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intern getting dicked around by studio
Old 25th June 2006
  #91
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules
You have to ask yourself just one thing.

Feb 1982 - On my first day my boss asked me to get a bucket of soapy water - I reported to him with it - he said "go wash my car" (a tweaked out Porsche with a racing engine in it) I nearly tipped the bucket over him! I DESPISED him for it..Age 22 and having done a LOT of ****ty jobs, I realised that I actuall WANTED what was at the end of this initial stage so - I kept up with the job (toilet cleaning. vacuum cleaning, sandwich runs) and stayed there for 6 years ending up as one of the in-house engineers and enough clients to split with and sustain me as a freelancer working in the UK / Europe. I got $50 per week.
That reminds me. Never will I sympathize with anything an intern has to do after having the experience of being drafted into an army of 18 year olds at age 25 (i.e. part of my Israel immigration experience). I distinctly remember sitting at a picnic table in about 100 degree weather, while my 19-year-old 'commander' took a small paint can and began stirring it with a stick. When he was done, he pointed toward a line of parked truks and said, "ok, go paint the hubcaps".

I continue to prank his personal cell phone to this day.

Ok INTERN experience...I interned at 2 studios in my day - one that was a small project studio in which I was friends with the owner and moved up to staff engineer in about a week, and the other which is a Neve/Studer studio. My goal was never to be a house engineer at the latter, rather to learn a bit. One of the best things the owner offered me to do was to do a 'test mix' during downtime on the Neve from a project that he had done a few years ago. It's things like this that I actually got to learn from - I wouldn't count on neccesarily learning much during the sessions (though I did), as depending on the workflow of the Engineer, your education is pretty low on the priority list during the course of the session. Get in there by yourself as MUCH as you can, and try to play around and make good friends with the engineers so that you can assist them on sessions instead of just interning.
Old 25th June 2006
  #92
Lives for gear
 
octatonic's Avatar
I've been part of a studio co-op for the last 2 years which I think is a good illustration of how things can go.
I have no problem with having to clean the place up and such but for most of the time we had a cleaning lady come in once a week to do it.
When she wasn't around then the interns do it. Yes, the toilets too.

The way we worked is one of the juniors was on a small retainer and was paid for any additional work.
He was quite good at electronics but needed management with his time- he would get distracted and start 15 things before finishing no 1.
He is more of an assistant really as he doesn't go to school, but is sufficiently curious and single minded to be useful around the place.

Another chap was a waste of space.
He would slouch in his chair, walk into sessions with his hands in his pockets.
Almost any job we would give him would be 1/2 done, he couldn't or wouldn't concentrate on things and despite being given written instructions for jobs would come back and say "I can't do it- what else is there to do?"

He would constantly ask technical questions and then, get this, want to argue about the answer.
I guess he wanted to show off his knowledge.
("Huh? If you don't like the answer then stop asking questions- this isn't a political debate" was often my answer)
Eventually we said "Don't call us, we'll call you").
And sarcastic... just a dumb ass.

You get all sorts, I guess.

The producers in the co-op, of which I was one all had different approaches too.

One chap was busy all the time and kinda kept to himself would help the juniors out when he could.

One of the producers was a complete dictator- seemed to delight in making people suffer as a way of big noting himself- this annoyed the hell out of me, them and even his clients. But then it takes all sorts.

I adopt the role of mentor. Yes, I might ask you to "Paint the fence, Danielson" but would have some sort of idea behind it that is beneficial in the long run, rather than just menial work all the time.
I sent one chap off with information and instructions to make a multicore cable with XLR, bal jack, unbalanced jacks etc.
Once he did it- I said "great, well now you know" take it apart, I don't need it.

He got a bit annoyed at me- but I was busy that day and needed to keep him occupied. Now he can make cables/multicores, before he couldn't- eventually he saw my point of view.

My best advice for any intern is to observe and hang in there, unless you feel demeaned or insulted is to acknowledge that you are beginning your career and to treat it seriously.
Focus on being the best intern there is as long as you don't feel personally compromised. There is going to be times where you need to be seen and not heard and to begin with this will be more than you like.
Being an intern is hard, you make no money, have limited access to gear and every one around you is further up the food chain.
At least 90% of you are not going to make it beyond being an intern.
The music is a service industry in a way we are all indentured to each other.
Interns help the engineers, engineers train the interns and everyone serves the client. In the meantime you get to learn in a studio environment and not have to flip burgers.

The best interns are the ones who have a unique skill that isn't covered by one of the engineers. I would say that organisation skills are probably the best to have.
If you can create a documented backup system that everyone can follow without neededing your assistance to do it then you are really worth something.
Old 25th June 2006
  #93
Gear Head
 
dchapp's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Resonater
Hello all,

As the owner of a relatively high end facility in Los Angeles, I’ll chime in from my perspective. As always, your mileage may vary. Before I begin, I’d like to mention that many of the previous posts on this thread have contained some very truthful, honest and valuable points for the aspiring engineer. (I especially liked the posts by the1hub, alphadingo, gpi and fletcher). Hopefully, for those of you following the thread, you will take away some valuable perspectives about your employment.

As a quick matter of background, I’ve been a studio owner in Los Angeles for the last 22 years. For the vast majority of that time, I owned a studio in Hollywood (Image Recording), and for a while now, I've owned a facility in Burbank (Resonate). During that time, I have been proud to serve clients such as Quincy Jones, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, Sheryl Crow, Barry Manilow, Guns and Roses, R.E.M., Prince, Michael, Janet, Cher, the Chili Peppers, Alanis, the Dave Matthews Band, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Green Day, Cypress Hill, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Sade, Lionel Richie, Tammy Wynette, etc., etc.

