Sound Advice From The Pros—Part 1

By in Pro Mixing

A great part of my job is getting to chat with and better know very successful audio professionals. I find that almost all of them are more than willing to share their time and stories about what they do and how they do it. They also will gladly talk with people wanting to do what they do and share how they got there. This two-part blog is an answer from several audio professionals about what they think it takes a person today to do what they do and be successful.

Part one is focused on Music professionals and part two to follow next week is on Post Audio Professionals. Two of these professionals, Mick Guzauski and Craig Bauer will be at the Avid booth at AES in NYC next weekend and perhaps you can meet them yourself… My standard question to them is:

What advice would you give to students or young mixers who want to do what you do?

Mick Guzauski

14-Time GRAMMY Winner – Daft Punk, Pharrell, Madonna, Snoop Dogg

“I was just very interested in electronics and sound when I was a kid growing up in Rochester, New York, and tried to get all the information I could (in the 1970’s). I went to the Eastmen School of Music summer Recording program for two summers and it was taught by Phil Ramone! It wasn’t so much a technical focus as how to work with people in sessions, session protocol, acoustics, microphone techniques and really practical knowledge. I also worked in a Hi-Fi store as a kid and really loved taking apart machines and then later built my own home studio.

Pretty much everybody can have access to great gear nowadays – so learn the basics of how it works and experiment with it, record demos of your own or bands and artists. And then once you are familiar with it, (and I recommend you know at least something about it so you can better understand what is being taught), you can take it to the next level and really benefit by going to one of the recording schools. It’s probably not as easy nowadays to get an assistant engineer job at a studio, but that’s a great next step after school. The commercial studio business is smaller and it may be difficult, but it is a great way to really learn the ropes from working professionals and meet people.

It’s really about doing good work and connecting with the right people. If you can get connected with an artist (who gets signed) – even if it’s just demo work, if it sounds good, you’ll get noticed. A big part of it is good networking, it’s a very important part of it – but before you do that, you have to be proficient at what you do.”

 

WATCH THE MICK GUZAUSKI PRO TOOLS S6 WEBINAR

“Some may say that becoming a successful mixer is as much luck as anything.  I say that luck is what happens when you mix preparation with hard work and persistence.”

—Craig Bauer

Craig Bauer

GRAMMY Winner – The Clark Sisters, Kanye West, Ed Sheeran

“I often get asked for advice from people wanting to get into engineering and mixing. My answer is always the same.  In the current climate of the music industry, it’s imperative to make your own opportunities. Gone are the days of being hired as an intern and climbing the ladder up the chain to a paying position as second while being taught the trade. Becoming an expert in a DAW such as Pro Tools is key. The best way to do that is to invest in a small system and become an expert on your own, with the help of all the online information available. Of course, there are many educational institutions that offer training, but I firmly believe a highly motivated individual can do as much or more on their own.  From there, it’s a matter of cultivating some projects to work on from your social network, even if it means doing it for free until you thoroughly learn the craft well enough to make the next step. People are always looking for talented and motivated people.

Some may say that becoming a successful mixer is as much luck as anything.  I say that luck is what happens when you mix preparation with hard work and persistence.”

 

WATCH CRAIG BAUER MIXING VIDEOS

Noah ‘40’ Shebib

GRAMMY Winner – Drake, Beyonce, Alicia Keys

“The best advice I can give is – especially on the technical side is to just start using what you can get your hands on and do good work. And if you do that – the doors will start to open for you and you’ll get to the places you need to go.

I think the biggest mistake people make (getting started) in this business is that they take a jump or a leap of faith based on that they need something to work… you just need the basics. And once you get the basics – you can move… For me, it was a Pro Tools LE system. That’s how I made Drake’s first few records – they were done on a very basic system that most people today would say no way – a Pro Tools LE system is not enough power me. The point is – it’s there – learn how to use it properly. Learn the fundamentals of how to use an EQ and a compressor, learn what they are doing to your signal… Understanding that will help you understand how to mix and make music properly.”

 

WATCH NOAH TALK ABOUT MIXING MUSIC

Dave Aude

95 #1 Dance Remixes – U2, Coldplay, will.i.am, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé

“If you become a professional producer, engineer or re-mixer, you’re going to end up with Pro Tools. You can use a lot of other things along the way, but you can do everything in Pro Tools so I choose to do everything from writing to mixing in PT.

It’s also important that you finish a bunch of work. Finish a bunch of work. A lot of people think they can get a computer, buy some software, buy some speakers and put a small home studio together and they do a couple of songs… maybe 10 songs and share with their friends and social media. And they come to me and say – ‘Dave, I’m not really seeing any success’. My answer is – do a hundred more and then see where you are. It takes time… you have to have a body of work. Most people don’t have success off of 10 songs or 20 songs. I don’t know how many hundred songs I had before I felt like I had success. You should want to finish a bunch of work to get experience when you go into a studio with an artist or a label. So many kids are excited about seeing these DJ’s making big money off a few songs that are on the charts – but they don’t understand and see the hundreds of songs that the DJ has done before that. So it’s important to realize that you have to put in a lot of work, a lot of hours in the studio, and put together a large body of work to achieve success. It’s the norm.”

 

WATCH THE FULL DAVE AUDE WEBINAR

There’s a ton of great advice and wisdom from these top professionals who rely on Pro Tools and Avid Pro Mixing solutions contained above. As they said, the barrier to entry and getting started is very low—it’s FREE in fact! So get started today by downloading Pro Tools | First for free or you can get the full version of Pro Tools for as low as $ 25 a month. If you are a student—educational pricing starts at $ 10 a month for subscription or $ 299 to purchase.

Be sure to check out part 2 next when we ask the same question to Post Audio professionals! Thanks for reading and sharing…

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Marketing manager for Avid Post Audio and Pro Mixing, I am also a veteran engineer/recordist/editor. I've worked on music scores for dozens of feature films, including Ice Age, Collateral, and The Spirit.