The recording arts industry offers a fast-paced and hands-on set of careers where international students can apply technological training and their own creativity to make the most out of their professional lives. Careers in production, post-production, engineering, and other audio-visual multimedia fields exist in film, TV, video games, live performance, musical productions, corporate training, and even forensics. In all cases, hands-on experience and knowledge of state-of-the-art technology are musts for anyone seeking jobs in recording arts.
Imagine yourself seated in front of a massive soundboard with hundreds of buttons, knobs, and levers. Each one controls a subtle but integral aspect of the music that pervades several pieces of equipment in your studio. Intricate sounds interweave through your headphones as you manipulate the volume and crispness of a single drum rasp that elevates the song from a demo to a full-fledged pop hit. This is just one among many exciting scenarios possible within the various careers in recording arts.
The recording arts industry offers a fast-paced and hands-on set of careers where international students can apply technological training and their own creativity to make the most out of their professional lives. Jobs in recording arts go far beyond just music. Careers in production, post-production, engineering, and other audio-visual multimedia fields exist in film, TV, video games, live performance, musical productions, corporate training, and even forensics. Recording artists can be found in radio stations, TV stations, international companies, amusement parks, local theaters, convention centers, museums, and just about any other place that makes use of sound in some form.
Typical Career Path in Recording Arts
Just like in most industries, people who start their careers in recording arts usually begin at the bottom and work their way up toward the position they seek. For example, right out of school one may start as an intern for a music production studio, impress the company enough to be offered an assistantship, work their way up over time to become the head sound engineer, and possibly eventually take the reins of the whole operation as a full-fledged music producer.
A good number of international students who study recording arts in the US get some sort of production job, which can include music recording, live sound, film and TV, and video game audio. Within music recording the most prominent career is that of the record producer. The record producer oversees recording, generates ideas, selects tracks for use, works with the artist(s) in a studio setting, and takes care of many other structural roles in the overall production of a music record. Essentially a record producer is a management figure who must have comprehensive knowledge of all the intricacies of the music recording process and is to some the pinnacle of a recording arts career.
Jobs in live sound production require the same sorts of technical and creative skills necessary for most jobs in recording arts, but with the added flair of quickness and on-the-spot thinking. Unlike in the studio, live shows don't get to re-do their performance, and so precision and the ability to handle a fast-paced, high-pressure situation is of the utmost importance. Whether you're considering a backstage job or even taking the reins of the DJ stand, live sound production offers an opportunity for an exciting gig that's new every day.
Within the film and television industry, students with a degree in recording arts can choose from a wide range of jobs, depending on their area of interest. For example, one could choose to become a Foley artist. When you're watching a movie, do you ever notice the sounds of people walking through leaves, a bird tweeting at just the right moment, or the wind howling outside the haunted cabin? The Foley artist is the person behind those sounds, recording, mixing, and realistically reproducing everyday noises for movies and TV shows.
The video game industry offers innovative careers in recording arts wherein an audio engineer, for example, creates the soundscapes and noises of otherworldly realms. A video game audio engineer produces the soundtrack for a game, which can range from recording adapted material to designing novel material from scratch. Though many of the technical skills of a video game audio engineer overlap with other audio production jobs, the video game audio engineer position is beginning to differentiate itself as games become more and more interactive.
Once sounds have been recorded, the raw product often transfers to specialists in post-production. Post-production careers in recording arts center on mixing and editing. Music mixers gather the various elements of a recording session, adjust their levels, cut and paste where necessary, and mold the track into a final product. Audio mixers can also make great DJs, splicing tracks together to make new and exciting remixes. Editors, also known as audio assistants or dubbing assistants, are also in charge of putting together the pieces of a recording session into a final product, whether it is a song, an album, an instructional video, or a special feature DVD.
For students who may not fancy the more creative aspects of the industry and are more interested in the technical aspects of recording arts, several careers allow for hands-on interaction with the wide range of equipment used in recording, production, and broadcasting. Starting as an audio-visual equipment technician or assembler, one can work their way up to a broadcast technician or a sound engineering technician, just to name a couple.
A broadcast technician (also known as an electronic technician in some companies) combines the skills of electrical engineering and computer engineering with fluent knowledge of the technical aspects of broadband, HDTV, analog recording, digital recording, etc. Broadcast technicians are often the master control operators at TV stations, radio stations, or other production facilities, wherein they orchestrate several behind-the-scenes aspects of production to make sure the product is as flawless as possible.
A sound engineering technician is in charge of all the technical aspects of a recording or live session. This job requires knowledge of the technology (both hardware and software) and the acoustics of the space, which draws heavily on the physics of sound.
Other Recording Arts Careers
Beyond the careers above, there are several jobs in recording arts that may not seem as obvious. Consider a few examples. A recording arts background provides the perfect qualification for being a music archivist for multimedia collections in museums, universities, libraries, and other music centers. Comprehensive knowledge of audio technology and the physics of sound make recording arts students eligible to be an audio forensics specialist, someone who helps solve crimes by deciphering audio evidence or assisting in setting up a recording. Finally, a degree in recording arts serves as a foot in the door for a plethora of jobs in the music business, including sales, manufacturing, advertising, and even performing!
In all cases, hands-on experience and knowledge of state-of-the-art technology are musts for anyone seeking jobs in recording arts. International students should research the various recording arts programs in the US to figure out which schools offers the experience and technology training most central to their desired career.