Audio engineering school?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by fleezinator, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. fleezinator

    fleezinator TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    Posts:
    51
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2020
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm helping my son do some preliminary research on a path to becoming an audio engineer. Are there any here that can provide any insight to the experience/worth of going to school & what the job market is like?

    So far, he's looking at an 11 month program at CRAS out in Arizona. I get the sense a traditional 4 year college might not be the best use of his time & money to get into this field. I've personally ruled out Art Institutes based off of the experiences of several friends. Any others he should investigate?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,056
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Location:
    Peoria, AZ
    A friend of my son went to Musician’s Institute in LA. At the time he went I thought it was a waste of time and money, but he seems to have been well served by his education there. OTOH, he is not (outside of a sideline of building guitars and being in a local band) working in his field of study. He is, interestingly, doing well in the aerospace industry here in town (he was doing assembly testing at Boeing in Mesa AZ, at least the last time I talked to him before recent events).

    I really know little about those schools other than that one experience. I’ll have to ask my son about his buddy. If I find out anything else, I’ll post here.
     
    fleezinator likes this.
  3. Ed Driscoll

    Ed Driscoll Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    594
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    South of Dallas
  4. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    44
    Posts:
    1,529
    Joined:
    May 4, 2017
    Location:
    Orlando, FL, USA
    A lot of kids come here to attend Fullsail, graduate, never get jobs in their chosen industry.
     
    Jlwctn, bcorig and fleezinator like this.
  5. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,192
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Location:
    MV, CA
    Jacobs School of Music Indiana. The engineer that has done the last couple of Taylor Swift albums, Laura Sisk went there and an article about her in Sound on Sound magazine talks about the program there and placing students at Cirque du Soleil and Nokia for phone ringtones as well as other pop music and video positions. Any music program around or in Nashville is going to create a usable ring of future contacts and relationships your son can use for a future job.

    Regarding the Musician's Institute in LA, if he leans towards video and the movie business, that would be the one. I know a student who went there looking at an edge for the music business. It never happened. So one unsuccessful example but my sense, after going to a few seminars there, is that it is more a production school for the LA movie business. There are some success stories however for getting a spot as a runner in LA recording studios I've heard of that occurring. Depends on your networking skills.

    Also, I would advise any kid going that direction to get good grades but just as important network with people because networks are what propel you through a career. I've gone to sporting events and parties just to meet certain people and have a dialogue. Those relationships lead to other things both in and out of the music biz.

    There is also the Blackbird program at Blackbird studios in Nashville. That looks good on the resume.
     
  6. teletail

    teletail Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    1,379
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2019
    Location:
    West By God Virginia
    I would find some people successful in that field and beg, borrow or buy some time with them. It doesn't matter how much it costs, it could save you thousands of dollars and years of wasted time.

    How do THEY suggest your son get in the field and what are the opportunities. They'll know better than a bunch of internet arm chair quarterbacks.
     
    Jlwctn, soundchaser59 and Ed Driscoll like this.
  7. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,412
    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Location:
    wisconsin
    I went to Madison Media Institute about 16 years ago. I know that’s not very helpful for what’s going on now.

    I enjoyed the programs, it was really cool to be able to work in the studio on a giant SSL board worth about as much as a house, and at the time the faculty were very knowledgeable, some of whom had worked on quite a few major recording artist projects.

    I think the programs are very different now. I think it incorporates more video production, social media, all that kind of stuff to make you fluent in a couple different areas. I doubt guys are experimenting with mic placements on drums and two inch tape machines like we would for a couple classes.

    But honestly, most guys weren’t getting jobs in the field, or they were working part time as waiters out in California where the jobs were and just scraping by. When I started seeing the writing on the wall, I took an interview with a communications company instead of attending my final exam for what would’ve been my second to last semester and never looked back. Now I’ve been working in the communications industry for 15 years and have worked my way up and am very happy with the decision!
     
