Career as a Sound Engineer

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Jenny Bond is a studio assistant in a London recording studio. Jenny enjoys working in a musical environment and her ambition is to be a successful songwriter or producer.

What does your job as a sound engineer involve?

I organise and set up rehearsal rooms and equipment for recording sessions. We have a wide range of equipment available for clients and it is my responsibility to find out from the diary exactly what each group or individual needs. I then ensure that it is available in a suitable rehearsal room and check that it is in good working order and ready for use by our engineers. I also have to check that the general appearance of the equipment is satisfactory.

On the administration side I check emails regularly and take phone calls and bookings throughout the day. I have to be able to discuss with potential clients exactly what they might need and ensure that it is entered in the diary.

What equipment do you use?

I use a wide range of equipment.We have synthesizers and samplers such as the Roland XV3080, the Oberheim MC2000 controller and Akai S3000XL, plus a huge Sample/Fx library on demand. I also use computer/digital Apple G4 PowerMac and dual P4 machines and a variety of percussion. All this is supported by microphones and acoustic instruments such as pianos and guitars.

What was your route to a career as a Sound Engineer?

I called into the studio looking for work and there was a position as a part-time runner, unpaid, as work experience. I took this and within a few weeks I was given a part-time position as a studio assistant.

Why did you choose to become a sound engineer?

Music is my passion, and I realised that I had to start somewhere to actually get anywhere in this kind of industry.

What training have you received?

I obtained a Degree in Creative Music Technology at the University of Hull, and I trained for the position of studio assistant as an unpaid runner for a month.

What do you like best about your career as a Sound Engineer?

I enjoy working closely with music, and being able to put my experience from university into practice. The people I work with have been very welcoming, which is not always the case in this industry, and this in turn makes my whole experience worthwhile and enjoyable.

Are there any disadvantages to your job?

Not being paid at the beginning and having to find a second job to support myself was a disadvantage. But to be honest I am one of the lucky ones. I didn't have to do it for very long, which is a rare thing, especially in bigger studios.

What skills and qualities do you need?

You need a love for music, technical knowledge and the ability to listen and communicate well with your clients. Discretion is also a very important part, as we do tend to work with big artists who have been in the industry for many years and are successful in what they do.

What are your long-term career goals?

Initially I want to become a studio engineer. Eventually, using the experience I am gaining, I want to become a successful songwriter/producer and hopefully to manage my own label and publishing company. I have very big ambitions and have applied for a Masters programme in Music Business Management.

Jenny's route to her career as a Sound Engineer

  • GCSEs.
  • A levels.
  • Degree in Creative Music Technology.

Jenny's sound engineer tips

  • You must put 110 per cent into what you are doing.
  • You have to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up.
  • Do your research, and keep an eye on everything that is going on around you.

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Salary of a Sound Engineer

  • New entrants either work on an hourly basis or earn about £10,000 for doing basic work.
  • This soon increases to around £15,000 or more if they show serious ability.
  • Rates paid to professionals vary enormously, and are usually between £20,000 and £40,000.

Career as a Sound Engineer

  • Recording studios do not generally specify any set entry requirements, but they do look for people with a genuine interest in sound or post production.
  • Most sound operators and technicians begin as freelancers, but this is a very competitive profession, so it is vital to network with other industry operators and maintain contacts. People working in this industry are very highly qualified and new entrants need to build up a portfolio of experience, together with a showreel or tape.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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