How to Succeed in Our Programs: Jake Johnson

It’s an overused, tired adage: Those who can’t do, teach. And it certainly couldn’t be further from the truth when you consider Recording Connection mentor Jake Johnson. As a co-founder of Paradyme Productions in Madison, WI, Johnson has helped hundreds of artists reach their potential in the studio.

For more than a decade, he’s worked with local, regional, national, and international acts. As a destination locale for touring bands because of nearby University of Wisconsin, Paradyme has seen a wide variety of bands come through its doors, ready to put in some work while they’re on the road.

It was a natural fit for Johnson, who had originally gone to college in the 90s to become a geneticist. But, being a kid in Madison also meant he was in a band, which put him in the studio at a young age. This was when he began to realize genetics might not be the career for him.

“So I was in bands and I was doing a lot of the techie stuff for the bands I was in,” Johnson says. “One of the studios we were at, the guy basically didn’t have as good an ear as myself and a buddy of mine. He says, ‘You know what, would you guys come in and help me out at my studio working with these vocalists in these different bands?’

“This was the early 90’s, and at that time this was the Madison music scene, very, very cool and kind of up-and-coming,” Johnson says. “The next thing I know, I was in college and I was working as much as I possibly could in the studio just recording vocalists, because I guess I was just a natural producer in terms of my ear and hearing harmonies and giving advice on singing, just having been a singer for years.”

Johnson switched his degree to Business and worked 60 hours a week at the studio during the summer, absorbing everything he could about the inner workings of the studio. Engineering, producing, and working on albums with a wide range of artists, he made connections with artists and started growing his network.

Bringing Experience to the Table

For more than 12 years, Johnson has been a mentor with us, working with externs, and passing on his knowledge of the industry. “I enjoy it,” Johnson says. “I enjoy the personal interaction and working with younger people. So from my perspective, I’m feeling them out as a potential employee the whole time we’re doing this as a program, and giving them some little odds and ends and seeing how they do with it. I love the one-on-one concept. I think, as far as it goes, one-on-one is where most people learn the most.”

The Secret To Success

In any job, making yourself indispensable is the best way to stay in the good graces of your employer, your manager, and in this case, your mentor. To show the studio you’re serious about a career in the music business, Johnson says being enterprising and creating value for the studio says a lot.

“I always tell the students when they come in, the best way to get a relationship with a studio is to bring in work,” Johnson says. “That’s what they want. They want you to bring in work. So even a friend who’s doing a recording project, you could just sit in on a few of their sessions. See what it’s like because I think people’s vision of what the job is, and what it really is, are two very different things”

It doesn’t always have to revolve around the bottom line, either. Making yourself available to help can leave a great impression on your mentor and the people around him or her. That’s one good way to start building your industry connections on the local level.

“Be there to help,” Johnson says. “‘Hey, can I help load your gear in? Can I give you a hand with that? Hey, is there anything else I can do?’ I love that one when someone says that. I’m like, ‘I hate to say it, but do you mind sweeping the floor out there?’ And they do it.”

Recording Connection isn’t just about showing you the technical side of being in the industry. The personal side – lending a hand when it’s needed – is just as important. There’s one old adage that rings absolutely true when it comes to working in music: It’s not what you know but who you know.

“Be there to help, whether it’s with an artist or whether it’s with the studio or whether it’s with anything in life because you learn a ton from doing that,” Johnson says. “Plus, you get a lot of people on your side.”

The more people on your side, the better it is for you. If someone needs help with engineering, producing, or just setting up the studio for an artist, You’ll be the first one they call. If you’ve been putting in the time, acting responsibly, and putting your education to good use in the studio, you may be just what the studio is looking for.

It’s all up to you. We’ll enable you to get the knowledge and the experience you need but the drive has to come from you. Recording Connection offers several programs and workshops, ranging from audio engineering and music production to becoming a live DJ. Ready to put the metal to the pedal? Apply to Recording Connection today.

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