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Why become a pro engineer?
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alcoyot
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#1
2nd July 2011
Old 2nd July 2011
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Why become a pro engineer?

When I think of the typical work day of a pro engineer, I imagine client after client of just absolutely horrible music. Even for the big studios. Not only do you have to deal with some of the worst people ever, but in the engineering process whether its recording or mixing, you have to listen to their music over and over and over again. Basically listening to very poor musicians at their worst all day long. How could anyone stand to do this, and why would anyone want to?
It seems a lot of people aspire to become pros at this, and I can't understand why. What's the upside? I can't think of many worse fates, when I think about it, it sounds like something you'd be doomed to in hell. Like when you go to hell they send you right into a control room, where you're forced to mix and record wannabe rappers, singer songwriters, and terrible bands of all different kinds for all eternity. Why choose a career like that?
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2nd July 2011
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Well....since you put it that way.

Seriously, the pro's I work with aren't generally working with terrible musicians as you suggest. When I'm working with musicians, they are generally some of the best in the world. Inspirational, fun and an overall blessing to be working with. My experience is nothing like what you suggest.

I'm sure there are people out there making a living doing exactly what you are suggesting though.... And I'd tend to agree. Why?
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2nd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcoyot View Post
When I think of the typical work day of a pro engineer, I imagine client after client of just absolutely horrible music. Even for the big studios. Not only do you have to deal with some of the worst people ever, but in the engineering process whether its recording or mixing, you have to listen to their music over and over and over again. Basically listening to very poor musicians at their worst all day long. How could anyone stand to do this, and why would anyone want to?
It seems a lot of people aspire to become pros at this, and I can't understand why. What's the upside? I can't think of many worse fates, when I think about it, it sounds like something you'd be doomed to in hell. Like when you go to hell they send you right into a control room, where you're forced to mix and record wannabe rappers, singer songwriters, and terrible bands of all different kinds for all eternity. Why choose a career like that?
Do you think Plumbers like fixing peoples toilets and unclogging hair balls from their kitchen sinks? I think if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life. Recording terrible music is still one of the best job's in the world. Work is a challenge. Its nice to choose your work, and only work on enjoyable projects, but that is not the reality of the work, in any field. So, maybe just open your mind, and you can turn what people bring you into something you like too. As a pro - you too have the right to turn down work at will. I NEVER turn down work, unless I have to, or it would simply be a WASTE of my time and effort.
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2nd July 2011
Old 2nd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcoyot View Post
I can't think of many worse fates, when I think about it, it sounds like something you'd be doomed to in hell. Like when you go to hell they send you right into a control room, where you're forced to mix and record wannabe rappers, singer songwriters, and terrible bands of all different kinds for all eternity. Why choose a career like that?
Really? I thought hell would be having to record southern gospel music for eternity?
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2nd July 2011
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There are guys who can enjoy it and guys who can't. Even if you mostly work with good quality musicians that doesn't mean the actual music is to your liking. And whether working on terrible music (be it with great musicians or not) is one of the best jobs in the world is definitely arguable. But then what exactly is terrible music is arguable too, and different folks just react differently.
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2nd July 2011
Old 2nd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcoyot View Post
When I think of the typical work day of a pro engineer, I imagine client after client of just absolutely horrible music. Even for the big studios. Not only do you have to deal with some of the worst people ever, but in the engineering process whether its recording or mixing, you have to listen to their music over and over and over again. Basically listening to very poor musicians at their worst all day long. How could anyone stand to do this, and why would anyone want to?
It seems a lot of people aspire to become pros at this, and I can't understand why. What's the upside? I can't think of many worse fates, when I think about it, it sounds like something you'd be doomed to in hell. Like when you go to hell they send you right into a control room, where you're forced to mix and record wannabe rappers, singer songwriters, and terrible bands of all different kinds for all eternity. Why choose a career like that?
If that's what you think, stay out of it.
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3rd July 2011
Old 3rd July 2011
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I guess, something I think about a lot is what are the personal qualities which make for a great engineer. It seems one of them is the ability to see the gem of value, or potential in a musical performance that on the surface doesn't appear to measure up. This is something I have never been good at, but maybe something I should look into. Its a bigger metaphor for life, which is being able to see the positive, or greatness in everything.
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3rd July 2011
Old 3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
Do you think Plumbers like fixing peoples toilets and unclogging hair balls from their kitchen sinks? I think if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life. Recording terrible music is still one of the best job's in the world. Work is a challenge. Its nice to choose your work, and only work on enjoyable projects, but that is not the reality of the work, in any field. So, maybe just open your mind, and you can turn what people bring you into something you like too. As a pro - you too have the right to turn down work at will. I NEVER turn down work, unless I have to, or it would simply be a WASTE of my time and effort.
Spot on! I also absolutely love seeing an excited and motivated band take the music they just recorded and try to make something with it. I love being an instrumental part of their dreams.
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3rd July 2011
Old 3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcoyot View Post
I guess, something I think about a lot is what are the personal qualities which make for a great engineer. It seems one of them is the ability to see the gem of value, or potential in a musical performance that on the surface doesn't appear to measure up. This is something I have never been good at, but maybe something I should look into. Its a bigger metaphor for life, which is being able to see the positive, or greatness in everything.
I think a better quality of being a great engineer is to know how to handle different people, and figure out how to help them perform to the best of their ability. Shepherding inspiration.

