Finding the Right Mentor: A Guide
In training to become an audio engineer or music producer, one key to having a successful apprenticeship (externship) is finding the right mentor for you. The fact that someone works in the music industry doesn’t automatically mean that person is the right one to teach you. 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, 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, or 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 guy who exclusively produces country artists when you’re into hip-hop? Look for a mentor who does the kind of things in the studio that you want to be doing.
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. 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
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. Since most jobs in this business come from connections rather than education, it’s important that your mentor have a good network of connections, including artists, other engineers, and even label reps. Impress your mentor, and he/she is likely to introduce you to his or her circle of friends.
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.