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How much do internships pay? 500 Series EQ\'s
Old 25th March 2010
Gear interested

Thread Starter
How much do internships pay?

I'm very new here, so I'm sure this may have been answered already.

I may be able to intern at an incredible local studio. I have no experience recording, other than playing in bands and entering the studio here and there. They told me I'd be working for "barely any pay."

My question is: how much does the average intern usually bring in?

Old 25th March 2010
$0.00 dollars. You'll probably get your meals paid for (that you'll have to pick up or order thumbsup).

But, if you are getting school credit for your internship, I don't think you can "legally" work for free. They should pay you minimum wage.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear Maniac

Nothing! Sweet FA.

Maybe some travel expenses or food, if you're lucky and working somewhere with nice people. But maybe not. If the studio was really unscrupulous, they could probably get away with charging some kids for internships.

Bear in mind that 'decent' established places might pay assistant engineers minimum wage, or slightly above that. Or sometimes below, depending on how they screw you with the hours you work (not sure what minimum wage is in the US).

If you want money, look to a different industry!

Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
most of us know the cold facts of being an intern and working for free in the audio world. i understand someone who has no clue at all but what about an intern who proves himself in the first few months and has a impressive portfolio and holds a degree.i understand the school of hard knocks but people have to eat. the only people who can afford those kind of things are rich kids and lazy people who live at home with the parents. hardly the people i would want to draw from to work in a studio with me. i'd rather pick the hard working guy with experience, 2 jobs and a degree and at least start him at minimum wage over a snotty nose spoon fed kid. There's just no money in the industry for a fresh fish it seems these days. most people would be best off interning a few hours to get knowledge, buying some books, using the internet and making the money at home free lancing where there would be actual money if a studio wants them to work for free for a year or more.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear Nut
up and at them's Avatar

$0 and I got college credit. Which techinically means it cost me money to intern since you have to pay for college credits. I did get free food out of the deal.

Oh yeah and I probably learned more about audio recording being an intern for a few months than in 4 years of college.

Though the college degree landed me a nice paying job with awesome hours so I can spend time recording on my own.

Just some random thoughts to consider.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
Sigma's Avatar
0 -- plus transportation and meals
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
Daedalus77's Avatar
I'll got a step further: These days, many interns pay studios to work and learn under their tutelage. There are several programs, in fact, that exist to match interns with studio owners seeking labor and income.

In this age of studio closures and waning rates at major facilities, many studios manage to stay "in the black" in part due to the money they make taking on and teaching interns.

Think of it as the studio version of the old "pay to play" paradigm for bands seeking stage time in major clubs.

Sorry. It's the way things work right now.

Best of luck.
Old 25th March 2010
Exactly. I've only been out of college for 6 months and during my last semester I had to do some work for free that wasn't much fun, but from the connections I made in that time I got a great gig and have recorded 5 different Grammy winning artist...and I've been paid for all of those sessions! It's been worth the 3 months of working for free.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Yeah I have ABSOLUTELY no problem not getting paid for an internship. However, I had initially contacted them about weekends and a few hours here and there after my job every night. The response was for being available full-time with virtually no pay. If I were unemployed, I'd be all about it. Sadly, I need to pay my bills.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear addict
CityDump Records's Avatar

I am having the same issue man, I have turned to more extreme measures because I feel so limited trying to learn on my own.

I am trying to set up lunches (where I pay for lunch) to meet local engineers and network.

I am also saving up money to start buying blocks of time to have one of my artists recorded and mixed at other studio's so i can watch how they work and learn and build relationships.

So I guess the previouse poster summed it up, I really am gona have to pay to play, but this is my life so I will spend my last penny trying.
Old 25th March 2010
I worked in many different studios, unpaid - when I was an intern.

I would occasionally get gigs that paid, based on situations that were in my favor.

There was no way to gauge or forecast it, but there was plenty of sweat and blood pouring from me at all times.

Some of it spilled over and got in the clients clothes.

It just happened when it happened.

Fast Forwarding;

I worked @ Mercenary for 1 year as a coffee/lunch/beer pigeon making $6.75 USD and hour.

I worked 75 - 100 hours a week, and was ONLY paid for 40 of them.

Now, I look back on what was earned. I know how much I got paid.

You can get paid. Trust me. It just ain't green.

You gotta make that happen on your own.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear addict
Mike Douaire's Avatar

Best 3-4 months of my life, interning at an INCREDIBLE studio. I made the BEST coffee, scrubbed the bathrooms spotless, took out the trash, cleaned the console, vacuumed the rugs, polished the hardwood floors, mudded the ceilings, helped hang up some diffusors - did it with a large grin on my face, everyday. Got paid $0.00, I think the owner paid for my lunch once, and I got the boot after I got a paying job and was no longer able to be there full time.

