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Advice for a parent

Postby A helping hand » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:23 pm

hi Guys,

I am a parent looking for advice....Not sure if this is the right place to post this, if it is not please tell me.

My 17 yr old son studying Music Technology A level is looking to pursue a career in Live sound or sound engineering (his words not mine....I work in a different industry so have no clue about this stuff). He is looking at his next steps after sixth form.

His choices are:
>>Uni to study audio music technology for 3yrs....(Bournemouth and UWE are candidates)
>>ACM or SAE to study a 2yr degree in Audio technology

My questions are;
>> What are the employment prospects in this industry (I think I know this already)
>> What is the best way to get into the industry...is it via the route above or is there another way?
>> What are the views of the guys here on ACM and SAE and their 2yr degree courses. Do potential employers respect their degrees?

I look forward to your comments and any advice you could offer....

Many thanks
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Georges Gholam » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:59 pm

Hey Madame,

By getting an audio diploma in general he can go into music production, sound design (he creates his own sounds by recording them on digital recorders), post-production( after a movie or series is shot, he'll clean the noise of the vocals and sound effects.), Boom operator (the person who is in charge of taking the sound in studio set. Honestly the best way he can make it in the industry is if he's got projects where he worked music or the sound effects for, let's say a movie or series, he can post them on respected websites. one is www.soundcloud.com . About ACM, I never heard of it honestly, but I guarantee that SAE would be the last place where you son would want to be taught because it's not accredited by the government, so basically he will be doing formations, and not getting a recognized certificate. I highly recommend he does some research and so do you, because you'll at least know what your son is doing and if he's under good hands and not teaching him how to really be a sound engineer or music producer.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby ken long » Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:12 pm

Hey!

A helping hand wrote:

What are the employment prospects in this industry (I think I know this already)

You know this already!

What is the best way to get into the industry...is it via the route above or is there another way?

Very difficult to get a break and if you do, you've got to be exceptional so that you get hired again. Best he find a niche because there are many many services in this industry - not just sound reinforcement.

What are the views of the guys here on ACM and SAE and their 2yr degree courses.

As has been said by Georges (Hi Georges!), not accredited institutes. For serious qualifications, look at Tonmeister but your kid will need music and physics proficiency to get accepted.

Do potential employers respect their degrees?

Respect is a strong word but not in my experience, no.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Modified » Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:00 am

I posted a thread on here a while ago from your sons position (almost).

It was more along the lines of "I want to go to uni to do music, what should I know to help me progress further".

The general answer/advice I got was "don't go to uni to do music for the sake of a job; you will find better uses with Physics/Maths/electronics" (I am trying to find the thread now).

At first I was quite shocked to be discouraged to go and do music. However; since then I have taken time to study the underlying physics of sound and acoustics on my own. I've read several books, learning some maths and electronics. I don't know loads yet, but I can already see why I was advised that. I now understand how having a good concept of trigonometry in waves (for example) and be a good musician could do more for you than being taught how to be a producer.

Other options such as math or physics are most likely going to open more doors out-side of music should things not work out.
That said. I've not been; so I can't say what is and isn't covered on the course! Nor am I in a position to talk with much experience outside of a free worker in a studio; so obviously I can't really say whether it's correct or not. This is all just the perception that's lead to my currant choice.

Here's the thread
http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... Post867985


Just my inexperienced 2p :)

Best of luck to your son.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Octopussy » Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:14 am

Study electrical engineering and electronics and music. Then go work for a big, high end PA hire company. Network and gain experiences and access to career paths within the industry this way. Forget music technology courses. They are a waste of your child's potential to work!
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby zenguitar » Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:21 am

If your son is serious about heading in that direction he will need two things, contacts who need to employ someone and a skill set that they want.

I would suggest a degree in something like Electrical Engineering and once he's got a serious qualification under his belt to then start working as local crew, ideally in London. You start at the bottom pushing flight cases around, packing and unpacking trucks, and over a few months you work your way up the list and start to get the chance to network with the sound guys as you work with them. Resist the temptation to go too far too fast and soon he'll see the same sound guys coming through town on different shows. If he's reliable they'll recognise him and make sure he's on their team for the show.

A full UK driver's licence helps, and he should have a full passport too. Because if a chance arises it will usually be at short notice, someone has dropped out at the last minute or kicked off a tour because they can't hack it.

