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How Recording Schools Fail to Help Their Students

If you’re thinking of a career in professional audio, before you decide among a number of recording schools, there are some common-sense things you should know about recording education and how it relates to the music industry. Contrary to conventional wisdom, going to a “good” recording school does not guarantee you a job in the field of music recording or professional audio engineering. There are many recording school graduates who struggle to find work, and by contrast, there are many successful audio engineers and music producers who never darkened the door of one of these institutions. This has prompted some audio professionals to denounce traditional audio engineering schools completely as a waste of time and money.

Why is there such a disconnect between recording schools and the recording industry? Why is it that so many recording schools fail to help their students launch successful careers? The answer lies in how traditional schools teach their students.

You see, there are basically three things you need in order to succeed in the music industry:

  1. A practical education;
  2. Documentable real-world experience; and
  3. Inside industry connections.

The problem is that the vast majority of traditionally-formatted recording schools only cover the first of the three bases (education) while doing little or nothing to help students with the other two. This is because traditional education is based on teaching students in isolated environments (i.e., in classrooms or studio simulations) where they can get neither the real-world experience nor the industry connections they need.

The other disconnect is that, frankly speaking, the music industry could care less whether someone has earned a degree or diploma from a school. Credentials mean little or nothing in this business. People are hired in the music industry based on whether they can do the job (i.e., whether they have proven experience). Additionally, the music recording business lives and breathes by connections; people tend to hire people they know, or people who have been recommended by people they know. This is why industry connections are so critical to landing a job in this business.

As you can see, typical recording schools fall short with their students because they neglect two of the most important ingredients needed to find success in this field: they offer neither connections nor experience. However, there is an alternative learning approach that is effectively bridging this gap.

Some recording schools (Recording Connection, for example) now use the mentor-extern approach for their students. Instead of creating an isolated learning environment, the mentor-extern school will place the student inside a real recording studio for personalized training with an actual audio professional. This approach gives the student the education, the connections and the experience he/she needs in order to land a music industry job, all for a much lower cost than most recording schools charge.

Recording education is not the enemy, but recording schools often fail to give their students everything they need. This is what makes the mentor-extern method a welcome alternative.

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