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There should be a term that is indicative of a level of experience superseding a veteran. Something that indicates that this individual has been around the block multiple times. They’ve worked in the industry, they’ve seen what it takes to succeed, and they know what they’re talking about. Mark Christensen (New York, NY) is one of those guys.
Mark, like many successful audio engineers, 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 works with talent such as The Killers, OK Go, Dr Dre, 50 Cent and Fergie. We had the chance of chatting with Mark and the discussion was truly enlightening.
When asked how his RC mentorship came about (more than a decade ago), Mark says, “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 studio, Engine Room Audio, is housed in extremely large, impressive facility, covering nearly 11,000 square feet. Students have the added benefit of not only interacting with Mark, his clientele and his staff, but they’re also able to meet the other studio owners, broadcasters, clientele, and sound pros within the same facility. This is a massive boon for the individuals who apprentice under Mark. If you’re proactive and are working towards building your skills, there are literally hundreds of connections to make.
Mark has hired on multiple former apprentices at Engine. It’s a win-win situation for him to be able to hire people he’s trained directly, considering, he already knows their skillsets, and that they’ve been trained up to his standards. With a fairly large team, Mark is often in need of quality assistants and reliable people he can trust. By being one of Mark’s apprentices you’re not only gaining an insider’s view on the industry, you’re also interviewing for a potential job. Do well, and you can further your career, fast.
When asked what’s the one thing prospective students should know about the industry, Mark doesn’t mince words and says, “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.”
Working in the recording industry requires preparedness, technical savvy, solid people skills, and awareness. Mark has enabled many former apprentices to launch outstanding careers and even get credits on Gold and Platinum tracks (see story)! Get in and do well. Work to actualize your talent. Be humble, confident, and ever-ready to jump in and say “Yes!”