Getting Started As A Recording Engineer
When starting a career as a recording engineer, some studios look at it this way: the older and more experienced one is, the more likely he is to be set in his ways. There is somewhat of a natural progression to becoming a recording engineer:
Studio Engineer (Runner) ==> Engineer ==> Recording Engineer.
Studios use freelance engineers and/or in-house engineers, but we will focus on in-house engineers.
Benefit #1: Ability to Start Young
Young is defined as between seventeen and nineteen. Most studio managers tend to look for in-house recording engineers they can mold. Too much education at this stage of the game may actually work against you. Starting young can benefit an aspiring recording engineer because:
- They can work for little to no pay because they have fewer financial responsibilities
- It is not out of the ordinary to receive free studio time when the studio is available
- Starting from the bottom gives you a clear understanding of the overall process
Benefit #2: Perfect for Workaholics
How many people get to spend practically every waking hour doing what they love? As a recording engineer, one spends the majority of every day, seven days a week, working. Working long hours with top producers and artist helps one learn his trade rather quickly.
If a person is good, he will stay busy. As long as there are recorded programs (television, radio, etc.), there will be a need for reputable recording engineers.
Benefit #3: Helps Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Each project has its own set of problems; the ability to think on your feet and react calmly is a major bonus in this position. It is beneficial to be aware of what type of equipment or software is available to aid in the recording process.
Technology is constantly changing, which makes it imperative for a recording engineer to keep up with all of the new trends and latest music gear. It is vital to know what to use to improve the sound and make the artist happy.
Benefit #4: A Good Recording Engineer is Valued
According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 50% of those surveyed said that recognition was very important to them (www.shrm.org).
After all the long hours, problem-solving, and collaborating with people that may or may not be pleasurable, the finished product is something to celebrate. A recording engineer knows he is valued when:
- He is specifically requested to work on a project from the clients
- The music producer shifts from giving direction to seeking feedback
- Managers begin to offer their services (see benefit #6)
- People take notice when you do your job well and reward you by reaching out.
Benefit #5: Being in Demand
Being in demand is a benefit because a person is getting continual confirmation that he is talented in his position. The recording engineers that choose to specialize in a particular area especially experience this if they are the best at what they do i.e. television, radio, etc.
Hence, the principle of supply and demand takes effect:
- Those that specialize in one area reduce their competition, reducing the supply
- A reputation for producing quality work further elevates demand
- Big producers and clients want the best of the best working on their project
- Therefore, the recording engineer can demand an elevated price for his services
Benefit #6: Someone Can Lend a Hand
After one has gained experience from top-notch music producers and a respectable reputation among clients, it may be time to hire a manager. The benefit of hiring a manager is to take a load off so that the engineer can focus on producing an exceptional product.
A manager will take care of all the administrative tasks such as scheduling and invoicing. He also looks ahead for the NBP (Next Big Project). Freeing, isn’t it?
Benefit #7: Options for the Future
Becoming a successful recording engineer presents many positive benefits for the future: emerge as a freelance recording engineer, music producer, or a combination of recording and producing. Starting young allows one to save for the future: live with your parents or get a roommate.
All a recording engineer’s time is spent in the studio anyway. Try alternate ways of transportation such as carpooling or cycling. A car will just sit around 95% of the time because of your work schedule. Saving money allows one to invest, save for a house, or an early retirement from the industry. Early sacrifice can produce emotional and financial freedom at the time in life when you need it the most.