I frequently get asked this question a lot from my email subscribers, and I see this topic discussed on other audio forums as well.
If you are like me when I first started out recording and mixing, then you probably felt like you had to go to a certified audio engineering school if you ever wanted to get work, much less make a living doing this.
You probably thought, “Who would hire me to record and mix if I don’t have a degree in audio engineering? Doesn’t that prove that I know what I’m talking about?”
This is a legitimate question.
The answer is No. You don’t need a degree to make a living doing this.
You DO need proper training, but it’s just not true that you can’t make a living or produce, record, and mix music on a high professional level if you don’t have a degree.
To prove my point, check out this video of self taught engineer Scott Jacoby. He is a Grammy award winning producer and did not go to school for audio engineering. He has worked with the likes of John Legend, Vampire Weekend, and Vanessa Hudgens.
The old days of becoming and intern at a pro studio and working your way up are pretty much over. Some people still take this route, but technology has allowed the home studio owner to be able to learn from home in online environments.
Gain the experience.
Now let me make this clear. I’m not against finding a studio and becoming an intern, or going to a credited school for that matter. In fact if you have the money and resources available to you I encourage you to take advantage of that.
I think it’s very healthy to be around your peers and learn how to work with all types of different artists. Learning how to effectively deal with different people is part of the job.
I’ve been lucky enough to be in bands, and record in studios, as well as run my home studio. So I’ve had those experiences. I would encourage you to seek those out for yourself.
But for learning how to use the gear, and the techniques of recording and mixing, you can simply go online. Some may turn their nose up to this idea, but I think it’s incredible!
There is so much knowledge at our fingertips online that I believe people who would of never had the chance to learn this art form, can now carve out a living for themselves doing exactly what they love.
If you were like me, I didn’t have the money to go to audio engineering school. I went to college for 3 years (not for music) and already have a hard enough time paying back my student loans.
I needed a way to learn without going into more debt. So I called on my resources from being in a touring band, learned hands on and also by learning online.
It was a hybrid approach. I now get paid to record and mix bands. I put the work in though. You still have to treat this art with respect. You will only get out what you put in folks.
There are no short cuts. You have to put time into this craft and hustle to get where you want to be in life. I truly believe you make your own luck.
“But Scott, I have a full time day job and kids. How will I find the time?”
Guess what? I had a full time day job when I started, and soon after my son was born. I also played live shows with my band still. I’m not saying this to brag, I’m simply saying you CAN still get this dream started if you really want it.
Even if it’s just a few hours a week you set aside to start learning today, its a START!
Those hours will turn into days, weeks, months and years of experience if you just keep on the grind.
Knowledge Is Power…
What I want you to take away from this is that everyone’s path is different.
We all come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and we all have different real world commitments pulling us away from what we want to do, which is make music.
I just don’t want you to be discouraged from continuing down your musical path if you can’t afford to go to audio engineering school.
There are tons of online training available to you. Call up a local studio and see if you can intern, even if its only for a little while.
Just always be on the quest for knowledge. This art is a lifelong journey and the best are always learning no matter what level of success they achieve. Just START!
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