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Audio engineering/recording school vs. Invest/learn in your own studio
View Poll Results: Audio engineering/recording school vs. Invest/learn in your own studio
Learn from the pros at a state of the art facility
17 Votes - 15.89%
Learn as you go and get some killer gear while you're at it.
57 Votes - 53.27%
Depends on each individual situation (aka the "thanks for nothing" answer!)
33 Votes - 30.84%
Voters: 107. You may not vote on this poll

Old 26th January 2006
  #1
Gear Head
 

Audio engineering/recording school vs. Invest/learn in your own studio

I looked into recording schools in the LA area, and for a state of the art, full time for 6 months course, it seems they're in the $10-17k range. I'm wondering if it is worth it, or if a better decision would be to invest that money into a private studio and learn on my own.

Some additional info:
I'm a musician first, and would be learning to produce my own music. I'm not looking to run a studio, but would probably try to pay some bills by doing some work for amateur musicians.
I'm hoping to make my career as a performer/artist rather than a studio owner or engineer/producer for another studio.

Can anyone recommend a good school? I saw references to Full Sail and SAE (not ideal) and Berklee and USC in other threads. (preferably in Southern California)
Old 26th January 2006
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
BryanGamet's Avatar
 

i would say buy your own equipment and learn it.
Old 26th January 2006
  #3
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cdog's Avatar
Find a private tutor and buy gear. You can sell it and get most of your money back if you decide engineering isn't for you.

Those schools are not worth the money - you can't start a paying job as an engineer when you get out anyway, so the diploma itself is worthless.

Old 26th January 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 
adrianex's Avatar
Yeah man, just ask around (liek in this forum) to give you ponter on what you should get, buy it used (so, you save some money) and also there are a lot of books that will teach you what to do.

I went to school and I have to say that the only really good thing that I got was the networking a got out of it. ( I get a lot of freelances out people I met there)
Old 26th January 2006
  #5
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robmix's Avatar
While I value everything I learned on the job as an assistant, and even before that cutting demos at my house you cannot replace a hardcore, dedicated program. I see it everday in interns at my studio and at commercial studios around town. Most of the self taught guys have completely missed basic signal flow, maintenance, and sessions procedures. Whereas my interns/assisitants with some schooling at least have the basics down. I've never run into the "holier than thou" attitude from recording school graduates that I've read about here and elsewhere. Also, if you plan on working at a large commercial facility, recording school will help you leap ahead of the runners who haven't gone.
Old 26th January 2006
  #6
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by adrianex
and also there are a lot of books that will teach you what to do.

And that may be the most frightening quote ever to grace this forum !!!!!!!!!



.
Old 26th January 2006
  #7
Lives for gear
 
djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix
While I value everything I learned on the job as an assistant, and even before that cutting demos at my house you cannot replace a hardcore, dedicated program. I see it everday in interns at my studio and at commercial studios around town. Most of the self taught guys have completely missed basic signal flow, maintenance, and sessions procedures. Whereas my interns/assisitants with some schooling at least have the basics down. I've never run into the "holier than thou" attitude from recording school graduates that I've read about here and elsewhere. Also, if you plan on working at a large commercial facility, recording school will help you leap ahead of the runners who haven't gone.

Agreed. Love it or hate it, I went to Full Sail and would go again in a heartbeat. What I learned there (fully dedicating myself, not slacking off in the back) in a year would take me forever to learn on my own, and working on a SSL 9000J and Amek 9098i also proved to be invaluable. When at Transcon, I was placed on gig's in the A room because I knew how to use the console, versus grads from other schools that didn't know it at all.

Also, my experience at Full Schmaile gave me a lot of confidence and knowledge that put me in a great position against grads from other schools, or self tought people.

You can learn a lot self taught, or by getting an internship at a local studio/finding an Engineer to take you under his/her wing, but going to school will allow you so much more, and a lot sooner.

It takes a dedication also. Don't go if you wanna make beats in your bedroom all your life, it's not worth it.

I couldn't have got the internship I did without my degree, and that internship led to me recording vocals on a grammy winning album, less than a year out of school.

Now if I could just find out how to get those pricks at the student loan place to stop harrassing me....
Old 26th January 2006
  #8
Moderator
 
James Lugo's Avatar
 

Recording school can be very whack, buy gear and get a tutor.