However, I was allowed to sit in on every session, helped place microphones, participated in mic shootouts, asked questions on why they did something (after the session, NEVER while the session is in place), and they let me practice my own mixes when there was noone booked (had to be atleast 4 hours - so I could make sure everything was striked). I got to see what session players were (wow), help with the Cirque Du Soleil try outs, meet Bruce Swedien (a little star struck), and really learn the ins and outs of the recording industry.

Some free labor is a pretty good trade off for the amount you learn. Unfortunately they can't teach this stuff in school, you have to be IN IT to really get it. I mean, you wouldnt want a doctor to operate on you right out of medical school would you?
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
meymia's Avatar

0,but you do learn the most doing the internship,more then in music schools etc.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear

Whether or not "this is the way things work right now" (it's been a while since I was an intern), I strongly urge you and any other aspirant reading this thread to refuse to pay to be an intern. That's just insane.

The idea of paying someone to "let" you put in hours of menial labor....what an insult. Have some pride and confidence in your own worth, irrespective of how little experience you may have. Once you give someone a reason to think you're a chump, the impression will stick.

And if a facility is so hard up for revenue that it needs to charge fees to its entry-level "employees," you may want to consider what kind of business acumen you're likely to learn from such people anyway.

It's totally common to work for free as an intern....that's how studios filter out the uncommitted. And it's a reasonable exchange of time and labor for a thread of opportunity. But don't pay to do it.

You may of course pay a studio or an engineer to TEACH you stuff....just book a session like anyone else.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
doorknocker's Avatar
Given that the music industry is what it is right now and with everybody working at home and setting up their own workspaces - well, I would be very careful WHERE you would want to intern. The idea is to learn from professional people with experience that operate busy studios. I think that's the issue here: Will you benefit from the unpaid job in a way that will be helpful for your own journey in life.

The sarcastic take on this (some call it reality) would be: With studios pretty much lowballing themselves into oblivion in a vain attempt to stay in business, how would expect an INTERN to get paid?

But I agree that you should never pay for an internship, that's just insane. At AES at least you won't have to clean the toilets... but maybe that's the next step: 'study' to be an intern.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
jpupo74's Avatar
Zero Bucks.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
mdjice's Avatar

FREE ninety nine
Old 25th March 2010
Gear addict
bbgallaway's Avatar

Yeah, that's pretty wild. That, and studio wanting interns to pay. The old work-for-free model does have some things in it's favor, but trying to turn a buck off it just shows how bad things have gotten. I did my internship with no pay, and when I ended up managing that studio I brought on other interns under the same agreement. However, we always worked with people's hours to create an arrangement that was at least feasible for an independent adult trying to survive. I think we usually had a 6 hour per week mandatory minimum with interns highly encouraged to show up more whenever possible. Full time with no pay? Well, that just goes back to what someone said earlier......the kids who can afford to do that typically aren't the ones who have the motivation to actually make an internship work at all, and they're usually not the people I'd pick to work for me anyway.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
dualflip's Avatar

internship paid??? ohh man you are up to a huge deception....
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
Lifted's Avatar


Best bet is to intern for a small project studio that will pay for your internship and you'll in turn keep your mouth closed to your school about it.

My internship counselor straight up told me..."if you are getting paid for it, I don't know about it, and you don't tell me"

I got very lucky at the studio I have interned, they paid for my gas, so I'm very grateful for that.

P.S. There are some places that will pay, so don't lose all hope, but 97% of them don't, so don't expect a miracle unless you are THAT GOOD in audio engineering, and going to get hired promptly.

Knowledge is key

DEPENDS! Hahaha...I had to clean tables and bring sandwiched to clients and people working there...I learned nothing, besides hard work and respect for life.

There was nothing in my internship that improved my audio engineering skill.

I have learned more of 2 months running live sound, and mixing and mastering stuff I have never worked with by myself.

It's all about what studio you end up in, and what they actually make you do.

In most, they don't let you touch ****, and that's sad...because you didn't come there to mop floors, and if it wasn't for my ambition I wouldn't get hired at the studio. As I have seen people working there as runners/interns for years. One person had to be an intern for 2 years to become an assistant.

