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The Audio Engineering Job: Getting Your Foot in the Door

Updated on October 25, 2013

Recording Studio Equipment and Jobs

If you have any skills that can impress a studio manager then show them!

Never, never speak ill of other studios. This is bad karma, and proves that you are insecure. Know your competition and make the customer aware of the unknown. Although other studios speak ill of you, your positive attitude shows the visitor that you are honest and trusting. This is very important.

After the greetings, tours and conversation, be prepared to play something that is in or adjacent to such music that the customer is into. Play a mixture that is up to snuff, and not a hack job. Make sure that the monitor, board, and the connections are excellent. This is not the right time to do the preventative maintenance on the studio. If you do not have any specific music, then you have to play the best choice of music that your customer will want to listen to and mix from. Continue to remind the client during this process that you can do anything, and "what we can do for you".

Negotiations on the price

There is an old saying in this business that goes something like this: the first person who talks about money first loses their credibility. It is best that you have given your price by phone, but everything is negotiable. Here is where the real art of the deal comes in. Ask about the budget and how much time they have for this project. Give them an idea what is expected now and try to work with them.

For example, suppose you have a $50,000 project, and they want to do 25 songs. Explain that you can do it if they want to but if they are fast and can be open to anything creatively that would be best. Do not be negative. Introduce the process and how long things take. Many new artists think that a song takes about 5 minutes to be pre-mixed but a professional knows that is silly. The process takes far longer.

Go through the process and explain how it works. Do not say "are you crazy?" If you still do not understand, tell them to divide them into 2 or 3 songs. Then apply that to the budget. This helps to build trust and relationships.


Let's discuss the studio reservations and price negotiations that you have booked for your guest! Discuss all the details with the artist. Meet in person or speak by phone before the meeting. Make sure that there are no surprises. These pre-production plans are essential and are the most ignored aspect of preparation but important steps they are. Even if I think that you are the next Jay-Z we would have to plan out our sessions. Get it clear before you start.

Ask a lot of questions. What files will be used as a base? What format? Do they understand that you can not change the reason for the individual instruments within a stereo file? Who is the manufacturer? Who makes the final decision? How many people are in the band? Is there someone who must be recorded in the video? Several members of the family, dogs and cats, boyfriends, girls and other characters are coming? What food? Can you buy? Do they know that you must have a break every now and then to eat and get a clear head? They know that they have to pay you to set up microphones, or are you going to throw that in with the greater budget? These are the questions that must be asked.

You should also have some sort of legal documents with the client to begin with before the meeting and that an agreement has been made about the non-refundable deposits, broken equipment and liability if someone has an accident. What is your policy on studio smoking, alcohol abuse and illicit substances? If all of these things have been tampered with or increase during the session, your task is to maintain peace. Nothing destroys the session or a future business relationship faster than the collapse of the session.

I hope this helps new engineers of a new studio. Maybe it's also a reminder to some of you as well as veterans. Possession of the studio and the location of the studio is hard, but you can do it. Keep in mind that it is working, and even if it is a creative field, you still have time to follow certain evidence. Now go record.

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Working in a Recording Studio

Professional recording, professional studio work and recording engineer training is expanding for those serious about the profession every year. Professional engineers get paid a lot of money to mix tracks for today's top artists including, Katy Perry, Lil' Wayne, Rihanna, Lady Ga Ga, and Beyonce. Getting a job in this exciting and lucrative industry is not very difficult if you receive the proper training.

A degree in musicology is not important to enter the field of professional recording. A musical background is most helpful but you will want to have more of a career education in electronic design, music theory and audio recording.

Next, you will want to build a strong network of local bands and musicians. If, on the advice of pros who will say that the recording studios all have to work with the latest equipment then you'd better have a good grasp on what that equipment is.

Begin by recording live local music shows and artists who are working on their demo reels. You can start in a home studio but eventually you will want to move on to a major studio.

Finally, you need to get a portfolio together with a professional resume and audio mixing tracks attributable to you. You will have a good shot until late in the recording studio job search process.

You will be excited to gather many more contacts in the industry. Home studio experience is good and works to get you work as well.

What does it take to work in a recording studio?