And while at university he should volunteer everywhere possible to help with sound. Drama, student radio, hospital radio, student union, local venues... Anywhere he can get some experience while earning his degree.

That will give him a degree that gives a way into the business but still qualifies him for a well paid job elsewhere if it doesn't work out.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby ef37a » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:03 am

+1 to getting a broad electrical engineering education.

I subscribed to "JustEngineers.net" filtered for electronics and I get 2-4 jobs sent in EVERY DAY!(I am retired now but like to keep up.) This country and the world it seems is crying out for skilled engineers and technicians* and the salaries are good, 30/50kpa (except one for a technician for the NHS which was a deeply insulting £15k...We are all going to die!).

So, as has been said, music jobs are hens' teeth but he needs to eat while waiting for that big break.

*Sore point:Technical people TEND to come from the lower income demograph and so, with fees and debt as it is, this will get worse and worse. If a country wants a highly skilled workforce it should be prepared to PAY for it!

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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby hollowsun » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:50 am

zenguitar wrote:If your son is serious about heading in that direction he will need two things, contacts who need to employ someone and a skill set that they want.
And absolutely dogged determination...

And be prepared to schlep up and down the highways and byways of our sceptred isle at all times of the day and night, sleep in the van, on the band's front room floor, have no money, be permanently overdrawn and always apologising to his bank manager. And that's when he's successful! ;)
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby hollowsun » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:57 am

ef37a wrote:*Sore point:Technical people TEND to come from the lower income demograph and so, with fees and debt as it is, this will get worse and worse.
Well ... there's never been a better time to study Music Technology at (ahem) 'university'...

They'll end up flipping burgers asking if the customer wants fries with that and earning a far cry from the £21k threshold so they'll never have to pay anything back! ;)

ef37a wrote:If a country wants a highly skilled workforce it should be prepared to PAY for it!
Conversely, if a person wants a well paid job, THEY should be prepared to invest in that.

Just saying!
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby ef37a » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:15 am

hollowsun wrote:
ef37a wrote:*Sore point:Technical people TEND to come from the lower income demograph and so, with fees and debt as it is, this will get worse and worse.
Well ... there's never been a better time to study Music Technology at (ahem) 'university'...

They'll end up flipping burgers asking if the customer wants fries with that and earning a far cry from the £21k threshold so they'll never have to pay anything back! ;)

ef37a wrote:If a country wants a highly skilled workforce it should be prepared to PAY for it!
Conversely, if a person wants a well paid job, THEY should be prepared to invest in that.

Just saying!

"They" might not have to pay anything back but that does not stop the disbelieving bastards hounding the freaking hell out of people for the rest of their lives.

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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby A helping hand » Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:26 pm

Guys,

Thanks for your replies, I think I already understood the state of the industry and how hard it was to break into, so thanks for confirming my fears.

I'm really interested in the comments about electrical and electronic engineering, because that is my background. This gave me a good grounding in all things electrical and electronic which has stood me in good stead over the past 30 years.

Thanks again for all the comments. I will go off and read the links posted for more info.

I look forward to reading any additional comments, especially on the relative merits of ACM,SAE vs the polyversities.


Sounds like I may have some difficult conversations ahead.....


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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby James Perrett » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:32 am

I'd also echo the advice to do an engineering degree while getting as much experience as possible through volunteering. Of course, if he is serious about this he will probably already be doing live sound or recording for local events and making a name for himself. University isn't necessarily the only route either as HNC/HND qualifications will also stand you in good stead and may possibly show you as more practically biased.

James.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby narcoman » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:26 pm

A helping hand wrote:Guys,

Thanks for your replies, I think I already understood the state of the industry and how hard it was to break into, so thanks for confirming my fears.

I'm really interested in the comments about electrical and electronic engineering, because that is my background. This gave me a good grounding in all things electrical and electronic which has stood me in good stead over the past 30 years.

Thanks again for all the comments. I will go off and read the links posted for more info.

I look forward to reading any additional comments, especially on the relative merits of ACM,SAE vs the polyversities.


Sounds like I may have some difficult conversations ahead.....


Mark

Tell him to check into the backgrounds of most people IN the biz. You'll find the most, if they do a degree, do something outside of music tech. If he still wants to do this at 22 then eh will STILL be very very young and can switch over then.

Also - while at University he can work live sound etc in his spare time.