When I was just starting out in this business, I had the very good fortune of being an assistant for Bruce Swedien. One day we were in the room alone together (as happened often), and Bruce stopped the tape machine, turned around and said to me the following, “John, I believe that you need to treat every single session as if it were the most important session in your entire life.” It was a tremendously eloquent way of verbalizing a positive approach to work and, well, life. And if I may, please allow me to suggest to everyone reading this that you find that which excites you in this world, that which you can’t live without and pursue THAT as your life’s work. If your path is driven by audio engineering and/or production, so be it. If your path is driven by restaurant work, so be it. Go in to your place of business every single day being inspired, being open to learn, being humble enough to realize that your life is but one of millions on the planet. You are in control of your destiny and that knowledge should be reflected in how you tackle every single job, whether it be cleaning toilets or assisting Bob Clearmountain.

So that you know how much a part *attitude* can play in one person’s journey, I’ll tell you how I got one of my crucial “advancements” in the industry. I was working at a particular studio many years ago...I had been in the studio world (as a runner, toilet cleaner etc) for exactly one year, taking to every single task as if it was the most important task of my life (this was even prior to Bruce’s comment). In keeping with that spirit, I was determined to clean toilets more thoroughly and more often than any runner in history. Anyway, I had the opportunity to act as second engineer for some overdub sessions. Like the other tasks, I took the approach that while I was in that room, it would be MY domain, and I would “oversee” that environment as best I could. The engineer was running the sessions very smoothly, so I sat silently observing my domain, waiting for the slightest *disturbance*. One guy starts smoking. My internal alarm says, “Client ashtray getting dirty”. The moment he stopped and put the butt out, I very discreetly switched out his ashtray for one I had cleaned to perfection; I then whisked his dirty ashtray to the kitchen for a thorough cleaning to keep at the ready. He smokes again, puts his butt out; I discreetly reach in behind him, switch out the tray. I say nothing, the client says nothing, and this goes on for ten days. I see it as just another part of the job: keeping the room SPOTLESS if my services are not required elsewhere. After all, why is my employer paying me? TO BE OF SERVICE. After the ten days of overdubs, the client thanks me and as he leaves, he says, “hey, we’re mixing at a big time studio in Hollywood, and we happen to know that they have an opening for an assistant engineer. We’d like to recommend you because the way you handled those ashtrays was amazing.” Well, I ended up getting the job and was immediately thrown into a room with Bruce Swedien. Four years later, I bought the studio from my former employer.

As an employer, I have never once taken on interns, because I believe that if someone is helping me, I should pay him/her. So, I hire people and observe their work habits from a distance for a bit. If you work for me, and if you are outstanding in your attitude, your drive, your dependability, your commitment, etc., I will see that very clearly, and I will then do everything i can to help you succeed. But if I observe a person that, when not given anything to do, decides that he/she should just sit down and slack off (as if there’s NOTHING that needs cleaning, organizing, etc), you won’t get far with me. There are *always* things to be done at a studio, whether it is checking the bathrooms, straightening up the magazines, checking the kitchen, taking out trash, organizing the tape locker, polishing the patch cables, vacuuming the office, etc, etc, etc. If you’re sitting around being listless, you and I don’t have the same approach to our work ethic. I have probably employed several hundred people over the last twenty years, and I’ve only run across a tiny handful of people who really poured their heart and soul into their work. Sadly, I seem to find fewer and fewer people out there who are “aware” enough to understand the value of having any kind of a position in a professional studio environment that at least strives to put out quality audio product.

Which brings me around to my initial point. You must determine your own life’s path, and once you have, or even until you have, be the very best that you can. Every day. I can’t inspire you. The inspiration comes from within you. I can’t instill drive and commitment in you. It’s either already there or you don’t have it for the task at hand. I won’t actually be the one who dictates your future with me. YOU are! If you don’t have the commitment for whatever you’re doing, find the path for which you DO have the commitment and then pursue it with a vengeance. I had the commitment for even the toilets and ashtrays because I saw these as tiny steps on my path to be embraced with enthusiasm. Hell, I STILL don’t mind doing the toilets. And if Bruce Swedien came in tomorrow and asked me to be his assistant for a project, I’d quickly reply, “What time do we start?” I like being on the path, I’m still on the path and as an employer, I only have time to help those whom I observe are already helping themselves on their own path. So search your souls, take a step in the direction of your choice and then pursue your dreams to the fullest. Every day, all day.

Good luck to all of you. I hope this letter helps even one reader out there.

John Van Nest
Resonate Music Studios

thumbsup Nicely written!
Old 26th June 2006
  #94
Lives for gear
 

I´m asking myself, reading some of the posts here is, how do people who expect others to be their slaves for free dare to come here and ask things they don´t expect to pay for and/or are too stupid to learn themselves? fuuck
Old 26th June 2006
  #95
Lives for gear
 
mtstudios@charter's Avatar
 

I think I have learned equally as much from this forum as I have learned from my mistakes.
This is a great online info center, there are some very wise people here. THANKS

www.bluethumbproductions.com
Old 26th June 2006
  #96
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
I think there are a few things happening with this today:

1) Many studios are hiring interns with no intention of teaching them, or advancing them in any way. Sad but true.

