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Assistant Positions
Old 12th June 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
gsilbers's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Assistant Positions

Damn, ive been lookin for an assistant position for a while but nothing. most big studios will only start u as a an intern or GA. which equals to toilet duties etc.
and i am already past that as ive already worked on sessions mixing and recording.

i would really like to be an assistant composer or engineer in they're own studio, which are plenty more here in LA but its hard to find any serious listings -non-craigslist for those positions. sounds like its a word of mouth as u dont want to put a listing where hundres of strange individuals will come over to your expensive studio.


i guess this post goes more on the moaning zone but i am trying to see more of how different slutz started out and made it- and what helped what didnt. where to find this listings if there any. etc

well, also if anyone could give me a hand ill preciated. if u need or a collegue needs an assistant PM me. thanks.
Old 12th June 2006
  #2
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gsilbers
most big studios will only start u as a an intern or GA. which equals to toilet duties etc.
and i am already past that as ive already worked on sessions mixing and recording.
You're already past that? How nice for you; I've owned my shop for close to 15 years, and I still clean the toilets and make the coffee when it needs to be done.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Dave's right, when you're the boss, you have to do whatever needs to be done. The other day I saw the executive director of the local YMCA cleaning up the men's room, picking up towels, ect...because it had to be done. He gets the job done and that's WHY he's the executive director.

This applies to any business.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I only pay people when I am going to make money as a direct result.

So if there is a session that I can't do unless I have an assistant, I pay one. In my studio, there are almost none that fit the bill.

Sometimes there are days when I'm not availabe to work at the studio, so I hire an engineer for less than the hourly rate and make money directly as a result of paying him to work.

Why would I pay $40k/year to have someone patch in cables at the patch bay or do my documentation? At some point I'll probably do that as a luxury, but I have to make a bit more money than I do now before I'll be willing to spend that kind of money.

I have had people work for less than $20/hr (which translates to $40k), but they've been unreliable or take so much monitoring and work checking that it's less work to do everything myself. Someone who's willing to work for $10/hr (in New York City) is not going to give me anything I need, and I certainyl not going to make more money because of their contribution.


So, to answer the original quesiton, give people a reason to pay you. As far as cleaning toilets, they have one - they don't want to do it.

As far as other reasons, well, why would someone pay you? How do they benefit? Do they make more money as a result? Are you better at somehting than they are?

Is it an older guy who knows tape and needs someone who can edit drums quickly on protools? (And are you enough of a musician that you can make the drums feel good, regardless of the grid?).

What can you do better than the guy who's cutting the checks? Can you do it without making him look bad?

The guy gives you a job, what's in it for him?


When you can answer that question, in a way that an objective party will agree with, you'll have a job.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
In this era, assistants are needed less and less, esp. in small Pro Tools/console-free studios. And having an assistant around can actually detract from the studio vibe in small to medium-size studios.

If you're past cleaning toilets, etc. why not open your own studio and market yourself? No, seriously -- why not?
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
gsilbers's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i dont mind doing that sort of work if i am also assistant for an engineer or composer, can work with pro tools also, personal assitant meet others with similar interest etc. i was saying more of the studios who hire interns or GA just to pick up the trash and toilets and really no advancment or they just dont care for u in a friendly way. they know they can hire slavelike work.

ive done that GA/intern then assisted a lot and then did some mixing work but not enough for having the credits to be my own boss. but then i moved from NYC to LA recently . cause studios where closing in NY
but i also like helping others/musicians so i like the aassistant part, as i dwell into mac updates, networkin, fixing gear, tranfer files, patching etc.
and of course also picking up the trash when it needs to , clean up the studio, client services administrative assistant/manager/ so everything so that a producer can just concentrate on producing, the composer on composing and the engineer on engineering.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
picksail's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I personally derive pleasure from handling all the menial chores around the studio.

I choose to do it. And no one is quite as neurotic as myself.

It leaves me with a great sense of accomplishment.