The basic clue - for a career NEVER do a UK based music tech degree unless it's very science oriented - LIPA or Tonmeister for example. Stay well away from the wallet rinsers such as SAE or Point Blank. I'm an employer (and a major one these days) - I wouldn't even look at a recent CV from one of those places. If you're concerned put him directly in touch with me. If you're lucky enough to get a response from Byre on here listen to it very carefully!!

cheers
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:11 pm

narcoman wrote: If you're lucky enough to get a response from Byre on here listen to it very carefully!!


That'll be the sound of my cage getting rattled again!

I have been talking to several figures within the industry with successful careers in the music industry in the UK and beyond and they universally expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of tertiary education for careers in audio and music recording and production in the UK. I pointed out at a meeting, held by a universities lobby group that we get a large number of applications from students and graduates, seeking employment or work experience / internships etc., who, on interview, show themselves to be unable to perform even the simplest of everyday tasks required in a music-technology environment, such as soldering cable, reading edit notes from a score, solving simple acoustic problems, or fault finding and simple equipment repairs.

Nearly all employers except the BBC and some of the other major broadcasters (non of whom employ music tech graduates!) are small companies with just a few employees. The larger audio-video multimedia companies can employ one hundred or more staff, but few, if any, audio engineers. There are about 40 commercial recording studios in the UK (although the Yellow Pages lists thousands, but these are largely hobby businesses). There is a similar number (40-50) of post production for TV and film and the same again for live sound.

The result of this landscape of what is, in reality, a cottage industry, is that very few graduates of music technology courses find employment. Many drift sideways and into such fields as hi-fi sales, working as roadies for PA companies, fitting home stereos and media rooms and similar semi-skilled work. It has been my experience, that most just give up and move to something completely different.

Despite this lack of opportunity, UK universities produce some 2,000 music technology graduates (or similar qualifications) all fighting for just a handful of job vacancies. Add to that, the large number of private colleges and schools that continue to promise a glittering career, recording or live-mixing famous rock bands and you have an entire industry dedicated to exploiting the dreams of young people, without much chance of a real career.

There have been many attempts by the music industry to alter this situation, but educators and public bodies have proven remarkably resilient to change. At the same time, the industry employs graduates of the excellent Surrey Tonmeister course, but this is just some 25 graduates every year. Unlike most other courses, the Surrey Tonmeister works closely with the entertainment industry and graduates are snapped up by leading recording studios, film studios, music producers and manufacturers of audio equipment around the World.

In my day, when I started out some 40+ years ago, you could get into the business with a musical education, combined with electronics or electrical engineering. Today, if you go to any of the more notable employers, you find that all the younger ones are Surrey Tonmeister graduates.

So far, so good. The problem is, what do you do now!

Well, firstly, if your son is prepared to do electrical or electronic engineering, then he will have a useful qualification that will stand him in good stead in any career he chooses.

Secondly, chances are, he will change his mind as he matures. I've done live sound and it ain't no picnic! No drinking, no free time on the weekends, no fat pay cheque, no groupies and no hob-nobbing with the acts - and I was the boss! Whilst the band is off to bed and the audience is long gone, you are working.

And in live sound, the very last thing we would have wanted in our wildest dreams would be some idiot with a degree in music technology. Fitters, mechanics, riggers, electricians, HGV drivers and even welders, but no university graduates! Nowadays they also want people with IT skills for the lighting and DMX programming that today goes beyond lighting.

So, to put things bluntly, if he became a mechanic or an electrician, he would stand a better chance of getting a gig with a live sound company than some Mickey Mouse degree.

As to your question on SAE etc., these courses provide what the Germans call an 'Armutszeugnis' (a certificate of poverty). In other words, someone who has attended a private school of this sort is only displaying the fact the he or she could not get a proper education from a real university and in a proper subject! It is something to be ashamed of and to keep quiet about!

There are so many exciting careers out there, especially in retail and in business in general, but kids always think that this kind of thing is boring and that sitting in a stuffy control room with some fourth-rate musicians is groovy and windswept. They think that coiling cables at three in the morning that have been trodden on, vomited on and peed upon (and at minimum wage!) is somehow noble and romantic.