Find that studio that needs and engineer, don't just blindly pick the studio that looks cool and has a name, like Ocean Way (God I heard so many horror stories from there)
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
audiogeek's Avatar

really? because i sure wasn't rich, and i wasn't lazy living at home with my parents. fuuck maybe that was your experience, but i'm guessing most other folks actually putting time into an internship at a professional studio weren't/arent either, and would take exception to your categorization.

i lived on frozen pizza, had three room mates, and worked two other jobs just to provide myself the opportunity to gain knowledge from professionals who have worked in the industry for decades, and to get experience/observe the use of boards that cost six figures. and yes, i had a degree. no it's not easy, and the people who aren't in it for the right reasons go to Guitar Center for more steady employment.

if you have any degree of competency and are not an a$$hole (i'm not sure which of the two apply to you), engineers take notice and ask that you work on sessions with them. eventually you start getting paid to assist. that's it.

your broad and bitter generalization makes yourself sound like the snotty nosed kid. it's the sense of entitlement that you display in your post that gives 'audio degree grads' a bad name. call it like i see it.

to the OP, the best thing I can suggest is to ask the studio manager generally how long it takes for interns step up to assisting.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
Kris's Avatar
Where do you Mercenary guys find the time to work after all that coffee/lunch/beer?!?!?!?
Old 25th March 2010
You'd be surprised what can be done with the beer/beer/beer routine.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear Head

I think everyones interning experience is different, and it depends on what studio you try to intern at. I live in New Jersey and interned at a couple of studios around here. For months I cleaned up after their dogs, picked up garbage, did food/coffee runs, made coffee, scrubbed bathroom floors, washed dishes. Ask my how much I learned! You'll be surprised that in total, I've learned NOTHING from interning. I'm blaming that on the studios that I interned in. They would NOT let me do a thing that had anything to do with audio. Some places are just like that and you gotta realize it before you waste a year. I had to pay for transportation out of pocket, couldn't eat during studio hours which was basically 10 - 14 hours of work, and it got to the point that I couldn't afford to work for free there anymore. I think if you find a studio where their are people that genuinely understand your position, that you could learn a lot, but then there are a lot of places that just want you to clean up after their assess and not teach you a thing. I make more money freelancing, I don't think I'll be interning around here again, it's just one bad experience after another.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear Head
CoreyL's Avatar

While I'm tempted to agree with you, what about all the kids who go to NYC with their audio degrees, pour lattes, scrub toilets, share a bedroom, barely sleep, live off frozen pizza, DON'T get hired, then have to move home? I know significantly more of those people. Friends from college that ARE there, available full-time for free for 6 months to a year, ARE in fact getting their rent paid for them, or subsidized at least. Perhaps the generalization was too broad, but it has to be taken seriously as a valid point.

There are "I did it all myself," engineers out there, and it should not be assumed that if you work at a real place, it's only because you have rich parents. That being said, a significant portion of the toilet-scrubbing floor-washing work that happens in studios in major cities is funding by someone's parents somewhere else. I think it's a shame that exploiting young people's dreams for free labor is accepted as part of the modern studio business model. If working on records wasn't so 'cool,' you could never get away with someone doing all your grunt work just so they can hang out at your job.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
in a blue field's Avatar

i dont know where you worked, and congrats on your accomplishments, but you gotta give me the name of the studio that let you do things that way, kuz where i work, NO ONE who has another job has the kind of time a studio demands. the chance to assist comes at the drop of a hat, and you need to be able to move when it does, that's not a situation that can exist simultaneously with having a set schedule of any kind, weekday or weekend, day or night.

i know plenty of interns who made it to assistants, and they were good assistants, but in the end, bar job, no time left for the studio, after they had devoted a lot of time. i'm not debating that the post you're attacking is indeed a generalization, but FYI, not everyone has it as good as you, i dont know ANYONE who has been able to do the studio the kind of way that is necessary to move up the ladder, and have even one other job, AT ALL.

likewise, nothing exists where i work that could be compared to any sort of "mentor program", the knowledge you walk in the door with is what you'll be using on sessions if you ever get that far, so you had better know your sh|t cold. i dont even know what people are talkin about here with food, seriously you guys get your food paid for?!? MAYBE if you're on a lockout, which of course would never happen if you were just an intern anyway...

i will say this tho: the whole "6 months to a year" thing, i'm lucky enough to work at one of the few places where we basically ignore that completely, if you know your sh|t people around here will recognize it, there's one person working the studios in NYC right now that started here, he was an intern for all of 3 weeks, then started getting on sessions.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
Switch over to being unemployed and having no money, and you're on the path to a career in music. heh heh

If you need to pay bills and earn money, look elsewhere. This is not the industry for you.

