Traits of a Successful Audio Engineer

Working in audio isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you should be intimidated by it. Sure, it takes hard work, consistency, determination, luck, and skill, but doesn’t any professional field? Here at The Blackbird Academy, we strive to instill all of the aforementioned qualities in our students, and our teachers live and breathe this lifestyle.

So how can you can be successful in audio engineering? Here are four thoughts from our acclaimed The Blackbird Professors.

 

  1. Get to work. Now.

This industry is competitive — really competitive. You can’t expect to have the skills necessary to make a good living in audio without putting in your 10,000 hours. You have to master your craft, and that takes a lot of work.

But don’t let that get you down! Don't worry about how much time you feel you’ve wasted until now. All you have to do is start learning more today. Take 15 minutes each day to start and watch a Youtube tutorial or apply a technique you’ve read to your craft.


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  1. Be thorough.  

It pays to be meticulous. Training your ears requires you to be actively listening. Consistent critical listening helps you develop ears that are accurately inquisitive. Every time you sit down to mix, listen, record — whatever, analyze the entirety of your aural perception and dissect why sounds make you feel one way or another.

For example, if you listen to a mix and your ears seem to be getting tired after two or three listens, something is wrong. Dig deeper. Why would your ears be getting tired? It’s not just you. It will happen to someone else.

What could be causing that? Well first, how do you figure out what could be causing that? For example, you could Google “tools for frequency analyzation” and bam! You realize a spectrum analyzer is what you need.

After using a spectrum analyzer, it seems there’s an abundance of high frequencies in the mix. Time to slap some low pass filters on a few of your higher-frequency instruments. Listen again after a short break. Does it feel better now?

"And what’s the best way to learn? Jump right in."

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of social skills

Sorry people, the industry doesn’t care how good you are at audio. You must be able to work with people.

And guess what? If you haven't already mastered the social skills, you can get better at being it. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but there’s a reason people say “social skills” as opposed to “social talent” or “natural social abilities”: it can be learned.

And what’s the best way to learn? Jump right in. Walk confidently into that mixer. Eat those hors d'oeuvres, sip that wine, and by God, just start by saying hi. Most people will be happy to talk.

But where do I even find social gatherings for audio?

There are Facebook and LinkedIn groups devoted to audio. Networking events will happen — just keep an eye out for them.

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  1. It isn’t all luck…

Do you know that guy who seems to be doing everything? Here’s his trick: he isn’t afraid of being rejected.

Want to interview your favorite audio engineer? Send him or her an email. Honestly, what’s the worst thing that could happen? He doesn’t email you back? He turns you down? So what?

Start making waves and people will respond.

 

There you have it. By incorporating these thoughts into your daily lifestyle, you’ll be one step closer to being successful audio engineer!

Carma Dicianni

Written by Carma Dicianni

Carma DiCianni has been in the education and music industries for over 20 years. While in the music industry she has worked in recording studios, tour management and as a professional event/concert photographer. Carma has worked with artists/bands including Bon Jovi, Stone Temple Pilots, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and many more. Carma believes that education is an essential part of life. She has taught at the high school, university and corporate levels. Carma has degrees in Education, Audio Engineering and Entertainment Business.