman Books, 1992)
A little stiff, but plenty of good solid advice. If you’re serious about recording, or just serious about your band, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket — you need to read a variety of books about this stuff. Greenwald’s book doesn’t represent all the knowledge a $60/hour engineer has in his head but gets you on the right track for developing engineering skills in your home studio. While this book is not comprehensive, its advice is widely applicable and always represented in a user-friendly manner. — Dr. Analog
November 12, 2001 @07:39am
juppu

Hmmm,
I started out by fiddling around in a recording studio when I was 14... Analog taoe machine and an Atari. Good fun, but I wasn't being very pragmatic about the whole thing. I wanted to play rock'n'roll back then...
A few years passed and after finishing school, I got a job in a demo recording studio, where I actually started learning properly. It was trial and error most of the time, because I worked alone with the bands 99% of the time. Learnt a lot about people there and got a good grip of basic skills.
Another year passed after I left the job (it was a civil service job, as we have to do a military service) and I was doing freelance for friends' band. Then I applied and got into LIPA in England.
Well, I have to say I've been really happy with it. It's opened my eyes to a variety of different areas inside the world of audio production. Though not preparing me to be a 100% pro in all of these (who would be?), it still gives me a strong foundation so that I won't be completely lost if I'd be thrown into a radio station, post-production suite, MIDI-hell or whatever.
However, I find the five most important things you can work on are the following:
1. Getting along with people
2. Contacts
3. Contacts
4. Contacts
5. Contacts
[Clue: It's got something to do with Extra-curricular work]
You can learn techincal stuff "the hard way" - as I started it out and many people here and everywhere have - but at the end of the day it doesn't make a difference what technical rubbish you know if you can't work with people and you don't know "the right people in the right place at the right time". [Oh, BTW, can I have everybody's email and telephone, cause when (in a year) I'll be looking for a job I need some contacts... ]
Just my thoughts, hope it's not too confusing...
Juppu
November 12, 2001 @09:12am
XenosoniK

Well, it's good to know that there are audio engineers that graduated from Cal Arts. What I plan to do is either attend Fullerton College my first 2 years and then transfer to Cal Arts or just go to Cal Arts right away. What do you guys think?
I realize that a lot of jobs in the music industry require lots of luck. that's life though. gonna have to get lucky on those contacts because i really don't have any nor do i know how to aquire them.
This is great. You guys are really helping me out on my future. Does anyone have any info on Cal Arts regarding the program or opinions on the school? I'd really appreciate it.
OK, thanks guys. I'm still listening so if you have anything to say...
Thanks,
X
[This message has been edited by XenosoniK (edited 11-13-2001).]
November 14, 2001 @04:48am
sponge bob

Also, does anyone know of any schools in the N.W. that specialize in audio engineering.
I am thinking of this path myself, and just starting to look.
Also, what does an audio engineer look forward to as far as typical income?$?$?$
Thanks,
Sponge Bob
November 27, 2001 @04:43pm
rarenimbus

As far as getting schooling, a good choice is the Ontario Instatute of Audio Recording Technology. I am currently a student, and loving it!
check out http://www.oiart.org
-sTeve©
December 6, 2001 @10:44pm
XenosoniK

Hello, again.
Cal Arts is expensive! I wish I had the money to to attend such a school. More school's have turned up on my list:
San Jose State University
California State Univeristy of Chico
I'm seriously looking into these two. San Jose has a Bachelors in Music with focus in Electro-Acoustics. Chico has a degree in Music Recording.
So, my question now is, what major do I need to get into Audio Engineering or Studio Production? What do I need to do to increase the likelyhood that I'll be given a career in this area?
Thanks for all of your continued support,
-X
December 17, 2001 @01:43am