  8. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    837
    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Location:
    Northern California
    Unfortunately, most of the programs which offer courses in audio engineering are not worth the time or money. You may learn some useful techniques, but they will not be able to place you in a working studio or even get you started towards actually working in the industry. They are not an effective way to get your foot in the door.

    There is an exception in the UK - the Tonmeister Course offered at the University of Surrey - which regularly places students in good assistant engineer positions at major studios. Where you go from there depends on how well you work with people, how much they like you, and of course how good you are.

    I know several people who have gone through the Tonmeister: one of my good friends was offered a place engineering at Abbey Road right out of college. Another got a job working for Dolby on movie soundtracks.

    I also know people who went through other audio engineering programs at different colleges, and none of them found work in their chosen field.

    Audio engineering is kind of a dream job for a lot of people, and it is extremely competitive and largely dependent upon who you know. Like 95% who you know. Not impossible to get a job as an engineer, but doing a training course is very unlikely to be any help getting there. And it is such a focused and specific training, it is not much use in other fields of employment.

    There are many, many unemployed audio engineers with vast experience and decades of work in major studios under their belts, and they're struggling to find any work at all. The industry doesn't really exist in the same way any more. Most artists are producing their own albums now. Newbies fresh out of whatever audio engineering 101 course will find themselves at the back of a very, very long line.
     
  9. Dreadnut

    Dreadnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2019
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
    I would have him try to get an internship at a real music studio. Even if it's unpaid, he'll get a wealth of knowledge as well as hands-on experience.
     
    teletail likes this.
  10. fleezinator

    fleezinator TDPRI Member

    Age:
    34
    Posts:
    51
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2020
    Location:
    Texas
    I've been wrestling with this. As someone who went to film school and has a tangentially related freelance career in motion graphics and animation, I'm questioning the whole worth of school in general. No one I know in my field has ever requested to see my resume, only my demo reel and day rate. This email comes by way of my network, my website or my socials. Most of what I do now, I learned post-graduation.

    I've heard the argument and am a strong believer of 'its not what you know, it's who you know'. I believe, much like my film school experience, school can certainly teach you the what & how (along side giving you access to costly gear), but the connections I made while there were worth more. Now, do you need to pay to go to a school to make those contacts, in this digital age? I think that's arguable.

    I would love for him to go with a 'safer' career choice or at least one that's worth the time, effort and money. I've suggested to follow a more proven path & have this as a side gig/passion project. I hate to be reductive but is there a reason why YouTube university, a linkedin/soundcloud/IG/twitter/FB account & website wouldn't be a more cost effective alternative to school?
     
    cravenmonket likes this.
  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,870
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Wyoming panhandle
    Or a local TV station. Audio and video have effectively merged into a single thing.
     
    tubegeek likes this.
  12. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    46
    Posts:
    2,024
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Location:
    USA
  13. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,056
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Location:
    WV
    There is no direct training path to audio engineering. Experience, a good portfolio, and industry connections are what gets good paying jobs in the field. How someone got that experience, portfolio, and connections mean little in the end. That means, albeit implicitly, the least expensive path there is probably the best bet.

    IMO, an audio engineering tech type program is probably even less value than a 4 year degree. Both are expensive. But a degree from a public university may actually cost less than a for-profit training program. And a student comes out with a degree at the end. Suitable for framing (and statistically higher pay over the life time).

    Be very leery of ANY for-profit program that is not connected to an established university. All are first and foremost money makers. Most are vultures. Some are outright scams.

    Stay away from private loans. Stay far, far, far away. Find ways to pay for public higher ed, relying on as little of federal loans as possible. The music industry pays little to the vast majority of folks in it. IMO, it is better for a student to learn sooner than later that investment in the music field is low ROI, financially. Keep things cheap from the outset.

    However, if you and/or your child are fully prepared to pay, and know what to expect from the educational investment (for both good and bad), then the only specifically music oriented private school I would recommend is Berklee. And I wouldn't recommend Berklee in general. Just to those who are dead set on paying through the nose for music education.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
    MarkieMark and tubegeek like this.
  14. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    837
    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Location:
    Northern California
    If I was in your position, I would suggest that your son get a versatile degree in a subject which interests him and which sets him up for employment in as wide a range of careers as possible.

