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What college did you go to?
Old 21st April 2015
  #1
Gear Head
 
Josh Z's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Question What college did you go to?

I have decided that I want to go to college for live sound, but I don't know which college to go to. where did you go to college? was it worth it it? would it be better to just work as an apprentice for an actual company for a few years instead?
Old 21st April 2015
  #2
Gear Guru
 
tINY's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years

I went to Cal Poly (SLO). I learned electrical engineering (as well as music, music technology, and a bit of acoustics). But, I worked for a regional sound/light company while I was there.

I wouldn't bank on a career in music if you aren't already making good money.




-tINY

Old 21st April 2015
  #3
Lives for gear
 
hbphotoav's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I live in a city that graduates somewhere north of 2,000 "music business/live sound/studio sound" majors... most with some significant time in major studios... like Blackbird and Ocean Way (owned by Belmont U)... EVERY YEAR. That's a $180,000 degree, all in, at Belmont. MTSU, Full Sail, SAE, and the others are less (count on at least $50K)... but also offer fewer "actual" OTJ experiences.

Were it me, today, I'd go straight to studio dogsbody/A5 or case pusher for a good local PA company, work a second job until the network and relationships and my persistence allowed full-time progress toward what I wanted to do. If building a studio to run was the goal, I'd get a good day job, and sink every available dollar into a great interface, a couple of great mics, a DAW designed for what I wanted to record, and a capable computer. Then I'd record my ass off until I knew what I was doing competently enough to record other folks for dough. I'd still have my day job.

What I did...? I have a BA degree in Journalism (cost a lot less in 1975... I did the 4yr degree in 5 and worked my way through) that got me exactly ONE "real" job. When it was done (3 years), I returned to photography (the passion that paid for 90% of college, ingloriously, as a church directory photographer) and built a life (with wife and kids) a client at a time, via photography, videography, AV support for small meetings, a bit of "major" tour experience in the mid-90s (as the Vidiot), and, now, a smattering of location recording.

In short, I make my living playing with my toys, and work pretty much only for folks with whom I enjoy working these days. My mother passed away several years ago, never understanding why I didn't have a "job".

Just so you don't think I'm shining you on... this: http://www.musicmarketing.com/2010/0...-of-50000.html ... and we're now 5 years further down the same road...

I don't envy you.

HB

Last edited by hbphotoav; 21st April 2015 at 09:49 PM.. Reason: Corrected factoid...
Old 21st April 2015
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I went to college and learned many things, but audio was not among them. To pay for school, I worked at every venue, audio company and recording studio within a 50 mile radius. When I graduated, I had both a liberal arts degree and an in-the-trenches audio education that IMO was worth a lot more than a certificate from any audio school. I skipped the graduation ceremony to hop on my first bus tour, and its been a fine career since then. The bottom line in this business is that skills and connections are what get you jobs. No one will ever care if you went to school if you can do the work. Plus, you will learn the craft faster simply by working at a venue, mixing 4-5 bands a night.

The good news is that, unlike being a musician or artist or actor, our work is pretty much a meritocracy. If you have a good attitude and work your ass off, you won't ever lack for gainful employment.

As for getting started, my advice is to take every opportunity you can find and give it your all. I'm talking a folk singer in a church basement or a free fashion show put on by art students. Do every gig that comes along, treat everyone like they are the most important client you've ever had, and don't worry about the money, and pretty soon the money will work itself out.

Finally, if touring is your goal, never forget that there are a million assholes who can mix, the trick is being pleasant to be around 24/7 in close quarters.

I hope none of this sounds anti-education. I couldn't be happier that I went to a four year university. But keep in mind that the vast majority of techs in our field did not attend Full Sail or any of the recent crop of programs that have sprung up. By and large, we just started at the bottom and learned our trade. Even if you go to Audio School, when you leave, you'll still be at the bottom rung and you may have a mountain of debt to worry about.
Old 21st April 2015
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
I have guys on my payroll with MFA's in theatre sound design who have teaching experience. I have a guy on my payroll with a degree in gene splicing. Both are equal in my book when it comes to doing the job. The schools out there don't teach what you really need to know to make it in the business. Having a good work ethic, great comprehension skills, and mechanical aptitude and reasoning skills is what makes someone good at this. If you want to know what the electrons are doing read the Yamaha audio book then just dig in and start working. Push cases. Sweep stages. Do whatever you can to get in the door... then become a brain sucker. Absorb everything you can without annoying people.

