“Get it?” “Got it.” “Good.”

Guest Blogger: Jim Klein is the author of Welcome to the Jungle. In this post, Jim talks about studio internships. Read more about audio freelancing in his book and on his blog!

Showing initiative. Sticking your neck out. Acting independently. Taking a stance. Lately, I’ve been feeling that these have become forgotten concepts. Whether I’m comparing notes with fellow educators or talking to studio owners, production coordinators or other employers, there seems to be a common thread. For the last decade or so, our educational system has been churning out students who have not been trained to take the lead, think independently, or forge their own paths.  We give them study guides, multiple federal and state mandated No Child Left Behind assessments, and ask them to spit back reams of information as though that is what is valued out there in the workplace. Well, guess what?  It’s not.

Talk to anyone who has to supervise studio interns.  There are three types of interns.  Let’s say that Rock Solid Recording has a typical pathway for the advancement of interns.  An intern shift starts at 9:00 and runs until 6:00.  Each intern is given a list of jobs to do during their shift.  The list might say “Vacuum all of the carpets in the common areas. Mop the bathroom floors.  Empty all of the wastebaskets.  Clean the bathrooms with the supplies in the cleaning closet with the yellow door.”

Intern Type 1 arrives a few minutes late for his shift.  He does a half-assed job with the vacuum, getting most of the big stuff, but not moving any furniture or getting into the corners.  He mops the bathroom floors, but doesn’t use hot water or wring out the mop all that often, because it’s a pain in the ass.  He takes frequent breaks to call his girlfriend and to take Instagram photos of himself posing in front of the studio’s gold records.  He empties the wastebaskets and does a decent job on the bathrooms, but doesn’t replace an empty toilet paper roll because there wasn’t a replacement in the supply closet. He is always ready to go at the end of his shift.

Intern Type 2 is always on time…

Keep reading Jim’s post about studio interns on his blog!

Welcome to the Jungle includes chapters on setting goals, networking, building a portfolio, time management, personal and professional finances, and dealing with the ups and downs of the freelance career. The book also includes interviews with successful music and audio freelancers, such as legendary producer Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, Santana, Daughtry), producer/engineer Kevin Killen (Peter Gabriel, U2, Elvis Costello), bassist Julie Slick, and others.

The Necessity of Thinking Big

Guest Blogger: Jim Klein is the author of Welcome to the Jungle. Read more about freelancing in the music world in his book and on his blog!

I just got off the phone with an old friend of mine who lives in LA.  He’s been a freelancer for a very long time, composing for film and television, working in film as a music supervisor, playing keyboards for some pretty well known people, and more recently, producing indie records and playing shows and recording with two of his own bands.  We were talking about the huge changes the music business has undergone in the last decade, and how much harder it is to scrape together a decent living as a freelancer.

The typical fee or rate that a musician, audio engineer, or recording studio could expect to charge for a typical recording or live gig has DROPPED significantly since I came onto the scene in the early 80s. There are lots of reasons for this, and you can spend a week or two Googling them if you want the details. The main thing is that there are two ways to look at this difficult reality: glass half empty or glass half full.

In my opinion, far too many of the kids I talk to have reacted to this new reality by lowering the bar and scaling down their dreams. They react to how tough things are by giving up before they even get started. Is the music industry more difficult and competitive than it used to be?  No doubt.  Confronted with cold hard reality, it’s understandable why so many people have downsized their career aspirations.  Understandable, yes.  But I feel like it’s also a BIG mistake.

I’ve always felt that it’s important to have a “balanced portfolio” as a freelancer…

Read the rest of this post on Jim Klein blog

Welcome to the Jungle includes chapters on setting goals, networking, building a portfolio, time management, personal and professional finances, and dealing with the ups and downs of the freelance career. The book also includes interviews with successful music and audio freelancers, such as legendary producer Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, Santana, Daughtry), producer/engineer Kevin Killen (Peter Gabriel, U2, Elvis Costello), bassist Julie Slick, and others.

The Mimic Has Left the Building

Guest Blogger: Jim Klein is the author of Welcome to the Jungle. Below is an excerpt from his blog Welcome To The Jungle.

I have heard those words, phrased in a few different ways, for about thirty years.  In a way, my professional success as a freelance composer has mostly stemmed from my ability to listen to a piece of music and then write another piece of music that captures the essential feel or attitude of the first one.  Even when I was writing, producing, and recording what ended up being several hit records on a major label with Pajama Party, it’s not like I was at the forefront of the dance music world.  I was listening to what was out there, trying to figure out exactly what it was that people were grabbing onto, and then attempting to put my own spin on it.