BTW, Sartiano is right on track with his assessment.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
audioalchemy's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i don't get all the moaning

I don't understand why so many people moan and complain about interning, and having to start at the bottom. I have worked a couple different internships into the school schedule and i can say it's the only way to start in the "biz". When you prove your worth you move up. I was interning for a while and then as if by magic started making money for asst. engineer type stuff. i had to put a stop the interning because it was conflicting with school at the time but anyway.

bottom line...
work your ass off all the time
there is tons of bs in the industry. suffer all the **** with a heh
be kind
be dilligent
don't make the same mistake twice
don't pass up an oppertunity to learn more because you don't know it all and never will


i followed these basic guidelines just like everyone else and you see the results. so quit yer bitchin and get working.

peace,
AudioAlchemy
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Either start at the bottom, or start your own place up...there isn't that much work for people who know a bit about engineering, but have no experience assisting....the jobs are related, but quite different.
Most places would rather train a reliable runner from within than someone off the street.
-brian
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #10
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
Do such positions exist?

Somewhere between intern - and house engineer?

Are people hired for them?

I always thought assistants came up the rank FROM the intern position

If you DO intern - then leave your place of work - is it possible to ever 'pick up from where you left off"?

Or do you have to start at the bottom again?

Or are you left forever in limbo - looking for a job position that doesn't really exist?
Attached Thumbnails
Assistant Positions-unicorn-magic-wallpaper.jpg  
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
gsilbers's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
what ive encounter not only in LA but also in miami and NY is that they dont promote interns, well ocasionaly. but hire an outside assistant most of the time. i heard some comments in a good studio here in LA where they hired an outside assistant instead of promoting and the intenrs/general assistant where pissed.

i defently wouldt mind being an intern for a while in a place/studio where there is some sort of future. future as in assistant and doing some mix/composition work or at least getting paid. and not being told that next month will start paying u-next month come around and nothing then next month and so on- like ive seen already
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Question: How many hours do you (general) intern? It would be at least 20/week I would assume. If so, how do you manage to pay the bills? Thanks in advanced.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #13
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
Bummer....

In my experience 95% of interns don't have 'the right stuff' and because of that, and that alone, don't get promoted to assistant positions.

But this may be an out of date observation I make.....

I suppose the lack of in house engineers at studios who now just rent the room & gear to freelancers, (no in house engineer provided or wanted) means that the scope for training on the job - may have disappeared altogether.. I can see the desire for studio managers to provide EACH session with primo, experienced assistants..

But how do those assistants get trained up..?

In London, the in house assistants at big studios - tend to have a more 'senior vibe' these days...instead of the gang of bright, eager, young kids running around like they used to have back in the 80's & 90's.. Nowadays they seem to have one or two older VERY experienced long term 'lifer' / trustee assistants that have seen it all and can cope with ANYTHING thrown at them. So the old, much sought after job position of "in house engineer" that was the pinnacle of that trainee mountain everyone wanted to climb, seems to have been replaced by the semi dreary, decidedly less glamorous, lower level - 'in house, senior assistant'.

Again.. bummer
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
wallace's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Jules, your picture is hilarious!

-

I mostly work out of my own studio. I got my engineering gig the last commercial studio I worked at because I had been friends with the head engineer for awhile and because I was very enthusiastic. The intern there, however, went to school, offered his time for free, and was looked down upon by the owner when it came to responsibility. They kind of squeezed him dry. If you're not building your own studio, you probably have to intern. I actually don't know what the best way to success in this industry is yet, but it seems like every man for himself and you've got to find your niche. If you go the intern route, just find out who has succeeded that way, be cool, and try to emulate them.
Old 12th June 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg Sartiano
In this era, assitants are needed less and less, esp. in small Pro Tools/console-free studios. And having an assistant around can actually detract from the studio vibe in small to medium-size studios.
That's very true, and another reason I don't like to have assistants around. I end up with a much more intimat interaction with the person I'm producing.

Plus, it's really bad for the vibe of the session when you have to tell the assistan not to sit in the $900 chair and put the cleint/artist on the stool. If you don't say anything it's bad and if you do, you look a little bad and many artists feel uncomfortable when they see someone get disciplined on their behalf.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
XSergeantD's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Life's hard - get a helmet.

