ATTN SOUND ENGINEERS: Is Audio Technology School a Good Idea for Me?
April 29, 2013 4:35 PM   Subscribe

I want to be a sound/audio engineer. I found a 9-month program in Audio Technology that's $24,000. Is this a good use of my time and money?

I recently graduated (without significant debt) from a large state school with a bachelors degree in TV and Film Production. During my studies, there was very little emphasis put on sound recording or engineering.

I am a big fan of House music (aka Electronic Dance Music), and recently decided that I wanted to learn to make such music myself. I purchased a copy of Ableton Live and a video course on how to use it, and I am now making my way through the course, supplemented by a once-a-week session with an "Ableton tutor."

Bottom line, I have discovered that I'm really, really fascinated by sound recording and engineering, so much so that I'm considering it as a career. I live in New York City and found a school called the SAE Institute, which offers a nine month long program in Audio Technology. Students attend 14 hours of classes a week, plus spend 10 hours a week in the school's studios working on projects, for 9 months. The cost of the program is $24,000, including materials.

I have enough money saved up so that I could pay the $24,000 plus my living expenses for 9 months.

MY QUESTION FOR ALL YOU SOUND ENGINEERS AND AUDIO ENGINEERS OUT THERE IS: Is attending this school a good use of my time and money? My fear is that I will spend both and then, 9 months later, I'll discover either that:

* this school is not respected; or
* there are no jobs for an entry-level sound engineer or audio engineer in New York City; or
* for some other reason I will find I have wasted my time and/or money.

I'd appreciate any constructive comments that anyone in the field has to offer. (If you DON'T think this school is a good idea, could you suggest some alternatives?)

Thanks!
posted by laswingkid to Technology (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd ask the school if they offer job placement services for graduates, and if so, if they could tell you some of the companies that have hired their graduates. If they have a good reputation in that department, they should be happy to tell you all about it.
posted by colin_l at 4:38 PM on April 29, 2013


That seems very high to me and it's not clear to me why the program is 9 months long--most of the others I've seen (though this is not my field) are under $10,000 and maybe 5 months tops, partly because so much training in audio engineering is practice-based.
posted by liketitanic at 4:55 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I take that back, about the duration at least. Plenty of similar programs here that are as long.
posted by liketitanic at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2013


My boyfriend spent $27k on his audio engineering degree. He has pretty much worked in unrelated tech support since he graduated 12 years ago. He had his own small record label for a few years... (broke even). Audio jobs may be easier to come by in NYC, though. We spent 5 months looking for audio engineering jobs in our area... never saw one.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:05 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to be a sound/audio engineer. I found a 9-month program in Audio Technology that's $24,000. Is this a good use of my time and money?

My roommate is a self-taught audio engineer who now builds guitar amplifiers from scratch, and he says no because recording is all about hands-on experience and 9 months of 24-hour/week instruction isn't going to cut it.

The likelihood of finding an audio engineering job, even an unpaid one, even in New York City, is very low -- especially considering you would be going into school with no knowledge about recording or engineering techniques whatsoever, rather than making official the knowledge you already possess. There will be interns willing to do little more than fetch coffee and cigarettes for years as well as people who have already had a decade of hands-on experience competing with you for the same jobs, if they ever come up (most jobs like this are filled by friends-of-friends long before they'd ever hit the public sphere).

As long as you have Ableton and a computer, you're ready to start recording! Snag a few bits of recording gear you love (if you haven't already), ask some of your musician friends if they want to demo a few tracks, and blindly mash your way forward with help from your Ableton tutor until things start making a bit of sense on their own. That way, you can get a feel for the mechanics, ups, and downs of engineering, and see if your passion grows or shifts after a year or two of hands-on experience before you plunk down nearly $25k to pursue a certificate (?).

If you're absolutely dead-set on going to school for this, I'd recommend investigating/asking around to see if any sound/audio engineers you admire went to SAE or any other audio engineering school/program. Personally, I've never known an audio/sound engineer who had an in-field degree of any kind. Of the recording engineers I know, even the most successful -- also a self-taught entrepreneur -- still scrapes and scrounges to afford studio upkeep, rent, gear, etc.; his studio work is bankrolled by his career as an independent musician.

