Today I want to answer a question that I get a lot from my readers, which is—should you go to audio engineering school? And more so, what’s the best path for someone who’s coming up today, looking to make a full-time career or at least a part-time career in the audio engineering space?
I’m a graduate of NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, which is a four-year university program. Having gone to audio engineering school, I know what it’s about. I know what I got out of it. I want to share a little bit of that context with you, and give you some perspective on whether or not you even need that in your journey.
The best thing that I got out of my education wasn’t actually the nuts-and-bolts technical understanding in terms of audio engineering, but really the relationships and the experience of networking with some of the students and also some of the professors.
Some of my first clients were actually fellow classmates. They were students that I knew personally, that knew my work. A lot of those clients have actually stayed with me. In terms of really building up my client base, it was a great way to get started.
And also, the relationships with the professors—that was probably the biggest asset for me. My relationship with my mentor Bob Power, who’s an incredible engineer but really started out as a professor of mine…he was the one that introduced me to my manager. And there have been a few other professors like that, that I’ve really built relationships and connections with, and have really helped me get my feet on the ground.
The good news is that, in terms of the practical knowledge and the nuts-and-bolts stuff, I think there’s so much great information available online—more so than ever before. I think that in terms of the technical aspects of my education, I think I learned as much from going out on the internet, reading blogs, watching videos, as I really did from the formal time I spent in class. There’s really no longer a monopoly on the information and the technical stuff behind—you know…how do I craft a great-sounding record.
If you’re thinking—hey, audio school is really expensive…I really want to learn how to make a great-sounding mix or a great-sounding recording—I think there are more resources available for you than ever before. I don’t think that you need a formal education to get that knowledge and put it into practice. And no amount of schooling is going to replace the fact that you actually just have to sit down and do it at a certain point.
So if I were someone on their way up who was trying to understand how to do this on a high level and then really how to make a career, I’d probably say—spend your time online, reading as much as you can, and then put that stuff into practice. And really treat it like a job. Show up every day, create a schedule for yourself, and really start to approach this on a serious level. And you can make serious strides forward in your craft and also in the business aspects without spending a ton of money on education.
I was lucky enough to have the support from my parents. They were the ones that paid for my schooling. If I was in a position where I had to shell out thousands and thousands of dollars and amass a ton of debt to pursue a higher-level education, I think that would be a completely different scenario.
I think you have to think really long and hard about—hey, what’s the value of this on real practical level. Because the bottom line is—a lot of the nuts-and-bolts educational stuff…those are all things that you can get online.
Now with that being said, I don’t want to discount the value of those relationships. For me, that was what really made the impact. So I’m not saying it isn’t valuable, but I think that you have to approach it in that frame of mind of…almost like a supplement to going out and educating yourself.
Because at the end of the day, all anyone cares about…really…is results. Can you create a great-sounding track? Can you create a great-sounding mix? If you can do that, it doesn’t matter whether you dropped out of school or didn’t finish high school or got a four-year degree at one of the best schools in the country.
I think that you have to keep that in mind when you’re thinking about—should I go to audio engineering school? What’s the value of this really worth?
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