Recording Connection grad Brian Piper Gets Hired & Moves Up at Audio-Technica
Recording Connection graduate of our Audio Engineering & Music Production program, Brian Piper, was two and a half years into his college education when he made the decision to finish off the semester and enroll with RRFC. For Brian, it’s proved to be the right choice. He jumped into his externship with both feet and got hired by his mentor at Lava Room, the very same studio where he trained.
We recently caught up with Brian, who’s super busy nowadays, working fulltime at Audio-Technica. It’s a position that in many ways was ‘meant to be.’ In fact, listen closely and you’ll see how all of Brian’s choices ended up serving him well in a ‘roundabout way.’
Could you tell us where you were at in your life when you found Recording Connection?
“I was going to school at a traditional university. I had been there for two and a half years doing a recording and music production degree there. The school was new to the degree or new offering the recording arts. I don’t know if they were fully prepared at the time to take on as many students as they did or have the means for a facility, a recording studio, in order to fulfill everyone’s needs in the class. I was getting a lot of bookwork and it was a lot of, ‘Hey, study this and study that,’ on top of the core classes you normally have to take at a traditional university. And I was so focused on wanting to write music and be a recording engineer and music producer, but I wasn’t getting that experience that I really wanted or what I thought I was going to get.
I came across the Recording Connection after a few weeks of researching schools. It seems like such a long time ago. But after researching it, going over the program with my parents, and looking at the criteria and the course structure, it just spoke to me in a way where it was like, ‘Yes, this is what I was looking for.’”
What was it like interviewing at Lava Room? Were you nervous?
“I felt really good at the studio. I felt welcomed. Chris [Ebbert] is the studio manager there, and Mike Brown is the studio owner. Mike does such a great job with the aesthetic of the studio and the feel in order to make his clients feel welcomed and creative… Recording Connection did such a great job on getting me the information that I needed in order to go to this new place, and Lava Room did such a great job of making me feel so comfortable, so I wasn’t at all nervous. And…I had two and a half years of traditional school and some of the bookwork going into the program, so I wasn’t super new to any of the concepts.”
Did you have any eureka moments when you were going through the program?
“The hands-on aspect was the whole eureka moment for me. It was actually getting in there, taking the microphone, and putting it on the drums or the guitar cab or having Chris or Mike turning the microphone just a little bit and getting such a drastic change in tone. That was like, ‘Whoa!’ For me, those two did such a great job at explaining the importance of getting the mic placement right, right from the get go, instead of trying to fix it in the mix…Getting the desired tone before you have to go through and tweak it, add EQ and compression… [And] not only was microphone placement such a critical part, but knowing which microphone is best suited for what subject. Also, having real world experiences and real world clients, and being able to assist on those real sessions, that was the killer thing for me. I got into the studio as much as I could. Outside of working my job at Guitar Center, I was either at Guitar Center or I was at the studio.”
You got hired at Lava Room after completing your externship. Tell us a little about your time there.
“Yeah, right after I graduated, they offered me an assistant engineer role, which was awesome. It was a big thing for me, and I assisted on some really great sessions. Joe Walsh ended up coming in and doing some stuff for the James Gang record that he was doing. Being able to be in a building with legends like that is amazing. You just learn so much from even being in the same room as these people. That was a pretty incredible thing for me. It wasn’t very long after that Mike and Chris had offered me a full staff engineer role. Maybe two months, I think. So I was fulltime staff engineer at Lava Room for a long time, doing my own sessions and picking up my own clients. I had a blast doing it.
I think the thing that I liked the most was having a session in the morning that was a pop record, and then the afternoon you have someone that’s coming in and doing some voiceover stuff. Then at night you’ve got a hip-hop record that you’re doing. It was very cool being able to transition from genre to genre, and I actually think that it changed the way that I thought about music and mixed music. I took a lot of inspiration from each genre and kind of meshed them together. I think that’s what made some of my work maybe unique from other engineers.” Learn more about Brian Piper at his website.
So what led up to you working for Audio-Technica?
“It was kind of backwards. I had asked about a position at A-T in a shipping department, just to make some extra cash. I started at Audio-Technica picking product and packing it for shipment. I did that for maybe a little under a year before the Pro Sales directors at the time, interviewed me as a form of orientation that we did here, and saw that I had a sales background from working at Guitar Center.
So I would have weekly meetings with one of those directors, talking about ideas and opinions I had on products. He must have liked some of them because they created a position for me. So I went from being in the shipping department to being a sales support person in our pro division pretty quickly. I was in that role for a year, almost exactly actually, until I was promoted to become the National Distribution Manager for the U.S. and Canada…
I did that for about a year and a half in total, and just last August I was given an opportunity and a promotion to become the National Account Manager for our B2C. I manage half of our national accounts right now. Accounts like Guitar Center, Musicians Friend and Sweetwater.”
So you’re managing the Guitar Center account now, which are the same guys you worked for years ago.
“That was one thing that I said at our introduction meeting when I met them face-to-face. It’s kind of a full circle thing…In a roundabout way, Recording Connection gave me the tools to do what I do currently. It just so happens that the studio Recording Connection had me go to for school, their mic locker was 80% Audio-Technica microphones. It’s so interesting to me that I started learning the tonal quality and the sound of Audio-Technica microphones right out of the gate in school. Bringing that experience and knowledge with me to Audio-Technica as a sales person, I’ve been able to come up with a couple training seminars that we’ve done for our reps here and that I do with my accounts. In a roundabout way, Recording Connection gave me the tools to jump into a different part of the music industry that I never thought about as a career. It’s funny the way life takes you but I have really enjoyed the ride.”
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