To my mind, there's no reason you shouldn't muddle forward through Ableton and its ilk until you've taught yourself the basics, interned at a studio until you've nailed down some reliable industry connections who can help teach you and introduce you to other folks in the same boat, and seen first-hand what the job market is like for working engineers. Look before you leap, and good luck!
posted by divined by radio at 5:19 PM on April 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


That is a lot of money for a nine-month program on anything. SAE is one of those schools that advertises on the subway, right? Do you know if it's for-profit? Those are big red flags.

I'd take divined by radio's advice.
posted by pourtant at 5:27 PM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you can afford to pay $24k plus living expenses, honestly I would recommend that you get in touch with the sound techs at your local venues/stores and tell them that you'd really like to shadow the house tech in exchange for buying them all their booze while you're shadowing them. I don't know any techs/engineers who went to school for it, everyone I know started by spending time around other techs who showed them the ropes.

Finding a tech to shadow will not only teach you more applied audio engineering than school will, but you will also meet everyone the tech is working with, and those connections are going to be absolutely invaluable once you have the skill to start working on your own.

It will also be a lot cheaper and a lot more fun.

Good luck!
posted by Jairus at 5:36 PM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Anecdotal, but I've heard from a few sound engineers who are actually doing it as a side gig and making more money as musicians, which is a pretty big reversal from how it used to be. They all learned their trade on the job, as it were - none of the four I knew went to school for it.
posted by PussKillian at 5:47 PM on April 29, 2013


I know three people who've gone through similar programs. One at SAE, one at IAR, (in NY) and one at Musician's Institute in LA. All paid similarly-gargantuan tuitions. None of them worked even a single hour in the field, despite years of searching. The closest any of them came was as a DJ in a strip club.

YMMV of course, but you might want to consider this when determining what your chances are of seeing a positive return on investment.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:01 PM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine did something similar, but he had several years of experience using Abelton and other recording equipment for recording his own band. To me, there's only so much you can learn from an intensive course, but to really get the chops you'll need, you need to spend as much time in the field as possible. With your financial situation, I'd strongly consider the above idea of shadowing someone (or better yet, multiple people) who is already in the industry. If you want a job in a field like this you need not only experience, but also connections who are willing to vouch for your skills by recommending you for gigs.
posted by antonymous at 6:16 PM on April 29, 2013


I have a degree in audio engineering (as an emphasis of a Bachelor's in Music from a 4- year university), and I make my living doing it - live, not in the studio.

Bluntly, the "job market" for recording studio engineers collapsed about a decade ago, thanks to the growth of computer-based recording useable by almost any musician, and it's not gonna come back. NYC, LA, Miami, Chicago, Nashville, Toronto might still have some large studios that would actually be looking to hire employees, but otherwise everyone I know who is making a living (or, far more likely, some of their living) from recording is a one-or-two person operation, with a bunch of gear in the basement or an old warehouse space.

And, speaking from experience, being paid to be a studio engineer means you spend a lot of time listening to music you don't much like, or maybe even no music at all - voice work for commercials or audiobooks can be a big part of the work.

And yes, a whole ton of people doing engineering are self-taught, and many are frankly at least somewhat suspicious of schoolwork, if it's not backed up by at least an equal amount of real-world experience. This is especially true of for-profit schools - Full Sail is the big name in the world of "sound engineering trade schools", and EVERYONE working in the industry has stories about "Full Sail" grads who show up expecting to jump right into working with the Big Acts and the Fancy Equipment, when in reality they don't know which end of a mic cable to plug in where.

So even if you do wind up doing some schooling, I'd take divined by radio & Jairus's advice. Dive into Ableton on your own, try shadowing, or interning, or finding part-time work - even if it's making coffee or moving gear in & out of trucks, you'll be around the business, and can see how it really works, and will (if you're paying attention) gain invaluable experience.

The other thing to consider is that despite the collapse of the studio engineer job market, there are a TON of schools with some kind of audio courses available. You might find formal schooling valuable as a way to learn some of the more technical/theoretical stuff, but if I were you I would do a lot more digging to see what other colleges or universities in your area offer. I'd say it's very very very likely you can go to school part-time (and probably cheaper) at a more "legit" school and spend the rest of your time getting some actual related work experience.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:30 PM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


The likelihood of finding an audio engineering job, even an unpaid one, even in New York City, is very low

However live sound reinforcement work and mixing in event work is INCREDIBLY easy to come by. Go read backstage jobs until you see some audio op or engineer positions pop up. In the live sound reinforcement side of the field we want to see who you've worked with so we can call them, so the schools don't do much for you. The event companies are always hiring people and I know Frost specifically has a post on backstage jobs looking for Audio Engineer resumes. I would intern around until you feel comfortable and then try and get work in the field.
posted by edbles at 6:32 PM on April 29, 2013


Not an audio engineer, but I have off and on been a DJ and I know a bunch of producers.