Oh, sorry, was that a serious qustion. Hmm, taking a spot as an intern/general assistant (same position, different title) , even if you were a full assistant at some other spot is a standard situation. We would hire assistants into GA positions and they would be at the top of the promotion list, but they qwould start at GA position because they had to understand the internal workings of the studio. The paperwork, the workflow, the way the studio's gears run. Don't look at that as a demotion, look at it as understanding how things work in your new environment. When you have an interview and are offered a position like this, ask if this is the case, of it you are offered a GA position and are at the back of the promotion chain.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Jules poses some great questions. I worked at a studio for two years and did everything from mixing to coffee, and got paid most of the time.

However, it seems that if you don't start your own place after something like that, or get a Grammy, then you need to start at the bottom again no matter what. No one wants to see your resume, and no one wants to hear your recordings. They want you to work for free.

The only practical thing I can figure out to get out of the "working for free perpetually" thing, is to try and freelance. It's a big jump almost past AE'ing, but if you have the skills and capability, then just try to freelance continously until someone feels that they couldn't live without you bringing in sessions.

Seems to be the only way to do it unless you want to start a studio, which to me seems like a poor business idea.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Nut
 
MusicSh*tty's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I remember it being said years ago that the promise of the (then) coming technology would include a "levelling of the playing field".

Some, like seasoned engineers or studio owners, took this to mean that the computerization and digitization of the recording process would allow them to increase production without adding staff. Others, like aspiring engineers or budding studio owners, took it to mean that they could start cutting records even though they were missing the knowledge or even the studio.

They all heard what they wanted to hear.

Except for the interns and the assistants. There was no little plastic box for them.

Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Head
 
spodniczka's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm glad that this thread came up when it did...

I'm in a similar situation. I've worked as a paid intern for almost a year now for the same company/studio part-time. I just graduated from college, so I can now work full time. I have been told that there basically is no possibility at this time for me to move up within the company (there is only the need for one staff engineer, not two), so I am looking for a new job. I feel that the only way to be able to stay in recording music is to start at the bottom again....these assistant positions truly are mythical (love the unicorn, Jules!) I do some freelance work, but I don't get enough $ from it right now. I've assisted for other engineers before. They love working with me, but they don't do it often because there's never enough $ to pay an assistant. They would rather have an intern there to do coffee runs. My friend has his own studio, and the interns he hires have no possibility of moving up...they are just there as slave labor. I actually wanted to be an intern (despite knowing this), but he wouldn't let me because I had too much experience.

It definitely is a state of limbo...and luck seems to be the biggest determinant of success more than anything else.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
So again, I ask, how do those of you who do intern (or have interned) manage to pay the bills? I would guess that your hours as an intern would be at least 20/hr week...how do you manage to pay rent and feed yourself living in NY or LA?
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
Getting a Job

Well, all I can offer is the advice I was given in School (cough), And what I have seen others do that have gotten a job in the Biz.

The Advice. Take a job any job and do it better than any that have came before you. If it is cleaning the toilet, clean that sucker so that you can eat off it, then do one better, make the floor that way too. Do it with a smile and never ever complain. Let them know of your intentions but do not pester them ever. Be clean courteous an PATIENT!

In this Biz your last fifty atta boyz will maybe, maybe, earn you one Oh sheeet. Point being, the person above you is only one mistake away from toilet detail somewhere else. Seen it happen bunches of over time.

What I've seen. I had the opportunity to be the house guy at one of Americas more infamous concert venues. And saw quite a few people get employment (including my replacement) by doing the following. Finding out what time load in is, showing up and asking if they could "intern." I say can't pay ya, they say that's cool, but in time if I work out will ya?, I 'd say, it has to come out of my pocket so we will see. I would give them the duties I hated like wrapping the spit covered cables at the end of the night etc. One out of 10 would last more than one night. Those that became successful kept coming back, making contacts with the bands, that were on their way up, helped them out, used my good name (again cough) to drop around town and viola got themselves a job. I finally got tired of it and the last guy that had been hanging around last got my job. A couple others are now road managers, a some are recording engineers. Another has become a well respected L.D. (still don't know his real name).

