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Audio Engineering, NC and Me
Old 22nd October 2013
Lives for gear
Rick Carson's Avatar
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Hey I see a bunch of trash talk in this forum so I will put in my 2 cents. I went to AE school sometimes its what you do. Do I think it made me a better engineer than I was going in? No but I wasn't exactly as green as some of my fellow students. I did network the **** out of myself while I was there and that was the best thing ever. Dude I used to jam with and go to the skate park with. Was not even in my class till he took a month off. He is in AWOLnation now. Other friends are making it all over. Well not really all over, out of 200 there are around 6 in the industry. But those 6 are making moves. I know plenty of people who moved to LA and Nashville only to be back in there homes within a few months and I have friends with little more than a highschool education killing it on the road with some of the best up&coming bands.

What I think people should do is this.

Number 1. Engineer and record for someone FOR MONEY. This is the key. Money is the deciding factor and when you bring it in the studio that awesome f*cking picture you have of chilling with dudes making great tunes with no compromises is totally altered. Some times people pour bad acid on the picture and it goes to crap. Some times the picture snorts all the leads singers drugs.

You will figure out if you actually enjoy it. I have a friend who wanted to engineer and can engineer. I put him on sessions... two full recordings with two different clients to see how he would do.
He absolutely hated the artist's by the time he was finished. I didn't put him on anything else and 6 months later he's like you dont put me on sessions. I bring up the fact I dont think it is the right gig for him and he ended up hating those people. He doesn't asked to be booked any more.

Number 2. Network. Go meet some people. I sent an email to a cat I kinda know on GS like 11 mins before I wrote this rant. Im always trying to stick my neck out there. The worst that could happen will not make your family stop loving you.

If you actually want to do it, and can meet people easily. I think you will be ok.
Old 22nd October 2013
Lives for gear
omnialinx's Avatar
2 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Ahh boy oh boy...the good ol days of being a no one from nowhere who knows nobody and has nothing.... ah memories. (sigh) Honestly? Yes it's hard. Can you do it? Yep. You can definitely make a living in the pro audio field. Like everyone says it takes connections which at least you were already aware of but you will see it goes deeper than you even think. Kind of a Alice and rabbit hole thing. Take the blue pill Matrix deal. It also depends how passionate you are (not just now but in five years when you have actually met some people and learned some techniques). Nailing a good internship requires a decent amount of luck but mostly its about being as flexible as possible. It a lot lot harder these days so in a sense I feel bad but it is not impossible. A friend of mine who is a relatively respected engineer just took a on another intern so I know for a fact its still possible. Just damn hard these days. But you gotta be flexible. When I had interned I had worked 5 days a week and interned after work every day (I had taken a night job so I could make this happen) and all weekend. It had been the 50th studio I had almost outright begged to take me. That's roughly 49 studio owners or engineers laughing in my face and saying: "NO! Get a life" Okay I'm exaggerating a bit. More like 30 laughing then telling me to "F off" and another 10 saying "sorry we're not interested right now". So as you are aware many of us have been there. I had been in school earning a music theory degree when I took some production and engineering classes and decided to switch focus for awhile. That was my first taste. I liked it very much. Many years later and after a pretty full life considering my age, the band I was in (kind of a weird gypsy black metal crust punk) was tracking a demo at a friends house and I saw that this guy recording us - who was in another band that was out there playing and touring a lot just like us- could do it so I'd be damned if i couldn't as well. And at his home too. How very Cool. I had thought.
So I plunged in. And fell in love.
It was hard back then. God what i wouldn't have done for stuff like Gap, CL, Capi, etc... The endless info available online. Youtube. UAD plugs. Waves. Anyway I interned got a great mentor and was a part of some pretty special projects. Time/life went on doing its thing and I saved and earned and learned and slowly bought enough gear to set out on my own. Eventually I moved to a smaller city (much like where you are in NC) that had only a few studio options with one being a multimillion dollar facility and another being a bunch of guys like me. After some time going to shows a lot and getting myself out there I built up a good reputation and eventually earned a place for myself and a decent income doing what I loved doing; working with musical artists to solidify and record their creations. Not too mention recording my own whenever I damned well please.
Now I have found that getting into live sound is far more accessible but takes a decent amount of skill working under pressure in comparison to the overly saturated market of home studios. The difference IMHO is that in live sound you HAVE to know what you are doing because there are a lot of people that are there at that moment wanting to hear this band they paid to see sound as good as possible. No mistakes. No post production cutting and effects later. You're on and you better do good.
At any rate you've been given a lot of info to follow up with by some real pros with some very good suggestions. I'm sharing another story that's roughly similar to yours and letting you know that in this world anything is possible. Hell, they proved the existence of the Higgs Boson didn't they? Just goes to show that anything is possible.
Old 26th October 2013
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
you've got the internet, use it