Then again, in the corporate world, it can be just plain old knowing how to handle people.
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3rd July 2011
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Your post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
Do you think Plumbers like fixing peoples toilets and unclogging hair balls from their kitchen sinks? I think if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life. Recording terrible music is still one of the best job's in the world. Work is a challenge. Its nice to choose your work, and only work on enjoyable projects, but that is not the reality of the work, in any field. So, maybe just open your mind, and you can turn what people bring you into something you like too. As a pro - you too have the right to turn down work at will. I NEVER turn down work, unless I have to, or it would simply be a WASTE of my time and effort.
Roc Mixwell

That is the greatest and funniest response post in the world.....
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3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelAngelo View Post
Roc Mixwell

That is the greatest and funniest response post in the world.....
Well, MichaelAngelo, you are too kind.

I am happy to amuse, and try to be great.

BUT, what is really great, is getting paid to have fun.

True, sometimes work isn't always fun.

But I think about 99.987654321% of this job is all fun, and if you let that small remainder of bogus stuff get to you.......you'll be unclogging hair balls instead of recording terrible music.
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3rd July 2011
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Originally Posted by couch11 View Post
Really? I thought hell would be having to record southern gospel music for eternity?

Hey man, I like southern gospel! Hell is actually recording horrible singer songwriters who explain constantly why their songs are good and "will touch a lot of people."
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3rd July 2011
Old 3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcoyot View Post
When I think of the typical work day of a pro engineer, I imagine client after client of just absolutely horrible music. Even for the big studios. Not only do you have to deal with some of the worst people ever,... It seems a lot of people aspire to become pros at this, and I can't understand why. What's the upside? I can't think of many worse fates, when I think about it, it sounds like something you'd be doomed to in hell. ...
You do it because you like it and that is what you want to do. Otherwise you find another job. You have to deal with bad people in every job. Engineer should deal with them less. A producer should be between them and you. Big studios are not going to have bad performers. Labels won't pay to have them record there. And wannabee high school kids don't have the money to pay for it. The bad performers go to their local home studio or else they DIY at their own homes.
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3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hossman777 View Post
Hey man, I like southern gospel! Hell is actually recording horrible singer songwriters who explain constantly why their songs are good and "will touch a lot of people."
One man's hell is another man's heaven
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3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by couch11 View Post
Really? I thought hell would be having to record southern gospel music for eternity?
No, That would be heaven you were thinking about.
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3rd July 2011
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Work a REAL hard job out in the big bad world and you'll understand just how kushy our life as engineers actually is.
Yeah, it can really test your patience but brother it sure beats spending your day on the wrong end of a shovel.......I know for a fact.
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3rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
Big studios are not going to have bad performers. Labels won't pay to have them record there.
lol

