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It is getting harder to find helpers for remote recordings. Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 7th May 2018
  #1
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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It is getting harder to find helpers for remote recordings.

I live in a college town. About 3000 students go to the local college. It use to be easy to find a couple of good college students to help with remote recordings. Now since the college has raised tuition, room and board to $70,000 a year it seems like there are no students who want to work. I guess most of them come from wealthy families and don't have to earn extra money. I pay well and the work is pretty easy but for some reason lately no one applies for our postings on the local college electronic bulletin board. I have had one job post up for over a month and no takers. I guess I will have to start looking elsewhere. Anyone else seeing this?
Old 7th May 2018
  #2
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I was under the impression that it was the college(s) that were poaching your work, by undercutting your services for a lower fee ?

If these same students could gain documented 'field experience accreditation' by working for you, I'm sure that would change their inclination to become involved in remote recordings ?
Old 7th May 2018
  #3
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Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I was under the impression that it was the college(s) that were poaching your work, by undercutting your services for a lower fee ?

If these same students could gain documented 'field experience accreditation' by working for you, I'm sure that would change their inclination to become involved in remote recordings ?
Yes that is true. For some unknown reason the college does not want to grant any credit for 'field experience accreditation' done outside the college. They have a fully staffed audio department and a program called TIMARA which is suppose to teach students about recording.

I have always paid my college interns a good wage. I try and stay well above the minimum wage by a good amount. One problem is that today a lot of the students who go to the college don't need to earn extra spending money. One of my interns last year was being given $400.00 a month for "spending money" by his parents. That was exactly what he was being paid monthly to work here.

With the rise of the DIY mentality in audio and video recording and what the college is currently providing and with the lack of student help I am not sure what to do. I may have have to think about shutting down completely in the near future.

FWIW
Old 7th May 2018
  #4
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bitman's Avatar
It's getting harder to find helpers in all areas today.
They're just not eager today.

c'mon c'mon c'mon!
Old 7th May 2018
  #5
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It could be that the $70K a year is putting pressure on kids to get through college in 4 years if not 3. One of my kids goes to a UC school with a lot of students doing engineering and pre-med and that sort of thing, and they have to really grind. No time for a job, really, or even a social life. And that place costs way less than Oberlin.
Old 7th May 2018
  #6
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Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
It could be that the $70K a year is putting pressure on kids to get through college in 4 years if not 3. One of my kids goes to a UC school with a lot of students doing engineering and pre-med and that sort of thing, and they have to really grind. No time for a job, really, or even a social life. And that place costs way less than Oberlin.
I hear you and that may also be a BIG factor here at the college. One of my most gifted interns had to quit earlier this year. He was overwhelmed by his rehearsal, practice and performance schedule at the local conservatory. He was carrying 24 hours plus he started his own company providing musicians for weddings and social gatherings. He was working and going to school 16 hours a day. Too bad he was one of the best interns I have ever had.

Oh well things they are a changing.
Old 7th May 2018
  #7
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Have you tried putting a call out to the local IA? They are usually able to provide someone who has a clue about audio or stage craft at least.
Old 7th May 2018
  #8
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitman View Post
It's getting harder to find helpers in all areas today.
They're just not eager today.

c'mon c'mon c'mon!
Trying to find someone to help me with some gardening task right now and no takers. In the "good olde days" I would have had 5 students applying.

Lots of people looking for work but it seems no one wants to get their hands dirty anymore. They all want "clean jobs" something with using a computer or working in an office. I guess that is the new "normal" for young people today especially when they are used to playing video games all day.

I worked in hardware store threading pipe and fixing windows and screens, I had a paper route, I worked in retail, I worked as a life guard and I worked as a maintenance assistant at a church summer camp. I guess no one would want to work those jobs anymore. Too much work and you have to be hands on and maybe get your hands dirty.