Don't go to school for this unless you can graduate debt free. If you have to use loans to get the degree, DON'T DO IT. Nothing will make you less employable then having to make a 1,000 dollar a month student loan payment plus living expenses. If you have that you won't be able to afford to work in this business due to lack of pay and/or lack of hours.
Old 21st April 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Wyllys's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'm with tINY. An EE degree will be the most useful for the real world. Beyond that...case pusher/cable jockey/dogs-body are the usual entry points for the live audio world.

Myself? I went to Knox. Hard Knox...
Old 21st April 2015
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I did computer science at uni, and worked and learned the trade at my students union, got thrown out of uni (turns out I'm useless at abstract maths), but the skills I learned on the job, with a bit of passion and enthusiasm got me my first full time job in the industry, working on av at a central London hotel. Worked my ass of there learning as much as I could, whilst networking hard, and left a year later to go self employed
Old 22nd April 2015
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Like most here I studied a bunch of stuff that have nothing to do with audio, but I grew up in a studio, areal pro studio where the engineers wore white coats and used white cotton gloves when handling master tapes. By the time I was a teenager I was spending a lot of time in the studio and learned a lot as a gofer or just sitting in on sessions. I studied music also, but knew that I wanted to be behind the console. I worked my first live gig when I was 17 and it was a disaster but I stuck with it and learned everything I could along the way.

As was advised above, learn everything you can about anything that is even remotely related to audio and the business of audio. Prepare yourself to perform any and all related tasks...and yes, do as many gig as you can the knowledge and experience you gain will always be useful generally but it may open other doors for you too. Knowing what knobs to twist and being easy to live with is all good and necessary, but you should never underestimate the psychological aspect of this job.

Despite what you may have heard, this is a service job and you will be working with people who have some very fickle egos, knowing how to navigate the minefield and instill confidence is not just useful it's mandatory...

Just because many people here didn't study audio at university doesn't mean a university education is useless...studying in a formal setting, reading for the sake of learning and the dedication it takes to spend years learning and taking tests etc are valuable disciplines to acquire and will serve you well.

Good luck.

Last edited by Samc; 22nd April 2015 at 12:37 AM..
Old 22nd April 2015
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Oh... and added to that I have a BFA in lighting design from Millikin University. I use what I learned in classrooms in school rarely. I use what I learned working arena gigs and gigs at the on campus road house daily.
Old 22nd April 2015
  #10
24i
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I went to Full Sail in 1997, got an A.S.S. (Associate of Science Specialized) degree. They do have a full 4 year Bachelors program now but they didn't offer it when I went there. If I was young and wanted to do it again I'd go to a full 4 year school for something in a related field of study (like electronics or acoustical engineering etc.) then go to a more specialized school afterwards. It's a tight industry and the success rate of grads becoming full-time directly in the industry is only around 20%-30% so if you have a related profession your sure to live a good life-style.
Old 22nd April 2015
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Don't waste your time. Take the tens of thousand dollars you would spend and buy a nice rig
Old 23rd April 2015
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Dutchy15's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
That's the worst possible advice Dave. We are already swimming in small sized rental companies providing **** all for way too little money. Start by learning how things are done in the real world. Start working for a medium sized local rental company to get an idea of what professional means and to get a chance to start mixing and work your way up. If possible, working for a large company (capable of doing several stadium gigs at a time) can provide a very good impression of how things are done when it's about supersize jobs.

While you're doing this, learn as much about mixing as you can, practice it at home using a DAW and some free multitracks. Be a nice guy and you'll get some work and word around town. The next step would be a (college) course of some kind.

As soon as you've done all the above for a couple of years you should be wise enough not to start a PA rental company. If you decide to do so anyway you should have the ears, eyes and wallet to buy the right gear by now. This to me seems like a much better starting point than simply buying gear and doing jobs.

I myself basically did the above (I'm 19 now and in my first year of college at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, studying Art of Sound) and I'm very happy I didn't drop out of school or college to start a PA company...


Dutchy
Old 23rd April 2015 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutchy15 ➑️
That's the worst possible advice Dave. We are already swimming in small sized rental companies providing **** all for way too little money. Start by learning how things are done in the real world. Start working for a medium sized local rental company to get an idea of what professional means and to get a chance to start mixing and work your way up. If possible, working for a large company (capable of doing several stadium gigs at a time) can provide a very good impression of how things are done when it's about supersize jobs.

