Going into Studio Biz... worth it?

With so many musicians building quality home studios, do you think it would be pointless to become an audio engineer? In say, 5 to 10 years are musicians even going to record in a pro studio when they can make a decent sounding CD at their home? Basically,the question is, what do you think the audio production/engineering business will be like in the near future?

Overall, I'd say it's going to be about how it is now:

Saturated with idiots that don't know what they're doing, & don't know that they don't know,

& a few handfuls of qualified people who can actually use the word "engineer" with merit.

There is always going to be a demand for a good audio person in content creation. & first off, let me qualify that by not limiting it to pop music. If you're good with audio, there's a job for you in film, television, new media, etc.

Home studios are great for amateurs & dabblers, but most serious musicians don't have the time to dick around with the knobs in anything other than a creative capacity. Particularly in most mainstream music, where management has their fingers in the pudding to begin with.

& although digital recording is making things cheap & easy for hobbyists, quality microphones & the knowledge to use them are still at a premium.

That all said, audio has never paid as well as video, partly because of the presumed simplicity, but mostly because most consumers of audio don't understand what "good" audio is. They just know what it isn't, so the people at pro levels generally are underappreciated & underpaid.

So, in closing, about the same. If it's something you love, yeah you'll be able to make money at it. Just not a lot of money.

BLAD is a fountain of correctness, as usual.

If its something you love, just do it. If you have skills and chops there
is nothing to stop you from landing a job in a decent studio working on
music or in post production. My advice if you are looking to get into
this field would be try and avoid spending a lot of cash on school.
Instead volunteer, work for free, apprentice, get coffee,
scrub the floor or whatever you need to do to get into a studio and
work with/watch people who know what they're doing.

My rant, feel free to skip it:

I can only speak about the situation here in Canada, but the average
engineer course starts around $20G and pukes out 50+ students every
6-8 months who never rise above working as dubbers, partly because
of the sheer number of students trying to get a job, and partly because
most of the schools are set up to take your money and give you false
confidence. We get interns in here from different schools ranging from
8 month courses to 3 year courses who don't even understand signal
flow!

I know an engineer who was hired to teach at Trebas Institute when he
was between gigs. He had never taught a class before, wasn't given a
lesson plan or any indication of what to teach, and in the year he
taught was never even checked on to see how or what he was doing.
Luckily for his students he is a concientious guy who wanted to help,
but think of all the idiots out there just making a buck because they
suck too much to get a real job. I know that Full Sail in the past has
hired freshly graduated students to come back and teach the next year.

/rant

Thank you both for the good posts. DasBeaver is there any advice for someone looking to intern at a good pro studio? Do you accept anyone or do people have to stand out somehow? Again, thanks for the inspiring posts.

'My advice if you are looking to get into this field would be try and avoid spending a lot of cash on school. Instead volunteer, work for free, apprentice, get coffee, scrub the floor or whatever you need to do to get into a studio and work with/watch people who know what they're doing.'

This is the best advice you could get. Go to all the studios nearby and wait at the doorstep before they even open. Meet them at the door and offer yourself for free to do anything. Do it 3 consecutive days. Insist and beg if necessary, they will laught at you, but someone will say yes.

Also forget about the idea of homestudios ending professional studios, unless you are talking about electronic music or maybe small mastering studios (that still need to meet certain conditions).

Professional studios are necessary, with good equipment and well conditioned control rooms and studios, specially the conditioning part. You wont see a homestudio with a 50 sq/feet conditioned room with high ceilings or with different material walls to provide different sonic character to the recordings, etc... There's still a big step from homestudios to professional studios and will always be. Simply check the websites of famous world studios and see the space they use and how they use it. You cant have that at home unless you are a rock star.

And finally experiment, watch films, get all the proaudio books you can find and read them, etc... There's lots of shit, and dont expect any magical formula, but anything helps. When you go to concerts check what mikes they are using and how, talk to sound technicians at discos and concerts, check documentaries, etc... Anything helps, really.

I agree with Das & taxi, but I will also say that the number of guys on this planet working in the field who can concisely explain the hows & whys of the physics of sound & electronics you can probably count on one keyboard, so specific training in that regard will only increase your stock.

Not saying that the FullSail type stuff isn't bullshit, just saying that if you happen to have access to collegiate courses on Physics, Electronic Engineering, etc., that stuff can help put you in demand to the point where the investment cost is worth it.

Studio work is a trade, not a degreed field, so you have to approach it with that in mind, but there are several degreed fields that studios wouldn't exist without.

Just an FYI if you want to work around that environment but make more money than average. Not ALL education is bullshit.

BLAD, completely agreed on the education point. I have no problems with Engineer degrees, I wish I had one.

The problem I have is the recent explosion of all-in-one professional sound academies, to which I fell victim. My intention is to save anybody from falling in the same scam I did and lose valuable money and time, only to find out halfway that the pro audio world laughs at this type of places, and that the contents of the courses are superficial at best.