I get guys all the time out of MI, LA Recording School and Fullsail who don't know s**t. Slow on protools and don't understand patchbays or how to get sounds. Now that's not to say there aren't guys coming out of those places who are killer but I've never found any.
Old 26th January 2006
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
BryanGamet's Avatar
 

actually, buy gear and intern at a studio.

there are plenty of different types of studios that will take on interns as long as they have a basic understanding of whats going on in the studio.

i would say the main thing you would be getting out of a recording school is the contacts, but i see it at the studio i work at. kids straight out of school comin around with resumes. sad to see but they get tossed in the trash real quick.

get your gear, make music, go to partys and shows and network and show everyone your skills thumbsup

plus most of those schools only give you a certificate that you can print out yourself
Old 26th January 2006
  #10
Lives for gear
 
AlexLakis's Avatar
 

Many people you might be learning from at recording schools aren't "pros." Those who can are "pros." Those who can't are "teachers."

Just kidding, teaching can be a good way to pick up some extra bucks (and get benefits!)

I'd say that going out and working in a REAL studio would be 1000% better than paying to go to school (although some schools are "real" studios). That way, instead of you paying $40,000 for a (for the most part meaningless) piece of paper, they might even pay YOU! You'll probably get a lot more practical education this way too (like where to sell crack when you need rent money for your studio).
Old 26th January 2006
  #11
Lives for gear
 
heathen's Avatar
 

This guy I know has spent around $80,000 on gear and he is self tought and it sounds it,he has no idea,at least at a school you'll be in an environment where people are only talking audio. But hey why not do both buy some gear and find a great tutor.
Old 26th January 2006
  #12
Gear Addict
 
TyRip's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdog
Find a private tutor and buy gear. You can sell it and get most of your money back if you decide engineering isn't for you.

Those schools are not worth the money - you can't start a paying job as an engineer when you get out anyway, so the diploma itself is worthless.

I have already started the buy your own gear program and I am learning a ton. I would love to go to Full Sail too, but the cost is a lot to swallow, and I am working on a degree in business administration right now.

Anyways, I have come a long way but I definitely realize that I have a long ways to go and really need some help.

Any suggestions/advice on finding a private tutor? I don't have any ideas of anyone in my area. I know of one studio close by and would never pay those guys for instruction of any kind.

I would love to find a good engineer to pay him/her to help me out, listen to my work, and let me tag along on jobs on occasion, I just don't really know where to turn, as I don't have any connections, or even know anyone I would like to approach for this kind of thing.

Any help would be awesome.

Thanks guys.



Tyler
Old 26th January 2006
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Audio1420's Avatar
 

I graduated from a recording school and learned alot there but If I would took that 50k and spent it on a rig and taught myself I beleive that would of been the better choice... I already was running protools and recording before I went to school... You always learn more when your thrown into a situation then tring to learn something in a lab type class...
Old 26th January 2006
  #14
Lives for gear
 
A27Hull's Avatar
 

Both

If your serious about being an audio junkie, try both.

There are helpful things you can learn from the pros at these schools which you will absorb faster than you can by shlogging it out yourself, also, you can catch up on what the "pros" are doing currently and key into the secret side of the big boys, by using your school to gain you contacts you'd be crazy to attempt as an unknown. Sometimes industry folks are more comfortable opening up to a 'student' rather than just some guy or gal off the street.

I cant say much for LA, though I have just finished at MTSU near Nashville. I can claim with confidence that I have achieved much more than I would have had I went at the business alone. Yet, I also, during my schoolerling, used the school as a test ground for gear I would be interested in, and used it as a proving ground. Go to a school, learn what will last, aka api, neve, gml, tt, etc, etc and then start investing in those items individually as you go.

Though, the price of the gear is hardly a key to what is good and bad, there is a reason that George Massenberg's rack gear is so dam expensive, and a reason that neve 1066 pres are selling a multiples over what they originally went for. Further, if you take what you would spend on a school, (10-17 K) and set up your own studio, depending on what range of gear you buy and what you intend to use it for, ideally you will only be able to afford a limited means of recording -gear wise. You can do whatever with prosumer gear and make things sound great, kudos if you can, but sooner or later you will likely realize the necessity and desirability of owning the 'high-end' stuff. Going to school allows you to learn how to work the gear you cant afford on your own.

If you are just starting out (like I was four years ago), take my advice with a grain o salt. CDOG and others would have you go the other way, and their way could be just as useful and lead to just as much success. Make no mistake though, the life is hardly glamorous or even, well, if your in it for money, go be a doctor or a lawyer.

