The Versatile engineer : a study of the changing role of the audio engineer

Material Information

The Versatile engineer : a study of the changing role of the audio engineer
Kramarik, Kelly Anne
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of science in recording arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Music and Entertainment Industry Studies, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Recording arts
Committee Chair:
Bird, Leslie Gaston
Committee Members:
Bondelevitch, David
Bregitzer, Lorne


Regularly advancing audio technology has made music production cheaper and more accessible than ever. It is necessary for audio engineers to be extremely versatile to stay afloat financially as well as to develop a sustainable profession. The traditional recording studio has been on the decline for a number of years paving the way for the rise of project and home studios. This study will examine the growth of technology in the music industry and its impact on the audio engineering profession. The outcome of this study will shed light on the sustainability of different roles in the changing world of audio throughout the United States.

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University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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Copyright Kelly Anne Kramarik. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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THE VERSATILE ENGINEE R: A STUDY OF THE CHANGING ROLE OF THE AUDIO ENGINEER by KELLY ANNE KRAMARIK B.S., West Virginia University, 2014 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Recording Arts Program 2018


ii This thesis for the Master of Science degree by Kelly Anne Kramarik has been approved for the Master of Science in Recording Arts By Leslie Gaston Bird, Chair David Bondelevitch Lorne Bregitzer Date:


iii Kramarik, Kelly Anne (MS , Recording Arts) The Versatile Engineer: A Study of the Changing Role of the Audio Engineer Thesis directed by Professor Leslie Gaston Bird ABSTRACT Regularly advanc ing audio technology has made music production cheaper and more accessible than ever . It is necessary for audio engineers to be extremely versatile to stay afloat financially as well as to develop a sustainable profession . The traditional recording studio has been on the decline for a number of years paving the way for the rise of project and home studios . This study will examine the growth of technology in the music industry and its impact on the audio engineering profession. The outcome of this study will shed light on the sus tainability of different roles in the changing world of audio throughout the United States . The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Leslie Gaston Bird ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !


iv TABLE OF CONTENTS I . INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 1 History of Audio Engineering Roles as Exemplified by Abbey Road ..................... Advancing Audio Technology ................................ ................................ ............. 7 Relevance of Research ................................ ................................ ......................... 9 II . CURRENT STUDIO TYPES AND ENGINEERING ROLES ................................ .... 9 The Traditional Recording Studio ................................ ................................ ...... 10 The Project/Home Studio ................................ ................................ ................... 10 III . CHANGES IN DISTRIBUTION AND CONSUMPTION OF MUSIC .................... 14 Physical Distribution ................................ ................................ ......................... 14 Digital D istribution ................................ ................................ ............................ 14 The Economic Impact of Digital Consumption ................................ .................. 15 IV . MARKET ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ........................... 19 The Survey ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 2 0 Survey Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 23 Analyzing the Results ................................ ................................ ........................ 26 V. CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 28 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 3 2 APPENDIX ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 35


v LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1. Comparison of Audio Engineer titles between Abbey Road and American Recording Studi os ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 6 2 . Location and Number of Participants in Audio Engineer Online Survey .................... 19 3 . Variance in Education and Other Categories ................................ .............................. 25 4 . Variance in Theatre and Video Game Audio Categories ................................ ............ 25 5 . Variance in Music Recording Categories ................................ ................................ ... 25 6 . Variance in Podcast/Radio Production Categories ................................ ...................... 25 7 . Variance in Post Production Audio Categories ................................ ........................... 26 8 . Variance in Production Audio Categories ................................ ................................ .. 26 9 . Variance in Live Sound Reinforcement Categories ................................ .................... 26


vi LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 1 . Systemic Unweighted Audio Dynamic Range Millennia Media ................................ . 7 2 . A pple Magnetic Data Storage Millennia Media ................................ .......................... 8 3 . A udio engineering society: an audio timeline ................................ ............................ 1 1 4 . Apple Complete Recording Studio with Mac Mini v6 from Guitar Center ................. 13 5 . United States Estimated Retail Dollar Value of Physically Distributed Audio Ð Information gathered from the Recording Industry Association of America ................... 16 6 . United States Estimated Retail Dollar Value of Permanent Downloads Ð Information gathered from the Recording Industry Association of America ................................ ...... 16 7 . United States Estimated Retail Dollar Value of Digital Subscription & Streaming Ð Information gathered from the Recording Industry Association of America ................... 17 8 . U.S. Music Industry Revenues RIAA ................................ ................................ ...... 18 9 . How Surveyed Aud io Engineers Get Paid Ð Data collected from online survey ......... 23 10 . Surveyed Audio Engineer's Income Source and Bracket ................................ .......... 24 11 . Total National Mean of Sound Engineering Technicians Annual Salary Ð . 27 12 . Total National Employment of Sound Engineering T echnicians Ð ............. 29