2) It seems that if you do not become "Something" after a rather long stint at a studio interning, due to #1, then to get a job you must internship somewhere else again. Always startting at the bottom, unless you have some major credits to go along with your name, or if the studio owner was nice enough to introduce you to other studio owners in the area. Basically if you move from NYC to LA, and have been interning at a studio in NYC for 6 months (unpaid likely) then you must do the same in LA. I have this issue right now. I was engineering at a medium sized studio for two years, but yet now there are no 'job openings' that are paid, only internships.

3) The interns today are more educated in the ways of recording than those of yesterday it seems. This is good and bad. First, you must 'untrain' their bad habits, and then train them properly. Also they want to do more immediately, as they make have pretty good Protools chops or something. At the same time, they might not be as willing to learn the small things, which is poor on their part.

4) The cost of living in the major "interning hotspots" has gone up significantly. Cheap parts of LA? yea right. Cheap parts of NYC? Yea right! It seems that the requirements in LA to be an intern is to have a car as well, which requires gas (very high in CA and elsewhere now), repairs, insurance (high in CA), and car payments (if you weren't smart and bought a dirt cheap one to begin with, or didn't have the money saved). Unpaid interns are not as likely to stay around, unless they were independantly wealthy anyway because- who can afford to live in NYC for 6+ months, making nothing, working 60+ hours a week, and paying bills/rent/student loans/food/etc? Few people can. Maybe this now is part of the cost of entry. I know that I for one could only do something like this MAYBE in Nashville, where hopefully I could pay rent in a small place while working at Starbucks in my other waking hours, or selling Plasma.

5) With more technology, comes less of a need for interns in the studio (or assistants for that matter). No need to "calibrate the Protools rig" before every session. No need to "zero out the ICON". Hell, no need for someone to do the punches on the tape machine. These are often some of the first steps that an intern might be slowly promoted through, and yet they don't exist in the way that they used to. I have seen quite a few studios that exist without a soldering iron, osciliscope, DMM, signal generator, etc... these days, as maintence isn't as big of a deal (in CERTAIN modern setups).

6) With the rise of "Recording Schools" (Berklee, Fullsail, MTSU, etc...) there are a ton of people that have this massive education, that in some ways means a lot, but in other ways doesn't when you start out. There's a ton of pretty well educated, but relatively unproven people out there these days. In 1965, there weren't THOUSANDS of people that knew how to even operate some of this equipment, but now there's tons out there. More competition, but not exactly more business. This is a problem

And one final and important view/point


7) While you can argue that as an intern, they are training you- think of it this way: I have heard that even illegal aliens in this country can get $12-14 USD/hour working as part of a cleaning crew. You could argue that letting them clean your office or studio is teaching illegals English and American Culture (by passively association, just as by not actively 'teaching' an intern is teaching them engineering passively). If someone who doesn't speak English, and possibly has less education (statistically speaking) than the majority of your interns is getting paid $12-$14/hour to work doing the same work in other companies, why not pay your interns at least that? Most of them should probably be able to speak the native language (for wherever your recording studio is) and many are college educated individuals who in the end have a lot to contribute if you let them.
Old 26th June 2006
  #97
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
When/If I am at the point again to hire interns, I in all seriousness want to have a plan almost like a cirriculum to train and evaluate them over time. It's hard to teach someone if you have no plan. I'm not going to sit down and "teach" them, but I want to have progress points to mark off, and see how fast they are coming along and how much responsiblity I can give each of them. It seems fair in that way, so that all interns who come through are given a fair training and an equal chance at learning this game and moving up.
Old 26th June 2006
  #98
Lives for gear
 

You have to look at it from the studio owner's point of view. Here you have somebody who has invested tens of thousands of dollars and in many cases years of labor building his studio. If an intern thinks he's gonna come in wash a few windows then thinks he owns the place, forgetabout it.
Old 26th June 2006
  #99
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Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by djwayne
You have to look at it from the studio owner's point of view. Here you have somebody who has invested tens of thousands of dollars and in many cases years of labor building his studio. If an intern thinks he's gonna come in wash a few windows then thinks he owns the place, forgetabout it.
Totally agreed. No one's going to let an intern in a Mutual Fund company ( I have worked for one at a point, although not as an intern) start making massive decisions all of a sudden. Multi-trillion dollar companies were're talking about here. However, you'd pay them and train them. Even if they didn't know squat about it at first, you'd want to help out the next generation of people learn the field, as you're going to need them tomorrow. As they showed maturity, reponsibity, and capability, you'd move them through more complex tasks.

Also, let's say a Law office isn't going to give a massive case to a first year law graduate, but they might let them help, be a part, learn, and grow into a valued employee. No they won't give them the keys to the castle immediately, and it would be crazy to think that they would do so then! However, I don't think that they'd tell them to take their education and shove it and their pride down and scrub toilets in and unpaid manner for the next 6 months until they thought that they were "good enough" to actually touch a case.

That however is what we do in the engineering field. A person may have been studying music and engineering for the past 8+ years (some people are studying this stuff in high school, and many begin studying music in their early childhood of course, and many are college graduates with degrees in this stuff, and some with Master's degrees in music!!!!) I really feel that some of law school would have been easier than attending a top music school!

We expect someone to know their stuff and have sufficient education, be independantly rich (so we don't have to pay them but yet expect them to live in some of the most expensive places in the world), have a strong background in music, free of debt from school, and work to no certain promise (or sometimes even hope) of progressing to the next level (as many places intend to NEVER hire a full time and paid staff AE from one of their interns), and we don't pay them while they are at it!