Understand though that there are hundreds of recording schools. All are outpouring hundreds and thousands of new hopefuls like me each semester. Make sure that recording is something you'll be satisfied with even if it becomes "a job". You face a lot of folks who are graduating these schools, and if you are going career, consider the fact that yes, regardless of your background, you are not going to be able to get an 'engineering' job very quickly. I hear that LA has got a waitng list.

Professional studios want people who can work and troubleshoot professional gear. It, IMO, would be much easier to 'get in' at a studio through a contact made at a school. Places like full sail and sae have placement programs.

I personally, having seen SAE, a private college recording school, and a public university, can tell you that there are definently advantages and disadvantages to all the recording school schemes. I am glad that I chose a four year institution, because even though the diploma is worth nothing, your ability to do more in circumstances other than audio is greatly increased.

Accept now that if you want the biz, work may not always be steady, in fact, the industry itself is cyclical. Consider the possiblity that you may need to take a job that requires a college diploma. Consider working for gear manufacturers or those silly recording schools. Your fall-back options greatly increase when you have a college diploma. Not so much with a nine-week certificate in general technology...Also studio-wise, i am finding that it is hard to make a living recording garage bands with no money-you need label support for anything substantial. Consider expanding into other means of productions perhaps AV or Broadcast.

What ever you decide, stick with it. Your tenaciousness will directly affect your success in whatever you do. period. The advice I have received as far as gear investment is buy quality, and focus on mics and mic-pres- maybe a good channel strip or two.

Thanks for your time and I hope I have been helpful,

Andrew Hull
"still wet behind the ears"
Old 26th January 2006
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
cheeky b's Avatar
 

A little insight on the SAE schools. They make a lot of money, hence their huge expansion over the years from down here to all over the world although the owner - Tom Misner*- swears he makes more money from real estate.

{EDIT: On second thoughts, I think I'll keep these insights to myself }

That doesn't mean that all schools are run on the same lines though, but I reckon if you're good enough you'll be good enough educating yourself.

(*if the name is familiar, he's the guy who bought Neve-AMS and is also rumoured to own SPL - although that could be one of his allegedly tall tales )
Old 26th January 2006
  #16
Lives for gear
 
A27Hull's Avatar
 

Quote:
but I reckon if you're good enough you'll be good enough educating yourself.

True, we all must continue to learn too, continuing education.
Old 26th January 2006
  #17
Go to a real school and get an education that goes beyond which knob to turn to make it loud. Get some kind of degree and take general ed courses in addition to your audio and/or music concentration. It's good for your personal development, it's good for your career long-term, and it's just plain good advice for life. 20 years ago it was easier to skip the education. Today I wouldn't.

But remember - After school, you still need the internship and experience. You are not ready for the big chair the day you leave school. School just teaches you the language so you can appreciate the real learning in your internship. If you skip school and proceed directly to intern, you won't know enough to appreciate what's going on and connect the dots, and aren't able to pick up all you should. You can't skip either part and expect to be well-rounded and competitive in today's marklet.

But I know so many people who prefer to listen to those who tell them what they want to hear rather than the truth. If only it were as easy as buying some gear and a book at Guitar Center and watching an engineer at the local demo studio working on your band's project. The road to professionalism requires effort. Shortcuts don't help you, don't help your clients, and don't help the industry as a whole.
Old 26th January 2006
  #18
Lives for gear
 

As you might know... I have been a pro mixer/recordist/producer since 1975.
I never went to school.

I did however work at a studio that also had a recording school.
I taught a group of twelve guys and girls for almost all of their "semester."
It was not worth their money and I know A LOT about the art and buisiness.
I felt wrong mis-leading those people because they thought that they were going to graduate and get a job making enough money to re-pay the loans they took out.
A few had taken the money that they got as a "bonus" when they worked for Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks owner) when he sold Broadcast.com. It was windfall to them, but they wasted it.
I felt wrong decieving them, so I was very honest.
It upset a few of them and greatly upset the owner because he just wanted their money! He was a notorious crook anyways.
I still know a few of the students.

Upon graduation none of the people were able to make a recording that was anywhere near professional. While I was employed there I "graded" about 48 final projects for students. In fact, their recording skills were the same as if they learned on their own gear. The only benefit was that they were in a great room with an SSL or a Neve 8068 mkII. I am sure none that I saw make enough to pay their loan back!

Here's the deal: if the "school" can qualify, they get paid by the goverment because the students get government loans. It is selling a dream, pure and simple. DeVry and that stuff is the same deal except more people actually need HVAC techs! Lincoln Tech grads probebly do get a job making decent bread because WAY more people need cars, trucks and airplanes repaired than people need music recorded!