Maybe in the future all work will be done by robots and people can spend their leisure time "relaxing and having fun". I won't live to see it but...one can only dream.
Old 7th May 2018
  #9
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As you've probably figured out, you are looking in the wrong place. I agree with your premise--colleges with very high tuition now have student bodies who are wealthy enough to not need to work, and may also have parents who don't see a lot of value in their kids doing low-paying work when they could be studying, doing school extra-curriculars or just schmoozing fellow students (an important reason to attend an elite school). I now look for people involved in audio programs at local community colleges. These folks have been universally better in all ways than the people I had from the "name" colleges: they are serious, understand what work is and how to do it in general, and often have "day" jobs already and thus are grateful to make some extra cash doing what they aspire to do.
Old 7th May 2018
  #10
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Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
Have you tried putting a call out to the local IA? They are usually able to provide someone who has a clue about audio or stage craft at least.
I could not afford them. The last time I tried to hire a videographer for a shoot they wanted more money than I was being paid for the entire event. And they were only one of three people I needed. I am literally caught between a rock and a hard place. The people who hire us want to pay a little as possible. The people we want to hire want as much money as they can get.

Two years ago one of my interns said henceforth he wanted to be paid $50.00 an hour which is what he was getting doing pickup video work in New York. I told him that he should stick with the pickup work and that I could not afford to pay him that rate. He was a good video person but not worth $50.00 an hour in a small town in the middle of a soybean field. FWIW
Old 7th May 2018
  #11
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Originally Posted by philper View Post
As you've probably figured out, you are looking in the wrong place. I agree with your premise--colleges with very high tuition now have student bodies who are wealthy enough to not need to work, and may also have parents who don't see a lot of value in their kids doing low-paying work when they could be studying, doing school extra-curriculars or just schmoozing fellow students (an important reason to attend an elite school). I now look for people involved in audio programs at local community colleges. These folks have been universally better in all ways than the people I had from the "name" colleges: they are serious, understand what work is and how to do it in general, and often have "day" jobs already and thus are grateful to make some extra cash doing what they aspire to do.
Yes you are 110% correct.

Only problem is the closest community college offering courses in audio or video is 35 miles away. The closest community college is 10 miles away and their students seem to want to find part time high paying work in manufacturing and IT jobs which is what that college specialize in.

We have tried to interest students from there, and one of my really GREAT interns is from there, but he is really looking for a job in the IT field as a fully paid 40 hour a week intern and is only doing this until he can find something better.

Being in a really small town SUCKS in many ways but especially now when no one we would normally hire to help is available. The local JVS is another place we have contacted but most of their students are looking for jobs in the trades where they can make some BIG money. I had one young person from the JVS tell me that the minimum salary he would accept for doing part time work was $20.00 per hour. Another told me that he was going to be making $80K a year as a plumber and really did not want to take some "low paying part time job". I guess everyone wants to make a lot of money and we cannot offer what they are looking for. My first job in the 60's was for $.90 an hour so if I understand correctly today it would translate into $9.00 an hour and we are offering more than that. I guess I was working way too cheap.

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 7th May 2018 at 05:40 PM.. Reason: Added a paragraph
Old 7th May 2018
  #12
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Ive worked for a prestigious contemporary music festival for 10 yrs
Interns come from the best UK music schools
Never once has one expressed any interest in recording music or work experience
They regard it as some utility provided with the hall, as do composers
Roger
Old 7th May 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Ive worked for a prestigious contemporary music festival for 10 yrs
Interns come from the best UK music schools
Never once has one expressed any interest in recording music or work experience
They regard it as some utility provided with the hall, as do composers
Roger
Funny, you would think, of all the people involved in classical and acoustic music performances and recording, that the composers would be the MOST interested in how their pieces are recorded and mixed.
Old 7th May 2018
  #14
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I think the main issue is that most still see recording as a technical field, a trade, rather than an art or a science.

In today's world of "everyone must go to college and get a four year degree and work a high paying 6 figure job right out of college (or be a teacher or artist and starve to death)", recording engineering and technology is viewed as being beneath those who are going to college to get an education and have a full filling career sitting in an air conditioned office.

Just means more work for the rest of us. Except sometimes you need an extra person to help you run cables and place mics etc...
Old 7th May 2018
  #15
High schools? I always thought the rural kids were more mature than their urban contemporaries. At least they were when I was one of them.
Old 7th May 2018
  #16
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I think a lot of young people look at work differently than many of us who are older. Their parents provided most of what they needed while they were growing up and gave them a four year college education to boot. I could not wait to get my first job (a paper route) so I could earn some extra money to buy audio gear. Today most kids have a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a cell phone and anything else they need or want all provided by their "helicopter" parents. They need or want for nothing and by the time they are in college Mom and Dad may have also given them a car and provided travel to distant lands. They basically want for nothing so there is no need, in their minds to get a job.