An internship can last years before you step up, and at that point, you'll only be making a little more than minimum wage for running hundreds of thousands of $$$ worth of gear and investing years of no money into your "career". It's not the career for anyone that has less than INCREDIBLE drive and devotion to the craft.
Old 25th March 2010
Gear Maniac
jordan s's Avatar

I guess it all depends on the studio. In my experience, I made no money, was offered no trade time and gained no college credits. I paid about $8 round trip for the commute every time I came in and I spent roughly $12 on food every day I was there. I interned for 6 months, did all the usual stuff like clean, make coffee, go on food runs, etc. but I sat at the desk and did nothing most of the time while trying to think of any way to contribute. The studio was mostly vacant and when there was a session, I was rarely invited to sit in or contribute in any way. I really tried to make myself available in any way possible and I feel like in every opportunity I had, I showed my competence. I think there just wasn't much coming through and when there was an opportunity, I was given to a buddy of the engineer. Once I was able to get a full time job, I was out because they wanted interns with open schedules. I learned very little at that place. I still have the opportunity to bring my own sessions there and I feel like that is the only way to get any experience there. My advice is to go drinking with an engineer or owner every time you have the chance. Everyone says that an internship is what you make of it, that is true, but it probably won't work out if you have to pay rent, have another job, have a relationship or don't take every chance to buddy up with any person that can give you a gig.
Old 25th March 2010
Lives for gear
usually nothing but depends. My recommendation is go to LA, NY or Nashville and take any job you can get at one of the big boys. work for free if you have to. You will have a better chance of making real industry contacts than working a any midlevel or small studio. If you can, work at two studios. One to learn the craft and one to kiss A$$ and be a runner while making real contacts. I interned @ studios in RI and Mass in the 80s and learned alot. Worked on SSLs Tridents etc... But never really met anybody that could help me get to the next level.

At the same time I have (had) friends who swept floors at big studios in LA or NY and they met loads of industry heavyweights. Now they all work for labels doing A&R and some of them still mix and get major label work.

But all the guys I know who stayed in Boston/RI and worked out of Synchro Normandy or Bluejay never went anywhere. And those were some solid studios with some super talented engineers but did minimal major label work so they got little attention and as a result very few real industry connections. Though many of these guys were more talented than guys I know who worked at big studios, many who are now somewhat successful industry guys.

In any biz it is who you know and right place at the right time. Recording industry is all who you know since so many people are talented and topnotch at the craft itself. But they don't have the connections. You need to make connections. That matters way more at first than the craft. You can always learn the craft. Sound silly and may be to some but from what I have experienced in my life it is all networking and kissing up.
Old 25th March 2010
I did a number of internships in NYC between the age of 20 and 23. They all paid $0. One did lead to a very low (just over minimum wage) paid position though.

The main thing with interning is to only do it at a place where you are really going to get something out of it. Every studio is drastically different with how internships work.

One studio I interned at was essentially a sweat shop. This was in audio post. About 10 interns where trained to a degree and than did ALL the work. The studio owner simply oversaw everything. 10 interns at that place (required 30 hour a week minimum) and not a single paid employee or contract worker. I and other interns were told a number of times that "we could not leave" late at night until something was finished. This would be several hours after our "shift" was over. Really sad scene. Horrible equipment there two, like G4's in closet spaces with an mbox and crappy headphones. The mix theater was OK though, but god the editing rooms where like little dungeons. Like 4-5 interns all in a 10X10 room hovering over G4's with headphones on editing.

Another studio I interned at basically required you simply clean and run errands. About 5 interns there at any given moment. I think the most I or anyone other intern did their audio related was fetch some mic stands from a closet and bring them to one of the engineers. It was a very cold and sterile place. This was a music production house so barely any tracking or anything went on.

I did have one internship that was VERY beneficial. I was the only intern there at the time and it was very hands on. Of course I would clean up daily, go on runs, do whatever was needed or asked but I was treated with respect and was taught a ton when time allowed. Got to sit in on some amazing sessions and gained more responsibility's and knowledge every passing week. I did not even mind working 12-14 hour days (on my own free will) there for free because I was learning so much. It had the real feeling of the more I put in it the more I got out of it. I was also very well trusted. After a month or so I had complete access and use of all the rooms and equipment, I would close the place and lock up at night, open in the morning, etc. That internship eventually led to paid position which essentially afforded me the opportunity to stay there longer before having to leave in search of a livable NYC salary.

Long story short, if you are going to intern make sure it is worth while for YOU.
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