When recording musicians with real acoustic instruments, I suggest that they bring them over the day before. This is so that the instruments can be acclimatized to the studio live room’s temperature and humidity.
Wood, metal and other materials contract and expand so if you don’t give instruments a chance to settle to a new environment then they may have trouble staying in tune.
Also, for guitar players who aren’t “in the know” they should stretch new strings before putting them on a guitar. Checking intonation BEFORE booking studio time is also a very smart and necessary thing to do.
The same is true for drummers and fresh drum heads. They need to be palm stretched before being tightened onto lugs.
Headquartered in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University is a school that you have probably heard of. They spend a ton of money on marketing so their name is widespread throughout the audio production community. And they have a beautiful campus. It’s very high tech and eye appealing.
Here’s the thing…you don’t need them. In fact, going there may hinder your ability to land a job. Or better yet, to start your own business. How so? Number one, the expense.
According to https://www.fullsail.edu/admissions/tuition a Music Production or Recording Arts program will cost $72,000 . SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS! That is ridiculous! In case the web page changes, here’s a screen shot for posterity:
(Update: As of July 9, 2017 the Full Sail University Recording Arts program now costs $78,000!)
You’re supposed to be the teacher! Anybody can go on Google without paying tuition at FSU. Why don’t YOU look up the answer and then get back with the student. Isn’t that your job?
The other major complaint that I’ve read is that material is rushed. If you teach brand new concepts too fast then it doesn’t sink into your brain. Especially if you are just READING about something and NOT doing. Learning about audio engineering should be hands on from day one if you ask me. That’s number two. How often do you get to use all of the fancy high end gear that they love to advertise on their web site and at open house (behind the scenes) events? If Full Sail has students in a classroom learning too much theory and not enough practical information then they are doing a huge disservice to their students.
I cannot vouch for the quality of a Full Sail University’s education when it comes to audio production. What I can say is that it is VERY difficult to find a job in this career field. And you do not need to go to FSU to learn how to produce/record/mix music. You can call up any number of studios with the fancy high end gear and offer a bribe. Money talks, so if you want to gain experience in a real world studio one way to get your foot in the door is with cold hard cash.
Another path to take is by reading through the web sites like the one you are on right now. I started Don’t Go to Recording School last month in order to save a lot of wannabe audio engineers the debt and frustration.
What’s in it for me, you ask? Well, it’s really simple. If you decide to open your own studio and need some guidance, I hope you consider my consultation services. They are way cheaper than tuition at most colleges. That’s if you don’t want to read through all of the articles on this web site which will put you on the path to not only being a good (and eventually great) audio engineer) but also as a successful business person as well,
If you aren’t interested in consultation services, at least when you go to buy audio gear for your studio I hope that you use the various Amazon affiliate links that are scattered throughout this web site.
At one point, Full Sail University sued the guy who made FullSailSucks.com, took ownership of the domain and shut it down. That’s how they treat former students, I guess. You can still see remnants of the site on Archive.org though. In my opinion, Full Sail is afraid of the truth getting out there. If they ever sue me, they better bring the full football team because I refuse to get sacked. I’m not afraid of lawyers or judges.
Reviews on the school throughout the internet are mixed. The ones on Yelp are the most interesting but you may have to dig deep to get to the juicy ones. The word on the street is Yelp gets paid off Mafia style by Full Sail but that may or may not be true. You be the judge on why the negative reviews are hidden by Yelp.
My advice? Hit the ground running and start calling up studios. Skip the middle man. See if the studios have any internship openings. If they don’t, persuade them with that green and gold. A spot may just open up when the smell of greenbacks wafts through the phone line. I would rather spend two years interning at a few different studios then spending two years at Full Sail. And hey, maybe one of those studios will offer you a job if you’re good enough?
If that doesn’t work, open your own studio. Read every article on this site and if you still need some guidance give me a call at (718) 303-2543 to set up either a Skype or in-person consultation. A British lady will answer the voice mail if I’m not available.