I had an intern who was living in Oberlin. He was working for me and paying $275.00 a month for his apartment. He also did some computer work for professors and towns people. His girlfriend went to Washington DC for a government job. He followed her and soon realized that he was in over his head. The shared apartment in Washington was $1800 a month and he had to pay 1/2 of that. Also restaurant food was two to three times as much as it was in Oberlin. He thought he could pick up some work doing what he had done in Oberlin but there were 1000s of people like him in Washington all eager to pickup some extra cash. He lasted three months and had to go home to Mom and Dad. His degree was in physics and math but he could not find any work in those fields in Washington especially with no experience.

Maybe things will change. Hope so!
Old 7th May 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I am literally caught between a rock and a hard place. The people who hire us want to pay a little as possible. The people we want to hire want as much money as they can get.
Welcome to capitalism. Nothing new here; this is the way it's always been.

FWIW, I'd work some for ya. But I'm not as spry as them younguns you seem to want. That, and you're just short of 1000 km away, which is a bit of a commute. Sigh...
Old 7th May 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
High schools? I always thought the rural kids were more mature than their urban contemporaries. At least they were when I was one of them.
This may be a good idea. Maybe contact the band teacher(s) at local high school(s) to check if any of their students would like some work for pay.
Old 7th May 2018
  #19
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i do pay assistants well and i still can find a few every now and then; problem to me is that they seem to loose interest pretty quickly if they don't get to work on the most prestigious jobs - some of them (actually their parents) even pay for getting a job as an assistant to better known engineers!

the times they are a-changin'...
Old 8th May 2018
  #20
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Audio is not the glamour profession it once was, and many younger folks don't see recording as being all that big a deal, since they can easily do it on their phones etc.. In my world I don't expect assistants to stay with me, neither of us can afford that. A good chunk of my former assistant peeps did go on to careers in IT etc, since that's what makes the $ around here (SF). Others left the area--to NYC or LA if they were ambitious or other places if they'd decided that audio was really going to be a hobby for them while they pursued a different career. I've found that I've had to change how I work, the sort of work I do and what the gear+vehicles I use anymore since I can't count on having help always--you can only do what you can do. I can't blame even a newb for thinking what I can pay them for a remote gig isn't worth them taking time off from a regular job or even losing a day off--that's up to them. In my area the folks who used to be the Big Names in remote recording mostly went bankrupt and left the biz years ago. Like a lot of tech-type businesses, remote recording is not the business it was, and often not much of a business at all. That's where we're at.
Old 8th May 2018
  #21
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I can't speak for Oberlin students, but many of the college students that I know have sizeable student loan debt. It used to be that a summer job and scholarships would just about pay for a college education, but not so much today.
Old 8th May 2018
  #22
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A school like Oberlin costs more per year to attend than any student who isn't a rock star or a hedge fund manager could make in a summer of work. Yes, those days of paying your own way with work (only ) are gone. When I complained to a composer-professor at a private college whose work I was recording that the students he had thought might help me hadn't shown up, his reaction was that they had no interest in doing what I do, and thought studying or composing their own music was a better use of their time. I had to agree. Hence my interest in community college students who are interested in sound as a vocation and a business (God help them).
Old 8th May 2018
  #23
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I guess I have to ask the scale of the gigs you are taking on Tom...are these audio plus video events which require much cable-laying and individual camera focussing and mic re-alignment during the interval etc ? Are you running more than one gig simultaneously and thus needing a separate team(s) in other locations ?

Or are you doing the same as you ever did, with the same gear....and now it's getting heavier to lift ? It's hard to scale back on the delivery of quality, but maybe some shows can get by with a single spaced pair and a fixed camera (singular) which might previously have used spot mics and multiple cameras ?

Recording gear's getting lighter and denser in features (though stands and cables aren't !) and maybe not going the way of the dinosaur involves adopting some of these stringencies (incl selling old and buying new) ?