While you're doing this, learn as much about mixing as you can, practice it at home using a DAW and some free multitracks. Be a nice guy and you'll get some work and word around town. The next step would be a (college) course of some kind.

As soon as you've done all the above for a couple of years you should be wise enough not to start a PA rental company. If you decide to do so anyway you should have the ears, eyes and wallet to buy the right gear by now. This to me seems like a much better starting point than simply buying gear and doing jobs.

I myself basically did the above (I'm 19 now and in my first year of college at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, studying Art of Sound) and I'm very happy I didn't drop out of school or college to start a PA company...


Dutchy
+1. Don't buy gear. Audio has incredibly bad return on investment ratio, even worse than lighting. Let your clients lose money on gear while you make money operating it.

If you are inclined to buy rental gear that makes money, I recommend Pipe & Drape, fencing, staging and feeder. IE the unglamorous elements of production, which ironically have the best ROI.
Old 23rd April 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
If he's going to invest, i would focus on buying a small stock of mics (enough to do a typical rock/ska/big band), and use them as a value add to your services as a contractor (sell yourself direct to bands, as well as to traditional prod companies), only start buying trackmatting, mains distro etc... When you have an established client base of prod companies who you can approach to get the stuff out straight away, that kind of gear holds its value fairly well, and is fairly resilient in the race to the bottom (its not sexy so the small outfits tend not to invest in it properley), so you can have it out for a long time (with relatively minimal maintaince costs), but it does take a fair old bit of startup capital to get into that game (not least a decent size van, and somewhere to store it)
Old 23rd April 2015
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Dutchy15's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Why would you want to be lugging around trackmatting and distro's if other people can do that for you? If you're smart you try to get yourself into the FOH/Monitor/System/wireless engineer thing (either live, theatre or broadcast) or get into audio IT and do networking for the big boys. This is the only way to (eventually!) end up with a great job that doesn't include daily workouts in the form of stacking PA or loading trailers. All in all there's a lot of interesting places to work (one of my current teachers is an FOH engineer for a large size Dutch musical production that has been running for 5 years straight in the same theatre now) that make live easy and are (IMHO) much more fun than having a rental company of any kind.


Dutchy
Old 23rd April 2015
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
If you buy or don't buy and what you buy should/will depend on your personal circumstances and where you're based. What works for someone who mixes lots of jazz in NYC might not work for someone who mixes mostly rock in Amsterdam. When I moved to France from NYC I had to change my rig for a number of reasons even though I was still working for the same bands.

EU laws would make it impractical or even impossible to rent some of the equipment suggested above. I have a lot of gear, including a 9-seat MB Sprinter van, a large format console, a kick-ass backline and a ton of rack processors and fx. I do not rent out any of this gear, its only used by me when I'm working and it's paid for itself several times over.

I got the van and the backline when I became a tour manager and realized how much money some of the bands I worked with were spending on these things. On the other hand I wouldn't touch a stage even if I got it for free. The legal requirements here would drive you nuts. Every situation is unique and require a specific solution.
Old 23rd April 2015
  #17
KEL
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Cal State. almost no audio classes. The 3 that I took were basic. I had already been messing with recording starting in 1978. Having an experienced teacher or mentor along the way sure helps. You learn a lot by doing, screwing up, watching, asking, etc But, hanging out with someone way up the food chain on gigs or sessions can literally trim years off of your learning curve. I've taken on some interns from programs in my area and became an advisor at the Art Institute, and almost an instructor. What's hard for the colleges to teach are problem solving, making what you have work, adapting, people skills and especially that you're probably not going to walk in, mix and leave. The kids that came to me knew the specific gear they had only and even then, concepts like compression, gates, system tuning, were covered but not understood. good cable wrappers though!

buying a system?
my path may not be for everyone but I started with a basic band sound system and bought most of what I needed used along the way. I'd bid on a sound gig, knowing I didn't have everything the gig required so i'd borrow, put some of the gig money towards gear. it took years that way and some very slim ones at that. I often had older gear...but really good ears. Some of the kids just want a turn key system and I cannot fault them for that. But I never was in debt with sound gear.
Old 30th April 2015
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Teknobeam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
School of hard knocks
Old 30th April 2015 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Wyllys's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys ➑️

Myself? I went to Knox. Hard Knox...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknobeam ➑️
School of hard knocks
Did you pledge?
Old 12th February 2020 | Show parent
  #20
Here for the gear
 