If you want to hear more opinions from other audio engineers on this subject, watch the following videos:
As the saying goes, “attitude is everything”. In business, this is often the case. Whether it’s the way you talk to/treat employees or customers, the way you handle your business can make or break it.
This is very true when it comes to running a recording studio business. It not only affects your bottom line but it can also affect the success of a music production.
It all starts with first impressions. How does your studio’s web site look? How about the social media pages? When someone calls you do you answer the phone or does it go straight to voice mail?
Is the physical studio looking good or is it an unwelcoming space? High end studios often times offer amenities like a full kitchen, place to shower, green rooms to watch TV/play video games/hang out and sometimes even a place to sleep!
The environment has a lot to do with the studio’s vibe. What color are the walls? Decorations? How about the lighting? Bright overhead fluorescent lights are nice for setting up equipment but low wattage incandescent lights or even candles can help set the mood. All of this stuff matters. This is where doing some research on your competitors helps out a lot. What do they offer? What do their facilities look like?
Having a great attitude even when you are feeling down can go a long way to better recordings. Don’t make the mistake I used to by bogging customers down in technical talk. Set things up and give them a great recording! If you are going to talk while setting gear up, talk about their project or something else music related. Or…anything else if they don’t want to talk about music!
Music producer Warren Huart made an excellent series of videos on this topic and more. I would start with this one and then go down the playlist.
A lot of advice on various audio engineering topics are on this web site and Real Home Recording. But, it’s very important to know what cannot be taught. These two videos are must watches:
Just like if you watch or read advice on getting a job or dating that will do nothing for your career or love life if you do not try things out yourself. If these videos didn’t motivate you, then watch this one:
As your studio grows you will accumulate a lot of cables. At some point they will turn into “spaghetti” and it will be quite the mess! You’ll waste a lot of time figuring out which cable is which and where it needs to go. Take care of this before it becomes a problem by labeling that cable!
This article contains Amazon affiliate links which help support the DGTRS web site.
If ever there was a topic that I’ve been redundant about in Real Home Recording videos it’s speaker calibration. It is the process in which a measurement microphone is used then software magic happens to provide a reference frequency balance.
Speaker calibration systems also take into account the room that your speakers are in. Even if you have flat frequency speakers (typically they are measured in an anechoic chamber which no normal human being records/mixes in) their frequency balance will change depending on your room acoustics. This is a topic that I’ve talked about in numerous RHR videos:
Back in 2008 is when I became aware of what I call the “chase your tail” problem. The studio I recorded/mixed out had very nice speakers (also called monitors) but when I would listen to mixes on other speaker systems/headphones my music would change. Sometimes quite drastically! At some point I became made aware of software from IK Multmedia called Advanced Room Correction or ARC for short. ARC is something I very much wanted to use but it had a high price tag of $600!
At the time, IK offered software crossgrade discounts so when they sold a plugin for $50 I had “Studio B’s” owner jump on it. ARC was discounted to I believe $350-400 but it was well worth it. Remixes still had to be made but it enabled me to get mixes a lot closer to where they needed to be.
ARC 2 was eventually released and I upgraded to that as well. But there was still the nagging issue of having to bypass it in order to mix the high end. So, in 2015 I became aware of a new company on the block (to me, anyway) called Sonarworks. They were releasing version 3 of their Reference speaker calibration software and it was finally going to be available on Windows operating systems!
Reference 3 not only can calibrate speaker systems but headphones as well. Technically headphones are speakers you where on your head but whatever. Unfortunately, just like ARC back in 2009 there is no way to demo the speaker system without buying the microphone but the headphone side of things you can. So I did and made a review:
The mixes I did with Reference 3 and a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-50 headphones were the best I had done. Since that review I have wanted to buy it and the speaker software as well but have not had a big enough audio project to justify the purchase. I’m still making do with ARC 2 but recommend Reference over it these days based on my experience with the headphone plugin.