The problem (for you!) is that your son will not always want to do the music and live music thing, but he will (if he goes ahead with studying music technology) be lumbered with a qualification that closes doors in his face. For example, Aldi pays £40,000 plus car to its graduates in training. After that, they get real money. But they want people who have studied hard subjects, people who have been swimming up-stream. Chemistry, biology, maths, physics, economics, geophysics, etc., combined with a language or two and a fabulous career taking the young person all over the World, from China to the US, from Africa to Asia and all over Europe and with a really good pay is his for the asking.

These idiotic vocational degrees are seldom a good bet!

To your other question - "What is the best way to get into the industry...is it via the route above or is there another way?"

The music industry employs thousands and thousands of people around the World, just very, very few recording and live sound engineers. Tell him to try law, banking, accountancy, business studies or economics combined with an MBA, dear God, it employs more drivers or manufacturing chemists, than music techs!
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:46 pm

i'd add more dire sounding input, but frankly the responses from Narco and T.R.B are bang on the nail, and i wouldn't want to further depress you about the reality still further.




the vast majority of people even remotely making a living at this game are self employed, hard working, talented problem solving go-getters , with other skill sets besides.... like electronics engineering and physics, as well as musical competence , usually on more than one instrument... and some theory, sight reading ability, and golden ears.

and even then, the living is often borderline poverty.... it takes all the above, and unbelievable amount of good luck, to really make any money.....

you would do as well to invest £150-£200 a week or more in playing the lottery..... using some kind of statistical spread.... for all the chance you'd have of making a profit on the university fees....
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Dave Gate » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:06 pm

I work (sometimes) as a live sound engineer. However I also work as a lighting engineer, HGV driver, LED screen rigger and general dogsbody.

I also attempt to be a historian. It pays to have a number of strings on your bow.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby blue manga » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:57 pm

A helping hand wrote:
Sounds like I may have some difficult conversations ahead.....


The tricky thing is working out if it is his true calling or not.
If it is, then there are great careers to be had with tonnes of hard work, dedication, commitment, cultured talent etc ..

It's not as simple as, it's all hopeless, the industry's f**ked etc etc ..
- Actually there are great opportunities, for clever, committed, VERY hard working people ..

But you really do have to be the best. the best of the best. And the hardest working.
And the most stubborn and steely willed.

- And it might take decades before you have an actual career. And you jeopardise everything else in your life.

But if it's your calling, it's your calling.

For most people though, it's a hobby plus. That they kinda hope they kinda might be able to go big time with may be some day.. They usually don't get there ..

And a desire to waste a couple of years at Uni, avoiding graft, is usually the first sign that someone isn't serious.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby DaleSmith » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:45 am

This is kinda relevant, so I'm gunna tell you a ( short ) story.. :boring:

Mate of mine. Great musician. Well qualified electrical engineer. Working as technical support to big studio equipment suppliers in the UK. He has lots of great stories about rescuing big name recording sessions or gigs with his expertise. :headbang:

So he's a well connected guy. Well educated guy. Very hard working ( 24 hour call out as you can imagine ).

His calling was live recording. Always wanted to do it. So he leaves the safety of his job, and starts his own company. 2 years pass by and he's working as a rigger, essentially, for a friends PA company. No live recording work to be had, even for one so well connected.

Anyway, His friend does a massive show at the O2 Dome ( or whatever its called now ), and my mate is there in a tech support capacity. The Artist decides at the 11th hour that he wants the show ( both nights ) recording. And that's his lucky break. He has a Pro Tools HD rig at home, brings it ( after a big recommendation from his PA buddy ) and records both nights.

Artist is more than happy, and with that on his CV, my mate is now working recording live gigs for very big names.

Point is, if anyone could make that job work, it was my mate. Connections, experience, equipment and hard working. but he still needed a massive slice of luck to get started.

No guarantees.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby blue manga » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:40 am

yeh - but he got the slice of luck - by being there, grafting.
That's the point.
- It's not pure 'luck' - that would be when he didnt bother to go out and work, just sat at home watching TV, and a big potential client's car breaks down outside, and you let them in to use your phone, and they end up giving you your lucky break .. that's 'luck'

So many old cliche's are true - and 'The harder I work, the luckier I get' is one of them.
These opportunities are found by throwing yourself into your work, not usually, by hiding in a classroom.

But defo an important point on contacts and industry relationships.. which also works the same - the hard you work, the more you deliver, the more contacts and relationships you build..
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I commend SOS freedom of expression!