I personally think that (while rather misguided in MANY ways) this is part of why we are seeing SO MUCH competition with the lower end studios. Everyone figures that their only chance of becoming anything in this business at the moment is to start their own place. Maybe if we'd hire a few of these people then they wouldn't feel as forced to start their own places just to get into it!

Hey, i realize that our profits aren't large (or often existant) in this business, and there isn't always a ton of money around to throw at interns and such, but I think that it's a good investment nonetheless if possible. It does show respect for another person to pay them for a job well done, and not string a person along on the hope that 'some day' they might become an AE.

DJWayne- Look at it from the pespective of a potential intern. You may have just spent $120,000+ on music school from a top place, thousands more on private musical lessons prior to university, and thousands more on your own home studio so that you could learn some of the skills prior to getting to the point of wanting to be an intern. No doubt you have probably worked many part time or even full time jobs prior to this in order pay for as much of it as you could, and have likely shown yourself to be a reliable employee to other employeers. If your letters of recommendation from other employeers (who have paid you for your hard work) all say that you are reliable and great to work with, how do you feel about working for nothing and perhaps not being taught well.

Keep in mind, that people who are professionals at teaching go to school for years to learn how to do so! Us engineers aren't always the best teachers, so no matter how perfect we think our teaching methodology to be, we probably don't know **** about teaching someone effectively to be a good worker when it comes down to it. I think a lot of us as engineers are great engineers, however good teachers, accountants, businessmen, marketers, etc... sometimes we are not! We can't expect that we know everything just because we own a place. That doesn't make you the best teacher, accountant, marketer, or businessman for our place. It likely means that we are a good and sucessful engineer.

Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the general teaching methodology that we take in this business in training the next generation. Teaching looks so simple. You tell someone something, and they learn it right? It you think it's that easy, then you have taught few people.
Old 26th June 2006
  #100
Lives for gear
 

Well if you had $120,000, and didn't set up your own studio... something is not right.

You always have that option if you can command the funds.
Old 26th June 2006
  #101
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Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dot
If you do the math you're hardly working for free. And, in fact, the studio has invested more time
and money in you than you've invested in the studio. You've exchanged $4800 worth of your
time over 6 months for $8800 worth of studio time, as well as additional instruction from the
engineers at roughly $3000 for a total of $11,800.
I think the point of being paid here that most people are asking for, isn't about 'getting rich' or making lots of money. It's about pure survival for many. Living costs are huge these days! Also things like insurance companies really have a stranglehold on people's lives.

Let's say you were doing this in NYC. What would your living costs be?

RENT- $3600 = 6 months * $600/month rent- This is probably the best you can get in NYC for sharing a really horrid apartment in probably a not-so-safe area of town. If you're a woman (rare in this industry yes, but non-existant, no). I would be even more concerned about living in some of these areas. I know I don't want my girlfriend living in a dump in Queens/Bronx if she was doing this.
Just getting the apartment= $1800! Landlord in NYC will probably charge you 3-4 months in rent JUST TO MOVE IN! First, last, security, realtors fee, lock fee, credit check fee, etc.

Utilities- $900 = 6 months * $150/month- Between Gas, electricity and cellphone bills.

Health insurance= $2400 = 6 months * $400/month= Not all of us are terribly health and can go without. My sister would i know for a FACT not be able to pay for her diabetes supplies out of pocket and having heath insurance for some is a matter of survival. If things become "preexisting conditions" you might as well shoot yourself depending on what your condition is. Everyone will get sick at some point.

Food= $1200 = 6 months * $200/month= $200 a month covering all of your food in NYC will require a pretty slim diet. Seeing that you're going to be at the studio 12+ hours a day, that probably will be paying for quite a few meals out as well. But let's assume you are the Ramen King.

Metro Pass= $456= 6 months * $76/month: You've gotta get from your ****ty apartment to the studio right? Assuming it's winter (and that you probably are at best miles away) then walking/biking isn't really an option either. Plus, who wants smelly interns from biking?

School Loans (in deferment/forebearance, but interest accuring)= $3600= 6 months * $600/month interest accured and stacking up: Let's say you went to a four year college for music and engineering. You got a few small scholarships, but let's say that most of the full scholarships are for masterful musicians. You were a good engineer. The scholarships weren't huge, and you're parents weren't rich to save for school and pay for it outright. You have debt that is quickly accuring. You aren't paying it (because you have no income!)

Misc expenses = $600= 100/month * 6 months. You know that you'll have to spend around $100/month on incidentals at least in NYC. Hell many of you probably have Starbucks habits worse than that! New socks, new underwear, a postage for a letter to mom begging for money to live, the money lost from getting mugged because you're living in a bad area, etc.

GRAND TOTAL OF 14,556 COST FOR 6 MONTHS WITH NO INCOME (assuming my addition is nearly correct). This also assumes that you're working your interns 40-60 hours a week, on a schedule that is so varied that they can't work another job. A year of interning? Double it! Also, factor in that to earn 15K, that you have to bring home around 22K pre-tax.

Yes, you can claim that it's "like school", but schools have accreditations, and you can (due to those accreditations) get stuff like government backed Loans that help the cost of education. Where do you expect the average person to pull all of this money out of the blue from? I personally think it's nuts. If you are so good at teaching, then perhaps applying for some accreditation as a teaching institute would let them go there and be able to take out loans for it. As it is, Sallie Mae isn't going to give out loans for them to work at your studio for free.

Let's say the intern works hard, and does good by your standards and is growing. Are you promising him a job after that 6 months that will help recoup that cost in a reasonable time? Perhaps one with benefits? Or will he just be an "Advanced intern" in your eyes so that you can have him do AE duties, but work for free and for him to bear the cost of his living expenses, and for you to gain the benefits?

