How to Skip Audio Engineering School (Part 2)

How To Skip Audio Engineering School

If you read part 1, you already know why you should skip audio school. You also know that I skipped audio school and you probably remember this amazing fact: 5 out of the last 5 producers that won the Producer of the Year Grammy don’t have an audio degree!

In this article, I’m going to layout the steps you need to take in order to skip audio engineering school.

How To Skip Audio School

1. Give yourself a budget for learning. You’re about to teach yourself a lot about audio engineering. Get the right tools. You’ll need a computer and a DAW. A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation. I personally recommend Pro Tools. It is the industry standard. That means you will be able to walk into most studios in the country and start working on Pro Tools. That can’t be said for other DAWs. If you want some help choosing the right computer, click here.

2. Set a schedule. Set aside time every-week specifically for your audio education. This can be an hour a day or 40 hours a week. You can learn at whichever pace you want, but don’t allow yourself to stop or stray from your schedule. Remember, this is not a hobby. This is your career.

3. Find some relevant blogs and YouTube channels. I aim to be your number 1 source for free training and free information. However, it’s always good to explore many blogs and YouTube channels.

4. Join Online Audio Communities. I’m a member of several online audio communities. The information in these communities is not always 100% accurate, but people are sharing knowledge about what works for them. You can pickup some good ideas from these communities. You can find them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites created specifically for audio engineers.

5. Find professional quality audio files to work on. It’s hard to tell what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong when you’re working with amateur audio. You should be practicing your edits and processing (EQing, Compressing, etc.) on professionally recorded tracks. That way, you know that there aren’t major flaws in the sound quality. I know that it’s difficult to get your hands on professionally recorded tracks. So, I’m going to leave a Pro Tools session file right here for you.

6. Practice recording. You’ll need to eventually start working with artists. I highly recommend practicing editing, processing, mixing, and mastering before you ever work with an artist. But, when you’re ready, you’ll need to tap into that budget you made for yourself during step 1. Remember, when you acquire recording gear, you will be able to record artists. You’ll have what you need to start the career you want. First, you’ll need an interface (which converts the analog signal from your microphone into a digital signal that your computer can process and understand) and you’ll need microphones. This article will tell you exactly what you need to put together that recording studio. Click here

7. Find a producer you trust. You’ll need advice from someone who has been successful doing what you are trying to do. Find a full-time producer who’s willing to help you round out your edges. There are great resources for this online. It’s likely that producers will charge a fee to examine your sessions and give you professional feedback, but it can really help you get better at your craft. Budget for this. I also recommend attempting to get a recording internship at an active studio. The best way to do this is to bring in business. So, the small recording studio you personally set up will be the catalyst for this. Keep recording bands. You can do it for free or charge low rates, but this is about practicing and building relationships. Soon, these bands will want to take their sound to the next level by going to the type of studio that has $4000 microphones and acoustically treated rooms. You may be able to leverage your relationships with the bands, into an internship.

8. Never stop learning. So you made it. Your recordings are sounding good, and artists want to work with you. You have an edge. But, you need to constantly be a student. Look into processes that you take for granted. You might find out that your noise shaping you use during dithering isn’t as good as it can be. As boring as that may sound, that’s some of the advanced stuff that you’ll be thinking about when you get further into your career as an audio engineer.

9. Build Relationships With Other Producers. Keep going to those communities you joined. Invite someone you respect to co-produce a record with you. Share your new techniques. Other producers will respect you for it. They’ll know you by name, and they might even send a project your way.

10. Build your own studio. Some of us may have no interest in running a business. Freelancing can make you a great living. But, the best way to make a lucrative living as an audio engineer/producer is to own your studio. You will now make what you made as an engineer plus you’ll collect fees for studio time. You’ll have a lot more control over your income, and you can rent it out to your producer friends.

I know that I may come off as anti-school. I’ve been accused of that before. I assure you that I am pro-education. I’m just anti-getting ripped off. Some recording colleges cost $80,000 or more. If you could educate yourself, you’ll take on less debt and have enough left over to buy some amazing gear. In my next article I will dig further into a few of these steps. And remember, as a leader in free education, I have over 100 lessons available for free inside this site. Just click here to get started.

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