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Nashville Music Industry Help
Old 21st October 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
Nashville Music Industry Help

Hey guys,
I am completely new on GS and I'm hoping to get some advice. I have been living in the Nashville area for about 8 months now and can't seem to find a single job doing anything (not even sweeping floors) in a studio. I graduated from the University of Memphis at Lambuth in August 2012 with my Bachelor's in Music Industry Studies where I focused on Audio Production. I didn't get to do an internship because at the time there weren't any studios operating in Jackson, TN that I knew of, and I couldn't afford the gas to drive to Memphis or Nashville multiple times per week. Now that I'm in the Nashville area everyone wants you to have an internship, work as an intern for college credit, or already have 3 to 5 years experience. If I could afford to do the internship I would, but I would have to buy the credit hours (almost 3k that I don't have) and I would have to cut hours at work (40+ hours just so I can pay my bills and I still struggle to make ends meet so that's not an option). I work 9-5 M-F so by the time I get off the studios seem to be closed and whenever I go to the studios on the weekends they're empty so I can't even volunteer to get experience. Is there anyway to actually get an entry-level job in a studio where I can get paid enough to make ends meet without an internship or ending up homeless? I appreciate any advice you guys could give.
Old 21st October 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdowner86 View Post
Hey guys,
I am completely new on GS and I'm hoping to get some advice. I have been living in the Nashville area for about 8 months now and can't seem to find a single job doing anything (not even sweeping floors) in a studio. I graduated from the University of Memphis at Lambuth in August 2012 with my Bachelor's in Music Industry Studies where I focused on Audio Production. I didn't get to do an internship because at the time there weren't any studios operating in Jackson, TN that I knew of, and I couldn't afford the gas to drive to Memphis or Nashville multiple times per week. Now that I'm in the Nashville area everyone wants you to have an internship, work as an intern for college credit, or already have 3 to 5 years experience. If I could afford to do the internship I would, but I would have to buy the credit hours (almost 3k that I don't have) and I would have to cut hours at work (40+ hours just so I can pay my bills and I still struggle to make ends meet so that's not an option). I work 9-5 M-F so by the time I get off the studios seem to be closed and whenever I go to the studios on the weekends they're empty so I can't even volunteer to get experience. Is there anyway to actually get an entry-level job in a studio where I can get paid enough to make ends meet without an internship or ending up homeless? I appreciate any advice you guys could give.
Hi and welcome on board to GS! What you are facing is a rather typical business scenario, this is happening to many and in a lot of various industries and in a lot of cities around the world. The strategy I would go with in this case I think would be to put the music business on hold for a while and instead work on optimizing the solutions to my basic needs, basically building a powerful foundation and ensuring I'm building more and more income doing so by increasing my financial intelligence, I wouldn't get any painful jobs though unless I would find I must do so (after having ensured I've really tried to find all better options first)... Having reached such a stability, I would then invest in as much high profile courses, seminars and similar as I possibly can focusing on the teacher titles more than the course titles, until I can show on my resumé that I am aware of the basics and even without the work experience I share powerful insights into how to efficiently craft engineering and hence can provide long term value at a low ramp up cost. I would keep investing until I either would feel I could survive on my own or until I would get a position. When I would get a position, I would focus on that and nothing else. During this time, it is really important that you don't let these short term issues get in the way of your inspiration, you can still have a lot of fun! If I were you I would keep myself busy with concert bookings too and ramp up audio and music skills on my own, the music in the Nashville area is some of the best in the world... I hope this helps!
Old 21st October 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
The other thing about Nashville is that it's a city of relationships (or incest, in a business sense, if you want to be mean about it). So the only way to get "in" is to get to know some people. Do you play at all? If so, start going to open mic nights, volunteering to run sound for bands you feel compatible with, talk to small venues about mixing for them. You'll meet some folks with connections, let your desire to work for free be known and it's possible you'll start to get some opportunities. The other interesting way to work it would be to start working at a music store and get to know folks that way.
Old 21st October 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
Everyone in Nashville is trying to do the same. Exact. Thing.
Old 14th November 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Just a thought - but expanding on a great previous post -

Hang with singer/songwriters and bands you like. Hang.
Your an engineer who "just loves their music".
At some point a need will arise. Offer to help. Live sound, setup etc. Whatever. Hang. Be the best new friend (sincerely) they have.

Eventually they'll record something. Hang. Go to the studio with them. Say nothing. Just be a good vibe dude. Meet engineers at studio. Just say hello. Don't ASK for nothing.

Rinse - repeat.

At some point down the road you realize you now have a small network of people you're friends with, who's music you dig, who you've done favors for and never asked anything in return.
You will then hear of opportunities. Engineer needs assistant. and he knows you. Seen you at a bunch of sessions. Met you when he came to hear the band and he loved your live mix. You get the gig.

Do you play? Do you write? If so, do that! Do it all.

You have to put that much energy, good vibes, good deeds out there before anything comes back. It's always been this way. Harder now for sure but it wasn't ever easy. It just seems like it was for the super talented guy who was in the right place, right time, when he was broke but happy, putting his soul and sweat into every little opportunity.

Probably not what you want to hear though. The days of getting a degree then internship,and moving up from there were short-lived, if it ever really was that way at all.

Sometimes I think the audio/school thing gets in the way unless your doing it in the town your going to spend your career in. Those 4 years should be 4 years of crappy gigs, doing all kinds of stuff for friends and building your network.

30 years ago a music contractor gave me the best advice - that I didn't really understand at the time.

