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Freelance audio engineer: What I do and how much I make

Video transcript

my name is Kelly chimeric I'm 25 years old and I'm a freelance audio engineer and I'm set to make about $40,000 this year some people just stay in one trade one part of audio I like to do a little bit of everything so I work in a studio as a recording and mixing engineer I work in live sound as a monitor in front of house engineer in film I'm a production sound mixer so my main goal is to get the dialogue on set then in post-production that's when we focus on sound effects creating them taking them from a library fully recording that footsteps basically recreating the world that we already recorded in a studio setting so we have more control over it and I also am a graduate student and I'm in the Recording Arts program so I'll be graduating soon it was only a two-year program but just fine-tuning all of my skills for the real world one of my favorite projects so far has been I was working monitors at a festival and so one of the bands that I worked for I just absolutely loved them they were awesome their music everything about them and so I gave him my card and said you know if you ever want to record my work at a studio and it'd be cool if you came on down and they contacted me and so I brought them into the studio and it was their first time in a studio and they were so excited so the cool extra cool part is that we're making an EP a three song EP and once it's mixed I'm fully recorded they're gonna bring that out on their live tour this summer and then I'll probably mix them again this summer so it's really cool to work in live and in the studio just because I get the opportunity to find artists that maybe didn't think that the studio is a possibility when people have an idea to make music even from the smallest part like the beginning they just have a guitar with a couple of chords and some lyrics helping them make it into a song record it mix it produce it that whole process is just super rewarding because then they have some for the rest of their lives and it helps music in general you know it's meant to invoke feelings and people and that's awesome that's why I love music is because I get goosebumps you know and you listen to a seven-minute rock ballad it's like oh my god this is epic like and that I want to make help make other people feel that on the other side of things having a good ear is obviously very important in audio engineering you just have to you have to know good rhythm you have to know the different frequencies the different frequency ranges that instruments live in and that's just kind of the basis of Audio Engineering if you're in a live sound setting you know frequencies that pop out feedback feedback is when the speaker picks up the signal from the microphone it creates a loop and that's when you hear that like screeching high frequency noise that's like my biggest enemy as a modern engineer if one of those pitches starts ringing out I have to be able to know exactly what frequency that is and then pull it out immediately because once it happens and it starts going it's just gonna get worse and louder and it'll just ruin the performance so I have to be able to exactly know what frequency that is to pull it out fast and that's why it's super important to know all of your frequencies exactly what they sound like and that can be taught I think if you just sit with headphones on it's really annoying but if you just sit there and listen to different pitches and that's how you learn how I mean that's how I did it other skills that are super important is just having a great personality being easy to talk to when I'm a monitor engineer in a festival setting I have 15 minute change overs from one band to the next and no soundcheck basically you just have a line check so to make sure that the signals coming through and in that 15 minutes we have to get the other band off the new band on and then maybe while they're walking on stage they say I want kick snare and bass in my mix and I say okay and then I just kind of pull it up a little bit and then for the first song they're looking at me and saying like it's all about hand signals which is funny because everyone's different but you know the guitar player I'll like point to the bass be like up and I'm like okay and then I have to like look at them I'm always like the weirdest person when I'm I'm on around generics I'm always like like constantly just like seeing who I can help and how because when you're dialing it in I mean if you want to make their performance go off without a hitch if they can't hear everything that's just not gonna happen sometimes you have to make a mistake to learn something for real and it's usually big mistakes that you learned something you're like I will never do that again you know so making a mistake in live sound is something that I haven't done yet and I know it's gonna happen so that's like really scary for me I just don't maybe it won't ever happen I'm not gon would but that's really scary because in these high stakes settings you know if you when you make a mistake it's it's big but that's also another part of coming back from that mistake how fast you can fix your mistake and if the artist even knows that you made a mistake is another part of it in Denver Colorado being a freelance engineer there's a ton of live work all over the place in the studio world everybody is mostly freelance unless you own a studio and that means that you have to bring your own clients in my boss is awesome and I get studio leads from him but for the most part you're expected to bring your own work in if you want to make money you can make anywhere from thirty thousand or less depending on how often you do this up to two hundred thousand dollars or you know millions every year it just depends on who you record who you work for if I were to get picked up by a national touring act and then go on tour with them for a year I would be in that higher bracket if I landed someone in the studio and I recorded their first album and then it went platinum you know I would make money off of that not necessarily because once my job is done in the studio with that album I don't continue to make money off of it but I would hope that that artist would bring me back for the next and then you know you get your name out there and you keep going from there the way that I have gotten where I am is just going to meet people all the time I know everybody that is an engineer in Denver I've been to every studio in Denver I'm very friendly and outgoing if I ever meet someone I ask them how their studio works who they hire how all that goes and if they have any opportunities I'm always looking for new opportunities and if someone ever brings one my way I say yes even if it's unpaid I end up saying yes it could lead to just a new connection with someone and that's huge in this industry because I don't really want to have to advertise myself I think it would be cool to just keep getting gigs by word-of-mouth
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