A couple of points.

1) You will almost certainly not make money producing EDM.
2) You don't need to get a degree to learn how to make EDM. You just need to start making it. Go to parties, meet DJs, learn how to dj, meet producers, start exchanging songs that you're working on. That is how everyone I know who produces EDM got started doing it. Just start making it right now. Don't wait to 'learn how". It will suck at first, but you'll get better at it faster than you think, especially if you meet other producers.
posted by empath at 7:45 PM on April 29, 2013


Have you considered doing sound in the film/TV world? Considering that your degree is there, you might find it easier to get work through preexisting connections. (Assuming your degree is from a school that can actually provide said connections.)

Sound mixing is one of the few positions that is usually paid even on the tiniest films, because it's a relatively specialized skill and usually a gig where in addition to working on set, you also own your equipment and rent it to the production for a fee. Also, because not that many film school kids dream their whole lives of doing sound, it seems like there's always somebody on Craigslist or Mandy looking for a sound mixer and willing to pay.

You might also be able to leverage film school connections into a post-production PA gig and get into post-production sound. I don't see the demand for that like I see people looking for on-set sound mixers for student shorts, but it's certainly not impossible, and more importantly it's not obsolete.
posted by Sara C. at 10:28 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


You should go to school to pick up a marketable skill that will support you while you do music and sound on the side. Get certified in some kind of health care job, for example. Work on your music in your spare time. Sound and music are better enjoyed as a hobby than as a career.
posted by conrad53 at 11:41 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh jeeze, is this ever one that hits close to home. At one point, i was you.

The only people i know who have ever done anything but burn out and move on with any sort of mixing/recording whether live or studio, are people who buckled down and got shitty internships. Unpaid internships. The kind of internships where there's 4-5 interns and after a year or two the ones who didn't bail or burn out have a chance at a job.

I know one person who moved on to intern for low pay at a very well known indie label. I know of absolutely no one else who didn't just move on to doing something else.

As for the EDM side, i actually have some experience in that too. I've been producing stuff for years, and have traveled around playing shows and even at a couple festivals. I got signed to a small label for a little while too.

The way to be successful in that is not to take any class, or spend any money on much of anything besides a decent laptop and maybe some control equipment like something from akai/korg/m-audio/novation thats popular right now.

Everyone i know who got successful(and i know some people who have toured all over europe playing tons of shows, played big festivals, etc) just sat in their bedroom for months writing stuff, trashing it, going back and improving on it with new ideas and techniques and more skill, etc. The best way to get the hang of the software isn't a tutor. Once you have even a basic notion of how it works just play around with it. Play around for hours a day when you get home from work, or have a day off. I used to spend entire weekends screwing around in ableton until 4am, fall asleep, wake up with an idea and plug it in as quick as i could.

Ableton, Reason, and the other programs are such open ended tools that beyond the basics what someone teaches you in a class or tutoring type environment is basically "this is the way i do things", or even worse, "this is how the book or tutorials put out by the software devs say to do things". The most interesting stuff i've seen done both with ableton and with hardware was by people who never even knew there was a "right" way and ended up doing stuff the designer may not even have imagined. Some of the coolest patches, effects, sampling techniques, etc i've heard were people "breaking" the software or doing something "wrong".

I could espouse about this for ages, but i really think the thing to do here is to take that time, and fuck, that money, and just get a decent laptop and try and get a part time job as a sound guy at a small venue, or as some kind of audio tech assistant/sound assistant for one of those back page big event organizer jobs that does corporate events and weddings and such. Eventually try and start being that guy at the practice space who records peoples demos in the back and polishes them up on his laptop(every practice space i've been in had a guy like this or two, and a foam cored room at the back for recording). Spend you spare time screwing around in ableton and working on creating stuff. It's only really the connections you'll make through that type of thing and just making tracks and playing shows at shitty bars and small venues that will ever get you the connections to even be a gopher at any kind of studio you could hope to be an engineer at some day.

And that said, one of my favorite time periods i remember of my life was a summer i spent flipping burgers and screwing around in ableton. I made a lot of interesting stuff, played a few shows, people liked it. I ended up getting really serious about it for a while and making quite a bit of stuff and getting pretty damn good at using ableton.