Keep in mind, there is no universal standard for speakers. Frequency graph plots are all over the place with consumer playback devices. But, as world famous mastering engineering said during an interview with the Huffington Post:
Dr. Floyd Toole (of Harman International, makers of JBL speakers) showed that averaging all the different consumer speakers (some bright, some with too much bass or midrange etc.) one ends up with a very flat curve which is empirical proof that mastering with an extremely accurate and flat playback system yields a product that sounds correct on more systems. Like speakers, earbuds run the gamut from the old stock Apple earbuds that sounded tinny and lacking warmth to top-of-the-line Shure earbuds that are extremely accurate, to “hip-hop” earbuds that are overly bass heavy. One must master to sound as good as possible on all systems.
My preferred setting on Sonarworks Reference 3 is averaged speakers. Flat is OK but my mixes translated better on the averaged preset. Your experience may vary.
Don’t Go to Recording School does not have any social media accounts. I did try to make one on Twitter but one day after signing up the account was restricted.
In order to gain access to the account I’ll need to give Twitter my phone number. That’s not going to happen. They have my IP address so there’s no reason they need my number. Since Twitter decided to play that game with me, I’ve decided to have no social media accounts for this web site.
If you run across any Don’t Go to Recording pages on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or any other site it is not official. And to be honest, I like it that way. It’s less work on my part and going against the grain as it were is an act of rebellion. If you want solid information on a regular basis then you’re going to need to put in a little extra effort and come back to this site. It will not be spoon fed to you.
That said, the Real Home Recording YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook pages remain up. Currently I’m boycotting Facebook but am very active on Twitter and YouTube. If you would like to hear some of my audio work then Soundcloud is the place to go.
I won’t touch the topic of live sound reinforcement very often on this site. I have not worked in that capacity enough to speak on the subject. But, I will recommend a few resources in case that is one direction that you as a music production business entrepreneur want to head.
First, this book is the one I would recommend to buy first. It is filled with practical knowledge and is suited for both new and advanced engineers alike. Simply put, the author Bill Evans is the man!
Second, the Live Sound section of Gearslutz is a great resource. As a whole that place can be a little off the walls but the Live Sound section has a lot of smart men and women talking shop and answering questions.
Third, Rational Acoustics Smaart. I only bring this up because a few years back a colleague could not stop talking about it. If you have read my article about speaker calibration, you know that I’m all about using new technology to solve every day problems that audio engineers face. Smaart is the Sonarworks Reference for live sound. While both software products aren’t necessary, they do make your job a hell of a lot easier.
If you have come across this web site at random, you may ask why Don’t Go to Recording School was started. The answer is simple. I could not sit by anymore and allow people to waste time and money while big businesses profited off (mostly) young people’s dreams.
As stated in the web site introduction, I have been railing against recording schools for a few years now. But everything came to a head this past December when a personal story was published in a Los Angeles Times article. Over $200,000 was wasted going to college for audio production/the recording arts.
$200,000 that could have been spent either majoring in a more in-demand career field or by starting a studio/audio production company. When I read that article, I was pissed off.
How dare these schools charge outrageous money for an education in a career field that is tough to land a job in! But perhaps more importantly, how dare the federal government subsidize these schools! I have no problem with tax money going towards business loans but student loans I have a serious issue with.
Why? Because colleges have set themselves up as a road block. A barrier to entry to landing an entry level job at many companies. Things weren’t always this way but colleges have set themselves up to be a necessity in life. Or so they WANT you to think!
It’s not the fault of the colleges…it is the fault of society. College degrees are overvalued for many areas of study. In other words, they aren’t really necessary. Back in the early 90s a degree in Information Technology didn’t exist. If you were good with computers you could apply for a job and prove yourself worthy of getting a pay check. The same is true for many other career fields. When a new one pops up, colleges jump on it. They create new majors which in turn is a new barrier to entry.