"Make is so they can't live without you". "Play great, Be the best cat, best hang, be always available, always say yes, always nail the gig and in no time you'll be booked out the #ss".

twas ever thus.
Old 15th November 2013
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdowner86 View Post
Hey guys,
I am completely new on GS and I'm hoping to get some advice. I have been living in the Nashville area for about 8 months now and can't seem to find a single job doing anything (not even sweeping floors) in a studio. I graduated from the University of Memphis at Lambuth in August 2012 with my Bachelor's in Music Industry Studies where I focused on Audio Production. I didn't get to do an internship because at the time there weren't any studios operating in Jackson, TN that I knew of, and I couldn't afford the gas to drive to Memphis or Nashville multiple times per week. Now that I'm in the Nashville area everyone wants you to have an internship, work as an intern for college credit, or already have 3 to 5 years experience. If I could afford to do the internship I would, but I would have to buy the credit hours (almost 3k that I don't have) and I would have to cut hours at work (40+ hours just so I can pay my bills and I still struggle to make ends meet so that's not an option). I work 9-5 M-F so by the time I get off the studios seem to be closed and whenever I go to the studios on the weekends they're empty so I can't even volunteer to get experience. Is there anyway to actually get an entry-level job in a studio where I can get paid enough to make ends meet without an internship or ending up homeless? I appreciate any advice you guys could give.
So you want to be an assistant engineer/house engineer at a studio?

I work in the business here in Nashville now, but 12 years ago I was a Columbia Records recording artist and we recorded some here at was was called New Reflections- across the street from East Iris. Just in that area of Berryhill there were several big studios-
Now the landscape has changed a lot- one thing is there a handful of quasi-Christian leaning project studios because Christian labels can't afford East Iris or Blackbird anymore (not that they ever could
And it's super competitive in general- we have big name rock producers and engineers moving here from all over because Country is the last demographic that still consistently sells records and Nashville is a great, cheap place to live.

There are grunt jobs on the management and publishing side, but the studio thing is crazy tough- I mean crazy tough.

So- if you want to be behind the console, you are going to have to take one in the tater hole money wise, period.

I know lots of folks, and if I wanted to do it I would have to probably do the same thing.

There are tons of people with degrees from MTSU and Belmont for music business related stuff too.

So here's a tough question- what separates you from these people? Why should someone give you a chance? Do you have a reel of stuff you have done that is really good?
Do you smell like old cabbage?

I mean these are things to think about
Old 15th November 2013
  #7
From my calculations if you are working 40 hours a week at a job to pay bills, that leaves you with 40-60 hours a week to work in studios. Not joking that is the attitude you need. If you aren't working 80-100 hours a week, you will not probably "make it."

I did plenty of 100+ hour work weeks when I started. Granted not in Nash, but LA. That was 5 or so years ago, it has only gotten harder. You got to remember you are competing with people that will work themselves to death when they are starting out. If you are not willing to do that much work, unless you get extremely lucky, you won't get far in studios.

Not meaning to be a dick, just the rough reality. Wish it wasn't this way, but it is.
Old 15th November 2013
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdowner86 View Post
Hey guys,
I am completely new on GS and I'm hoping to get some advice. I have been living in the Nashville area for about 8 months now and can't seem to find a single job doing anything (not even sweeping floors) in a studio. I graduated from the University of Memphis at Lambuth in August 2012 with my Bachelor's in Music Industry Studies where I focused on Audio Production. I didn't get to do an internship because at the time there weren't any studios operating in Jackson, TN that I knew of, and I couldn't afford the gas to drive to Memphis or Nashville multiple times per week. Now that I'm in the Nashville area everyone wants you to have an internship, work as an intern for college credit, or already have 3 to 5 years experience. If I could afford to do the internship I would, but I would have to buy the credit hours (almost 3k that I don't have) and I would have to cut hours at work (40+ hours just so I can pay my bills and I still struggle to make ends meet so that's not an option). I work 9-5 M-F so by the time I get off the studios seem to be closed and whenever I go to the studios on the weekends they're empty so I can't even volunteer to get experience. Is there anyway to actually get an entry-level job in a studio where I can get paid enough to make ends meet without an internship or ending up homeless? I appreciate any advice you guys could give.
You're gonna have to intern (period). I hate to say it, but your education doesn't really mean squat. Don't take it personally, my education didn't mean squat either. I guarantee you that there are mountains of knowledge and etiquette that you just do not possess at this point, and you will need if you ever want to have a chance at being paid in this industry. Not all internships require college credit. You may not be able to intern at Quad or Blackbird, but there are TONS of small studios in and around Nashville that may have an opportunity for you. These smaller studios are also more likely willing to accommodate your schedule, so you can work a real job and survive. These smaller studios will also be more likely to get you paid sessions than the large studios.

A couple hard facts that you may want to get used to:
1. The likeliness of you eventually obtaining a "job" engineering is slim.
2. If you defy the odds: you will not get raises, you will never get health insurance, there will always be other eager engineers aggressively competing for your job, your engineering will only be encouraged so far otherwise your superior may be threatened.
3. Your boss (the studio owner) will likely be volatile and eccentric (from my experience it just goes with the territory), which rarely makes for a comfy, secure employment experience.
4. Your best bet is to freelance, which 90% of other engineers and ALL of the people who think they are engineers are competing against you. AND without either a fully functional studio, and/or a network of music industry connections, your probably SOL here.

I'm not trying to discourage you from trying, but the sooner you get hip to the realities of the situation, the sooner you can start making effective decisions. I hope you find my words insightful, and seriously good luck to you!

John

Last edited by john john; 15th November 2013 at 02:36 AM.. Reason: grammar
Old 15th November 2013
  #9
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Not all, but a great many of the engineers and musicians here had already been doing major label work elsewhere. Getting hired is about who knows what you know and what you are like to work with.
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