Getting Started MixCoach
If you are new to MixCoach let me say… Welcome! Keep reading – This is why I started this website.. to help my fellow engineers with what I’ve learned in my 25+ years as a full-time, working recording engineer.
If you’re NOT new: Click here to get Best of MixCoach
Why did you start MixCoach? or, more commonly, “Why would you start a website that teaches others to take your place?!?”
If I’ve heard this question once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. It might help if I just told a story. A few years ago… back in time a few years when you actually had to own some form of tape machine to record, I got my start. At that time, it took a healthy investment of at least 50,000-100,000 to even think about being able to become recognized as someone who had a “real studio”. Then, about the time I moved from Asheville, NC to Nashville, TN to work as a recording engineer, the entry price was becoming much lower. You could actually buy these machines called ADATs. They weren’t so cost prohibitive and you could actually start a studio for a few thousand dollars and scale (or buy another 8 tracks of ADAT) as needed.
I saw some of my friends who had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars complain about “these people who think they are engineers just because they have an ADAT are going to run us out of business”… the sad part is, there was really nothing they could do to prevent this from happening. I mean, if you love recording (as much as I did) and you could start to be taken seriously as an engineer and producer for a price that was a fraction of what it used to be, then why not? I was one of those guys. I bought a few ADATs and was in possession of Tascam DA-88’s also, which, for a while was neck in neck as far as compatibility and affordability.
So I quietly ran my studio for years with my ADAT and Yamaha 02R setup… that’s when DAW’s started to really come on the scene. I was an early adapter. I promptly bought 3 Motu 2408’s. This way, I could dump as many ADAT tracks as a producer could throw at me in just about one pass. I was in heaven. I was also ahead of the curve. I beat the system for awhile. I could tune, replace, accentuate parts and automate like nobody else…
This left me with a familiar feeling. I had tens of thousands of dollars tied up in equipment now.. and some kid straight out of college can buy a mac and replace everything I have.
It was a little unsettling.
So I decided right then. I want to be a source for those guys.. the guys straight out of college… the one’s who have always wanted to be an engineer and finally mustered the courage to buy the tools needed to achieve this dream of recording.
I decided that instead of quietly grumbling in the corners that I would step out and be an open book to anyone who asked. I mean, in the past, just about everyone who came and worked with me ended up asking, “how can I get started doing what you are doing.. it looks so fun!” I may as well help them further!
That’s when I started doing tutorial videos. My first one was with Multi-Platinum Pro Tools with a friend of mine, Nathan Adam. I’ve done many since then I’ll have to say, it’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life.
How did you get started in music?
I remember being 6 and dreaming of having my own band. I played several instruments and by the time I was 13, I was already playing with local gospel groups all over the south. Still, something was missing. I wanted to be in the studio recording. Not just on the stage. My place, I felt, was “behind the scenes”. I remember telling my mom, “I want to be the ‘big guy turning the knobs'”.
Enter cassette recorders…
I used to sit in front of a turntable all day after church on Sunday’s while my family slept and practice with groups like “The Hinsons” and many others until I felt that I could replace their bass player. Until one sunday, I decided to experiment. I took our family’s 2 cassette recorders (how we had 2, I don’t know, guess it was part of a bigger plan 😉 and recorded myself playing acoustic guitar. Then I would play back my freshly recorded guitar and lay the cassette recorder close enough to be recorded again by the second recorder… WHILE I played bass, then I would take the second recorder (now with acoustic and bass) and I would play harmonica, then sing…
Then I remember taking that tape and playing it for my mom saying, “THIS is what I want to do!”
Every group that I played with from that moment on had to have a recording studio, or have a plan to record, or I just wasn’t interested… 🙂
A few years later, I was regularly in and out of studios until I wound up in Asheville, NC playing on a project. I had read so much about recording in magazines like Mix, EQ, and Recording that I had a long list of questions that I would ask if ever I got the chance to meet a “real” engineer. The time was here.
“What’s the difference in balanced and unbalanced cables?” “What does -10db and+4 mean?”
I bombarded Mark, the engineer there, with questions between takes. He finally asked, “Are you interested in doing this?”, I didn’t know if I had really ticked him off or piqued his interest.
Let’s plan to have lunch tomorrow. I have to find a replacement for myself. I’m leaving in March .. (this was January). We met for lunch the next day and I found a great home to learn to record.
I have since become friends with some of the guys who’s names I read on album credits like they were super-heros.
The rest is history.
What “famous” artists have you worked with?
I always hate this question, because you never really know who is “famous” to the person asking. But I will have to say that my career has been full of some crazy talented people. But some of the names you may recognize might be:
a movie called “Last of the Mohicans” although you won’t see my name in the credits. As it turns out, that credit reel is pretty hard to get on… 🙂
I’ve recorded everything from Orchestras in Europe to conjoined twins. Bluegrass bands to Big Bands…
But how I make my living is mostly from some of the coolest people that you haven’t heard of. maybe never will.
My point is not downplay the people I’ve worked with but to encourage you. I’ve made a fine living recording mostly “not-so-famous” people. You can too.
What’s the ONE THING I can do to become a great engineer an mixer?
I get this question quite often. Here’s my answer… there’s no “one thing” you can do to be great engineer. If it were “one thing”, then there wouldn’t be any engineers to look up to. We’d all just find that “one thing” and do it.
Being a great engineer is about doing a hundred things if not a thousand things, that alone, really won’t catch anyone’s attention. It’s doing ALL of the small things that makes people “require” you for their next project.
MixCoach is all about the “small things” you can do to accomplish this.
Here are some resources for you:
How do I get started as an engineer?
Glad you asked. I have several podcast episodes that may help you out.
networking tricks.. podcast episodes
How can I get my name out there so that others will take me seriously?
There are so many ways to get your name out to people who could use you. I always say, “there’s always someone you could help”. It could be a person in your church, your family or just a band you saw last night. If you want experience, ask if you can help.. and then apply what you know to help them. the end result is that you both are helped.
In addition to simple networking, I’ts pretty important that you have a website.
I have tutorials on this too (coming soon).
There are strategies that you can employment that have to do with YouTube, Facebook , Twitter and etc.
you could even post some on MixCoach Member (coming soon.. website with membership)
* blog (bluehost affiliate)
* youtube (tools affiliate)
* tips and tricks (post them here!)
How do you get all of this done?
my team, my community (I learn a lot from them)
Okay, enough about you, I want some tutorials, Kevin
Or if you want a further breakdown.
* Tutorials and podcasts about editing (you have to make the next guy look better than they are or they will find someone who will – Kevin Ward MixCoach)
* Tutorials and podcasts about Eq’ing stuff
* Tutorials and podcasts on compressing stuff
* Tutorials and podcasts on how to get work
How can i dig deeper? I’m really serious about this!
* Well the first thing you can do is subscribe to this website. I have plenty of content and updates coming up and you won’t miss a things if you sign up. Find out things “as they happen”
* You could look in to my membership site called MixCoach Member (original, I know). this is where the members download a “song of the month” if you will and we all mix it and give each other feedback. It’s the BEST way I know to get ahead. Surround yourself with people headed in your direction and you are sure to get there much quicker.
* You could buy my book about mixing
* Subscribe to my Podcast
* Subscribe to my youtube channel
* Like me on Facebook