Finding the Right Mentor: A Guide
In training to become an audio engineer or music producer, one key to having a successful career is making connections. In creative industries, it’s all about who you know. It’s all about who knows what you can do and who knows what skills you have. This might seem like an oversimplification but it’s not. Making connections in the music business will literally determine the course of your career.
This is the exact reason why The Recording Connection was started. To circumvent the traditional way things are done. The idea that you would go to school, take on a massive amount of debt, and then hope to find a career where there’s no direct way in seems pretty hard to swallow.
Learn the Music Industry from the Inside
That’s what is so simple and direct about the way The Recording Connection functions. You enroll in our affordable program, we pair you with an actual working pro, in a real recording studio, and then you learn while you work. You make connections that will enable you to jumpstart your career after you graduate.
So, the first question at hand when you enroll in the program is who is going to be your mentor? Who is going to help you navigate the initial challenges of being a working professional in a fast-paced industry. The Recording Connection goes the extra mile to try and pair each of our students with the right mentor—which is why we ask so many questions about your goals and interests during your enrollment process!
But even when we set you up with an in-studio interview with a prospective student, it’s important for you to know what you should be looking for in a mentor, as well. After all, you’re about to spend at least 6 months of your life in close quarters with this person, training one-on-one.
The following tips are meant to be a guide for you as you complete your enrollment process, to give you an idea of what to look for as you interview with your prospective mentor.
YOUR MENTOR SHOULD MATCH YOUR INTERESTS
The music industry has room for lots of different types of artists, producers and engineers. What are your passions? Do you love the engineering side? Do you see yourself as a producer? Do you lean toward a particular genre, such as hip-hop, rock, electronica, country or punk? Do you want to write and record your own songs? Are you interested in post-production, mastering, scoring for film/TV? Why would you learn from a person who exclusively produces country artists when you’re into hip-hop?
It’s important to remember that this is a two-way street. Yes, your mentor has to take a liking to you and want to take you on, but you have to be interested in the specific genre and working style that your mentor is engaged in. Look for a mentor who does the kind of things in the studio that you want to be doing. This sounds like a simple task, and usually it is, but we’re just saying that when you’re picking your mentor, don’t rush in.
YOUR MENTOR SHOULD BE SUCCESSFUL
Don’t just look for a person who knows a few audio engineering tricks; look for someone who actually has some proven successes. Someone who’s a mover and a shaker in the area of music you want to be in. Someone who’s name carries some weight. Someone who really can open doors.
The mentors who teach for the Recording Connection are screened and vetted; they have actual album credits. Many of them have produced artists you know and enjoy. If you want to be successful in what you do—learn from someone who is successful. It’s that simple.
YOUR MENTOR SHOULD BE CONNECTED
If your mentor IS successful, then they must be connected. Plain and simple. You don’t get to the top because you’re a loner. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to be someone who loves the art of collaboration if you’re going to be a power player.
When learning on-the-job, you’re not just learning the skills of recording and producing, you’re getting the opportunity to participate in the actual recording industry, and so because of that you’ll be making your own connections. Since most jobs in this business come from connections rather than education, it’s important that your mentor has a good network.
You’re going to be meeting all kinds of people, including artists, other engineers, and even label reps. Impress your mentor, and they will likely to introduce you to their circle of friends. And that’s when things get interesting.
YOUR MENTOR AND YOU SHOULD GET ALONG
No matter how skilled or successful your mentor is, sometimes different personalities just don’t mesh. True, as a producer/engineer, you’ll need to learn how to deal with a wide range of people, but if you’re going to spend lots of quality, one-on-one time with a mentor, it needs to be someone you enjoy being around, and someone who enjoys having you around. Getting along with your mentor can be the difference between simply “going to class” and “starting a career”—and sometimes the difference between success and failure.
Keep these things in mind as you complete the enrollment process. With a little help from the Recording Connection, it should be no problem finding the right mentor for you. Yes, the process might be a bit scary and you might feel intimidated at first, but remember that if your mentor is successful in an area of music that’s not important to you, they’re irrelevant. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. It’s about a mutual connection, not one-sided.