And this is getting to be a long ass post, but i could go on for far too long about how much i agree with what conrad53 and soundguy99 are saying. Basically, that this is not something you should focus on as your full time job. Get a job that pays decent money doing something else. Get a community college degree in nursing or network engineering or something, and do this stuff in your spare time. There is very, very little money to be paid at the entry level end of making/playing EDM, or sound stuff anymore that i've ever seen. You're either doing it for close to nothing(or almost nothing and beer, if it's live sound, even at smaller festival) or you're one of the 5 people out of 1000 who gets to be a superstar at it. there is no middle ground, there's no middle step where you're "starting to get going on it". You're either dumpster diving for cold pizza or you're making bank, and getting from a to b is either knowing the right people from the start or essentially winning the lottery. You will very likely not make it from the bottom of the food chain to anywhere resembling success without years of this being something you pour money in to and work for nothing, before you even get a hint of light at the end of this tunnel.

Everyone i know in sound or music grimly laughs about making any money on anything these days. seriously. The only happy people i know do it on the side. I went in to college with similar thoughts to you, and it only took me a couple quarters to just switch to IT stuff.

I really hope you take this to heart. I spent almost a half hour thinking, writing, erasing, and writing again here. I just don't want you to end up like the people i know who are approaching 30 and still living in share houses giving it 110% and not getting anywhere despite being good at what they do, just because this market is fucking dead.
posted by emptythought at 12:54 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've got a lot to say on this subject, but the short answer is this: No, don't spend that much money on a 9 month course.

You have enough money for the school plus living expenses. That is fantastic. This puts you in a great position where you have lots of options.

The market for sound engineers has gotten a lot smaller, especially studio engineers. You don't get a job because of what school you went to, or even what you know. Hell, for the most part it doesn't matter how good you are at first. It's all about who you know, and how well you can network/promote yourself.

No one is going to give you a job (or at least the fun job that you want and think will be fun and exciting) just because you went to school, or because you have some talent. They are going to give you a job because they know you from a session you helped on, or they know someone who worked with you who had a good experience, or something similar.

There are a ton of people who come out of these recording schools. Most of them aren't any good, and employers know that. When I graduated from a recording school in Seattle 10 years ago, having that listed on your resume was considered a bad thing, because of how many substandard students came out of there. Studios preferred to have people with no experience at all than people from this school, since the graduates seemed to feel they were entitled.

For those of us who are lucky enough to get audio work, a lot of it is just that: Work. It's spending 12 hours a day for 2 weeks editing out all of the breaths for a poorly recorded book on tape, or working for 3 days here and there running sound for a pharmacy rep trying to sell their new drug to doctors in town.

The glamor and fun of working in a studio for a living doing music is limited to a select few.

My professional advice is that you should put your time and effort into getting a degree in something which can get you a solid income, and which allows for free time. This will provide you with money and financial security. You can then take that money to invest in audio and video gear, and use your free time to create the artistic projects that you love.

Unfortunately, since you've asked the question about recording school, chances are you won't take my sensible advice above, because that doesn't interest you. In that case, if you really insist that you want to work in the audio world, here is my advice: Call up every single company that you think you'd want to work for, and try to get a meeting with the person in charge of their audio department, or at least someone who does hiring there. If they won't meet with you, see if they'll talk over the phone. If not, see if they'll answer questions via email.

Ask every single one of them what they are looking for in a potential employee. Ask them what the job actually entails. Ask them what your next step should be if you want to work for their company.

This will get you the information you need, the roadmap to where your next step should be.

Now that you have that info, you take your 9 months of living expenses and you do whatever you need to do to follow their advice. Buy some gear to learn on, hire some people to help tutor you on things you don't understand, shadow/intern with some people who know what they are doing, work for free in order to get onto bigger projects. Do whatever it takes to meet the people you want to work with.

In addition to this, you need to learn. I'm not talking about knowing how to make a cool beat, or what end of the microphone to talk into. You need to know how everything really works. This means understanding the basics of everything in your field well enough to troubleshoot any problem that might come up. This means being able to read a recording text book from start to finish and understand everything in that book. This means being able to walk up to a mixer or sound system you've never seen before and make it work without someone telling you what to do.