There are as many stories and ways as there are engineers and assistants to get a gig.

As a matter of fact I am going to "humble" myself Wed. hoping to get hooked up with a pretty well known national, as I am feeling the need to do some traveling. I just love music in all it's forms and am happy contributing as best I can everyday. Be it producing, engineering, or mixing live, or tuning someone elses instrument.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #22
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
When I came on as an assistant to a local studio in the early 90's, I got paid for like the first session and then had a sit down talk with the owner. He just couldn't pay me to help...and he wanted to know if I'd stick it out...not for FREE...but for the knowledge.

I stuck around for months, as long as I could really, without "pay". What I earned in mic placement, running a session, what not to say, performing punch ins, simple signal flow etc was great. I only wish I could have stuck around longer, but my wife and I had our first child and life changed. I carried on on my own, with equipment I bought from the studio's owner, and forged a less "technical" path (I'm not exactly savvy with innards of gear!) and one more based on my ears and experimentation.

I would never, ever wish for that "free" time back. Some of the best time ever spent learning the process and realities of recording.

War
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
My problem with the so called assistants is that no one really wants to be an assistant.


There is no glamour in being a great second and they all want to be the man.


Everyone just basically wants to see "how you do things" and then go on their merry way with these new found "tricks" with the confidence they can do what you do better.

I fired the last guy for this very reason.


My take on it is if you think you are so good than why do you need me for?


You should be engineering already and getting your own clients.


Basically when someone inquires about being my assistant i tell them this;

Personally what i like look for is someone who wants to be great at being just that an assistant.

I don't run a mentoring program.


I don't really care if you want to be the greatest engineer,producer, artist etc.


I don't even care that you want to learn to mix and such.


You really won't learn anything from me and you really only learn when you are in trenches.


And heck when presented with things my attention goes to the client and work at hand so if i ignore you or can't answer your question at the time sorry.


I just care that you got my back in my sessions.


Think for me when i need you to and be ready to give an honest opinion when asked.


If i have to look out for you, the client and myself that is too much.


Most guys can't handle this or they think they can and when things go down they crumble.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonJack
Question: How many hours do you (general) intern? It would be at least 20/week I would assume. If so, how do you manage to pay the bills? Thanks in advanced.
More like intern 40+ hours a week, and work 40+ hours a week to pay the bills. If you can do that then maybe you're ready for the 80+ hours a week you'll work assisting if your lucky and the facility is busy (at least if you want to rack up enough overtime to pay your bills - and you'll probably still be jealous of your buddy who makes more running the cash register at a gas station).

As far as getting an assisting gig, your best bet probably is starting as a runner/intern somewhere - at least in LA those jobs sometimes pay something (or at least that's how I heard it used to be - never worked there myself).

I can't tell you how many folks I've known who have been first call guys in one city only to have to start over again as runners in another market. Your name is pretty much all you have to go on, and unless you've got some serious national credits under your belt your going to be starting over - it's just the way the business works.

The "entry level" gigs are very far a few between - ten to twenty years ago studios needed assistants because client turnover was fast, many different engineers/producers worked in facilities, etc. Five to ten years ago assistants were needed because none of the "old guys" knew how to run Pro Tools. In both days, the pay still sucked. In both cases most still came up from runner positions.

Sure, there are other ways in. If you get lucky you might be able to get in with a busy engineer/producer who will thow you some work, you might get in good with the owner of a studio who needs a little help, or you might find an artist who has a home studio and needs someone to tend the Pro Tools rig when they're cutting tracks. Of course a lot of luck has to do with putting yourself in the right place at the right time - and the right place/right time for getting yourself into all of the above listed situation could be working as a runner at a larger facility.

