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  #1  
Old 02-02-2010, 03:25 PM
Digitopian Digitopian is offline
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Default Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California?

Greetings fellow DUC'ers,
Recently I have been seriously considering moving to Southern California and am in the process of formulating a strategy for getting hired at a Professional Studio as a Engineer or Assistant Engineer. I have been a Recording Engineer professionally for almost 7 years, 4 of which were at a Commercial Studio that I Co-Owned and Operated. I also have a degree in Recording for whatever it's worth.

It seems to me that the traditional method of blanketing the area with resumes is not only inefficient, but also unlikely to yield any results given the current state of the industry and the growing trend of the home studio etc. (although I could be wrong), so I am trying to determine the best plan of attack.

One possible method that I have considered is to plan a trip out there and make some appointments for interviews for information and studio walk throughs at studios of interest although I do not want to be deceitful in my intentions, (eg. pretend like I am checking out a studio for the sake of potentially doing a recording there) but I am hoping that this process may lead to meeting people who may at the very least give me greater insight into how to proceed.

In some ways it feels like obtaining an Engineering job in Southern California is a bit like trying to break into some type of secret society, so any insight or thoughts on the subject that any of you could share with me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 02-02-2010, 05:09 PM
guitardom guitardom is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

i would be a bit scared because of the state of the economy alone, especially in california and the amount of studios closing up. sc has always been tough and i have had a couple friends interning out there for over a year w/o getting a paying gig who finally had to give up. on the flip side, alls it takes is being at the right place at the right time with the right attitude.
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  #3  
Old 02-02-2010, 05:09 PM
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O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

there is really no correct answer to this. If you talk to 100 people you'll get 100 different answers.

First off, you'll never get hired for anything until after you move here. I know a few people that came out here looking to line up work before they moved out here... it never happened and a few people even told them, "move out here first. Once you are here, then we'll talk."

Second, since you have so much experience you are most likely NOT going to get hired as a sound engineer at a studio. Most studios out here hire runners. The runners that last get promoted to assistants. At that point most leave to become freelance engineers, a couple stay on and get promoted to "second" or "house" engineer only to eventually leave and become freelance as well.

Since you have a lot of experience, you are already at the stage of being freelance. The "tours" you are talking about taking should actually be to find places you like so you can bring your own clients into them.

Ahhhh... but how to get clients in the first place? There is really no answer for that. It's totally all based on who you know. Nobody looks in the yellow pages to find an engineer for their next album. And nobody is going to hire you from a hand shake and a business card. I usually don't even both giving out business cards anymore. The people that hire me, know me through someone else I know. Even when people ask me for my business card, it never goes anywhere. In the end, it comes down to making lots of friends and trying to find work (usually freebee's at first) through friends of friends. And a piece of advice... don't get caught up in the hollywood scene. It's fun once in a while. But nobody who would ever seriously hire you for anything is going to be hanging out in some fancy, guest list only bar/club. Going to see a band play on a tuesday night at some dive bar and randomly meeting someone that gives you work is a more likely scenario than going into hollywood on a saturday night and meeting someone that is going to hire you.

If you try to look at it more like you are moving to LA to start your own company and find clients for that company, you might be more successful than to look at it like you are moving to LA to try and get a job in a studio. Yes that might happen. But more often than not those things happen when you are already bringing clients into a studio.
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  #4  
Old 02-02-2010, 05:21 PM
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O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

oh, and don't expect anything to happen overnight. It literally takes years to create a career for yourself. If you start getting a lot of work within 3 years time, consider yourself very successful.

But along with coming up with a plan to move out here... you also come up with a plan to sustain yourself while you are out here... then you'll probably be able to last long enough to find gigs.

People that look at moving out here as the "end goal" forget that work is not going to get thrown at them from every passing car and bus out here. You need to have a plan for once you get here. When I moved out here I had a 5 year plan. I was fortunate enough to reach all of those goals in a little over a year... But if I hadn't planned on how I could stay out here for five years, I might not have even lasted 6 months... and if I had to give up after 6 months I never would have gotten my "break" that came to me after I had been here for 7 months and eventually blossomed into a lot of work after a year. For most people I've seen, it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years to really get their foot "in the door" and start working regularly in their chosen profession. A composer friend of mine has been out here for 3 years. He finally now got a gig as an assistant to someone who is working on primetime shows. And how did he get the gig? A friend of a friend knows the composer and passed the word along. That's how it works.