In addition to this, you need to be mindful of yourself. Make yourself into the person that people want to work with. Find ways of being around people who know more than you do, and then keep your mouth shut so that they can teach you. If you talk too much about yourself, or give your opinion too often, you won't get called back. You need to show the people who you're working with that you are willing to put in the extra effort, that you'll do the things that aren't fun and glamorous, and that you don't need a thank you or a pat on the back. Show everyone that you want to be there, and that having you there makes the session go smoother. This is how you get called back for a job.

If you spend 9 months interning at a studio, while studying recording text books on your own in your off hours, you will learn so much more in 9 months than you will going to a recording school. The problem is that getting an internship at any good studio is almost impossible for most people these days.

I went to a recording school (2 actually, but one of them wasn't fancy, although I learned a whole lot more there), and I was never able to get a job in a studio. I worked at AV companies, ran sound for corporate talks, setup tables at performance venues, and ended up working in event services for a university. My recording degree did nothing for me in any of these situations. I did, however, start investing money into audio equipment while I was working at "real" jobs. I slowly built up my home studio, and learned everything I could in my spare time. I found my strengths and weaknesses, and worked to improve. As I was able to get paid gigs, I invested all of that money back into my studio at home, and spent many years doing that.

I am finally at a point in my life, 10 years after recording school, where I can say that I am actually making money doing studio work. It's not a lot, it sure isn't near as much as I was working at a "normal" job, but it's enough for us to get by (but only because my wife has a good job with health benefits and a decent salary).

If I were to do things differently, I would have taken the few years that I spent in recording school, and instead spent that time putting all of my effort into meeting people in the industry. I was never very good at networking and meeting people, but networking is what it's all about. The 2 albums I will produce this year for other people came about because of my network. Other than my jingle writing, which is done for podcasts and almost exclusively online, 95% of the studio work I do comes from a connection I made somewhere down the line. If I had put my time and effort into building my network 10 years ago, I'd likely be much further ahead than I am now.

One of my friends who is a songwriter and music teacher said something which applies to anyone working in the audio world. "When you are a musician, playing music isn't your job. Your job is finding work playing music." Unless you somehow manage to stumble into a job working on staff at a studio (which is a position that 100 other people who are more qualified than you will be fighting for), every gig you get will likely be short term. You are going to need to be prepared to spend a lot of time just trying to get work.

This is one of the reasons why I tell people to get a "real" job and do music on the side. This allows you to only work on projects that you love to do, and since you aren't doing it 40 hours a week, it's much easier to keep yourself working on stuff that is fun. When you rely on your audio work to pay the bills, you are going to be taking any job you can get, even if it pays terribly and is something you really hate doing. Hell, I've got one friend who has a somewhat steady gig working at a studio, and she still ends up painting houses over the summer when things get slow in order to pay the bills.

So, after saying all that, let me end with this: If you feel in your bones that working in the audio world is the only thing you could possibly do with your life, and you're willing to live like a broke college student for the next 20 years in order to make that happen, than go for it. If you feel like you'd like to have a stable life and be able to afford nice things, than find a job that pays well and is stable, and do the audio work on the side. You may find yourself much happier that way.
posted by markblasco at 1:10 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think it's really important to emphasize that there is nothing stopping you from making EDM right now. If you really want to make music, why aren't you making music? There's nothing that any school is going to teach you about music that you can't learn faster by just doing it.

I'll tell you one friend's path to making it as an EDM producer, so you know kind of what you can expect at best: When he was in his early 20s, he bought a copy of reason and played around with it when he wasn't working as a computer programmer. After a few years, he was a regular poster on a semi-famous DJ's personal webforum, and posted his songs there and talked about them with other aspiring producers who gave him advice. I met him at a party locally and he sent me some music, and I was impressed, and I was already in the process of booking that semi-famous DJ as a headliner, so I booked him to open. That DJ recognized him from the forum and actually listened to his songs for the first time and then paid him to remix some songs. My friend released like 6 remixes in two years, made absolutely no money, got sick of the genre of music he was making and then completely started over from scratch with new gear and a new style of music and dramatically improved, while not selling any songs. Fast forward 4 years, and his GF told him she'd support him for a year if they moved to LA. After a year of networking and working on music in LA, he handed a CD to a relatively big name DJ, who ended up releasing his song as part of a compilation on a trendy underground label. That gave him enough 'street cred' that labels started listening to all of his other songs he's been writing and not selling for a year and a half, and now he's got a half-dozen songs coming out this year, he's been signed to a talent agency and he's going on a tour of Europe. He has still made basically no money.