    Then, encourage your son to teach himself how to use a couple of different DAWs, get some inexpensive mics and maybe some outboard compressors, etc, and learn about mic placement and technique.

    Then encourage him to record himself, and to offer his services recording/producing stuff for friends for free. If he has any natural ability for it, his recordings will be his best asset: eventually, someone will hear what he can do and will reach out to him to work together. If he puts his work up on the various streaming services and puts himself out there on social media, he will get plenty of people looking for help with recording their stuff. That's a far more valuable type of work experience than some audio engineering course.
     
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  15. Ed Driscoll

    Ed Driscoll Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    594
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    South of Dallas
    He'd learn lots of skills working at a TV station, but unless it has a live music show, I doubt he'd be miking up many drum kits, which is one of the key skills for music engineers to learn. (Recording drum kits is one of the big reasons there are actually recording studios left, aside from Abbey Road, Capitol Studios, and other locations that cater to superstars.)
     
    cravenmonket likes this.
  16. Twang-ineer

    Twang-ineer Tele-Meister

    Age:
    46
    Posts:
    155
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2019
    Location:
    Florida
    I have a 4 year degree in Telecommunications and Recording Arts and I have worked for/with Full Sail over the last 20 ish years. I've been around recording arts and instruction for years. I've had dozens of professional interns....... Honestly, you son is far better off getting a generic BA in Business (from anywhere) and then working freelance gigs to develop his skills in the studio. Beyond being a dialog editor or studio assistant in order to move up and making a decent living in Entertainment/Music/Production requires more of a business/management background than anything else. This may be a very unpopular statement to make on a music centric forum, but it is my experience and opinion. Which BTW ..... kinda saddens my heart. But the real world is kinda tough, no matter how much natural talent you have.


    I just saw the post by Whatizitman. I am in 100% agreement with those statements.
     
    Jlwctn, MarkieMark, rob54702 and 2 others like this.
  17. bcorig

    bcorig Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    2,631
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2018
    Location:
    In the 909
    We looked at Full Sail in 2008. Got scared off by the reviews. My son got a great job in LV after graduating from a 4 yr College. Now his career has been blown to smithereens by COVID-19.
     
  18. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    13,381
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    The Far-Flung Isles of Langerhans
    I would avoid any of the for-profits. But then that only leaves you with 4-year institutions. Middle Tennessee has one of the best audio production course study programs in the country.

    https://www.mtsu.edu/programs/audio-production/
     
    tubegeek likes this.
  19. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,056
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Location:
    WV
    I am the guy in the Skype!
    Mixing on You.....
    ...Tube. I can change your life!

    Sorry. Couldn't resist. :D

    See where my "songwriting skills" got me? Well, I paid very little for them. So it all worked out. :cool:
     
    Ed Driscoll and tubegeek like this.
  20. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    3,681
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2020
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I taught for several years at IAR, the oldest program of this kind in the US. It has closed its doors. Many of the reasons why, are well described in the posts above. Vocational/technical schools live or die on the basis of whether they can deliver on the proposition that they will help a student have a successful career in the field.

    Current state of the business is not very promising for placing newly-trained audio engineers in traditional entry-level jobs. Large studios with deep staff are not a really vibrant part of the business anymore. And live sound has just taken a huge hit, with no clear picture of how the industry will regroup.

    For a really good picture of what's going on in the field, your son ABSOLUTELY MUST do one simple step: get a (free!) subscription to TapeOp magazine and read it cover to cover. The back issues (on their website) are included.

    http://tapeop.com

    Real working engineers and producers are interviewed and give a very well-rounded picture of how they got in, how they get work now, and what they do all day. Essential reading.

    Areas of growth worth exploring: games, video production/videoconferencing, and (prior to the pandemic) live sound for houses of worship.
     
    jvin248 and Whatizitman like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.