Postby VOLOVIA » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:16 am

This must be the millionth time there is a thread about 'how useless and pointless both polyversities and private diplomas are in MT'. 99.99%, not really, 100% of alleged professionals here call these courses anything short of "rip-offs", waste of time, or worse.

Then, a 'poor' parent, opens the most prestigious sector's magazine and sees lavish adverts from these institutions advertising full page their courses "learn how to mix like the pros".
SOS, of which I am an online subscriber, maybe should run, once and for all, a good, exhaustive and definitive inquest/report article about this side of our business. This would be used as a 'reference' for yet another, "I am/my son/my dog is going to start a three years blah blah, what are his prospects in 'making' it within"... query.

These 'suppliers', especially SAE and PB are continuously slated here in this forum. Any response from them, except continuing investing huge amount of money in advertising? Can SOS survive without their adverts?

If I were them, I would re-phrase their offered wares as a "chance for the music hobbyists and enthusiasts to improve their recording skills", i.e. as a FE course in knitting or bottle ship building. Sure, as hobbyist IF you can justify the purchase of a £2,000 mic preamp for your spare bedroom 'studio', then you should invest many folds into a course or two. And in this case, and just this case, these courses make sense. To me, that is..
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Dave Gate » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:26 am

I'll be honest here: I actually have a BA in a music/film related subject. But I did it for love and interest when I was already in my thirties and had been working sometimes full-time, sometimes part-time in and around the industry since I was in my teens.

And I did learn some useful stuff from it, and made some good mates, and did some collaborative work that I wouldn't have done otherwise. But I don't think that it would have got me a job in the industry, given that those fellow graduates that I am still in touch with are either working in other fields (but still making music and/or films as a hobby); or have created their own opportunities as self-employed businesspeople.

I don't make my own music anymore (ran out of ideas and steam), but I do still work in the industry, sometimes on the creative side (sound/lights) and sometimes of the logistical side (driving/rigging). I even do the odd video project from time to time.

But I'm now doing a masters in History in the hope of getting out of it before I'm 50 and my back gives up on me . . .
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby hollowsun » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:21 am

blue manga wrote:The tricky thing is working out if it is his true calling or not.
If it is, then there are great careers to be had with tonnes of hard work, dedication, commitment, cultured talent etc ..

It's not as simple as, it's all hopeless, the industry's f**ked etc etc ..
- Actually there are great opportunities, for clever, committed, VERY hard working people ..

But you really do have to be the best. the best of the best. And the hardest working.
And the most stubborn and steely willed.

- And it might take decades before you have an actual career. And you jeopardise everything else in your life.

But if it's your calling, it's your calling.

For most people though, it's a hobby plus. That they kinda hope they kinda might be able to go big time with may be some day.. They usually don't get there ..

And a desire to waste a couple of years at Uni, avoiding graft, is usually the first sign that someone isn't serious.
+1000!!
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby * User requested deletion * » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:31 am

blue manga wrote:.

But you really do have to be the best. the best of the best.

As indeed George Best was - the very best Best of them all IMO.
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Re: I commend SOS freedom of expression!

Postby DaleSmith » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:27 pm

bugiolacchi wrote:This must be the millionth time there is a thread about 'how useless and pointless both polyversities and private diplomas are in MT'. 99.99%, not really, 100% of alleged professionals here call these courses anything short of "rip-offs", waste of time, or worse.

Then, a 'poor' parent, opens the most prestigious sector's magazine and sees lavish adverts from these institutions advertising full page their courses "learn how to mix like the pros".
SOS, of which I am an online subscriber, maybe should run, once and for all, a good, exhaustive and definitive inquest/report article about this side of our business. This would be used as a 'reference' for yet another, "I am/my son/my dog is going to start a three years blah blah, what are his prospects in 'making' it within"... query.

These 'suppliers', especially SAE and PB are continuously slated here in this forum. Any response from them, except continuing investing huge amount of money in advertising? Can SOS survive without their adverts?

If I were them, I would re-phrase their offered wares as a "chance for the music hobbyists and enthusiasts to improve their recording skills", i.e. as a FE course in knitting or bottle ship building. Sure, as hobbyist IF you can justify the purchase of a £2,000 mic preamp for your spare bedroom 'studio', then you should invest many folds into a course or two. And in this case, and just this case, these courses make sense. To me, that is..