In ten years of making EDM, with a dozen songs released, some of them having been played for crowds of 50,000 people at festival, used on a commercially sold mix cd, and licensed at a major retail chain, he's made a few thousand dollars total (mostly from the retail chain licensing deal). That's your future in EDM if you get lucky. If you don't get lucky, you get nothing and no one ever listens to your music. I don't think those are odds worth dropping $24k on, especially when it won't help you an iota at making better music.

Going to school for this is just a really expensive form of procrastination. Get a job that you like that can subsidize your music making, and just start working on music. And networking with people 'in the scene'. It's at least half who you know, anyway.
posted by empath at 1:39 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Original Poster here.

First of all, if you've just come across this thread and feel you have something to contribute, PLEASE DO. I will be checking back here on a regular basis.

I would just like to say THANK YOU to the many posters here who obviously put a lot of time and thought into their answers. You have been TREMENDOUSLY helpful.

With so much crap floating around on the internet, and so many mean spirited comments posted, it's just amazing to me (and touching) that so many people would devote so much of their energy to helping a stranger. Really makes me grateful for Ask Me-Fi and makes me marvel yet again at what a wonderful tool it is--one of the best things the internet has to offer, IMHO.

The comments to date have certainly given me a lot to think about. I am going to continue my own studies with Ableton for the near-term future, until I really get a handle on it, and then decide from there how best to proceed.

Again, thank you SO MUCH to those who have posted so far (April 30, 2013) and please, if you have more insight to offer, please do!

Signed,

A Grateful Ask Me-Fi User
posted by laswingkid at 6:22 AM on April 30, 2013


OP, my roommate asked me to direct you to the dreadfully-named GearSlutz.com for additional information on this topic. He thinks their message board is one of the best resources for beginners in the field, there is no short supply of intensely detailed and helpful information on basically any topic related to recording or engineering, and a number of their regular posters own/operate professional recording studios. They also have a separate forum specifically for newbies and beginners.

Here are some GS threads/posts related to your question:
* "Apprenticeship" compared to "Recording School"?
* How NOT to land an internship
* Should I go to school?
* Poll: Audio engineering/recording school vs. Invest/learn in your own studio?
* What should I do, go to SAE school, or get a regular job?
* Is learning at the SAE Institute worthwhile?

If you're at all interested in the explicitly engineering-focused side of things, I would recommend looking into pursuing an electrical engineering degree. Experienced, versatile EEs are eminently employable in many different fields, up to and including audio engineering, and methodical troubleshooting and problem-solving skills are of the utmost importance in the audio recording and engineering world (she writes, having watched her roommate wire and solder hundreds, if not thousands, of patchbays).
posted by divined by radio at 7:30 AM on April 30, 2013


Like divinedbyaudio said, if you are at all interested in the tech side, get your EE degree. Would-be engineers are pretty common; a good tech in NYC might actually end up with more work than available time.
posted by dubold at 11:25 AM on April 30, 2013


There's lot's of good advice here - in particular I agree with everything soundguy99 said. I spent about fifteen years doing audio engineering for live sound, sound recording and video production and I want to nth the notion that school will not help you; in fact I have never heard of any graduate of such a program that wasn't met with skepticism (often justified) out in the "real world." It's just not how the industry works.
posted by werkzeuger at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2013


Original Poster here again. Someone sent me a private message, which I've anonymized and am posting below, as I think it may be helpful to others who find this thread in the future:

"I'd just like to add that everything empath said [above] is emphatically true. Especially the bits about really "getting somewhere" but still making close to no money.

I'm friends with some guys who are in a fairly well-known chiptune indie rock band. They've done game soundtracks, toured all over the world, etc. From everything they've ever done, they barely make enough money to pay the rent on a medium-sized apartment they all share. I have another friend who's taken a similar path as empath's friend, and it's the same story: attention and some recognition, no real money. And with both/all of them, they had good jobs in the first place that propped them up while they got going, or in the second case, some family money to keep them going.

This is absolutely something to only getting into it "for the love of the game," so to speak. Playing big shows can be fun, but it still doesn't make you a rockstar in the implied sense ($$$) that everyone seems to think from the outside. You would be surprised at some of the "Shit, that was my last 20 bucks!" situations I've run in to with people over here touring from Europe.

I could go on, but I just wanted to put some more weight behind what empath said because he perfectly presented my point. There isn't gold in these hills, only fun. And I definitely wouldn't spend money on school to go prospecting."
posted by laswingkid at 5:33 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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