Josh Lema

Advice on how to get into the industry with no school.

7 posts in this topic

My names josh, i've been around music since i was about 10, been behind a sound board since i was 14 and im 22 now i went to school for about a year never finished money became a problem, my question, does anyone have any advice on how to get into the industry without going to college?

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This is just my opinion... but music from a techo perspective (any non-commercial perspective, TBH) is about hard work. Having some sort of qualification may get your foot in the door quicker (still in an assistant type role!), but how far you go and how happy you are with what you do largely depends on the effort you put in.

In Aus, the commercial side of things has made it much harder. We use to have a very strong pub/bar scene (it's still not too bad, but dieing slowly at present) where you could get a job assisting/doing stage hand work, make friends with the head sound guy and get your chance to prove your skills/talent while earning your 'stripes' doing the hard yards. He might even 'throw' you some foldback mixing jobs on larger jobs. It might also be worth considering approaching bands you think are talented and not 'successful' to see if you can help them by doing rehersal mixes and some gear setup and lugging. This can lead to the chance the band gets enough average guys doing their mix at gigs that they persuade the venue to use their own guy - you - and you've now got the chance to show your skills talent while making the band sound their best.

It's a hard road college/training or not. The more hands on time you can get mixing rehearsals and doing home studio recording, the better you'll get regardless of the training you get.

Another thing to remember is to be humble and respect the guys who are in the roles you want. They may be total arse wipes, but by making friends with them they'll share heaps of knowledge that only comes with experience... they may even recommend giving you a go to other people. Probably the hardest thing you could do by far is put up with some of the people already in the industry section you want to work in and manage to turn them into allies.

2c's... as we say in Oz. Oh, and that's more live/FOH centered than studio/recording work. TBH, other than the stuff i do myself, i haven't done pro studio mixdowns and recording.

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I second Jester's advice regarding the live scene, definitely get in at the ground level with young bands and possibly community groups, local church if you're so inclined, anywhere you can volunteer to help out and build up your experience - might have to do some work for free but it builds up your CV and gets your name around. Most work people get comes from word of mouth, so you have to have someone to start recommending you to others.

If you have some experience behind the desk and the studio is where you want to be then you really need a folio of tracks you have produced yourself, whether it's your own tracks, friend's bands, student bands, local choir, etc. Have both a CD and soundcloud or reverbnation page where people can play your tunes and get a feel for your recording and mixing skills. The talent pool is so big and so good these days that you have to be good at what you do before you will get any decent work.

Also, think about working on the sidelines - lug gear for a PA hire company, work in an audio store, be a stage hand/roadie for community theater, any job where you are handling the equipment and talking to the customers and clients who rent and buy that gear - if you get on well and sound like you know what you're doing, you never know what work you'll be offered. A lot of people I know (myself included), have made some pretty sweet contacts and scored some great gigs this way.

Last, when you speak to people put across the vibe that you are 'busy but available' - busy (doing anything) sounds like you are popular and don't mind working hard, but not so busy people don't think it's worth asking you to take on more work. The worst thing you can say at parties when people ask what you're doing is 'nothing at the moment' - better to say 'working on my folio' or 'helping out a friend with...' - you get the idea ;)

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Also, think about working on the sidelines - lug gear for a PA hire company, work in an audio store, be a stage hand/roadie for community theater, any job where you are handling the equipment and talking to the customers and clients who rent and buy that gear - if you get on well and sound like you know what you're doing, you never know what work you'll be offered. A lot of people I know (myself included), have made some pretty sweet contacts and scored some great gigs this way.

We have some similar roots, RB. That's the same way i started getting gigs. Working in a shop was also a great way to get hands on experience with a bunch of great and not so great gear. I had some great relationships with suppliers where they'd send me entire demo rigs - like small line arrays and the like - just because they had it 'passing through' my area and thought i'd enjoy a fiddle! Got sent an EAW rig that was about to be released under a new model name and encouraged, actively, to take it out and gig it. I said to the guy "you're kidding? We'll never sell one of these in Newcastle!". Ace party, though. Had the guys from Martin Audio insist on the same thing... did a couple of free impromptu parties with their rig. Good times. Good times.

Great way to get my hands on new processors (XTA, DBA, KlarkTeknik) that the big boys were using for FOH and club setups. Use to get sent new lighting demo rigs and studio gear. In one weekend i had 10k of AKG mics in my home studio doing karaoke with mates because AKG sent them up and said "enjoy", basically. Having a chronic weed smoking boss kept things interesting as well.

Did my time in the hire department helping out on weekends - no charge to anyone most of the time. That's really what got me some experience doing setups and learning the ins/outs. Quite a few customers appreciated the effort and quickly i was getting offered paid work from my effort. The more experience and more shit i could talk to people on the phone and reps started getting me sent new and cool toys the hire boys only ever dreamed about!

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Great way to get my hands on new processors (XTA, DBA, KlarkTeknik) that the big boys were using for FOH and club setups. Use to get sent new lighting demo rigs and studio gear. In one weekend i had 10k of AKG mics in my home studio doing karaoke with mates because AKG sent them up and said "enjoy", basically. Having a chronic weed smoking boss kept things interesting as well.

Similar backgrounds in more ways than one... I had a boss like that once too ;) Ah those days of wild and crazy youth...

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Write a song , put if up on YouTube then have a link to your facebook page . That should help you establish a fan base

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^ IMO if you have a folio of recordings you want to use as a cv then soundcloud is better than YouTube - everything on one page, can stream full res wav if desired and also put more info in your profile page. Yes link it back to facebook - a proper Fb page not just on the wall where it disappears after 6 hours - but them make sure your profile is known by more people than just your friends. Thus might need a 'pro' page visible to the public, not just Fb members, meaning no pics of you and the gf wasted in some club somewhere ;)

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