The music industry is a fast-paced and potentially lucrative field. However, it’s always changing and evolving. These days it feels like the industry reinvents itself every six months. From digital piracy 360 deals to NFT and Blockchain-based business models, the entire industry seems to be in a constant state of flux these days. For people looking to get their foot in the door as an audio engineer this can seem daunting and intimidating.

Where do you start? How do you get your foot in the door? How do you jumpstart your career?

The possibilities of a career in music are almost endless, you just have to know where to what your options are so you can pick the best place for yourself. Knowing your niche is a powerful advantage. If you’re shooting to be an audio engineer or a music producer or a producer performer you’re going to want to pick a very different lane for yourself.

What is an Audio Engineer?

It can be easy to get confused about what exactly an audio engineer does. Don’t blame yourself for being slightly muddled by the term. The term can be used interchangeably with a few positions within the industry. Audio engineer, audio mixer, sound engineer, live music engineer, and studio engineer all use the title of Audio Engineer to describe their roles.

To put it short and sweet, audio engineers are professional music industry production staff who work to capture audio. They work in the production and recording of sound. They could be the person recording an actor reading a book for an audio book project, the person recording a live concert at a venue, the individual who’s sitting at the console in the control room of a recording studio who’s recording the vocal takes a singer is singing or the rhythms a drummer is playing. The long and short of it is this: a skilled and experienced audio engineer with solid training can work in practically any industry and on any project which requires the production and oftentimes enhancement of sound.

In the world of music production i.e. “making music,” audio engineers are often described as being on the “technical side”. Music producers, artists, and musicians are on the “creative side.” While that statement has some truth to it, it is probably more accurate to see the role of the audio engineer as a conduit for the capture and perfection of a sound. Without these highly skilled technicians it would be almost impossible to keep the industry chugging along.

Finding Jobs in Audio Engineering

Therefore, it is vitally important that audio engineers are able to understand what is being sought by the producers and musicians at hand. They’re intimately involved in the creative process, they’re just usually not determining the visian or scope of the creativity. They’re assisting in the implementation of the execution.

Many music producers are also working audio engineers who may choose to assume both roles when working with artists. Furthermore, many future music producers start out their careers as audio engineers in order to build their knowledge base, experience, and industry connections before marketing themselves as music producers.

Wherever an audio engineer is at work, they will generally be dealing with perfecting, balancing, and adjusting sound through the use of equalization and audio technologies and effects. They will also often be mixing, reinforcing, or reproducing sound and altering the quality of specific sounds through the usage of analog (hardware) technologies or digital (software) technologies such as plugins and effects. Understanding signal flow, microphones, acoustics, signal processors, tape machines, digital audio workstations, sequencing software and speaker systems are all requirements for those who choose this career.

In the world of audio engineering it is most often the case that those who are deeply interested in this career must first get a certain amount of experience and exposure to various jobs and facets of the industry to then know which path or paths they want to pursue. It is not uncommon for one audio engineer to have numerous specializations or niches. With a wide range of audio engineering careers out there to choose from, you may want to start thinking about what excites you about audio, sound, or music. Do your research. Read articles and interviews with professionals who actively work in one of the subfields, niches, or specializations.

Common Audio Engineering Specializations and Niches

  • Recording engineer
  • Tracking engineer
  • Studio engineer
  • Audio broadcast engineer
  • Forensic audio specialist
  • Game and audio design engineer
  • Mix engineer or Mixing engineer
  • Live Music aka Live Sound engineer
  • Mastering engineer
  • Monitor engineer
  • Post Audio engineer
  • Systems engineer

Discovery and Agility

Being open to learning and having a sense of discovery are two signature character traits of a successful audio engineer. Careers in audio can change quickly in response to the development of new technologies, new forms of media, and fluctuations in market demand. It behooves individuals in the field to stay current with the latest technologies and trends in music, broadcasting, live sound, and various other fields. Agility and responsiveness are characteristics of audio engineers who can endure and even thrive during times of change.

Prior to the pandemic most people weren’t even aware of Web 3’s existence, and now it looks like making NFTs of music files is the way of the future. To say nothing of the fact that video game companies are buying up music streamers and digital royalties are getting smaller by the day. The ability to pivot and re-invent your skillset to fit new challenges is an essential component of any music industry professional. Anyone who has had longevity within the music industry, or any creative industry, knows that hard times are a certainty. It’s not about if they come, it’s about how prepared you are when they do show up. Which is why you have to be ready for whatever the world is going to throw at you.

The Most Common Jobs our Audio Engineering & Music Production Grads Look For:

Your news audio production skills will qualify you for a broad range of jobs and career positions, and you can narrow the search based on your interests and passions. Here are just a few examples of jobs and careers you might look for:

  • Audio engineer/audio engineering assistant. You can either try to land a job in a recording studio, or if you’re the entrepreneurial type, start a studio of your own.
  • Live audio engineer. You can look for an audio production job in one of many live music venues, or if you like to travel, try to get hired with a touring act.
  • Music producer. You may want to dive into the creative and/or administrative side of recording, and start producing recordings for musical artists you believe in.
  • Video production-audio department. Films, videos, TV commercials and web series almost always need audio production help.
  • Post-production expert. Post-production houses handle a lot of interesting projects, including voiceover, audio FX, foley and ADR for film/TV.
  • Mastering engineer. You might choose to specialize in mastering, which is the all-important final step in preparing recorded audio for CD and vinyl duplication, as well as making music and other audio “broadcast ready.”

Strategies For Landing a Job In Audio Production

As we said earlier, finding a good audio production job is probably going to take more than just mailing out a bunch of resumes to companies that don’t know anything about you.You’re going to need to be someone who’s a self starter. You’re going to need to be someone who’s constantly trying to find a place for yourself to fit in.

Breaking “inside” the industry is a huge step in being considered for any audio production job. Arguably it’s the most difficult. Getting your foot in the door of any industry is always the most complicated aspect of any career. Once you’re in, it’s easier to pivot and rebrand yourself. But convincing someone to give you your start? That’s a special type of difficulty.

If you’re a Recording Connection student gaining experience in a recording studio, you’re already halfway there. Your mentor and the Student Services Department will be huge resources to help make introductions and recommend you to potential employers (you might even get hired by your mentor if you prove yourself). If you need more inroads, try to get in the door of a recording studio through an internship, or even offering to volunteer to gain work experience.

However, that’s not enough. Having an online presence helps to make you look legitimate and desirable in the eyes of employers and potential clients. It also helps extend your base of connections beyond the people you meet in person. Setting up a website and a presence on social media (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) will make it easy for prospective employers to find useful information about you and your accomplishments when they “Google” you (and trust us, they will “Google” you).

Are You Ready for an Audio Engineer Job?

Knowing how to find a job in audio production isn’t something that’s easy. It’s a creative and competitive industry. You aren’t the only one looking to get your foot in the door. People from all walks of life are having the exact same dreams you are. They’re all hungry, talented, and willing to do whatever it takes. But that’s the key. They’re all poised to make the same sacrifices you are, so you just need to be willing to go further. To work harder. To truly commit yourself to the art form.

That’s the real answer. The first place you need to look, when you’re trying to find a job in the music industry, is within yourself. Do you have what it takes? Do you have the commitment? The Skill? The talent? If you truly believe that you’re ready for this journey then no one will be able to stop you. You’ll find a way to succeed. There’s no other option.

Get your music production certification and build your music production and audio engineering skills by learning with an industry professional near you.