I have seen very very few engineers that are actively "teaching" their interns. Some yes, but many? No.
Old 26th June 2006
  #102
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Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by djwayne
Well if you had $120,000, and didn't set up your own studio... something is not right.

You always have that option if you can command the funds.

Most people can, with some luck, get student loans for almost any amount. They don't require much. Getting a business loan out of the blue for $120K with no collateral (most in cities don't own property)? Forget about it.

Just because you paid for school, doesn't mean that you had the money sitting in your pocket. Schools these days (as they become greedier) push loans more and more on 18 year old students that can barely concieve of what that much money looks like, let alone what it takes to pay it off. However the students sign the papers (as advised by the school) and do it. These days there is so much pressure to "go to college, or you'll be no one" by all levels of American society, that the student feels that it must be right. Many parents (who can't pay for the school outright either) feel this way too, because they want their children to suceed where they may have not. All of the general statistics point that higher education brings higher wages and more sucess so they do it.

I am not trying to come off like a dick about this, but the situations for many interns are rough. They have done what they could to get to this point, and the costs are high in going into something uncertain like this. Many of them work hard, but to no avail and are kicked around at the studios. We even treat illegal aliens in this country better often, and I just feel horrible for people that are in this situation.

I think it would be fair in a way, if the studio didn't pay them, but maybe gave them a room to stay in somewhere, and a modest stipend (not much really, just enough to get by on a reasonable level). It's more of an apprenticeship that way I feel. Also, if you kick the interns to learn faster then they are 'worth it' quicker. If they don't want to actually learn, then they should go do something else. I feel that perhaps some sort of contract, saying that IF they fulfill certain requirements (having a full knowledge of certain things and being able to take certain responsiblities well), and live up to certain obligations (showing up to all sessions ontime, and ready for work), and having positive evalutations from all other staff members, then the person being offered an AE position after 6 months would seem only fair. It means that if the studio does their job and trains them properly as they claim to be doing AND the intern lives up to their side, then they are promised a shot at something better.
Old 26th June 2006
  #103
Lives for gear
 

Higher education will indeed improve your chances at success, but not guarantee them. You have to be motivated and a bit of a business hustler, to be successful.

True, college loans can be easily obtained in some cases, but so can SBA loans. But I pity anybody coming out of college with a $120,000 debt, and doesn't have the smarts to obtain a SBA loan as well. You need to have a business plan that is realistic, and nobody in the music business can guarantee success. It can be a very shaky business for even the most seasoned pro's, and sometimes, people become successful, by just pure dumb luck.
Old 26th June 2006
  #104
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Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by djwayne
Higher education will indeed improve your chances at success, but not guarantee them. You have to be motivated and a bit of a business hustler, to be successful.

True, college loans can be easily obtained in some cases, but so can SBA loans. But I pity anybody coming out of college with a $120,000 debt, and doesn't have the smarts to obtain a SBA loan as well. You need to have a business plan that is realistic, and nobody in the music business can guarantee success. It can be a very shaky business for even the most seasoned pro's, and sometimes, people become successful, by just pure dumb luck.

Luck is a huge part of the equation. Truthfully, if you have $120,000 in debt from student loans, many creditors won't touch you let, and that includes some SBA loans (not all of course and things are always possible). I'm in the process of trying to sludge through some of this stuff myself right now. I have my degree in Music Business Management, for whatever it's worth. I can write a decent business plan, and I've done some of the loan paperwork before for a studio I was working at/helping a friend startup. The main reason that the loan did come through however, was basically that the studio owner's father (a multi-millionare) was able to co-sign the paperwork. After he co-signed that, they put through the loan the next day. Without that golden signature, not much would have happened. I have no such golden signature at my disposal at the moment, so I have to be far more creative.

SBA loans can be great however. Truthfully, they are one of the easier forms of getting a business running. Angel investors and VC want to see MASSIVE PROFIT potentials within 18-36 months. Rarely is anything described as massive profit from a studio today.

At the same time- starting your own studio of course is a really rocky road. You learn fast (as i have found), but there are so many times when I was helping start this studio that I was thinking "If I'd interned somewhere, perhaps I'd know how to do this already". However I didn't intern anywhere else first, I had jumped into the fire pit, and I had to learn how to do things with no guidance. We were two people with the tools, but woefully little knowhow (each of us having had not more than Digi001's and tiny setups not months prior). Getting in an automated console and a JH-24, having never touched either before and trying to figure out the damn thing (and calibrate, align and set it up with no guidance and not all of the right tools) is a pretty daunting thing. Between the two of us we did it, but wow. What an experience. Flying by the seat of your pants at the best.

Many conversations were like this,
Him: "Well is it possible to do X?"
Me: "I think so, I'll figure out what we need to do it"
Him: "Hmm, well we don't have the money for all of that, or the time to get it. Yet it has to be done. Figure it out some other way"
Me: "Ok" (and I went off to figure out how to make it work).

Our first session where we were using the board's automation, sync'd up to protools and protools chasing the JH-24 was quite a trip. It was the owner's band, so the pressure wasn't too high, but getting it all down without ever seeing anyone do it first was quite a trip. On top of it, the main writer for the band was arguing with the bass player and they were in the process of breaking up as a band. All in all, a very stressful situation for me, running the whole technical end of things since I was "the most experienced" with it, as I had spend the past 6 hours beforehand trying to figure out HOW it worked at all (and installing the Sync IO for the first time, etc, etc..)

