The music business is tough.Work is elusive, and will not come to you – you have to hunt it down. But there is work out there, you have to go and get it.
Check out all the studios possible. Leave a card. Try to get a rapport with certain studios, and try to always use it for your projects. If you bring in a few bands, you may get a break on the cost of the studio. As well, if they know you, and if they are familiar with your work, they may call you when they need an engineer.
Check your hearing. Before you seriously become an active, working recording engineer, get your head, er… hearing examined. If your hearing is questionable, it ain’t getting any better. It may be disconcerting if the client sees you adjusting your hearing aid in the session.
Have ears will travel. Place an ad in the local music paper that you are available to record bands at a very reasonable rate. Go to clubs and talk to bands about recording. Print up a demo disc of some of your best work – even if you must book studio time to do it – and mail it out or hand it out to whoever may be interested.
Include a business card with a contact number. Don’t scribble “This whole disc was recorded in half an hour in Dave’s Basement, with no overdubs, and lots of beer.” Use professional graphics.
I love the mall, I love them all. Get to know as many people in the local scene as possible by hanging around the music and recording gear stores, going to shows and supporting local artists. Other engineers, small time managers and local musicians become big name producers, studio owners and rock stars.
He shoots, he scores. Do you play hockey, baseball, bowling, curling, tongue wrestling? Many cities have music industry sports teams. This is how to network in the recording industry. There is nothing like getting sympathy work, so maybe a puck in the head now and again will help your career.
Intensities in ten cities. Attend the major audio shows and conventions such as the AES or NAMM. These shows are great to see what is on the horizon, but also to hang out with the audio industry and be seen.
Get outta town. You may want to move to a locale that has lots of studios, like LA, NY or Nashville. There are many secondary markets other than these three, but of course these ones are the main places. Note that even though there are more studios, there is more competition, and big cities aren’t for everyone.
And on this team. Many engineers today are teaming up with someone such as a producer or mixer, and starting their own production company. With the low cost of equipment, this may be a viable option for some people. Just working as a recording engineer today might not be enough. It is always good to have something to fall back on. I still have my hat from Burger King, just in case.
Use your computer to its fullest capacity. Use the Internet to access data on recording studios, new equipment and newest techniques. There are many Web sites available to research available recording studios in your area, as well as any new techniques that different engineers, equipment manufacturers or organizations post on the web.
Keep a file on all the studios including a list of the attributes and detriments of the studio. List how you laid out the instruments.
Create a Web site with your photograph, name, your credits, your availability etc. Upload your demo, perhaps parts of songs you have engineered. Check the legalities of this, and do not upload anything you don’t own that has not been released yet.
Tim Crich has over 20 years of experience in the recording studio and has worked on records by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, KISS, Billy Joel, U2, David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Cher, Bryan Adams and many more. He has engineered for some of the biggest producers in the world. This article is excerpted with permission from his book Recording Tips For Engineers.