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Audio Jobs | Reality Check
Nov 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz
ARE THERE JOBS FOR ALL THOSE AUDIO SCHOOL GRADUATES?
“I wonder what it would be like if we all became what we wanted to be when we grew up. I mean, imagine a world full of firemen, cowboys, nurses and ballerinas.” That’s a Lily Tomlin quote from an early Saturday Night Live episode. It is funny to imagine, and it’s just as odd to think about what the world would be like if we all became what we wanted to be when we were teenagers. Imagine a world full of guitar gods, celebrity chefs, NBA players and rock ’n’ roll recording engineers. In other words, not everyone can end up in his or her dream career. And logic dictates that a music industry plagued by piracy and poor sales also doesn’t demand thousands more music recording engineers every year.
Still, thousands of high school grads head off to audio school to follow their dream of working in a studio, recording bands. Part of what they’re bound to learn is that few of them will find full-time employment in a high-end music studio. Like all those former-future ballerinas out there, audio students sometimes need a reality check.
To help audio students face the realities of a down economy, and a really down music industry, without giving up their dreams, many of the established audio education schools and programs offer career-counseling services and internship opportunities for a range of audio careers. As director of the student services department at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences (Tempe, Ariz.), Greg Stefus guides students into internships that provide essential work experience—a mandatory part of his program.
“I’m a graduate of the Conservatory,” he says. “When I came here, I wanted to make rock ’n’ roll records. By the time I left, it didn’t matter what I was doing. If I was making sound sound great, I was happy doing it, in any capacity. Most of our students understand by the time they leave here that even though you want to be idealistic to yourself, audio is a business and there are a hundred different ways to make money in audio if you keep your mind open to it.”
Stefus says that CRAS emphasizes “reality-based teaching. That means we teach all aspects of the industry.” The idea is that with a broad base of audio skills, students will be able to find some kind of work in the industry after graduation. So those aspiring band recordists will also come out of CRAS’ program with some understanding of creating and mixing sound for film and TV, game audio, sound reinforcement and music business. He works side-by-side with the CRAS faculty to make sure the school’s curriculum reflects changes in the job market.
The biggest change the conservatory has recently made is embracing the idea of the owner-operator as a likely outcome for many students. “With the digital revolution and everyone going smaller and everyone being able to record,” he says, “we made a huge overhaul of the program, so everyone starts with their own laptop and recording setup. After completing the course curriculum, every student has the ability to enter and excel in the industry. Getting into audio now, you are going to be your own company to some extent.”
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