I'm from your (old) school...and I know that that 8 mics on a wind band is what I can do for an event on my own...but I also know I could have got 91% of that same result from a savvily placed main pair, and much less time and physical effort expended...and so do you
Old 8th May 2018
  #24
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Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I guess I have to ask the scale of the gigs you are taking on Tom...are these audio plus video events which require much cable-laying and individual camera focussing and mic re-alignment during the interval etc ? Are you running more than one gig simultaneously and thus needing a separate team(s) in other locations ?

Or are you doing the same as you ever did, with the same gear....and now it's getting heavier to lift ? It's hard to scale back on the delivery of quality, but maybe some shows can get by with a single spaced pair and a fixed camera (singular) which might previously have used spot mics and multiple cameras ?

Recording gear's getting lighter and denser in features (though stands and cables aren't !) and maybe not going the way of the dinosaur involves adopting some of these stringencies (incl selling old and buying new) ?

I'm from your (old) school...and I know that that 8 mics on a wind band is what I can do for an event on my own...but I also know I could have got 91% of that same result from a savvily placed main pair, and much less time and physical effort expended...and so do you
In the "good olde days" I use to be able to do everything my self including carrying an ATR-700 and mixer up four flights of stairs to the light booth to record the Cleveland Opera. I could also do the recording and tear down by myself in record time. When we got into video I had to hire additional helpers. They were the videographers and I did the audio recording. They did their own setups and I did my setup. I have always carried in the mixer, the microphone case, the cable bag, the microphone stands and set everything up by myself. I also tore it all down and packed it into the van. I still can do most of that myself. If we are doing video I need someone else to the video setups while I do my audio setups.

The one major problem I am running into is the time factor. It seems like more and more places are tightly booked or don't open as early as they use to. Tomorrow night I am doing a recording of a High School Orchestra. It is pretty strait forward with a stereo mic, two "chip" recorders and the necessary cables and equipment. The problem I face is that the auditorium does not open until 6 pm and the concert is at 7 pm with the doors opening for the audience at 6:30 pm. Just setting up the table and the equipment and checking it all out takes some time not to mention the time it takes to run the cables to the microphone. So I hire a student to do the cable laying and gaffer taping while I set up the recorders. If we did something in the conservatory (not any more) we sometimes had less than 1/2 hour for setups and we have to take the equipment out in the entry hall after the concert as there is some one booked into the hall right after the concert. I am not as spry as I use to be and it takes me some time to do everything. I still want to do recordings but I see that it maybe impossible given the current ways of working and how tightly the halls and auditoriums are scheduled.

We were doing a community orchestra for a while and it was in a "nature preserve" (don't ask) and we were barred from being in the building until 1 hour before the concert and the doors opened 30 minutes before the concerts and I was told in by the promoter that he did not want to "see me" when the audience started coming in which meant we had to do a complete 4 mic setup in under 30 minutes. it was a mess and luckily my intern and I had it all choreographed in advance so the setup went smoothly and we were able to get the setup done in 30 minutes. One night half way through the setup the promoter turned off all the auditorium lights to "check out the stage lighting" and we were dark for 10 minutes. We got done but not in the allotted time period and the promoter let us know he was not pleased. That night it was snowy and only 19 people showed up for the concert, most of them right before the downbeat.

I think a lot of people have touched on one important point and that is that doing recordings is not as glamorous as it used to be. People can now record concerts on their cell phones or tablets so it is no longer a "big deal". Also today the student workers we use to depend on are soooooooooo busy with school work in large part because their parents have told them that GRADES are everything and they need to have good grades to get into graduate school. And finally, at least at the local college, more and more students are coming from wealthy parents so they really don't have to earn "extra spending money".