Yes this has been done to death. It has been stated before by the SOS guys, they have no control at all over which companies advertise in the mag.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby DaleSmith » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:35 pm

blue manga wrote:yeh - but he got the slice of luck - by being there, grafting.
That's the point.
- It's not pure 'luck' - that would be when he didnt bother to go out and work, just sat at home watching TV, and a big potential client's car breaks down outside, and you let them in to use your phone, and they end up giving you your lucky break .. that's 'luck'


Couldn't agree more. He's not lucky to be where he is. He earned it.

I was just making the point that it was a job he technically should have walked into, being as he was so qualified to do it. However, he still required a lucky break to get where he is.

I guess "you make your own luck" is as true in this industry as it is anywhere.
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:14 pm

Sure, luck is what you make it.

I think the overall picture probably isn't quite as 'black and white' as some of this thread would make it appear.

Yes, there are a couple of obvious stand-out UK university courses with fantastic track records at producing top-notch graduates that the industry employers are only too pleased to take on.

And there are certainly some private colleges that have pretty poor track records and are probably a waste of money and time.

But there are also a lot of middle ground colleges and courses from which a few -- those who really put in the effort -- do succeed. The 'cream' will always rise to the top and will make it precisely because they make their own luck. They put in the hours. They suck information and advice from everyone. They read the books and magazines. They ask the questions. They try things out for themselves... and so on.

When PW and I do our college Q&A sessions it's always very obvious who the two or three students out of the 50 or more attending are that will succeed.

And there are valid beneficical reasons for attending a college or university that go beyond the limits of the course itself...

But in general, I support the others here who have recommended studying a traditional music or engineering-based degree rather than pure music tech. For anyone conversant in the science, the practicalities of music tech are obvious, and the production side can't easily be taught anyway, in my view.

A solid engineering degree is a better basis for long term employment, allows greater freedom of movement to other employment areas throughout a career, and seems still to be looked upon more favourably by employers.

Combining a 'proper' engineering degree with music-tech experience while at college, such as with university radio, stage events, PA working etc... would be my ideal solution. And that's what I did. Got me a job with the BBC and the rest is history...

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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby narcoman » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:29 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
But there are also a lot of middle ground colleges and courses from which a few -- those who really put in the effort -- do succeed. The 'cream' will always rise to the top and will make it precisely because they make their own luck. They put in the hours. They suck information and advice from everyone. They read the books and magazines. They ask the questions. They try things out for themselves... and so on.


Except that there aren't. Intention is not everything. We have something like 2 to 3 thousand grads a year. Most from these middling courses. But it is STILL all useless no matter how well intentioned. It's not a degree subject (unless you do the math/electrical side to an in depth level) and there re no employment prospects. Universities ARE now money oriented. If we can get back to capped places then having a smattering of production or music tech course would be acceptable. It is NOT acceptable for every university to be offering versions of the same courses nationally ESPECIALLY in an oversubscribed industry area.

Sorry Hugh - but there is no way round this. The music tech courses are a money rinse EVEN IF the course leaders don't intend them to be and they DAMN WELL shouldn't be running them. The industry doesn't want them and, when they've finished the degree, the students won't either.

The problem is making universities privately held and necessarily profitable. Naturally - the profitable courses are going to be the ones that that average 18 year old finds sexiest. SOS should not be supporting this area. I was invited to one talk at SAE. They never asked me back after I told the truth.... weren't expecting that.

2 or 3 out of 50? Doesn't that give you a clue Hugh? Even those 2 or 3 are going to find it bloody hard and if only 2 or 3 (I doubt its that many long term) are showing any potential on a course doesn't it speak volumes of the courses you are having a chat with? Dammit there is supposed to be entry levels in Uni... no wonder a UK education is becoming a laughing stock.

It's not for me to comment on SOS music tech policy. I understand taking the adverts but I've long not been greatly enamoured by SOS "talks" at courses. Best that I not mention it any further.

Rant apologies :)
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby Mash » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:42 pm

Brilliant thread - I'll chirp in with my 2 pesetas.

In my experience the the most important constructive thing you can do to move forward aside from everything above is to place yourself in the best/richest/busiest environment possible. Learn as you go in the environment you want to be in, not in a lecture hall fantastically insulated from the real world.

My career/learning only began rapidly moving forward after I left uni and started at the bottom as a tea boy in a large studio, I bagged this spending one afternoon going round a dozen studios chatting to anyone who would listen with an immaculately presented showreel backed up with a concise CV showing a fairly solid amount of pro experience (with references) for my age. Reading SOS and the forums fanatically for a few years took care of the academic side.