Engineers go through hell for 5 years to get their degrees, audio academies are like a walk in the park for 3 years the longest. While audio academies are more specific and oriented, there is no possible comparison.

I'm very young and unexperienced, and I AM SURE THERE ARE GREAT ACADEMIES AND TEACHERS OUT THERE, really, but it was not my case, so be careful and compliment any job/studies with extensive personal research and experimentation. And take care of your ears, dont stress them too much.

A customer/friend of mine just spent $40,000 moving and upgrading his studio,Suspect Studios in San Jose,CA.

I thought he was crazy, I figured so many people would be going to go home studio, how much work could there be.

He has shown me that there is no substitute for great space,awesome amps and drums in that space, and expensive microphones that not everyone has. There is an organic quality to well recorded music produced with top flight gear.

And yes, take care of your ears.

"I AM SURE THERE ARE GREAT ACADEMIES AND TEACHERS OUT THERE,
really, but it was not my case, so be careful and compliment any job/
studies with extensive personal research and experimentation. "

I've been doing a little recording with my band at a small local school
which I've heard great things about, small classes, 1/2 sutdio hours
and 1/2 theory/maintenence hours - $10G for a 8 month course. Its a
nice little studio, but right from the beginning of the seesion they were
having problems with protools because the Cracked Plug-Ins stopped
working!?!? Unreal.

I didn't go through an audio course, but years earlier I spent a lot of
cash on a welding course which I was ridiculed for once I got my first
welding job. Its an expensive lesson.

Atomjack: When I first started looking I bought a book that listed every
studio in town, music and post, and started calling alphabetically. I
didn't find anything until I got to 'V' It might take a while just to find a
good place, let alone earn a paycheque, but at this point its not about
money so don't get frustrated. Or just start on V, might be quicker.

"there is no substitute for great space,awesome amps and drums in
that space, and expensive microphones that not everyone has. There is
an organic quality to well recorded music produced with top flight
gear."

That is the reason there will always be professional studios in a
nutshell, plus a good set of ears.

DasBeaver, I'm sure you may have already made up your mind and have a plan, but if its not too late I would seriously consider investing those 10G in a decent computer (no need for a G5), a sound card with some mic preamps (2xMOTU, DIGI), a good pair of monitors (Dynaudio, Adam, Genelec), and a decent set of microphones. The software (Protools, Cubase, etc...) can be found for free, and you already have a band to try and test all your recording stuff. Get some books and with the help on the internet (hundreds of forums dedicated to proaudio, recording, mixing, etc...) you can go a long, long way.

Maybe consider also joining forces with someone else. You can have a very solid setup with 10Gs. 20Gs can build you a semipro setup (without considering location/space conditioning).

Of course you may have a totally different plan and opinion, but reading your description of that studio gave me flashbacks of my old academy. Be careful and good luck!

Good advice td. Personally I'm setup at home to do 1/2 decent
sounding demos although I'm looking to upgrade soon as my pc is
becoming a bit of a dog, and I work in a studio so I'm not too hard up
for equiptment at the moment. I will admit my mixes suck and thats
why I'm always more than willing to let somebody else take a shot...its
something I'm working on (time!)

As BLAD said, "the number of guys on this planet working in the field
who can concisely explain the hows & whys of the physics of sound &
electronics you can probably count on one keyboard" and that is one
thing I've had to struggle with as a result of not going to school. I'll
admit I've been a bit lax and haven't been focusing on 'filling in the
gaps' as much I should have been over the past few years.

Hey, Dasbeaver check this book. Its Bob Katz's Mastering Audio. Out of all the proaudio books I've read, this was probably the best. It doesnt reveal any tricks, but there's some good information. I'll see what other useful stuff I have.

http://rapidshare.de/files/19395462/Mastering_Audio-_Bob_Katz.pdf.html

(select 'free' and then wait for the counter to reach 0 to download)

Thanks very much! I've got a few related books I can upload to this site
as well for your perusal. I'm motivated now to get back to where I
should be.

My brother is an audio engineer. He went to SUNY Fredonia, which has a very good sound recording program (Dave Fridmann as a professor isn't bad at all). I've asked him a lot about this, and he says that studio work is kind of a bitch. You start out very low (like, "would you like more coffee sir"?) no matter your education, then move up slowly. You move a bit quicker with education, but still, everyone starts in the same place. I guess starting with an internship is a good idea for a lot of reasons - mostly, you get your name out there, and you make connections you can use wherever you go.

"I agree with Das & taxi, but I will also say that the number of guys on this planet working in the field who can concisely explain the hows & whys of the physics of sound & electronics you can probably count on one keyboard, so specific training in that regard will only increase your stock."

This is SO true. If you want to be near the top of the field, knowing ProTools and setting up a few mics isn't enough.

My brother works in live sound now, which I think he likes more than studio work. The nice part about the education is that it makes you very flexible in the entire field of music and sound. You can do pretty much anything.