You might avail yourself of all the free instruction on the web right now. Go to Youtube, try the 'Stagg Street Videos' channel, search for 'E.T. Thorngren' where you'll find a whole series of free instructional videos on micing, mixing, and plenty of other stuff from a real pro with great ideas. There's also a free series, although a little dated, on Pro Tools fundamentals, starting from absolute scratch. Then find video's of your favorite musicians playing your favorite music, so you can see how they look playing.

Nothing teaches better then experience. If you get some money, get yourself a good handheld recorder (do your own research, but multitrack multi-mic would be fun, and 24-bit and 44.1 would be ok), a computer to put the files on, some MXL or Shure mics, and start making recordings. Record your friends, your school band, whatever you can get permission for. If you can get a good sound with even a simple thing like that, you won't have much trouble when you get to work with great gear, and you might make a few bucks while your at it.

I had such a hobby, and it turned into a lifelong gig in Los Angeles.
Old 26th October 2013 | Show parent
Gear Nut
thebeatless's Avatar
🎧 10 years
I grew up in NC, and I skipped college/recording school. I had a job at AMI in Burlington NC, and then interned at a studio in Greensboro. Eventually I ended up moving to NYC, and then LA, to really get my career going. If I were in your shoes today, I'd make every effort to get my foot in the door here: Manifold Recording and the Miraverse There was nothing like that in my day. I say be persistent, and find a way in! In the meantime, get a real college education! I'm extremely happy to be making a living engineering/mixing, but since I have no college education, I'm screwed if anything happens that prevents me from continuing to do it.

Old 29th October 2013 | Show parent
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
College doesn't mean much in this biz

Wow, everyone is so hot on college... what a joke. I've been hiring guys to work in my LA studio for 30 years, and in my experience college means next to nothing. Mainly it means you can probably read.

Remember, those that CAN, DO. Those that can't teach. There is nothing special about college teachers; they often don't have a clue about the real world.

I went to college for music, and in 39 years in LA, I only needed what I learned in the first year, a little theory, sight-reading ability, and the ear-training that went with it. You can actually get from a single summer school experience.

I did make a ton of contacts from college but I would never spend what they are charging these days just for that. There are other ways now anyway, like this website.

My best hires were knowledge-hungry guys that were dedicated to the work, not finding the best pay. The good ones understand that, even when interning, you are WORKING. You agree to do the WHOLE GIG, from beginning to end, unless you make a different deal with the studio owner. You are performing needed work, not just sitting. No showing up or leaving when you feel like it. I have often had guys tell me 'I can make it on Tuesday after 5 and perhaps Saturday before 7 pm' or something like that. I don't have time to keep up with anyone's schedule, and on any given day there are 100 guys who will offer themselves up, body and soul, to get a chance here, so anyone with any restriction whatsoever is out. I just call about any given date, ask for a yes or no, and move on.

The best way to learn Pro Tools is not college, it is to HAVE Pro Tools. Take the outrageous college fee and spend it on your own rig, and GET BUSY. Use the internet for free at first, and learn everything available there. College is a ****ing waste of money these days.
Old 30th October 2013
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
I'm on my way soon to be graduating from the Music Production & Recording Arts major at Elon University (not too far away from you) and I can definitely say that we have a very strong program here. If it's not already too late for you too be looking at schools, let me know. In my classes and on campus jobs at Elon I've worked live and recorded sound, gone on tour (with another coming up in two months), and just accepted an invitation to produce a local band's first LP. Elon is in a bit of a bubble, but it's not far from Greensboro, Durham, Chapel Hill, etc so there are lots of cool opportunities (I also work at the Haw River Ballroom and have worked at the Cat's Cradle)
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