Had i an intership with a teacher prior, then I would have hopefully known all of that. Like I said, starting a studio from scratch is hard. (Also figuring out how to market a studio asides from the "If they Build if; They will come" thing was a trip. We thought it actually might have worked that way... wow were we wrong!)
Old 26th June 2006
  #105
Lives for gear
 

You're correct sir. I also did not have a golden signature, but had to build up my little home studio one piece at a time, from income from a factory job in electronics. It was a lot of work, but over time, it all adds up. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was my little home studio.

Compared to what many on this forum are used to working in, my studio is a joke, but it's mine, and it works good enough for me, and I don't have a $120,000 debt load to pay off.
Old 26th June 2006
  #106
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by djwayne
You're correct sir. I also did not have a golden signature, but had to buid up my little home studio one piece at a time, from income from a factory job in electronics. It was a lot of work, but over time, it all adds up. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was my little home studio.

Compared to what many on this forum are used to working in, my studio is a joke, but it's mine, and it works good enough for me, and I don't have a $120,000 debt load to pay off.

Your path is the one that I am just starting on it seems. Getting a job as close to music as possible (that still pays the bills) until i am able to do it full time, is the key now. No time/money to intern. I've gotta get some money flowing in and then maybe SAVE UP to intern somewhere, or get lucky and get an AE position somewhere.
Old 26th June 2006
  #107
Lives for gear
 

"if you build it, they will come " ??

They may come, they may look, they may record, but it doesn't mean they'll pay.

I thought my musician friends would love to have a place to record at, but getting them here is like pulling teeth, unless they want to. You really have to be connected to a lot of artists to make a go of it. I can find clients all day long playing in coffeshops, but most don't have any bucks for recording, so I don't bother soliciting musicians, but use my studio for my own needs....it's a different game plan than most pro studio's.
Old 26th June 2006
  #108
Lives for gear
 

I couldn't afford to be an intern. I had a decent paying job, and thought it would have been ridiculous to give that up to work for free at a studio...who knows what could have been, but I'm glad I stuck with my paying job, at least I came out with something to show for my time.
Old 26th June 2006
  #109
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by djwayne
"if you build it, they will come " ??

They may come, they may look, they may record, but it doesn't mean they'll pay.

I thought my musician friends would love to have a place to record at, but getting them here is like pulling teeth, unless they want to. You really have to be connected to a lot of artists to make a go of it. I can find clients all day long playing in coffeshops, but most don't have any bucks for recording, so I don't bother soliciting musicians, but use my studio for my own needs....it's a different game plan than most pro studio's.

Wasn't my philosohpy exactly. Since attending Berklee for music business stuff, I wanted to market the hell outta the studio and do everything I could to get it "out there", but the owner was a little more reserved and wanted to be super selective with the clientel (although he wasn't actually) and just try to get his friends to record. When they dried up, it was somewhat of an "I told you so..." thing, but starting to market AFTER clients have started to dry up is a little late and hard to do- as i learned.
Old 26th June 2006
  #110
Lives for gear
 

Yep, some studio owners are more conservative than you may think, for security reasons. They don't want their equipment getting ripped off. You get every Tom, Dick, and Harry coming in, you don't what will happen.

I really have strong reservations about letting strangers into my little home studio, especially after some of the people I have worked with.

It really is a matter of trust, as you have lot's of expensive gear, mics, ect at risk from theft or damage.

After you've built your own studio, you'll understand this better. It's sort of like letting someone you don't know drive your car.
Old 26th June 2006
  #111
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by djwayne
Yep, some studio owners are more conservative than you may think, for security reasons. They don't want their equipment getting ripped off. You get every Tom, Dick, and Harry coming in, you don't what will happen.

I really have strong reservations about letting strangers into my little home studio, especially after some of the people I have worked with.

It really is a matter of trust, as you have lot's of expensive gear, mics, ect at risk from theft or damage.

After you've built your own studio, you'll understand this better. It's sort of like letting someone you don't know drive your car.

Oh, we knew damn well about some of the pitfalls. We had a few scary people record with us and said no more to have. Double doors, security system, video cameras in the studio, etc... we had good security policies. **** happens and I understand however.
Old 26th June 2006
  #112
Lives for gear
 

You can have the best security in the world and still get ripped or get damage from clumbsy people.

I had one chick damn near spill a beer into my mixer, she wanted to dance to the music while balancing a beer on her head......she was standing right next to my mixer, and all I could see was that beer falling off !!!! Of course I threw her out, then she was mad at me, so then I had another problem to deal with.

Also, see the post about the big microphone rip off from the East West Studio's, formally Cello studio... I'm sure they had lots of security stuff there, this is a $5 million dollar studio, but somebody still ripped them.
Old 26th June 2006
  #113
Gear Maniac
 
Kris75's Avatar
 

This is a different look at this all.

