Recording Connection mentor Mike Landau Talks Getting Started in the Industry
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Mike Landau, co-founder of Phat Buddha Productions in St. Louis, MO, is one of the premier producer/engineers working in St. Louie today. He’s created music with the likes of Waka Flocka, Panic! At The Disco, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Black Eyed Peas, Sade, Wale, and numerous others. We recently sat down with him to discuss the industry and what it takes to be successful.
When asked why he took on mentoring apprentices, Mike Landau’s reply was simple and to the point, “Our goal is to develop professional engineers.’’ Which may sound like an over simplification, but it’s drastically different from how other educational institutions view crafting pupils.
Most schools simply want to get students in and out as quickly as possible. They want to put the kids in the room with their teacher, lecture them, and then have then take tests. This is drastically different from having kids actually learn the craft of audio engineering.
When asked what Mike looks for in an apprentice he stated, “ Obviously some of the normal things: intelligence, drive, and all that good stuff. But I’d say most important thing, is just really having that passion. Skills aren’t as important when you’re starting out. Being passionate about the work and learning, that’s what really matters.”
“Here in the studio, we have an open door policy. So if a student wants to come in and work, they can.” That’s the kind of real-world opportunity that come only when you’re training in a professional recording environment. The amount of connections and learning that’s available to those who aren’t afraid of working and taking initiative is a big part of what sets Recording Connection apart from conventional textbook-based schools.
Landau believes there are three components to being a successful engineer. The first is to understand the technology, especially Pro Tools, inside and out. This means coming into the studio and getting on Pro Tools, then going home and getting on Pro Tools, making your own music, your own sounds and finding what you don’t know and learning that. The second is understanding the social side of things, and how important being social and building relationships really is to your ultimate success tomorrow and for years to come. And thirdly, it’s crucial that you align yourself with the business side of things. What does that mean? Well, changing your behavior so that you’re sure to show up at the right places and be in the right headspace when you get there is a big part of it. Landau says, “Go and get a business card, maybe even write out a business plan for yourself as an independent engineer. Go to clubs. Go to bars and don’t get drunk. Do business things where you’re developing your clientele, where people start to know who you are, where you’re working, what your skill sets are. That’s so important. A lot of people just think, ‘Oh, man, all I need to do is have a good year and learn the technology.’ No, there’s much more to it than that…You need to focus on these three components, and really throw away everything else in your life in the next year and a half if you’re serious about it.”