DGTRS isn’t just a site about teaching audio engineering and business skills. Oh no. I want the societal mindset of “You have to go to college” to change. I want high school guidance counselors to have alternatives to telling students to go to college. I want businesses to stop denying people who don’t have a degree listed on their resumes, because it is a piss poor way of determining whether someone is a good potential employee or not.
In case you are wondering, yes I do have a college degree. I got one before they became super expensive to get.
Student loan debt has increased to astronomically levels. At the time of this writing the total amount is $1.38 trillion and rising every second. Student debt is second only to mortgage debt in the United States. So, instead of just reporting on these numbers I am DOING something to help reverse this trend.
I am sick of colleges, universities and trade schools not feeling the recession burn. I’m sick of seeing them brag about their fancy new buildings and fancy new equipment that was purchased with federal student loans. Colleges are some of the biggest welfare kings and queens out there. Without the federal government, most would not exist. Or, they would be forced cut back on tuition costs big time.
It is time we make higher education businesses obsolete for a lot of career fields.
Hopefully this site inspires people in other industries to offer their knowledge and help their fellow men and women out. That way, articles like this, this and this one will be left to rot in the past. THAT is why DGTRS was started.
I could keep this information to myself or become a college professor at an audio school. But why become apart of the scam? I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror every day and be happy with what I’m doing. After each new article gets posted on this site a feeling of joy comes over me. Saving people from mountains of debt is a nice legacy to leave behind after I die. Not contributing to the problem is the solution.
The smartest person in the world can be the worst business person. A dumber person can also make the right business moves and succeed. Running a successful business has little to do with how intelligent you are and a lot to do with these important items:
Products or Services
Do you offer something that people need or want? Do you offer them at adequate qualities and reasonable prices? Is there something that sets you apart from the competition? If you answered no for any of these questions, change it.
Is your business location convenient for customers? If not, that’s a problem. Do you know why people love Amazon and online shopping in general? They don’t have to drive anywhere, they know whether an item is in stock or not and prices are typically lower or the same as brick and mortar stores.
The same goes for why Netflix overtook Blockbuster video. Give people better value and more convenient ways of doing business with you and they will come.
I used to work on a show where successful business leaders were interviewed. The most common thing they said was they surrounded themselves with people who are smarter than them and better at what they do than them. But perhaps most importantly, they would trust those employees to get their jobs done and not micro manage them. Trust and hiring talented employees can make or break a company.
Does your business location look clean and tidy? How about your web site and social media pages? Do you even have a web site and social media pages for your business? Do you post on a regular basis? Does the web site provide useful and concise information? First impressions are everything and you can lose a potential customer in less than 30 seconds if anything about your company/brand looks unprofessional or out of place.
This web site is a good example. To start Don’t Go to Recording School I had to learn a few new things about web sites and graphic design, otherwise it would look like my past web sites. If that were the case, people who come here may not take the information seriously. It still isn’t perfect but it’s better than what I’ve done before.
You could have the best business in the world but if no one knows who you are then your business may as well not exist. I state this from experience. Marketing is crucial to a business’ success. Perhaps above all else because there are some bad businesses out there but they have a recognizable name. And guess what? They also have customers.
This is an area where even large businesses fail. They grow too fast. Or, they establish operations in an unnecessarily expensive area. They don’t take advantage of tax write offs. My cousin lost his job because a company did this. You can run a web site/app company from any part of the country. But what did his company decide to do because they got a large IPO injection of money from the stock market? Set up headquarters in the most expensive piece of real estate in the entire country. Less than two years later and they were bleeding money. So, they layed off a ton of workers.
All because they didn’t keep their finances in check. They didn’t save for a rainy day, as my grand parents would say. And they paid for it by having to fire a bunch of people.
It does not take a genius to make the above happen. It does take effort though and if it wasn’t clear already running a business is not for the lazy at heart. It takes a lot of behind the scenes leg work to run a successful business. Most businesses fail within the first two years. Mostly because there was failure in one or more of the above categories.