In my opinion, it's better to work as an apprentice for the company. So to say gain experience in real time and face real challenges.
Old 12th February 2020 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for snowflakes
 
12ax7's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
"If you wanna get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to a library."
-Frank Zappa
Old 12th February 2020 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by judy89 ➑️
In my opinion, it's better to work as an apprentice for the company. So to say gain experience in real time and face real challenges.
In my opinion its best to do both, school and apprenticeship, you learn faster when you understand the science behind the concepts...knowing what cable gets connected where is only half the story.
Old 15th June 2020
  #23
Here for the gear
 
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that college isn't of much value. I think it's a waste of time. College doesn't provide normal knowledge. Students have problems with their studies and solve them with the help of the website https://edubirdie.com/research-papers-writing-services for homework in certain subjects. With the help of this writing service can perform research papers. I prefer to attend courses and various seminars on a topic that is necessary. I use different forums to solve certain problems in my work.
Old 15th June 2020
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I graduated from a four year college with a degree in Broadcasting. If you want to go into live sound I would suggest getting a two year degree in electronic technology and at the same time work for an established sound company. My four year degree was a door opener but once inside I had to have the knowledge my employer needed or I was out of a job. My extra curricular work at college was what landed me some good jobs and kept me working. College is good for "book learning" not so great for hands on. While at college in my extra time I did PA work, Discos and "sock hops", equipment installs, on location recordings and repaired consumer and professional equipment. All good skill learning jobs. Two years in the Army as a broadcast specialist also was good for skill building. I also put back together a hospital radio station that had been off air for 10 years and learned how to fly while I was in the Army. Also good skills to have.

Best of luck to anyone going into audio today. There are some real challenges that in my day did not exist. Covid-19 being one of them and over supply of "college trained audio engineers" with less and less places for them to work.
Old 20th June 2020
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z ➑️
I have decided that I want to go to college for live sound, but I don't know which college to go to. where did you go to college? was it worth it it? would it be better to just work as an apprentice for an actual company for a few years instead?
First, I wouldn't get a degree that specific. Leave your options much more open than that.

The most marketable degree would be Electrical Engineering, but any engineering degree would be quite marketable. An engineering degree requires 4 semesters of math (calc 1,2,3 and differential equations), 3 semesters of physics, chemistry, and a hand full of humanities in the first 2 years before you even start the main curriculum. If you can handle this degree, you will start most jobs between 70K and 90K per year. This also makes a very solid degree for understanding live sound.

If engineering is too much to consider (it is certainly not for everyone), I would suggest computer science. Still very marketable, way less math and physics, and you would have a really solid breadth of jobs you would be qualified for.

Last, if you really are "all in" for a live sound career, then there are programs that are less expensive than a degree which would qualify you for a career in live sound.

Since I don't do live sound for a living (as you may have guessed, I am an engineer), I can't conclusively say, but my guess is who you know is likely more important than what you know in the long run. Getting to the point where you have a good mentor (who is well respected in the industry) would be my advice.

Good luck .... and keep your net wide.
Old 21st June 2020
  #26
The college of trial and error.
There were plenty of both at times.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
I went to a two-year technical college in Minnesota which for me at the age of 18 was the right step. The experience provided a foundation of learning in electronics, recording, and live sound. I was able to move into systems contracting and working with bands to learn even more later on. This also opened the door to pulling cable for data networks and understanding IT. I then finished my undergrad in IT to diversify myself a little more.

Having a solid foundation of knowledge is the most important to grow from and I have had varied positive and negative experiences trying to learn from others on the job. To some employers, demonstrating you can finish something you started helps them to take a chance on hiring you. Also, be concerned with acquiring a level of debt that is significantly larger than your ability to pay rent and pay off the debt will be. The school you pick can make a difference in this regard.
Old 4 days ago
  #28
Banned
 
I think college is the great source of knowledge, and every students need to go there to gain that maximum knowledge, based on their preferable area. Although it is primarily difficult to cope up with the education system, however right way of education like eduhelphub can help them to overcome the boundaries.
Old 4 days ago
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
slainbabyyc's Avatar
dropped out of college, for me it was a waste of time and money. i would only go to college to get a degree in computer science.
Old 3 days ago
  #30
Here for the gear
 
I studied at Arizona Western College, my studies were going well if not for the huge amount of useless homework that did not help me gain new knowledge and skills for my future profession. But I found a way out and used cheap essay writing. I think it was a great idea, because thanks to this I have much more free time for self-development.
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