It's been fascinating seeing how my original tea boy mates have progressed in the last few years - a lot of them aren't necessarily doing studio stuff now but starting off in the thick of it bang in the centre of London, being keen, grafting, discovering parts of this and other industries they didn't know existed, becoming mates with the people they aspired to etc. etc. has seen the bulk of them doing cool stuff, going somewhere, and paying the rent.

The most successful young people I know started as runners/gaffers/tea boys/whatever in the real world at 18 whilst I was still comparatively arsing about, and they'll always be a couple of steps ahead of me.

Best of luck!

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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:53 pm

Quite honestly, all this talk of "You can make it if you try!" is just so much cock!

You can't - not any more! Not as an audio engineer. As a producer perhaps, as an artist, well, obviously! As a promoter, yes. As an agency, yes. But never as an engineer.

All this talk of the big break is just pie-in-the-sky nonsense! What big break, just who do you have to record to be able to claim that you have 'made it'? Give me the name!

Who, the Who? The Rolling Stones? Pavarotti or the Berlin Philharmonic? Pink or Prince? Mark Knopfler or Michael Jackson? Is Genesis, Grateful Dead or Tina too small? Just how big does the act have to be, before you can claim that you have 'made it'? Is Queen big enough to claim that you have made it?

Well, I know someone who has recorded ALL the above and dozens more and usually more than once. In fact, I have known this guy since we both had hair! Is he famous? Does he drive the fancy car and own the big house?

No.

He's doing OK, but that's about it.

And he is the audio engineer with the most credits for famous acts that can or could fill a stadium on Planet Earth. He is as successful as you can get. He manages a company with three large OB trucks and several flightcased OBs. When it comes to being an audio engineer, he is at the very, very top. I will not go into details, but trust me, he is far from rich and definitely not famous! He gets by!

Below him are thousands and thousands of audio engineers who just do not get by - and many of them have recorded some amazing projects!

I can't think of a career field where the rewards are so meagre. The large room at Abbey Road is now so cheap, you could hire it for your birthday party! It costs less to hire than a 60-ton crane, but that crane costs less than the desk at Abbey Road. Just stop to think about it! Imagine, you are entering a career where the very very best just gets by - and only if you record the Rolling Stones often enough!
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Re: Advice for a parent

Postby grab » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:07 pm

It's not the only uni course where there's no direct employment opportunities though. Pretty much every arts subject is the same. Add literature, history, PPE, and I'm sure we can all think of others. Forensic science was another majorly popular area when "Witless Silence" was first on, and probably still is - massively oversubscribed compared to the actual number of forensic scientist jobs out there. Hell, even astrophysics (about as hard science as you get) is pretty short on opportunities outside of academia.

TBH, this is where I'm in favour of students paying fees. If it's going to cost you serious money, anyone with half a brain should be having a serious look at what they're getting out of it. If they don't, then honestly I can't really complain too much about the sheep getting shorn. The problem is that they're subsidised by our tax money, and that we *can* complain about.

What I'd really like to see though is a sliding scale of tuition fees paid by the government based on the amount the country's economy needs people with those qualifications. Engineering and hard science give the greatest benefit to UK PLC, and as such should basically be free. Arts degrees give the least benefit to UK PLC, and as such should be entirely paid by the student. This should help tilt the balance towards worthwhile courses. Add a properly-financed system of grants for the truly talented 5%, say, to be based solely on outstanding ability *and* continued achievement at uni. If you're really great, you'll get a grant. If you're not great but you can make a career work at something where you're middling good and we need lots of those people, then the inherent weightings in the fees should make it more attractive to do the more useful subject.

Yes, this makes a judgement about how worthwhile a degree is. WE SHOULD BE MAKING THAT JUDGEMENT! Anyone who thinks a qualified graphic designer is as important as a qualified junior doctor, go get your head examined. (Except you can't, bcos there's no doctors...) Sure there's opportunity for discussing how we weight those courses - does a corporate lawyer contribute more or less than a welder qualified for gas pipes, say? But we need to be having that discussion, otherwise we'll keep pissing money up the walls of universities whose only justification for taking that money is "we're here bcos we're here bcos we're here bcos we're here..."
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