I was drawn into the world of recording because I love sound and music, and to be honest, I just like hanging out with musicians! I wanted to be loud and make noise. I never thought it would make me money. I'm a trailer-park girl at heart, so living cheaply was not a problem for me, at least at the beginning. It was more important to suspend disbelief for a time, creating soundscape paintings, even if it was not with my own music.
For those entering the recording industry I can make some suggestions:
1. Do it because you love it, not because it is a "wise career choice" because it is not. You will be working for peanuts for a while.
2. Make sure you understand music if you are going to record music. You don't have to be a great drummer to record drums, but know how to play a simple beat, know how to set up a drum kit, understand the motivations behind the musician's musical choices. Know how songs are constructed. Know why you like certain songs.
3. Become a producer, don't rely on only being an engineer or editor if you want to make music recording a career. Musicians need someone to help guide them, and that can be you.
4. Try to record as many projects as you can. Work quickly and consistently. Pull the handle on that slot machine over and over again until you hit. Doing more projects will increase your chances of success. Get one solid hit and you may instantly have a career.
5. Get some sort of "paper" on every project. Find a standard production contract and use it to get a percentage of royalties on every recording. Even better is to get a small chunk on publishing if you can. Be tough and forceful in this area. Remember, it's "just business, boss". If a musician doesn't want to give you a royalty and sign a contract, charge them more up front or don't work with them at all.
6. Invest in vintage and boutique equipment, instruments and microphones as well as the latest digital gear. Recording clients are always impressed by my big rack (haha!). Vintage gear does not depreciate like DAW, plug-ins and modern plastic recording crap. Then if you fall out of love with the whole recording idea, you are in a much better position to sell and get out without a huge loss. mmmm.
7. Don't ever expect a regular paycheck. Plan for financial ups and downs. You will be working for yourself, and if you don't like the situation, move on quickly and without malice.
8. Don't be discouraged, Stick with it! It is fun, creative, and there is nothing better than listening back to work that you've done, falling in love with the results. And it can become a lead source of income, but maybe it is better to consider it a lifestyle choice. Live lean and mean. Make music. Make love. Make art 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.