With some kinds of work, though, sometimes a line gets crossed. People aren’t asking you if you can listen to something and then put your own spin on in. They don’t want your damn spin. For whatever reason, they are asking you to create something that sounds EXACTLY like “this.” One reason could be budgetary: they would LIKE to use “Born to be Wild,” but the client doesn’t want to spend fifty grand on the license.  Can I do a track that sounds very much like it for five or ten percent of that? Or, even worse, the client is willing to pay the money for the latest hipster band’s single for a shoe jingle, but that band doesn’t want their indie cred sullied by an association with a corporate monster like Nike or Adidas.  In that case, I have to be REALLY careful, since the band has already been approached and has declined the offer. Unlike the first scenario, there are now additional copyright landmines to be navigated, and legally, if the shoe company gets sued, they will dump responsibility on the ad agency, who will dump it on the music house, who will dump it on ME, the composer, who was only trying to make a living by doing the client’s bidding in the first place.  So, in my attempt to compose what the NY commercial industry calls a “ripomatic,” it becomes my responsibility to figure out where the imaginary line in the sand is between what the client wants (which really is the hipster band’s song) and my own (hopefully, from their viewpoint) extremely close, but legal “copy.”

For more please visit Welcome To The Jungle.

Welcome to the Jungle

In his dual role as a successful music and audio freelancer of over 30 years and tenured college professor, Jim Klein not only has the knowledge of what it takes to succeed as a freelancer in the competitive fields of music and audio, but the understanding of exactly what the new aspirant needs to know to take on that world. Klein has crafted crafted his advice into a book that is detailed, complete, and easy to understand.

Welcome to the Jungle includes chapters on setting goals, networking, building a portfolio, time management, personal and professional finances, and dealing with the ups and downs downs of the freelance career. The book also includes interviews with successful music and audio freelancers, such as legendary producer Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, Santana, Daughtry), producer/engineer Kevin Killen (Peter Gabriel, U2, Elvis Costello), bassist Julie Slick, and others.

There Is No “Extra Credit” in the Freelance World

Guest Blogger: Jim Klein is the author of the forthcoming book Welcome to the Jungle. Below is an excerpt from his blog, Welcome To The Jungle.

My 16 year old daughter is a great kid.  She is cute and smart and funny, and generally tries to do the right thing. Last year, she had a really tough school year, taking all Honors and AP courses, including AP French and AP European History, which is known nationwide as a real back-breaker.  Like I said, she is bright, but within the normal range. I’m sure parents everywhere are cringing when I admit that my own daughter is of normal intelligence, and not a genius.  Well, after seeing her apply herself to her schoolwork for the past few years, I can honestly say that I couldn’t be prouder of how hard she has worked and how well she has done.  Some of her classmates don’t have to work quite as hard to achieve equal or even better results, but my kid doesn’t worry about them.  She comes home from school, gets a snack, watches a little TV or blows off some steam some other way and then she goes up to her room and takes care of business without any prodding from me or her mom.  And she has an “A” average. If an assignment is due Tuesday, she delivers it on Tuesday. If it is supposed to be 500 words, she turns in 500 words. Once or twice a year, though, the perfect storm of schoolwork, social activities, and acts of God all occur on a particular weekend and she is unable to turn in an assignment for a particular class on time. Does she whine to the teacher? Make up a phony excuse? Or worse, BEG? No, she does not.  My daughter takes her lumps like an adult.  She knows that over the course of the marking period, all of the high-scoring assignments and tests that she DID complete will result in an acceptably high grade for the term.  And she can be proud of herself for not compromising her principles by lying to the teacher or begging for a grade she didn’t deserve.  You do the crime, you do the time.  That’s how we roll in the Klein house.

Unfortunately, that’s not how many of my daughter’s classmates roll.  Some of them routinely turn work in days or weeks late, fail to study for tests, and generally display an extremely casual attitude regarding their responsibilities at school. At some point, these slacker kids become aware that their class averages are becoming dangerously low.  That’s when they approach the teacher and utter the MAGIC WORDS: “Mrs. So and So, can I do some extra credit work to get my average up?”

Keep reading this article on Jim’s blog, Welcome To The Jungle

Welcome to the Jungle

In his dual role as a successful music and audio freelancer of over 30 years and tenured college professor, Jim Klein not only has the knowledge of what it takes to succeed as a freelancer in the competitive fields of music and audio, but the understanding of exactly what the new aspirant needs to know to take on that world. Klein has crafted crafted his advice into a book that is detailed, complete, and easy to understand.

Welcome to the Jungle includes chapters on setting goals, networking, building a portfolio, time management, personal and professional finances, and dealing with the ups and downs downs of the freelance career. The book also includes interviews with successful music and audio freelancers, such as legendary producer Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, Santana, Daughtry), producer/engineer Kevin Killen (Peter Gabriel, U2, Elvis Costello), bassist Julie Slick, and others.