The most important quality that a recording studio manger is looking for in an employee is hearing capabilities. What that means is the ability to distinguish phonetic sounds. On the contrary to what is most popularly known about the ability to hear what others do not is the small space between the words and notes, a strange sound or an imbalance between the bass and guitar. If you've spent many hours in the studio looking at the people we call the "engineer" cock his head to remix or re-record something that is what you'd recognize as good engineering technique.

If you do not have sensitive ears, you will not succeed in a recording studio. You have to know how to listen.

The second quality is the willingness to work long hours for low wages with those who are sensitive but tough. Throwing objects and shouting are not uncommon in long sessions and a boy or girl can not do the work of the mixer may be concerned or the situation will soon be reduced to a bad dream. Are you able to see how others lose? Can you sit and wait out the storm? An even temperament is an asset.

Third, can you do it right the first time? If musicians and even an announcer made a mistake and will want to repeat things and it is accepted as part of their work, but if the recording engineers happen to make mistakes and have to repeat the whole session you may turn the clients into crazy people. Know your job.

Meet the recording team and how it works. A good recording engineer arrived there in the early morning before a session established and is ready before anyone else. He can finish within the time specified, and make other people sound better than they really are.

Audio mixing study time is not expensive and the band, broadcasters and others who demand that the studio is ready when you are will be relentless with technical errors and equipment damage.

A recording studio is not a professional business in the traditional sense. The people who work there have no time until you find something better. Many engineers and mixers are highly skilled musicians and the art of music. Some university-level training in sound engineering.

If you do not have the training and began to learn about the study of mixing, consider working for a local band and develop your skills - and contacts - to help the band to produce better sound.

You want a Recording Studio that is looking for people who do magic. If you think you can do it and are willing to do whatever it takes from going to the back door to sweeping floors and cleaning equipment you will succeed. The best engineers and mixers see it as a calling and will do it for free if needed. Is that you?

This is How to Succeed as a Studio Owner or Engineer

As a recording engineer you may need to occasionally answer the studio phones when people call to book time in your studio. Even the early seconds of a phone call can mean the difference between a period of intense activity, or a weekend to watch the sports replay. Some things you can do to prevent a potential client from not being interested in visiting, and, finally, booking a time reservation at your studio are obvious.

Most major studios have the advantage in the game of winning clients. Reputation, equipment and marketing are all on their side. However, the price is to your advantage. You can overcome these obstacles, beat their prices and compete in the smaller studio world. Just use your head and stay prepared to win clients.

Remember some important things that will help you book your studio and build a large customer base.

Suppose you've done all the preparations necessary to actually make the call. Do you have a website, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube presence? Have you visited the clubs, business groups or local music stores, etc? You did not do these things? So get to work. If nobody knows who you are they are not going to do it for you.

First contact

Make sure you have a professional phone presence. You do not want the race to buy a $50,000 mixing board. You must have a source of information. Voice mail should be created with the name of the studio and a deadline for the return call. Keep your message short and sweet and to the point.

Remember that your new client is probably calling around to other studios for pricing and/ or a tour of the facility. The lowest quote is usually the winner.

Call back quickly and have all the information prepared for any questions. A calendar, list of equipment, service plan, and any reference numbers should be at hand. Be ready for any questions. If you need to call a second time with more information, you will lose your client to someone who is ready with an answer. Often, the potential customer does not know what to do. Then take note of what I mean when I talk about preparing a potential customer for service at your studio. If you can anticipate the customer's questions it helps break the ice.

Got Pro Tools? No? Better to have a ready answer when asked! Many years ago. I was a fan of Cakewalk, then moved to Pro Tools. Customers who do not know anything about recording knew the term "Pro Tools". So the first question would be: "Do you have Pro Tools?" I think the thing I did not know that the next call was a dial tone. Be prepared to these questions and have a quick response.

Do not assume the client knows the art or what is the ultimate in audio. Often they are reacting to marketing. A question like: "I heard that XYZ makes a big microphone," for example. The answer might be: "Yes, this is a good microphone. But I have a microphone ABC and it sounds very similar to XYZ. You should come over and try to feel how the voice sounds incredible on this thing."


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    • Harry Santos profile image

      Harry Santos 6 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      I like many other DAWs aside from ProTools. I hate it that it's such an industry standard.

    • profile image

      Piano Chord Training 6 years ago

      I feel you I personally like Sonar and Cubase over pro tools any day of week

    • profile image

      conceptra 6 years ago


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