Generally Rick's right though, kushty indeed, but also having tried both I'd say it depends on the day in question......a sunny day with a shovel can easily beat some abrasive sounds and characters in front of speakers.......but a shovel gets old even quicker.
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3rd July 2011
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Wouldn't trade this job for anything else. I bring smiles to faces and there's no better feeling than that.
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4th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
Work a REAL hard job out in the big bad world and you'll understand just how kushy our life as engineers actually is.
Yeah, it can really test your patience but brother it sure beats spending your day on the wrong end of a shovel.......I know for a fact.
I can vouch for this also. If you think a shitty singer songwriter makes for a bad day, spend some time in a factory!
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alcoyot
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5th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
Work a REAL hard job out in the big bad world and you'll understand just how kushy our life as engineers actually is.
Yeah, it can really test your patience but brother it sure beats spending your day on the wrong end of a shovel.......I know for a fact.
Actually I have had a physical labor job where I was working in a warehouse. It might have been less physically demanding than what you're talking about. But, interestingly when I was working that job, I was the happiest I've ever been in a job. There was good camaraderie, and not much stress involved other than the physical.
The office jobs I've had on the other hand were a huge drain. I'm now in school to become a bio-medical lab chemist.
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5th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcoyot View Post
Actually I have had a physical labor job where I was working in a warehouse. It might have been less physically demanding than what you're talking about. But, interestingly when I was working that job, I was the happiest I've ever been in a job. There was good camaraderie, and not much stress involved other than the physical.
The office jobs I've had on the other hand were a huge drain. I'm now in school to become a bio-medical lab chemist.
yeah, some of my happiest work times were working in a warehouse in my youth. Warehouse work keeps you moving and generally you can see the results of your labor which is gratifying. And you are right about feeling a part of the crew. One of my best friends I met in that warehouse 40 years ago. We unloaded trucks full of speakers and electronics and stacked that stuff to the rafters every day. I've probably carried and stacked more JBL, Altec and EV etc. speakers than I could count! On a scale of 1 to 10 I'd put warehouse work about 3 as far as physically tough work.

Standing in turkey shit up to your calves in a stinking, hotter than hell, fly infested brooder house shoveling out the 3 feet of shit under water troughs (with dozens to do at about 2 hours each min.) with no one else to share the camaraderie with...........well you get the idea. That's the kind of hard work I was referring to. And was I ever glad to get the warehouse job after two seasons amongst the turkeys!!!!

Another one is being an agricultural picker. Brutal, back breaking work.

I think the most mind numbing job I ever had was painting motel rooms.........room 267............268........269......on and on and on. Shoot me now.

There's a lot of really tough work out there and I always try to remember when I'm stuck in the studio with a human turkey on my hands that at least the flies aren't too bad.

I do agree about office work.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

All in all, I'l take engineering!
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5th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I think the most mind numbing job I ever had was painting motel rooms.........room 267............268........269......on and on and on. Shoot me now.

There's a lot of really tough work out there and I always try to remember when I'm stuck in the studio with a human turkey on my hands that at least the flies aren't too bad.
LOL....that's a good one!
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6th July 2011
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There's definitely some days where you have a difficult client or things just aren't going well for numerous reasons. Maybe the music sucks, maybe the attitude sucks, maybe your ears suck that day As long as the good days always greatly out weight the bad days, you're all good though.
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9th July 2011
Old 9th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I think the most mind numbing job I ever had was painting motel rooms.........room 267............268........269......on and on and on. Shoot me now.
I worked on a "licking and sticking" machine for 3 days during uni holidays, temp job.

Basically feeding envelopes through a machine to seal them before they were sent out...junk mail stuff.

They wanted me to do another week...couldn't face it!

Scary thing was, there were guys my age (20 at the time) who'd been doing this since leaving school at 16.
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9th July 2011
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.

Are you kidding?

The shittier the music is, and the more horrible the clients are, the better!!

..We LIVE for this, dude!


I actually work by myself these days, for EXACTLY the OP's points.

I compose, produce and record my own stuff.

Every so often I do collaborate with my favorite musicians,
who also happen to be some of my favorite people.

I'm done with tone deaf egos.

.
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