It is a "perfect storm". Not sure if I will sink or swim...stay tuned
Old 8th May 2018
  #25
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Sounds like pretty hostile and inconsiderate conditions indeed..you have my sympathy....not unlike the scummy treatment one expects in pub-rock situations (minus the pint of beer or Coke spilled into your mixer). The word 'promoter' explains some of what you suffer under...
Old 8th May 2018
  #26
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Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Sounds like pretty hostile and inconsiderate conditions indeed..you have my sympathy....not unlike the scummy treatment one expects in pub-rock situations (minus the pint of beer or Coke spilled into your mixer). The word 'promoter' explains some of what you suffer under...
The "promoter" fancies himself a entrepreneur and has to be involved with every facet of the production. He runs the "nature preserve" for the city and is a very flamboyant person. He also weighs about 400 pounds and likes to stand on mic cables (crunch/crunch). When we originally took the job we were told that our microphones had to be behind the bleachers (don't ask). I got the conductor to request that our microphone be in the auditorium near the stage and not in the back of the hall. With a lot of teeth gnashing the promoter agreed. Then he told us we would have to "tape down all the cords and if someone tripped it would be "our fault". We gaffer taped everything so it was not a problem. Later he came into the hall and said that our microphones were "too visible" and we had to make them "less visible" so we ran black gaffers tape down the stands. The guy was not at all nice about anything and really pi$$ed off a lot of people. For a lot of reasons we no longer record the concerts. Too bad it was a very nice orchestra and the conductor was GREAT to work with.

FWIW
Old 8th May 2018
  #27
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Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
The "promoter" fancies himself a entrepreneur and has to be involved with every facet of the production.........The guy was not at all nice about anything and really pi$$ed off a lot of people. FWIW
Hmmm...the title 'promoter' should conjure up word-associations like enabler--factotum--facilitator--etc. This guy sounds like a compulsive disabler....maybe he should run for president...
Old 8th May 2018
  #28
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I hear you on the time thing re: concert recordings. There are some (quite popular) venues around here that are now on my no-fly list because they broke promises, were opaque, uncooperative and often downright hostile to us. I could continue to take the abuse (and continue to live with the compromised recordings that were the result of that) or pass. I pass. Part of the demystification of recording thing is the fact that most local venues now have consoles that can easily pass a USB feed of track-per-input data that any laptop can understand (and record on a lowcost app like Reaper quite well), and can record a stereo mix to a USB stick with a few simple settings (w/o a computer). So it doesn't seem worthwhile to pursue concert recording much any more, at least for me. The recent work I've been doing has been more about a group of musicians wanting to do a serious recording in an "alternative" sort of space (ie not a studio) that inspires or impacts their performance in some way they like. Not a huge market, but far more satisfying than concert recording.
Old 8th May 2018
  #29
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Originally Posted by philper View Post
I hear you on the time thing re: concert recordings. There are some (quite popular) venues around here that are now on my no-fly list because they broke promises, were opaque, uncooperative and often downright hostile to us. I could continue to take the abuse (and continue to live with the compromised recordings that were the result of that) or pass. I pass. Part of the demystification of recording thing is the fact that most local venues now have consoles that can easily pass a USB feed of track-per-input data that any laptop can understand (and record on a lowcost app like Reaper quite well), and can record a stereo mix to a USB stick with a few simple settings (w/o a computer). So it doesn't seem worthwhile to pursue concert recording much any more, at least for me. The recent work I've been doing has been more about a group of musicians wanting to do a serious recording in an "alternative" sort of space (ie not a studio) that inspires or impacts their performance in some way they like. Not a huge market, but far more satisfying than concert recording.
I am beginning to think that is where everything is headed. Most of the churches and schools around here either have a digital console or some way to record their concerts. No need for anyone from the outside. Most of these venues have students or volunteers working the equipment and the results are far from "professional" but I guess that is sufficient for the needs of the people who want them and don't want to pay for the outside recordist. Too bad it was a good profession while it lasted.
Old 8th May 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I am beginning to think that is where everything is headed. Most of the churches and schools around here either have a digital console or some way to record their concerts. No need for anyone from the outside. Most of these venues have students or volunteers working the equipment and the results are far from "professional" but I guess that is sufficient for the needs of the people who want them and don't want to pay for the outside recordist. Too bad it was a good profession while it lasted.
It still is a good profession...but you have to adapt to the new working paradigm, which entails you (as philper says) chasing specific projects by people who require and value your experience, skills and dedication...ie studio-type recordings made in non-studio settings. Leave the community choirs, school concerts and church events to the usb-stick kids and volunteers and students...and cultivate a whole new clientele.

You may not know of their existence (yet), and they may not know of yours (yet)..but you both need each other ! Go looking. It's a bit like an extra-terrestial space probe searching for signs of yet undiscovered life...but in your own neighbourhood
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