I started out interning for free at a major studio in my market. The had done records by Moist, Jessica Simpson, 98 Degrees, ect.
I worked my ass off (coffee, toilest, food, running, ect) and the head engineer their was amazing to me. Any question I had was answered and if he was to busy, he would answer at a later date because he wanted me to kick ass. The studio can't survive without someone that knows the rooms inside and out. That seems to be a missed point here. The studio needs people that know thier rooms, how else can you get a good sound. Sure gear and good acoustics go a long way, but every studio is unique. I still get a ton of work frelancing for that head engineer .
When the opportunity came to go and run for a MAJOR producer (you all know him, and I have seen many people saying wow to his name here) I jumped at the chance. I was so excited, I would be making 80 dollars a day, working at thier personal studio, with my own room, it was going to be killer. There was only one problem. The team had no interest in helpling me learn. They all kept saying to me that this is how it all begins, but I was not allowwed to be involved in the sessions at all (I worked there for about 2 months, and they even asked me to stay because they liked me so much). If I had a question, they looked at me like I was crazy for asking, and then they would ask me if the band toilets were clean. I would bust my ass all day (mowing lawns, fixing fence, cleaning electronics ect.) and when it came to about 10pm(my day started at 9am) I would sit with the PT engineer, and if I was caught, I was made to feel like I was lazy after working an 11 or 12 hour day for 80 dollars. BUT I learned a lot from that PT engineer, and that made the whole experince worth while, and I met a band who helped me out as well, so it turned out to be a VERY GOOD situation. If you think that cleaning and coffee making is degrading, try washing the head engineers dog, then washing his truck, only to get in **** for buying the wrong size dog biscutsfuuck . I walked away after 2 months and never looked back. I now tell people I worked for So and So and I get work from that as well. You never know what will happen in the future. If your not happy, get what you can out of it, move on, and work on. If you go and bitch and complain, no one will listen to you. Try and tell someone that you worked for (insert famous name here) and they were an ass whole, and then see how they react to you when they actually meet them for themselves. You will be the one missing out.
Everyone wants success. What are you willing to do to get it. That is the difference.
Wow, that was a rant.

Peace.
Old 26th June 2006
  #114
Gear Nut
 

I'm in college for audio engineering and plan on interning in the fall.

I'm 29 years old I have a wife and 2 kids I need to take care of so guess where my priorities lie? I work 40 hours a week at night and go to school full time during the day. In my limited spare time I work out of my home studio honing my skills and hoping for the chance I can get my foot in a door and work for a reputable studio.

I wouldn't mind scrubbing a toilet or anything like that hell I stirred **** with a stick while in the Army. But when you hear "work for me for free for 6 months then I'll think about giving a job for little more than minimum wage". Or I'm trying to teach blah, blah, blah work ethic this pay dues that or it isn't my job to teach you crap. That is a little depressing.

I think most interns are dying to make it into an industry that seems that it would rather crap on what they have already sacrificed because they didn't see them suffering. I also believe that times have changed and the average intern isn't some 18 year old kid fresh out of high school who wouldn't know an input from an output.
Old 26th June 2006
  #115
Gear Addict
 
lefthando's Avatar
 

Hey bigwillz,

I got my first 'running' gig when I was 29. I had a fair bit of experience and know-how already, but the entry level position at a very prestigious studio came along and I wanted to move up.

They paid me the legal minimum hourly wage but with a daily cap of 10 hours. We all know how often you work more then 10 hours in the studio: Pretty much every day. I didn't have any kids but the money was still REALLY tight considering my pre-existing financial commitments. (student loans, mostly)

The first indication that it was not going to work out was when I met the second engineer and he was younger then I was. It was tough to be told to get coffee for a guy who really thought he was king-**** and who's knowledge was pretty much on the level with my own. Still, I sucked it up and did what I was told.

Another problem I discovered was that they wanted me to do things like touch-up painting and other minor building maintenance duties. I didn't mind this and I was more then willing to do it. The problem was, I just wasn't very good at it. In fact, I'd spent the prior 10 years of my life learning how to make and record music. I didn't know the first thing about dry-wall patching and window putty.

I ended up passing up the gig and going back to what I was doing before, which was protools editing for a TV/film composer. The money was fantastic and I was subsequently able to build a carreer as an independent engineer.

Anyway my point is, that model of building a carreer as an engineer through working your way up in a studio can be difficult for someone in your position. It could be as long as 10 years before you start to see any monetary returns. I'm not saying don't do it. Just think carefully about what you REALLY want to do and how best to achieve those goals. There are other ways to get your career off the ground. You just need to be creative about the process.

I apologize if this is all obvious to you, but I just wanted to share my experiences.
Old 15th September 2006
  #116
Here for the gear
 
daily planet's Avatar
 

Inspiring

Outstanding thoughts. Rock on brother.

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k View Post
mistah dj,

i don't know a damn thing about you, so i can do nothing here but make educated guesses. i may be way off base, if so please forgive me, i'm just a guy typing words into the ethers.

i'll bet that if you look back, quietly and honestly, over the course of your life, you will find that the world that doesn't owe you anything nevertheless provided you with a continuous stream of people who helped you, encouraged you, supported you, befriended you, gifted you, and loved you... without needing to be asked, for no other reason than that it was good to do so, and asking nothing in return. and without all of that, you would not be who you are, or have what you have.

so while it's true, you don't owe the world free educational services, or anything else, you might find that giving it away has long term rewards for yourself and everyone that you can't even begin to fathom. i believe we have all been given more gifts, for free, than we could ever repay in a lifetime even if we tried, not the least of which is the gift that gave us two lungs and a brain and this stupifying beautiful thing called music... life. i heartily recommend that everyone look for every possible way to give that back.

now if you'll excuse me, i apparently have some shirts to tie-dye.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 15th September 2006
  #117
Lives for gear
 

my 2 cents. lol.

there is an old saying.
"do unto others...etc.".

so lets look at this saying applied to interns.
if the intern is playing fair doing "unto" the studio owner and not goofing off ,
always turning up/working hard etc .....THEN in turn the studio should do "unto" the intern and treat him/her fairly with some sort of plan/compensation.
pure and simple its a relationship.
each side has respomnsibilities to deal fairly with the other. the fact that some interns play fair then get kicked around troubles me on a human level.
as we used to say in england. "thats not cricket".
Old 15th September 2006
  #118
Fair enough, but there in turn there should be an understanding of a studio owners perspective.. its one that finds 90% of applicants and about 50% of those undergoing 'trial periods' simply not having what it takes, are clueless or too slow to get up to speed with employer expectation.

before you all pile on, can I just say that if you ask a teacher at a recording school about the students, they will usually tell you that 80% of the kids attending call themselves "DJ's" and just want to learn how to make beats. This frustrates the teachers as a lot of the kids aren't interested in trad engineering.. just the beats.

