MixCoach Podcast 035 : One of the Best Ways an Engineer Can Get More Work

In this episode, Kevin talks about how to get opportunities to get work by being at the “right place at the right time”

Question: What are some inventive ways that you have tried to get more work?

By Jon Wright

As a graduate of MTSU with a degree in Audio Engineering and Technology Jon has been working as a full time mixer and engineer in Nashville. He loves running, writing, and all forms of entertainment. He also enjoys long walks on the beach with his wife.

5 comments

  1. Nice advice as always! I must be living in a different planet though! lol… Everything I have tried to do as of putting myself in situations like you describe here, have been VERY unsuccessful:-(

    These days, is very difficult to find a studio where you’d be allowed to come and “hang out” even for the sake of learning. Most places I have visited in the area where I live, have plainly rejected the idea of having someone coming to sit around during a session, unless you’re part of the project. Simple as that. I have also poured my heart out offering help for free and have been totally ignored.
    I’m not trying to sound negative, just sharing my very own experience regarding this very subjective topic.

    Seems to me that, most veteran engineers I hear talking about this, had those kind of opportunities 20, 30, 40 years ago… Is what I call in a way, happy accidents. Find out more about the careers of Jack Joseph Puig, Chris Lord Alge, Manny Marroquin and many others.

    Then you have someone like Dave Pensado whose journey as a mixing engineer didn’t look pretty at first and it took him a while and a couple of radical moves to get where he is now.

    I totally agree with the fact that you do need to educate yourself and be ready to do your very best when the chance arrives! Most of the people I know who recently had opportunities like you guys mention here, found them as part of internships where there’s a college involved and so therefore, things are a bit more formal in a way and there is more trust and reliability because… well, there’s a commitment between all parts (the school, the student and the nice studio owner who embraces the opportunity of having a little help…). If you prove to be good enough, possibilities may look good!

    So yes, I agree with all the advice offered here as one of the ways to get more work. However, I just wish it was just a little bit easier to say: “oh yeah! I heard there’s a session today in town at 123 studio, let me show up and see if they let me sweep the floor, empty the ashtrays and do whatever they need me to do so I can see how they make records and hopefully tune a vocal &^%$#@!!

    1. Hey Luis. Good to see you again. I’ll have to admit that being geographically close to studios is key… if you are JUST wanting to hang out at studios in your area.. I’ll also admit that alot of studios are now home-based now and therefore, maybe a little more “closed-off” than the commercial studios of the past.

      But I think that you would have to admit that hanging out, if even in the virtual definition of the word (i.e. hanging out at MixCoach, helping people, commenting on this blog and just overall being super-cool) has brought you opportunity. I got you to mix a song or two to help me out in months past.

      By the way, you did a great job!

      As far as hanging out in local “brick-and-mortar” studios… I think you have to build more relationships and maybe give it another try.

      You’re a rockstar.

      1. Thanks Kevin for your kind words. I also thank you for the opportunity I had to do a job for you a while back; that was really cool by the way:-)
        As I mentioned, I do agree with the things you mentioned in your podcast. However, I still believe that it is just not as simple as it sounds, especially for new engineers. I’m grateful that hanging out as you call it “in the virtual definition” has helped me to learn more than anything else, but not to “get more work” as the title of this podcast implies. Most of the opportunities I have found, have been the result of hard work, lots of sacrifice and more than anything else the ability to establish relationships (as you mentioned).
        I’m actually not hurting for getting more work; I’m very blessed to get to do what I do honestly. But, you guys asked to your readers to share what they have tried whether it has worked or not. So, again, in my very humble opinion and based on my experience, this hanging out business hasn’t worked. There’s a whole lot more to it 😉
        Comem on MixCoach readers, jump in and let’s discuss some of this!! I’m sure everyone would benefit from sharing their own experiences…

        God bless you all!

  2. Hi Luis
    I have to admit that what you saying it’s very true ,it is very hard to hang out , comercial studios are very restricted , All we need to do it’s patiently wait for opportunities
    Good luck

  3. Coming from someone who has interned and worked for a major studio in Nashville and a smaller studio in Franklin, being a good “hang” is key. Opportunities show up at the oddest time I have found. When I was working at a larger studio on music row one night(I was a paid intern at this point)organizing the tech/mic room their came a knock at the door. When I went to the door there was an odd looking fellow who needed help getting his car doors unlocked, as he had locked his keys in the car. I thought sure I’ll help the guy I’ve been there many times. Long story short, after helping this guy get his keys out of his car it turned out he was a Grammy award winning mix engineer. He the invited me into his studio to check it out and I was invited back numerous times just to “hang” and learn. I can tell you I learned so much from just being a fly on the wall. Whenever I was there I would clean the studio, run to the tech room for cables or gear, organize gear closets, and whatever I could do to show my appreciation for being allowed to sit and peer behind the curtain and learn.

    Lesson learned, always be helpful and don’t judge a book by it’s cover.(In this business you never know who you might be talking too.)

    The keys to being a good hang is, don’t come across as desperate(as Kevin stated), don’t pester anyone, and find ways to contribute to the studio, whatever that may be. One of the first things I had to do at a studio was paint an office, I have never painted a room in my life. But I did it to the best of my ability and I worked hard at it. After I did that, the owner said “Transfer these tapes for a media CD”. I had never done transfers before, I did it to the best of my ability and I put everything into it. This scenario continued up until I was assisting at the studio and I had my own key to the studio, to come and go as I pleased. I had built up a trust through my hard work.

    The biggest keys I have learned is this, always be doing something if your in a studio. Organize a mic locker,you wouldn’t believe how messed up these get and how much studio owners and engineers appreciate it when they can just find what they want. Find something to do and do it to show you want to be there and contribute. Someone will take notice and a door will open. A big way to get work if your around other engineers is to find out what they hate doing and become very good at it. You will get allot of work this way. I did allot of track editing because the engineers I was around hated doing it. In one case I was shown how to do a certain type of editing, then after I proved I could do it efficiently, I was paid for it from there on out. They educated me then paid me.

    Everything Kevin has said in the podcast is true. This is just my experience. I hope this helps out guys. 🙂

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