How To Be In Demand As an Audio Engineer
With the many changes that have taken place in the recording industry the past few years, becoming “in demand” as an audio engineer is not as cut-and-dried as it used to be. With digital technology revolutionizing the field, indie musicians on tight budgets can now do quality recordings at home on their own computers, for a fraction of what it would cost to record in a professional studio with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gear. Obviously, this raises the question: how does an audio engineer make a good living today if people are recording more in their own home studios?
It’s important to understand that these changes don’t make the job of an audio engineer irrelevant or obsolete: far from it. In fact, with the stiff competition from many, MANY bands and artists who are putting recordings out on the market (both self-produced and label artists), your skills are needed now more than ever. There’s only so much that a self-produced artist can do in his/her home studio, especially with no training. (The gear and software are great—they just don’t run themselves.) When these artists come to the end of their abilities, they’re still going to need help—and that’s when they come to you!
The point is, your talents as an audio engineer are still in demand in this changing industry; you just have to approach the job differently than engineers did a few years or decades ago. Here are some ways to make yourself indispensable as an audio engineer in today’s market.
The idea here is to create a niche for yourself—specialize in a form of audio engineering that few people do. For example, you can become a mastering engineer, or specialize in voice-over or post-production audio for film and TV. You might think creating a specialty service would reduce your number of clients, but if not many people do what you do, the people who need it will HAVE to come to you—and supply and demand says you can charge more for a specialty!
BE WILLING TO TAKE “SMALL JOBS”
These days, many artists do a lot of pre-production and tracking in their home studios, then bring their work into a project or professional studio for fine-tuning or acoustic environments they can’t get at home. Instead of taking on only full-blown recording projects that use your studio for the entire process, be willing to take on more of the “tweak” projects from some of these artists. If you charge by the hour, you’ll basically make the same amount of money from more clients who need less from you as you would with fewer clients who need the full treatment.
BE VERY, VERY GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO
Time for some straight talk: if word gets around that you’re the best audio engineer in town, people will call you first. It’s that simple. Practice your skills until you master them. The better you are, the more gigs you’ll get. Even with the changes that have taken place in the recording business over the past few years, the best audio engineers will always be in high demand.