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What happens after studying?
Old 29th July 2019
What happens after studying?


Despite all the warnings I want to pursue a career in the music industry. After I finished school two years ago, I could focus on making music full time, and worked on several projects and studio sessions as both an instrumentalist and a producer. I mainly work with solo artists and bands to record their Songs, write arrangements and to play live with them.

I usually get very positive feedback on my work but only very little of it gets published, due to bands braking up, people loosing interest etc. I'm still far from paying my rent, and the last few months were very frustrating because it feels like nothing is going forward and I´m too dependent on other people as a producer/keyboard player.

I thought about studying music production/audio engineering, but with almost 10 years of working in my studio and playing several instruments for the longest part of my live, I have more knowledge and experience than most of the students I know from these Universities. I could probably still learn a lot about music business and how to properly do all the organizational and formal stuff, but I don’t think its enough to justify the cost of a private university.

The other option would be to study pop music. I'd rather like to work as a musician/producer than as a producer/sound engineer and that way I could still learn about the business side of things, and improve on songwriting and instrumental skills etc.

But what happens after the studying music?

Its probably easier to find a job at a studio after a study in audio engineering and to have a band or a project that pays the rent after studying music is quite unlikely of course.

So how did it work out for you guys, and what would you recommend in my situation?

I want to avoid becoming a taxi driver, (at least on a long term basis) so I`m very thankful for your input!
Old 1st August 2019
I think learning about music business is essential, and learn how to make enough income as a self employed person so that you are not co-dependant, learning music theory never did me any harm, I am probably more of a musician than an engineer now although did go through an obsessive engineering phase, all entirely self taught, you've just got to get out there and meet people, do people some favours if you think it'll pay off, meaning some free work if possible, learn how to sell yourself. Also there's no end to studying, mastery is a lifelong process, and the master never stops learning.
Old 5th August 2019
Here for the gear

I guess the most important point is your mindset and if you really want to be doing this fulltime, all the time. I´m doing this for quite a while now and met a lot of people who failed, usually because wrong expactations. Though there also been some guys whom just seemed to know what would be the next best step to take and basically went professional as self employed while still studying.
I moved to another country about 3 years ago and decided to do music fulltime. To the lack of network and basically a lack of everything but experience I started doing everything I got my hands on to pay my rent. I joined to bands which would cost me a lot of time and give me no money, did basking to get in touch with people, earn some money and promote my music lessons and concerts. This was probably the most successful idea at this point because I got to know a lot of people, venue owners v.v., while earning pretty decent money. So after a while I could start my own events in different locations... +money +network ... and people hanging out there started to book me for very decent money to play there weddings and partys...
On one of this events I got to know a guy who´s been doing backstage areas on some big festivals with his team, which I joined up with later. That opened me quite a few doors and made the whole thing get to a reasonable scale after being on the road with them on several huge festivals and working with the people really being a part of the business...
Only advice I could give is to choose if you are ready to give all your dedication to this, because there are quite a few people out there just as good as you are, trying to get somewhere as hard as possible. If you are ready to do so, try to get your hands on everything that could possibly get you somewhere. It´s all about the network and getting the chance to proof yourself in the right situation. And don´t get upset when you feel nothing is moving forward, some things tend to turn around real quickly if you are doing it right. Guess thats just a part of the deal.
Good luck! =)
Old 9th August 2019
Thank you so much for your responses! It means a lot to me to hear something different than the usual "Its just a matter of luck, why don't you get a real Job".
So I'll put more energy into expanding my network and meeting people to start working on as many projects as possible and hope it will pay off some day!
Old 23rd August 2019
Here for the gear
Nick Franklin's Avatar

I went to audio school (Australia's version of Full Sail or whatever) from 2006-2009. I wouldn't say I regret it but I wouldn't say I recommend it, and I can say for certain that it didn't directly lead to my employment in audio. It was expensive but I try not to regret or dwell on the past. I had fun and used their studios a lot so I'm ultimately glad I went.

This my story, I hope it's not indulgent to lay it out like this but I hate the washed up audio guy story of "there's no work in audio any more", so I'd like to offer an alternative version of events.

When I finished audio school I was working in hospitality to pay the rent, trying to record my friends bands on the side where I could. I was playing in bands so being involved in the 'scene' was how I was making connections, meeting bands. I was working really hard on records for no money. Usually I would just have the band pay the studio hire and I might work for like 50 bucks a day or just beers. I was so in love with sound and audio the money didn't matter and I was OK working in the cafe for survival money.