A previous post said that the statement that you should buy a book and read it was one of the biggest lies ever posted on this format.
Well guess what? I had the key to a 1" 8 track studio and a copy of Rundstein's (sp?) Modern Recording in 1975. I figured it out that way!
Maybe I am especially talented?
No, I just invested a lot of time and recorded everything!
I lived in a studio and knew the guy that engineered at a 24 track room down the street real well.
I sat in one all night sessions.
I eventually owned the 24 track room, but never made great money.. LOT'S of high profile work though!
Did a lot of demos that got people signed to majors.
Never knew to ask for points!

I have seen people learn to record and mix VERY quickly by hanging around sessions and playing on stuff. They were usually very talented musicians, too. A few of my past clients are damn good! One of my" interns" got a Grammy nomination three years after he started engineering! He is a Grammy State Chapter President, too. He is questioning his career because he has a daughter now. What a dumbass he is! He wants to give her a normal life!

You can't learn to mix until you learn music.
Some have an ear and a LOT don't!
Everyone doesn't need to go to recording school.
If you can't figure it out and make some dough on your own, you don't need to be in the business.
You'd beter be a really good entrepeneur.
No, if you were a good one, you'd picka more lucrative field... or start a RECORDING SCHOOL!

I wince when I hear that someone has spent $50K at a recording school!

It is a joke in the industry about guys that say, "I went to Full Sail."
In fact, we fired a guy today that went to that recording school in Ohio.
He couldn't even set up lighting equipment and drive a truck!
I can't even imagine him running audio or handling a session!

Get your sh*t together and intern or befriend the owner of the best studio in town.
If you are not a goofball or a jerk you can hang and learn.
Clean, buy beer, do anything just learn from someone that knows what he's doing.
This is how my "interns" got in the business.
Interestingly, they don't blame me for it either!
You won't make jack for money, but you'll be lucky if you ever do anyways.

In fact, get a real job and record as a hobby.
Trust me on this!
Best result and you can buy more gear with a real job, unless you get married and have children.

Even the moist talented individuals I know (and I DO know quite a few) do not make enough money to live like a normal person. If you want to scrape by and live at your parents, with a girlfriend with an actual job or with a bunch of guys as room mates then go ahead. You won't make money for quite a while.

Hey! Are your parents rich?
Most people I have know with nice studios had a lot of someone else's money to spend.

Cynical?
Bitter?
No, but I paid my dues and if someone wants to learn the truth then I'll tell them the truth! A lot of people don't want to hear it.
By the way... I don't do studio work any longer although audio is a facet of my job.
I just follow the money.
Art doesn't pay bills!
Good guitar playing doesn't buy many groceries.
If it did I'd tote my Les Paul and an amp down to WalMart right now!
Good mixing won't earn you A LOT of money either.

Maybe you'll get lucky.
You'd better be real good.
The odds are stacked against you.
There are also A LOT of very talented people out there starving.

Danny Brown
Old 26th January 2006
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
BryanGamet's Avatar
 

i agree 100 % that you should get a real education and a real job and make some real money. not to say that there is no money in music, but it is a long hard struggling road ahead. *so dont expect it to make you millions and always do it for love and fun!

the best education i think you can get is interning and learning from yours and others' mistakes (and believe me you will make ALOT of mistakes). this industry is all about relations and how well you interact with others as well as when to say the right things (if any). alot of these things are things you cant learn in a class room.
Old 26th January 2006
  #20
Lives for gear
 
True North's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo
I get guys all the time out of MI, LA Recording School and Fullsail who don't know s**t. Slow on protools and don't understand patchbays or how to get sounds. Now that's not to say there aren't guys coming out of those places who are killer but I've never found any.
It amazes me that people can go to a good school, pay a lot of money and not even have some fundamental understandings in place. It can't be the schools fault, as there is no way they would skip over the points you noted above.

IMO , more often than not, you get a whole bunch of slackers in these programs who go into the programs with big aspirations but without fully understanding how much work it is. Just like any other school there are always going to be those who really have their heads on straight and are truthfully into learning. The passionate ones are the ones who get the most out of the program.

In a perfect world I would reccomend getting a basic setup at home and actively seek out people to record. Part two, go to a good recording school that will give you access to equiptment that you would never have a chance to use at home or in a small studio. Do your research and find the right school. There is no beating real world experience but if you can couple that with a solid educational foundation I think that is pretty hard to beat.

