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Can you help me get free studio time down here in Huntsville?

An RP visitor asks whether we can get him some free studio time. Yes, yes, yes - of course we can...

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Comment from an Audio Masterclass visitor...

Can you help me get free studio time down here in Huntsville? - Damien

David Mellor responds...

Surprising as it may seem, it is indeed possible to get free studio time. You just have to know where to look.

Let's assume that you are looking for free time as an engineer or producer, or maybe you just want to gain experience with the equipment.

Your number one best bet is to get yourself a job in a studio. An unpaid internship or work experience arrangement would be good too.

Studios need new people coming in. These days they will expect you to be able to show a strong sign of commitment to audio - many people think they are committed, but haven't actually got around to doing anything to prove it.

Having a bedroom studio doesn't mean anything to a recording studio manager. Anyone can buy the toys, but are they committed?

So a good sign of commitment would be to gain a formal audio qualification such as the City & Guilds of London Institute Sound Engineering 1820 certificate.

Once you are accepted by a studio, you will perform menial tasks for quite some time. The role is often known as 'runner'. And that's what you do when anyone calls.

But once you have proven your staying power you will gradually find yourself inside the control room and recording area more often, rather than the office and the kitchen.

At this point it is expected that you will ask to get some time on the equipment. The best way to learn is to shut yourself in the control room and figure things out for yourself. If you don't ask, probably no-one will offer. So ask.

Studios always have 'downtime' when they are not working. A sensible studio manager would far rather use that time to help train a future engineer than let it go to waste.

At a later stage when you are competent, it may be possible for you to bring a singer in, or perhaps even a band to produce. In a studio that might cost anything up to $1000 a day to hire, and to you it is free! Although it may be in the middle of the night.

I suppose I don't need to say that there are few opportunities like this. But many of today's engineers and producers got started in exactly this way - they worked for nothing in return for free studio time. They learned their skills and eventually became full engineers.

At this point I feel I must apologize to studio managers in Huntsville - you will probably now be overwhelmed with enquiries. Make sure you choose the best - and most committed!

By David Mellor Tuesday November 8, 2005
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