Recording Connection mentor Matt Young on Hiring from Within and the Secret to his Success

Recording Connection mentor Matt Young As a music industry veteran with ample experience on both sides of the glass, Recording Connection mentor Matt Young is an expert at working with artists and creating great, productive studio experiences. As a multi-instrumentalist, he’s shared the stage with names like Killswitch Engage, Paramore, and Katy Perry, and as the owner of The Press Recording Studio in Stockton, CA, he brings that same standard of excellence to his clientele.

In a recent interview with RRFC, Matt shared some of his insights, including the secret to his success, and told us why he prefers Recording Connection students as potential coworkers as opposed to the others who come knocking on his door.

ON HOW HE GOT WORKING IN THE RECORDING INDUSTRY:

“I started out just playing in bands, being a musician for years, and paying a bunch of money for studio time. So I decided, I’m going to try to just figure out how to do it myself and record in the comfort of my own home. So that’s really how I got into it. And then I fell in love with recording, and I kind of just shifted into that. I stopped playing, and put my focus on audio engineering. And now it’s kind of shifted to me being able to be a musician as well, because I play on a lot of people’s recordings, do a lot of producing, and help artists build songs from the ground up. So now I get to do both. It’s the perfect balance.”

ON WORKING IN A VARIETY OF GENRES—PROS AND CONS:

“Right from the beginning, I’ve always recorded every genre because as a listener, I’ve always found interest in all types of music. A con to this is [that] it takes a longer time to kind of master each of those genres, working in mixing, mastering, whatever you’re doing. But when you do, you’ll be pretty well-rounded and have lots of opportunities. But if you were tied down to one genre, there’s only a limited amount of clients you could have. Especially if you live in a place like Stockton where the music scene isn’t as saturated as a bigger city. If I was only working with one style of music, the studio wouldn’t be nearly as busy. If you do decide to focus on one genre, you can obviously still be successful, no doubt about it; but I definitely think it’s good to learn a few other techniques, because in every genre you’re always going to have a day where something’s going to pop up and you’re going to wish you knew a certain skill, because genres cross paths.”

ON HIS APPROACH TO MENTORING STUDENTS:

“My methodology is kind of finding out, first, what each student wants to learn and what their direction is, so I can know exactly what to teach them and really just tailor it towards exactly what they want to do… What I also like to do is teach them all of the little secrets and tricks that I know work and things that took me years to figure out. Stuff you can’t just learn from a textbook. I think it’s cool to just show them all that stuff right off the bat. Most of the time I’ll let them run a session, one of my sessions, but I’ll kind of work through them, you know, tell them what to do and why they’re doing it. I think letting them actually do it and hear it at the same time, instead of just watching, really gives them a better learning experience. I also try and make myself available at all times if they have any questions.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING PRO TOOLS AND TRACKING IN THE STUDIO, NOT JUST MIXING:

“The first thing I would recommend is getting fast in Pro Tools and at tracking, because a lot of people when they’re starting out, don’t get a lot of time in the studio…if you’re not in the studio tracking people, you’re not making the connections with different artists, and you’re not getting stuff to mix. In my experience, it’s hard to get real mixing gigs, if you haven’t worked with some decent artists. So I think a lot of people, when they start out, they’re focused on mixing. I would recommend getting your Pro Tools speed up and being comfortable actually running a recording session first.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING GOOD PEOPLE SKILLS:

“I always tell all my students that probably half the battle is your personality and how you make the customer feel. Half of it is customer service, because people want to feel comfortable, people want to come to YOU to record…You could go to any studio and find the nicest gear, but it’s who you’re working with that’s really important…I really stress the customer service side of it, because it is a service-based business. We take pride in every project we work on and every artist we work with to make sure that we’re doing exactly what they want, and they’re going to get what they want out of their product through communication. You can have a great ear and cool studio but if you aren’t a pleasure to work with, I guarantee artists would rather record elsewhere. In fact, I’ve heard this multiple times from clients.”

ON WHY HE HIRED HIS FORMER STUDENT, DIEGO AYALA:

“For about a year and a half, he was coming in every day, just kind of being a fly on the wall, soaking it all in. And I had another guy working for me at that time, because I work during the day and I go home around 5:00 or 6:00 to be with my family, so the other guy would take over in the evenings to accommodate the artists that would want to book night sessions. And that guy ended up bailing on me, so I said to Diego, ‘All right, man. It’s your turn. You’re up,’ and he just stepped right in, and he’s been doing great ever since. (Read our interview with Diego Ayala.) Now he’s working about 40-50 hours a week here, doing sessions, doing really well…I sat in with him for the first few weeks in the beginning just to see how it would go and make sure he had a full grasp on it, I set him up with a nice Pro Tools template and after that, I felt comfortable with him taking over on his own. I couldn’t be happier with Diego hopping on board and I’m very proud of him. And I get emails constantly, a few a week, from people asking if they could intern or they can learn, or if I’m hiring; but I never say yes to any of them because I don’t know them or their intentions. But I know the Recording Connection kind of validates the people coming in, and I know they want to learn and they’re serious about it. So that was a big part of it, too.”

ON HOW HE TRIES TO GIVE HIS OTHER STUDENTS OPPORTUNITIES TO WORK:

“I try to give all of them work… Whenever I have a client that seems like a good fit with a student, I’ll book them the session, and schedule it for them. And then what really shows me how good they’re doing is when, first of all, those clients are willing to book another session with the student, and second of all, when those clients refer other artists to the student. I think it’s very important to try not to rush the process though and to be patient. There is a lot to learn and I recommend not making money your focus in the beginning. It’s tough because they are investing in this to be able to make money but if you just make sure you’re learning and improving your skills, money will come when the time is right. Diego was a prime example of this. I’m more than happy to give all my students paying gigs when they’re ready but sometimes new engineers will jump the gun and get discouraged.”

WHAT HE CONSIDERS TO BE THE “SECRET” TO HIS SUCCESS:

“Just caring and making sure I do a good job. There’s no real secret. It’s just, if there’s a will, there’s a way… So definitely work ethic, keeping it fun and having fun with the clients and making them want to come back, you know? People ask me why artists fly to Stockton from other parts of the country, and why a huge part of our clientele is from the Bay Area and I would say it’s a combination of making sure the finished product and customer service exceeds the clients expectations and simply making sure no one leaves unhappy. That’s really a big thing for me. Everyone that leaves, I want them coming back and I want them saying, ‘Man, that was the best recording experience I’ve ever had.’”

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