Good Luck!
Old 26th January 2006
  #21
Lives for gear
 
A27Hull's Avatar
 

well put Jay, Danny, Bryan and True
Old 26th January 2006
  #22
Lives for gear
 

I try to dispense the truth.

I have a guy right now who is a pretty good audio tech and although I have never heard him mix, I bet he's pretty good.
He is getting paid good money to drive the truck and do lighting.

The reality is that he is right now driving a truck full of audio and lighting to Denver.
The truck had a mechanical problem and the gear had to be crossloaded to a new truck in Oklahoma City.

The real truth... you get the good bucks for delivering the goods.
It doesn't matter if it is lighting, staging, live audio, studio work, roadcast.
You succeed in ANY business only if you put hard work into it.

I used to do feature film production for a few years.
I'd work any department that would hire me.
I learned a lot and made enough money to set up the first 24 track room I owned in 1986.
I showed up and said, "What do you want me to do?"
I paid attention and learned.

You have to have snap and work your ass off.

I'll tell you what....
The tour I handle during the year is WAY below me technically and a lot of my friends from the past are amazed that I even do the gig.
The money is twice what they make.
I can gut up.

If you want to do something get out there and learn it yourself.
Our biz is not a place where easy, fun and high paying gigs come along.

Danny Brown
Old 26th January 2006
  #23
Gear Addict
 
trident fan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix
And that may be the most frightening quote ever to grace this forum !!!!!!!!!



.
no, i've seen a lot worse on here.
Old 26th January 2006
  #24
Gear Addict
 
trident fan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba
It is a joke in the industry about guys that say, "I went to Full Sail."
In fact, we fired a guy today that went to that recording school in Ohio.
He couldn't even set up lighting equipment and drive a truck!
I can't even imagine him running audio or handling a session!



Danny Brown
what? he must have missed the truck driving and lighting part of the course
Old 26th January 2006
  #25
Lives for gear
 
AdamJay's Avatar
 

i just want to chime in and say that this is a great thread.

the personal experiences you guys are sharing of working with so called "educated" engineers vs. self-taught/apprentices are great.

i've always been a DIY guy myself.
i dropped out of college (business/poly-sci) to pursue my dream of writing and performing my own music. and i met all my goals. i got to tour the world, perform on 5 continents all on someone else's dime, release over 50 twelve-inch releases, support myself on music alone and i couldn't have been happier. Now i'm opening my own mid-sized studio this year, as well as starting a remote recording service.

Had i kept on with plan B, i'd be fresh out of graduate school right now with about $150k debt and locked into a career for the sole purpose to pay back my debts.
But instead, i have NO debt, am buying my house and studio space with cash (no mortgages), and doing something i absolutely love.

quitting college was the smartest thing i ever did.
YMMV heh
Old 26th January 2006
  #26
Lives for gear
 
heathen's Avatar
 

$50000 for audio school? Are you serious?
Old 26th January 2006
  #27
Gear Addict
 
simonv's Avatar
 

In montreal, we have 2 major studio schools.
Both are around 15-20k for one year. If, instead of spending it on a school that will teach you state-of-the-art gear that you'll never touch again, you spend it on 20k of gear, you'll end up with a great studio and invest in your ears and skills instead of a diploma.

A few years back, I had a studio with 2 MOTUs and a pair of HR-824 and we rent the mics + room. And we had plenty of clients. With 20k of gear when you start, you can go somewhere for sure!
Old 26th January 2006
  #28
Lives for gear
 
studjo's Avatar
20k and a great studio?????

**** what did I do wrong?


Jo
Old 26th January 2006
  #29
Lives for gear
 

Buy some equipment (protools and a mic and chain) and get a runner job...forget recording schools, just read some books, mags, and hang out with the pros while getting really really fast at protools editing and tracking vox....you'll be getting high profile work within a few years if you're smart and can hustle.
-brian
Old 26th January 2006
  #30
13030
Guest
In the UK we have so many of these 'paper' schools that promise you work and teach little.

Employers here look for Tonmeister accredited courses or specific Universities like Leeds etc...

But anyone who tells you you can get a career in this industry by getting the necessary eduction, is pissing in the wind.

The ratio of applicants v jobs available is currently in the thousands to one.

If you are planning to attend one of these courses for your own knowledge base, then make sure they are both accredited and affiliated to any of the established houses.

In the old days you learnt the very hard way and prayed for a mentor of some sort, but this was in the days when an engineer was an 'engineer'.......hard graft and excellent technical knowledge and studio procedures.
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