People say it takes a village to raise a child. The same could be said about producing a song. Each professionally recorded song and album is created by a whole team of music professionals to get it right. Alongside the musicians, producers, and writers, are recording engineers. Recording engineers play a crucial role in music production. They help develop the unique sound and style of the musicians. They must have patience, passion, and hard work ethic. If you have these things, you too can become a recording engineer. Here’s how:
Recording Engineer Responsibilities
Recording engineers create the distinct sound and style that sets artists apart from one another. Most artists will use many attributes to make themselves unique, such as the lyrics, vocals, and instruments. But many of these attributes must be fine tuned and manipulated to create a new sound and style. That is where the recording engineers come in. They contribute artistically and control technical aspects. For example, they can layer sounds, change pitch and tone, and synchronize rhythms in ways that could not be produced organically. Recording engineers have to listen to the artists to help create the style and mood they want to achieve. They will have to learn to interpret the artists’ and producers’ emotions, as they often speak emotionally instead of using technical terms to express their ideas.
Like in many careers, the music industry wants to see employees with higher education. Earning a music school degree shows employers that you have educated experience, can complete assignments, and achieve your goals. Education will also better prepare you for working in a team, learning complex software and technological tools, and sustaining the long work hours. However, even with a degree, most recording engineers must work their way up to gain even more experience. Many begin as interns and volunteers to build relationships and learn the ropes.
Being a recording engineer has to be more than a job, it must also be your passion and lifestyle. Personality will play a key factor to success as recording engineers don’t work a typical nine to five schedule. To be a recording engineer, you must be flexible and willing to make yourself available 24/7. This means sacrificing time for your personal life to be with friends and family. You must be dedicated enough to always put forth your best work ethic, even as a volunteer or intern. Recording engineers must be friendly and get along well with their clients and team since they will be working closely for long hours. It is important to always remain productive and professional. A moment of ignorance could be highly costly to your career. Many new aspiring recording engineers become impatient and cocky, letting their passions get the best of them. It is important to respect the opinions of your superiors and trust their experience over your own ideas. It is also important to understand people. If you’re not a people person or have a hard time connecting with others, this is not the job for you.
How to Advance
The starting salary for recording engineers is between $25,000 – $35,000. The average salary is $40,000. With experience and time, some recording engineers work up to a salary of $150,000. Some major stepping stones to advancing include working with celebrities, and in well established studios. It is important to take initiative over your own growth and learning. Seek out opportunities to work with more experienced colleagues. In addition to volunteers and interns, many recording engineers become engineer assistants first. The journey to the top can be long, so you should also find it enjoyable. If you do not truly love being a recording engineer, you will struggle to advance.