If you have a plan to sustain yourself out here. And you have different ways to possibly make friends out here... then you are in a good situation. If you aren't a very chatty, friendly person... you are going to have trouble out here. If you have no interests other than music, you are going to have trouble out here.
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  #5  
Old 02-02-2010, 06:21 PM
Digitopian Digitopian is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

Thanks for the thoughts and advice guys. I'm in somewhat of a strange position in that I owned a studio in Orlando, slowly made enough of a name for the studio there to where we had a small but loyal client base and growth potential.

Unfortunately circumstances regarding my business partner and I led to us parting ways, and very shortly after a family emergency for lack of a better term landed me in South Carolina where I have been able to Freelance and for a period of time work as Chief Engineer at a studio that was less than ideal but paid the bills.

Now I find myself in a position where relocation is an absolute necessity if I want to work full time as well as progress further as an engineer. I have already taken enough of a financial blow from the original studio that I Co-owned to know that I would much more prefer to concentrate on the creative and technical aspects of engineering as opposed to worrying covering the expense of maintaining my own facility.

Unfortunately while I did what had to be done by moving here to help my family, I can't help but feel like the last two years have been a step backwards and at 34 years old I need to get back on track and quickly.

Perhaps the west coast isn't the best Idea. I'm not sure... I can assure you however that my intentions for wanting to be there have little to do with the usual lure of living the HollyWood dream. I was born out there and half of my family lives out there and all I want to do is be immersed in the creation of music.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I have a lot to think about and really do appreciate any thoughts that can be brought to the table on this subject.

Regards,
Ethan
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  #6  
Old 02-02-2010, 07:48 PM
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O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

honestly, I think you should do it. What do you have to lose really? I could understand not moving if you've been in SC for 15 years and have a successful studio operation going. But from what you've described it really doesn't sound like you have anything tying you to SC. Honestly now's the best time to move! Don't go through life wondering if you could have made it happen. give it a shot. What's the worst that can happen? In the end you can make a living as a sound engineer anywhere (you've already found that out), its just that in other places you don't have the earning potential that you do in LA. I mean could you really find engineering gigs that pay $100+/hr in SC??? Maybe one or two here and there... but consistently? Those jobs exist out here. But you have to work your way up to get them, whereas they really don't exist in other parts of the country.

Also, try to keep your options open. If the only requirement you have is to be a part of music creation, your options open up considerably compared to only wanting to work on albums for bands. Here in So Cal there are A LOT of films and TV shows being made and a lot of composers who need a technical/engineer type person. So that is also a possibility for you as well...

A friend of mine from Boston moved out here a few years ago. He really liked mixing bands, and had also mixed some local and regional TV and radio ads. when he got out here he found his way into TV after about a year and now, 5 years later he is mixing all the TV trailers for blockbuster films. He has mixed the tv trailers for Live Free or Die Hard, 2012, Zombieland, District 9, Angels & Demons, etc and just finished mixing the Tooth Fairy ads that are starting to air. And from doing that stuff, he's gotten gigs mixing sound for videos for Ne-yo, Marc Anthony, Snoop Dogg and Megadeath.

the moral of the story... you can make it happen. especially if you keep your options open. One gig leads to the next and sometimes it can take some pretty interesting turns... but in the end you'll get where you want to be if you stay with it and never give up.
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  #7  
Old 02-02-2010, 09:43 PM
Digitopian Digitopian is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.G. Killa View Post
honestly, I think you should do it. What do you have to lose really? I could understand not moving if you've been in SC for 15 years and have a successful studio operation going. But from what you've described it really doesn't sound like you have anything tying you to SC. Honestly now's the best time to move! Don't go through life wondering if you could have made it happen. give it a shot. What's the worst that can happen? In the end you can make a living as a sound engineer anywhere (you've already found that out), its just that in other places you don't have the earning potential that you do in LA. I mean could you really find engineering gigs that pay $100+/hr in SC??? Maybe one or two here and there... but consistently? Those jobs exist out here. But you have to work your way up to get them, whereas they really don't exist in other parts of the country.

Also, try to keep your options open. If the only requirement you have is to be a part of music creation, your options open up considerably compared to only wanting to work on albums for bands. Here in So Cal there are A LOT of films and TV shows being made and a lot of composers who need a technical/engineer type person. So that is also a possibility for you as well...

A friend of mine from Boston moved out here a few years ago. He really liked mixing bands, and had also mixed some local and regional TV and radio ads. when he got out here he found his way into TV after about a year and now, 5 years later he is mixing all the TV trailers for blockbuster films. He has mixed the tv trailers for Live Free or Die Hard, 2012, Zombieland, District 9, Angels & Demons, etc and just finished mixing the Tooth Fairy ads that are starting to air. And from doing that stuff, he's gotten gigs mixing sound for videos for Ne-yo, Marc Anthony, Snoop Dogg and Megadeath.

the moral of the story... you can make it happen. especially if you keep your options open. One gig leads to the next and sometimes it can take some pretty interesting turns... but in the end you'll get where you want to be if you stay with it and never give up.
Thanks O.G. for all of the insight. The reality is there is nothing for me here in SC (In terms of earning potential in music production) and leaving this state is a given, and while there are other options I have a strong feeling that Southern Cali is a better fit for me than most of the other choices.

