Recording Connection mentor Mark Christensen on Making Your Own Luck
Like many successful audio engineers, Mark Christensen (New York, NY) started out as touring musician. He was in multiple bands in the 1990’s, got signed, and opened for some of the biggest names in rock during the 90s. Today, he runs Engine Room Audio where he masters tracks for 50 Cent, Fergie, The Killers, OK Go, Dr Dre, Trey Songz, and more.
Mark decided to become a Recording Connection mentor (more than a decade ago) despite the fact that he’s literally always in the studio working on tracks by some of todays biggest artists:
Someone from the Recording Connection asked me if I would be interested in this kind of program…I like teaching, and the idea of having students who were in the studio environment and working with us here seemed like a good idea. So I tried it with a few students, and I was really happy with the results. I felt like they learn an awful lot being in a real studio environment. It’s a much more kind of concrete, hands-on sort of experience than trying to learn audio engineering from a textbook. So it’s become actually kind of a big part of what we do here. I teach every day, I have a couple of students that I teach. And so we have a number of students here all the time.”
Mark’s impressive 11,000 square foot studio, Engine Room Audio, enables students to meet the various studio engineers, artists, broadcasters, and sound pros within the same facility. Mark has hired on multiple former apprentices at Engine.
There was a guy that was our operations manager here up until a year ago, one of my first Recording Connection students ever. He went through the whole program, did very, very well, did some engineering here as a freelance engineer. Then ultimately ended up becoming a full time employee as the operations manager (Nacor Zuluaga, link to story down below). So yeah, we’re constantly on the lookout for good people…We definitely have referred people to other employment opportunities. There was a Recording Connection student who ended up becoming a full-time assistant to a famous DJ who will remain nameless…This DJ guy is a friend of our office manager, studio manager, and he called asking if we had anybody who was qualified…so we were able to recommend this person.”
When asked what’s the one thing prospective students should know about the industry, Mark doesn’t mince words:
I think what it comes down to is, you make your own luck. You want to make sure that you are as prepared as you can possibly be for when that moment happens. You need to be sort of present and aware in all of your communications with all of the music industry people that you come into contact with. And, you need to be ready for when that moment calls…You know that story of how Jimmy Iovine was an intern and ended up mixing part of John Lennon’s album. Those stories are real. That stuff actually happens. The best thing you can do for yourself is just to make sure that you’re very prepared and have your technical skills together so that when those moments arise, you can really show that you can shine.”
How Nacor Zuluaga received seven Gold awards as Mark Christensen’s assistant.