3 answers

What are the requirements to get started in musical engineering?

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learn how to play some instruments #musica bianka P.
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3 answers

Paul’s Answer

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As someone who has been in this career track for over 30 years, I'll fill you in on the basics.

There are multiple tracks when it comes to "musical engineering." The first is studio recording. That can be either in a major professional recording studio, or doing the same thing in home studios. Sad to say, the vast majority of recording is done in home studios now - and that includes major artists. I read somewhere that one of Lady Gaga's producers puts everything together on his laptop, and only goes into a big studio to add finishing touches and mix. Major studio recording jobs are incredibly rare, and frankly, I don't recommend pursuing it. However, anyone can build a home studio with enough money and knowledge.

The second track for music engineering is live production. That includes major rock concerts as well as clubs, private events and more. This is the area I mainly work in today, for a couple reasons. The first of which is that studio recording jobs are mostly dead (see above), the second is that there's more and more consistent jobs available in live. And this track includes other, shall we say "less musical" jobs like conventions or sales meetings. Yes, they're as boring as they sound, but they also typically pay better than the music ones.

There's a couple major keys to live engineering. The first is being in a large city - not a lot going on in Fargo, where I grew up. In cities like Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, or Las Vegas, concerts and events are going on almost constantly. Think of Strip shows like Cirque du Soleil, but there's also literally thousands of convention events in Las Vegas every year.

The second key to live work is being a part of the stagehands union, IATSE. They have chapters in virtually all decent sized cities (even Fargo), and depending on the city, are a major source of work. Here in Las Vegas, there are certain shows and venues that only hire union crews.

The good news is, both live and studio engineering use most of the same skillsets when it comes to audio, signal routing, microphones, etc. Of course there are differences, but many engineers float between the two, going where the work is at that particular time.

For either, I also recommend going to school for audio production. While it's not critical, it will teach you a lot, and there may even be job opportunities through the school. And I always tell people one thing: education is good, experience is very good, but having both is the killer combination. And there's no reason you can't work in this field while going to school - most schools of this type are in major cities I mentioned above.

Hope that helps. Good luck!
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Elizabeth’s Answer

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Hi Sebastian. The world needs good recording engineers! So I am glad that this interests you. The first thing I would say is, all engineers have great hearing ability to hear deep into the music. They hear nuances and details that most don't or can't. I believe it is a gift. You won't know if you have a gift for it until you try. Listen to the style or styles of music you want to engineer. Ask yourself what you like or don't like about the sound and why. Listen, listen, listen. Next, seek out a professional engineer who is willing to talk with you, mentor you, and ideally let you sit in on one or more of his/her recording session. This will give you a feel for what the job really requires. There is much technical expertise involved, too - choosing the right mic, mic placement, recording software, mixing boards, etc. So you need many talents and skills to be a topnotch engineer. It is possible! Be prepared to work hard and at first, for little to no money (if you intern at at studio). Always be professional. Respect the artist, be sensitive to him or her. Get to the studio early (don't be late!). This may seem like common sense things, but I feel I need to reiterate them. In addition to recording, you will be doing mixing, too. This takes great patience and the ability to listen to the same song measure by measure over and over again many times. Again, meeting with a professional already in the biz will be your greatest window into the world of engineering. I wish you well in your endeavors!

Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:

  • Meet with a professional engineer - sit in on his sessions.
  • Listen to lots and lots of music - the styles you want to engineer.
  • Apply yourself and work hard.
  • Learn more than one music software platform - not only ProTools.
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Tre’s Answer

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Hi Sebastian, having the desire to want to be in music engineering is the very first step! Now that you have that, I would suggest if you can visit a local apply store and take apart in their Garbage Band Education sessions, they're free! They'll teach you how to work their software it's entertaining and helpful! Outside of that look into majoring in Broadcast Journalism or Mass Communications at a college. Under this major, your concentration should be Sound Engineering or Radio & Tv (depending on where you go). There you will learn how to mix and master each track! I took some of these classes during why undergraduate years so I could run my podcast! And it has paid off tremendously! If you can download any software for sound engineering, do so! And spend an hour each day playing around with it! You can record somethings on your phone and then upload them to the program and learn how to loop and edited and layer the tracks! 

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