The first of what I can see now became a series of fortunate events came when I took my own bands record to what was then Sydney's biggest mastering studios. I got along really well with the mastering engineer so in the weeks following I emailed just to see if he would let me come and work for free under him. At first I was knocked back as he already had an assistant who was employed for actual money, but I persisted. Probably an email a month for the next 6 months just checking in. Tried to frame it in a way that wasn't too annoying but really trying to stay in the frame.

One day while I was at work at the cafe, the mastering engineer phoned me to say he'd just had to fire his assistant for doing something really stupid, and ask if I could start on Monday. After I got off the phone I quit my job on the spot. I'd forgotten to even ask if I would be paid at the studio. I didn't care I was so elated.

I went on to work at that studio for $500AU (around 300USD) a week, 6 days, usually 12-14 hours a day. It was the best year of my young life. I couldn't get enough of the place. My mentor taught me to master, how to deal with clients, money stuff. I owe him everything to this day. In hindsight it wasn't good for the relationship I was in at the time and that was a lesson in and of itself.

I asked him eventually why he'd phoned me when he let the other assistant go. He said that because I'd been emailing him so frequently I was the most recent when he searched "assistant" in his email inbox. Lucky, yes, but without aggressively following up, a choice I made, I wouldn't have been floating there at the top.

Unfortunately due to real estate the studio had to close in around 2011 or 12 and I was jobless and gutted. There's nothing like thinking you've cracked into the industry and being out on your ass again to humble you. I took some work doing paperwork/bookkeeping for my Dad. He didn't really need someone to do it but I think he was doing it so I could have some money to live and keep trying to plug away at my career. I was living 600km from my parents at this point so moving home to save money wasn't an option.

It was that year I brought out my little range of reamp boxes and I was selling like 2-3 a week so that was juuuust keeping food on the table. The next few years were pretty grim. I was so broke but I was so so determined. I'm actually getting emotional thinking about it now. I grit my teeth so hard. I was recording every band that would let me for so little money. I also picked up a little bit of mastering work thanks to having worked at the mastering studio. Basically I was doing little bits of whatever to get by.

My long term partner at the time and I broke up over money stuff, I moved back into a sharehouse with friends which kind of felt like a backwards step but also a new start. It was at that time the owner of a studio that I had been taking bands to phoned me and asked "how quickly would you be able to be here today, our head engineer has food poisoning in the middle of a session and needs to go home" to which I was able to reply "immediately!".

I got dumped in on the most hectic live tracking session. I was so scared. Everything was going to tape on a machine I'd never used, the previous engineer hadn't written down where anything was going. I just jumped on the talkback and said "I guess I'm your engineer now, are you guys ready to go for another take?!" and I figured it out as we went a long. It went so well that the band actually asked me to mix that record which turned out great.

The owner of that studio was about to have his second child so he couldn't take on as many sessions so he asked if I'd come on as the second in house engineer. This I see now was my second big break. But again I think I put myself in that position by taking bands to that studio and by being willing to dive headfirst to help them out.

I went on to work there for years as an in house. Learned most of what I know now recording every terrible ****ty band that came through the studio. I also met hundreds of musicians, producers and engineers that way.

Fast forward a little I decided that I now had enough work to consider going out on my own. I didn't want to fleece work from the studio but many of the clients coming through were now my clients not ones of the studio, and I was kind of capped out at what I could charge per day as an in house. I borrowed $10K from my mum (and yes, I do know I'm very lucky) and I leased a small commercial premises and built the studio that I'm in now. What a huge undertaking and experience that was but probably a story for another time. I've been in this space 3 years now.

This past financial year was the first that I have earned what could be consider an actual adults wage here in Australia. 11 years since audio school to have my first year of relative comfort. Everything before that was like scraping by. Most of my high school friends have been making triple that every year for 10 years haha. Wouldn't change a thing.

Anyway there's my audio school story. Felt so great to write that down actually. If no one reads this I don't even care!!!
Old 23rd August 2019
Lives for gear
telecode's Avatar
How old are you OP? How risk tolerant are you? What sort of financial and personal responsibilities do you have? It all pretty much comes down to that.

It's good to always look at it from a return on investment and money point of view. Trust me, everyone you come across music business is also looking at you the same way.

I finished pretend audio engineer producer school. They landed me a non paying gig at a studio to clean tape machines and label stuff. I said screw it. Went to college. Got a degree . Got a job. Became a musican in live bands for about 15 years. As I got older and started a family, less time.for bands and music and now just doing it as a hobby. Being a musican in local band circuit was a fun adventure. Did a few sessions as well. But in my case, never really hooked up with the really talented or fortunate musicians to make a real living from it.

Also good to get a realistic perspective on what the entertainment industry actually is. It's highly concentrated in a few geographic areas. You need to be willing and able to move if you need to.
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