Five Ways to Get Your Foot in the Door as a Studio Engineer
So, you want to be a studio engineer but you’re unsure how to get started. Here are a few tips that can help you get involved with pro studios.
1 – Look for Internships
Many studios offer internships, which are a great way to gain some experience and learn some new skills from pro engineers. Usually internships are unpaid so be prepared to “pay your dues.” Depending on your skill level, some studios allow interns to be very involved in their projects while others may have you sit in and observe rather than do hands-on work. Either way, internships are a great way to meet pro engineers, and if you’re lucky you can pick their brain when the session ends. Pay close attention to everything that happens during the session and take notes if you can. You can learn a whole lot just from observing a pro engineer run a session. If you become a good enough intern you may be able to score an assistant job at the studio.
2 – Network
I know this gets preached often but it really is true: networking will help you find work as an engineer. Keep in touch with the engineers you intern for, talk to lots of bands and artists, as well as music industry people. Going to shows and talking to bands is a great way to meet people you may want to work with. Try to keep in touch with the people that you meet along the way, you never know when they may need a cheap demo made. You can step in and get some good recording time in even if it’s just for demo recordings. Go to local shows and meet new artists, talk to the sound engineer, talk to the merch crew — just get out there and get talking!
3 – Practice
Again, maybe this is an obvious one, but practice recording, editing, and vocal tuning at home! The more you practice the more you will be prepared when you finally get that gig you really wanted. The goal is to do a great job and make the artist happy, and that will be so much easier if this isn’t the first time you’ve recorded something in months. There are plenty of resources out there to help you gain some production skills in your DAW, so get as familiar with it as you can.
4 – Social Media
Lucky for you, social media is a free tool to use as advertisement for your work. Post about some projects you are working on and keep people updated. Follow bands and artists you’d like to work with as well as engineers you look up to. You might be surprised by some gig offers after a while of building up a following. YouTube is very popular these days, so if you feel comfortable enough, make some YouTube videos about your projects. You never know who might be watching, they may find you to be someone they really want to work with.
5 – Take Any Related Gig You Can Find
Most of the time you won’t score that perfect dream studio job right away. It takes some hard work and time to build up your skills before being able to work full time in a professional studio setting. There are lots of other audio jobs out there that don’t involve the studio but can still help you build valuable audio skills. If you like fast-paced and high-energy environments try running live sound at a church or your local live music venue. Try out working in radio or podcasting or even audio archiving and digitization. Any job that is audio related will help you progress your audio career even if it isn’t exactly what you want to do.
Bonus – Don’t Give Up
This is a tough industry to get into and the competition can be a lot to handle. If you really know you want to be an audio engineer, then keep on going and work on getting better every single day. Your hard work will pay off if you really give it your all!