Take your lumps, pay your dues, make yourself indespensible. Being a good runner is like being a good waiter - take on the trash and fill the client's (and engineer's) coffee without being asked. Make sure the room is spotless before every session. The first real session I got to sit in on as an intern I was cleaning unused channel strips on the SSL with a q-tip. When the engineer needed something hooked up and the assistant was too lazy to get out of his chair - I was there - 'what'dya know, the kid knows the patchbay'. When they called at 3am because they needed help with transfers going to New York the next day I got my ass out of bed and went down there - 'what'dya know, the kid knows Pro Tools'. When I ran out of things to clean, I read the manuals for every piece of gear in the room. When I ran out of manuals to read, I found more stuff to clean - those little alcohaul wipes that came with the chicken wings the client ordered for lunch from acrossed the street work well for removing finger prints from chrome mic stands. When the regular assistant called in sick - I was there. I started out filling in for the regular guys - but quite quickly every time I filled in the clients would request that I stay the rest of the session rather than bringing the other guy back on. You get the point. You've got to start somewhere - and yes there may be more glamorous ways to do it - but the second you think you're above something you've just closed a lot of doors. I'm not better or smarter than anyone else - I just work damned hard.

Treat your job as an assistant in the same way, and you'll be a first soon enough.

Quite frankly - I see too many assistants who can't even seem to clean up after themselves, let alone the clients.

Gimme the kid that knows how to get off his ass and open the door for the client when they're comming back from a take WITHOUT me having to ask them. Gimme the kid who figures out after the first day that my biggest pet peeve in the world is writing with a dull pencil after the first day and has a stack of freshly sharpenned pencils on the counter the next day when I come in - and again two months later when I come back. I've found a few of them - and they're all working now.

Am I old and jaded? Old no, jaded - maybe...
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
gsilbers how long would you stay around the studio?

I ask cause when I started as an intern. I never left till some one told me I had to leave. The reason why is cause if people would come out of studio's looking for something(whatever it was) I was there. I didn't care about the money. Why would I? What I was learning(and still learning) was worth way more than anyone could pay me.

That's just my 2 cents.

Hope that helps,
Poly
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Head
 
spodniczka's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonJack
So again, I ask, how do those of you who do intern (or have interned) manage to pay the bills? I would guess that your hours as an intern would be at least 20/hr week...how do you manage to pay rent and feed yourself living in NY or LA?
From my own experience and other people I've talked to:

1. Have 1 or more jobs in addition to the internship
2. Rich parents
3. If you're in school as well: student loans
4. Freelance work on the side

In my case: 1, 3 and 4. Having no. 2 would have made it soooo much easier.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for the responses guys. It was an honest question...excuse my ignorance.

If you're working another job, is it safe to assume that it was a 9-5 and you went to work at the studio during nights?
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Curve Dominant's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've recently had an intern working for me, and found him here at Gearslutz of all places!

The kid has his own thing going, and he wants to be "the man," and that's fine with me.

When he's worked gigs with me, he's like the sidekick from a 007 film: On time, car ready, juiced and set to perform any task I ask him to do, with a smile and an upbeat attitude. TEAM PLAYER. Myself, my artists and everyone on my team loves this kid. He's earned his place as an "Associate" on our team. Hell, I will be HIS intern if he needs me on one of HIS gigs.

The game is changing, and so is the roles we all play. It's like the wild wild west again, and it's all about establishing relationships with people of like minds, who are doing things and going places.

Try looking at your intern as your future client and/or employer, and this will give you a whole new attitude on how to approach the venture.
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
kingneeraj's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonJack
So again, I ask, how do those of you who do intern (or have interned) manage to pay the bills? I would guess that your hours as an intern would be at least 20/hr week...how do you manage to pay rent and feed yourself living in NY or LA?
When I was an intern/assistant in NY (and living in NJ right across the hudson river) i was working about 80 hours a week... all that overtime is the only reason i was able to pay rent and pay for food ....

if i worked less than 50 hours a week, i would be suffering....

it was tough...
Old 13th June 2006 | Show parent
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingneeraj
When I was an intern/assistant in NY (and living in NJ right across the hudson river) i was working about 80 hours a week... all that overtime is the only reason i was able to pay rent and pay for food ....

if i worked less than 50 hours a week, i would be suffering....

it was tough...
So 40 hours at the studio, 40 hours at your "other job." Mind if I ask what the "other job" was?

Thanks for the response by the way.
πŸ“ Reply

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