Being a part of the creation of music is my only prerequisite. I could easily see myself working with or for Composers on the technical side or perhaps even contributing to the musical side if/when needed. I have been a musician for 22 years and have a decent background in Music Theory. Music and Technology are my two loves and I feel like I would be a good fit working under a Producer or Composer as well as assisting Engineers in recording bands.

The Part that is tripping me up is how to maneuver into any one of these positions. That is why I was considering taking a trip out there to check out studios and do interviews for information. If I could make one solid connection or get one gig going then I wouldn't hesitate to just stay in town and arrange to have my things moved out to me. I know it sounds cliche', but I live and breathe this stuff. I have no problem with living a frugal lifestyle as long as I can pay my bills. I know from prior experience how things can build and gain momentum and the power of networking. The question that I keep returning to is how do I get that initial break.

Thanks again O.G. for the words of encouragement. Feel free at any point to share your thoughts on this with me. Also I would love to hear from any other DUC'ers out there that might have thoughts specific or in general regarding the subject.
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  #8  
Old 02-03-2010, 12:05 PM
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O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
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Default Re: Thoughts on getting hired as an Engineer or AE at a Studio in Southern California

yeah man, everyone's path is different. Once you are out here, you will find yours. Come out for a visit, visit studios and I also suggest you visit some post production studios as well and see if you can get some composers' studios on the phone too. Hans Zimmer's studio is called Remote Control in Santa Monica. James Newton Howard's studio is also in Santa Monica but I forget the name. maybe look up some other composers and see if you can find info about their studios. Try contacting scoring stages like the LA Sound Gallery, The Fox Scoring Stage, the Warner Bros scoring stage, etc...

But in the end just being out here is what is going to get you into the scene. Just two weeks ago my friend was playing a classical concert (he plays french horn). The horn player next to him started talking to him. They exchanged info. After the concert my friend sent the guy an email just saying, "it was nice meeting and playing with you!" My friend's signature with his website was in the bottom of the email. He gets a reply back from the guy... come to find out the guy is really a film composer and plays these concerts just to keep his chops up. He checked out my friend's site (who is really a score recordist and mixer) and inquired about hiring my friend to record the score to his next film, which will most likely be recorded over at the Warner Brothers stage. Here is a chance meeting, neither of them said in their initial conversation "Hey I'm a sound engineer" or "hey I'm a composer". But the connection happened.

You never know who you are going to be next to. On a flight from Boston to LA 8 years ago I ended up sitting next to JJ Abrams. We talked about music for like 3 hours (he plays piano/keys). I had never heard of him at the time. Alias was just about to come out. So I thought he was a musician!!! He told me he kind of does screenplay writing too. I innocently said, "cool, have you worked on anything I might have heard of?" LOL!!! He was a really cool guy, and having a conversation about something we were both into started the friendship. When we were getting off the flight he gave me his cell phone number and his email address. We kept in touch for a while and he even invited me down to ABC studios to see the taping of Alias and Felicity (the two shows he was working on at the time).

So you never know... be friendly, make friends. Don't look at people as simply "work" or "connections to work". If you start making friends anywhere and everywhere, you'll start getting in the door. It could be an amatuer softball league you join or a starbucks you happen to be sitting in. In this town you WILL meet people when you are out and about. Some you might not recognize or have heard of, others you will. Treat everyone the same, and just try to be friends with everyone!

Another LA story... I went to see a friend of mine play piano at a hotel in beverly hills. At the end of the night a kid walks up and starts talking to us about music and turns out he's a piano player too. He told us his name, which I had never heard before and didn't think anything of. He said he's in LA finish up his first album and doing a photo shoot. And so we were talking about his album. He sat down and played us some of the songs and we were talking about the inspiration for some of the lyrics and stuff. He was a cool kid, 22 years old. Then like two and a half months later I started hearing one of his songs, called "I Don't Wanna Be" on the radio. The kid was Gavin DeGraw. LOL

Now granted I run into a lot of people who are in LA recording an album and whatnot and they never go anywhere, you don't think anything of it. It was kind of funny to me that in this sea of hopefulls we all run into every day, this one kid ended up "making it" and went on to get a platinum album.

Anyway... enough of my LA stories...I've got a ton of them... you need to come out here and start getting some of your own!
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