Anyhow..

Apart from the few isolated cases of genuine studio employee abuse - what seems to get played out in threads about internships on audio forums overall, is a generational gap between an old skool (by that I mean people who have worked in studios in the 50's 60's 70's 80's) "apprenticeship" and what is perceived by the 90's and 00's "Play Station generation" - as abject slavery, humiliation and abuse.

If you get a group of studio owners, in their 40's on upwards, together and say 'what about the kids applying for jobs these days?" you will see a bunch of heads shaking from side to side in disbelief.

If you get a bunch of kid's in their late teens / early 20's and say 'what about what studio owners expect these days?" - you will probably ALSO find a bunch of heads shaking from side to side in disbelief.

What is different in for the kids today - is the extra, new carer path that presents itself.. buying a DAW and setting up somewhere - makes you an engineer & producer - no apprenticeship required.

Nowadays, you can almost hear the thought process of potential interns in interviews as they scratch their chins.. Hmmmmmm, one or two years in a lowly position...I don't honestly know if I could take that....Hmmmm, I am already a producer now!....hmmmmm..I mean, am I going to still be be taking the trash out in two years time? Why cant they just let me at the equipment right away? Why all this dues paying bull****?

The employer thought process might go like this "Jeez kid you sure are being picky! Do you want the job or not? Sh!t in 4 months I might have you running basic sessions if you seem cool, we need to check you out first to see if you will act cool with our clients. ultimately I want you to rise to become a popular engineer who will attract & keep clients here, taking the trash out should be the least of your worries!"

Anyhow add to the situation the fact that are commercial studios closing down all the time, it all makes finding a job or the right employee even harder..

Good luck to all and may all employers who abuse employees get what's coming to them
Old 15th September 2006
  #119
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
Do some feel forced to open studios?

Perhaps some of the flood of smaller startup studios isn't just due to just the mBoxes of the world, but partially due to people not wanting to deal with the building blocks of finally becoming a full engineer at a studio. The path/process sucks as I think many of us would agree, and most people would rather feel that they have suceeded or fallen based on their own business attempts rather than just the whim of the studio owner to pay/not pay them.

I personally don't want to run a studio. I'd rather show up, work hard, collect my paycheck and go home. Trying to build/book/promote/engineer/everything at my own studio doesn't seem to be that attractive to me anymore. However, it seems that if I want to do anything asides from toiletwork, then that is what I will have to do- Open my own studio.

A New Trend in studio slavery...

A new one that I'm seeing posted to Craigslist, and everywhere (and I have responded to most of them kindly to see what the future prospects are), is looking for people that they expect to know Protools/Logic/Reason/Acid/Mixing/Editing/whatever, and for them to run sessions for them, work for them, make them money, bring them sessions, etc... and yet for them to offer nothing in pay. Not a damn thing. Many of them want you to work a large number of hours for them, and basically complete their products, and yet nothing in compensation. It's a great scam, and I hope that no one is helping them fulfill it.

Another side of it, on the film/post side (and even a bit on the music side) is producers/directors (and sometimes now artists), just saying that credit will be the only thing given for work. I've seen feature length indie films posted to CL looking for someone to go on a 15-30 day shoot with them (paying their own expenses of course), then mix/score/edit the project, and them get only credit in return. Of course, you'd have to bring your own flash recorder, booms, mics, etc.. And have your own studio. I have even seen a few Network pilots asking for people to do this work for free! I can provide CL links (although they don't last long) if you'd like.

But some of them are being nice I suppose... and offering a percentage of the film's profits (which are rarely accounted for well, and normally non-existant of course... and even if sundance picked it up, you'd be forgotten quickly and the director would claim to have done it all in FCP by himself).


I don't know what's worse. Asking someone to do unskilled labor for free, with the hope (on a carrot tied to a stick) of someday being paid and/or learning something.... OR having someone who owns equipment to use it and their skills for weeks at a time (doing something I guess in hopes of meeting the next huge person and being remembered?!?!?) but for free?

It seems that Karma has been taking some time off.
Old 16th September 2006
  #120
Lives for gear
 

I had an internship for a famous anthropologist back in college. it was a paid internship. during the first week he had me taking out the trash and hauling stuff around for him. he was a real arrogant bastard. was talking about all his great discoveries and indiana jones type ****. i think i was 21 at the time. i just went right to him and told him, look i didn't take this internship to be an errand boy. i came to learn and be helpful in real ways. he was pretty taken aback, but then said o.k. here are all of my projects, what do you want to work on. it was all good after that. althought the project still kinda failed.

my point is that sometimes people want to hear you take an initiative to make a move. if you are of value then speak up.

i think 2 years of paying dues is probably enough to learning a bit more. i'm in the bay and kinda curious what studio this is. i recently went to one for a session and was amazed how many interns were just hanging out not really doing jack. i also noticed that cats were no where to be seen when a cable needed to be run or whatever.

could it be that you are not on the ball? just a possibility. definitely look at yourself firstly.
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