Is there less work around for engineers and producers, or more?
Studios are closing down all around. Where once you could look in the back of a music magazine and find literally dozens of studios competing on reputation, equipment, facilities and price, there are now usually only a few. Perhaps even just one.
Major studios don't advertise as their work comes directly from people in the business. But they have had a tough time too and many have closed down. Those that are still operating have generally diversified into audio for video and multimedia, and away from pure music recording.
This shouldn't be surprising. Once, only a well invested recording studio could afford the equipment. Now anyone can have equipment at home that is as good as the best in terms of sound quality. So now commercial studios can only compete on space, acoustics, facilities and expertise. Actually that's not a bad combination, but still the bookings are down.
So all this recording work has disappeared into home studios has it? People now sit down in front of a computer and produce music that would once have required a $1000 a day studio to record?
Yes, but there is more to it than that. You wouldn't know it, but there are many very well set up private studios around. Some are just the next step up from a 'bedroom studio'. But others are built on such a scale that they rival commercial facilities. And just as commercial studios need people there to do the work, the assisting, the 'gophering' and everything else, these private studios are full of opportunities too.
The difficulty is that once you could be anyone and write a letter to a recording studio asking for a job, which is how many engineers got started. But now you can't find these private studios, and you have to be 'in the know' already to find the opportunities.
The plain fact though is that there is more recording going on than ever, and that means that there are more people working around recording too. My recommendation for a strategy to replace the traditional letter-to-a-commercial-studio approach to getting a job would now be to scan the credits on CDs that you like, and try and track down the people involved in production. Write them letters and see what you can find out. I doubt whether the producer himself or herself would reply, but lower down the production chain there might well be someone who could help.
Let me know how you get on...