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Frustration and Self Doubt or how does an older guy get into the biz?
Old 15th July 2005
Gear Nut
SoundChances's Avatar

Frustration and Self Doubt or how does an older guy get into the biz?

Hopefully I won't ramble on too much here, but I want to see if there is anybody else that has experienced frustration and self doubt as I am now and what you did to get over it.

I feel a bit of history is in order...
I'm a former "pro" musician that took an extended break from playing to get my life back in order.
I was an accomplished bassist that started playing out and actually making decent coin when I was 15, got a full ride scholarship for Jazz studies because of my bass playing and went on to play in fairly successful acts generating label interest and what not.
During my time playing I took up recording because I'm technically minded, I really enjoyed it, was pretty good at it and it just fit with what I was doing at the time. I did some great recordings during that time with limited equipment as well as decently stocked project studios at the time. For the most part it was all analog, but I did work a bit with ADATs at the time.

So here I am now, considerably older and wanting to get back into playing and recording. I've come to the realization that my playing chops just are not what they used to be and probably won't ever get back to the level I was at in my 20's. So I've been focusing on getting my recording chops back together and trying to get my foot in the door somewhere...anywhere.

I have a decent home studio, DAW based, and I've done recordings of myself, my band and some friends.
Everyone thinks the recordings sound pretty good. Personally, I don't think they measure up to what I used to be able to accomplish with 4 mics and a 2-track but they are passable.
I chalk that up to still learning how to work in an all digital world, plus I seem be having to re-learn some of my techniques just because I'm rusty.

I've attempted to get into some local studios as an intern, but they tend to look at me funny since I'm not 18 years old and then they hear my recordings and wonder why I want to intern. Even had one guy listen to some tracks and told me I was taking home recording to a whole different level!
Of course they're not willing to give me a job either as I have no current track record.

I've attempted to get bands/people in my home studio to record at extremely low rates or even free in some cases, but so far, it's only been people I'm friends with that are willing to do it.

So here I am totally frustrated because I can't seem to get anywhere and starting to doubt my abilities since no one seems to take me seriously...

Any tips or suggestions? Anybody else working to get into it but are older than say 25?
Old 15th July 2005
Lives for gear
C/G's Avatar

I am 33 and am trying to go at it. More for myself than a carrer change, so my day job supports my gear habbits. Too old for school and nowhere to intern here = learning on my own. I was doing it with a buddy but I was the only guy spending any money to buy gear. I still play in bands but was very unhappy with the recordings I was paying for or my band was paying for, so I figured if I had my own gear at least I could take my time and get things sounding the way I or my band want. Still need more gear to make it complete but at least I can do small things right now like working on my friends project.
Old 15th July 2005
Gear Nut
MusicSh*tty's Avatar

You need to produce.

With your history/qualifications you know why stuff can/should sound good, the hard work involved, how to record a nice sound, and a willingness to take on a project with little financial incentive[no appropriate smiley to go here, damn!]. If you have the right personality/attitude to go with all that then you have most of the necessary ingredients to produce.

You being near or more the same age as the owner for whom you could intern is just flat-out one of those things that's always gonna be perceived as awkward in this world. The owner would feel uncomfy/guilty about whatever and it'd prolly backfire sooner than later. Just the way it is.

Besides, in the future everybody is a rock star or a record producer. Computers (not recommended) have leveled the gear playing field and kicked wide-open the locked doors to the big time.

If you feel a need to get more skill in the engineering dept. your best angle is to find the best engineer you can find/afford and hire him when needed on your projects. This way, based on your background, you will get more sooner than you would have by giving your time. And you've already got a foundation right? Go with it. Find several more engineers after that. Learn a little from a lot.

Now if you were 20 just looking to get started and knew nothing except you had an interest It'd be different.
Old 16th July 2005
Gear Nut
SoundChances's Avatar

The producer route is what I am trying to take, but so far in the last year, bands have either not been interested, won't actually apply what I show them, take what I show them and run, and/or are not willing to sign a contract.

A problem I seem to be having is that I'm a nobody in the local scene, if I was in one of my previous locales, I'd probably be faring a little better. No one here knows who I am or what I'm capable of and even though I've got some credits and have appeared on some (very)indie records, they are long out of print these days and actually the labels don't even exist anymore!

The reason I had tried to intern was not to get the experiance, well it would have been nice to get some on an SSL or something, but to get my foot in the door and make some contacts.

I started doing my recordings when I was 14 bouncing between 2 cassette decks, worked up to a cheap 16 track analog and had just gotten into using a pair of ADATs before I dropped out of the music biz.
During that time I also had done work in a few "real" studios(they're all real to me) and spent some time working with several differant producers .
So with that, I feel I have more than just a foundation but I'm still in termite damage repair mode, if you know what I mean!

I'm just frustrated and starting to wonder if this is even worth it after spending a year at it and not really having much to show for it....
Old 18th July 2005
Gear Nut
It is tough out there, but it is possible. I am 42 years old. I quit my day job two years ago to do this full-time. I operate out of 1500 sq ft of commercial space. Word of mouth and referral is the life blood of my business. Starting out, I had to do many jobs for a flat rate, give away time for one song, or totally drop my pants on my rate to get a gig. It sucked but it paid off.
It sounds like you have the skill set to make it work. Having engineering, production and playing chops is the way to go. I know I could get more business if I had better playing chops, because I've lost gigs that went to the studios where the engineer/owner would also play on the project. I would look into doing more singer/songwriter projects. Most of the time they need a band. If you can play on the project proficiently, you have a value added skill for the client. Try to get hooked back up in the local music scene. Start to play in bands, be a gun for hire for other bands, this will get your name out there and give you credibility. Hit the clubs for the open mic nights. You need to be persistent. Let everyone you know, and don't know, what you do! Good luck!
Old 18th July 2005
Our latest intern is 17 our last two were 21 & 22

At this stage, I would suggest an intern offer would be extremly rare to find.

So you are probably left with setting up your own place..

As for education, you could pay to go on workshops - various people run them

Michael Wagener
Larry Crane
Roger Nichols

Hang out on forums like this and pick up engineering & production tips & tricks
Buy instructional DVD's
correspondance cources

To get clients - try hanging out on the local live music scene, running free recording competitions with local radio, advertising, pining notices on music store / rehersal room noticeboards etc etc local musician web forums

Old 18th July 2005
Gear Nut
SoundChances's Avatar

Thanks for you comments everyone, at least I feel better now heh

Hopefully some more persistance and time will pay off....
Old 18th July 2005
I just updated some of the education links above
Old 23rd July 2005
Lives for gear
Curtis Franklin's Avatar

im 21 and trying to do the same thing, but i have no money, so i have to waste my time at a minimum wage job. i went thru some schooling and have been hanging around studios for a while, so its not worth it to me to clean toilets to have an experienced engineer tell me what a compressor does.

get a couple of nice signal chains so you can do overdubs at your place. do drums at a local studio and the rest of the project at your house. it is cheap, has low overhead, and will get your name out. fat drum sounds are the foundation and they really cant be faked.
Old 23rd July 2005
Lives for gear
max cooper's Avatar

Record some stuff that sounds good, pass it around, repeat...
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