1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Audio engineering roles have been evolving as the technology has been advancing . Before there was any type of audio engineering education offered, if one wanted to learn how to record music they would work their way up through a studio. Flash forward to today, where there are universities offering audio engineering programs all over the worl d. Students have the opportunity to learn multiple skillsets in audio engineering before they even enter the workforce. History of Audio Engineering Roles as Exemplified by Abbey Road Abbey Road Studios is one of the most famous recording studios in the world. One of the many reasons Abbey Road has maintained their level of success for decades is the delegation of roles in and around the studios. Most people who were hired at Abbey Roa d would start at the bottom and work their way up through the ranks. The only time an employee would move up a rank, is if there was a position to be filled, so each job's length was indeterminate. In Recording The Beatles the authors talk about how w he n a person was hired at Abbey Road in the 60s they would usually start working in the Tape Library. The Tape Library held all important information for the studio including blank tapes, master tapes and discs. The job of an employee working in the Tape L ibrary is to organize and distribute information and items throughout the studio. Since Abbey Road had more than fifty functioning work rooms or offices, this position helped the new employees learn the layout of the building and meet everyone else who wor ked there.


2 The next position above the Tape Library was the Tape Op erator, also known as the Second Engineer. The Tape Op's job was to operate the recorders and ke ep notes throughout the recording sessions. This is the first position that allowed employ ees to be inside of the studios with clients during sessions. Most Tape Ops will tell you that this position was the best way to learn about the studio, how to record and how to interact with clients. All records of sessions at Abbey Road were written by the Tape Ops making them a large part of recording history still today. Geoff Emerick said: "In those days it was purely looking after and recording and operating the tape machines É it was quite an important job. When I first started recording straight to stereo, if you made any mess ups on recording straight to stereo, or if there was dirt on the heads or the machine wasn't functioning properly, the recording was lost. You couldn't go back to multitrack to rectify it or cover yourself, so it was quite an impo rtant job." (Ryan and Kehew 44 ) I n the latter parts of the 1960s, Ryan and Kehew explain that the Tape Op began taking on more responsibility coining the name Second Engineer. The Second Engineers now started to set out microphones for sessions, a djust them throughout and set up the rooms. Because the Second Engineers were still new to the recording world in this position, the maintenance department noted a rise in microp hone damage once they gained this responsibility. After graduating from the Tape Operator position, one would move on to Disc Cutting. A Disc Cutter ' s job, as described in Recording The Beatles , is extremely important be cause they were in charge of cutting the master lacquer disc from wh ich all other discs would be pressed . The newer Disc Cutters wouldn't be assigned to cut


3 masters right off the bat but instead were assigned to cut playback lacquers. These playback lacquers, or acetates, were basically rough copies of sessions that the artists and/or producers could take home an d listen to. The acetates were a great way for new Disc Cutters to learn the trade without the chance of ruining a master lacquer. Learning to cut discs was integral to the overall learning process of an engineer because they had to know what would work and what wouldn't work in the recording process when cutting to disc. Geoff Emerick said , "In those days, to know mastering was to know what you could get on the tape that could actually be transferred to the master" (Ryan and Kehew 45 ). The art of cutting discs was extremely creative and there was a lot of room for personal touch, this explains why versions of The Beatles' songs that were cut at Abbey Road were significantly different than those cu t at Capitol Records in the U.S . Som e engineers who truly excelled in the position of Disc Cutting would choose to stay at this rank indefinitely rather than continue up the ladder. The next promot ion within Abbey Road Studios was to Balance Engineer. "It has been speculated that the ideal [Balance Engineer] would have four ears, four eyes, and eight arms, a degree in m usic and another in electronics " (Morris 866) . The Balance Engineer was the main audio engineer o n the session and was in charge of adjusting the sound throughout tracking and mixing. The Balance Engineer also chose which microphones to use for each session and where they were to be placed in the studio. New Balance Engineers would get their first chance to train during new artist tests. When EMI was deciding if they wanted to work with a band or not they would schedule them a new artist test to see how they acted in a professional studio e nvironment. John Kurlander stated, "These so called ÔArtist Tests' were not only tests for the artists, they


4 were also tests for the up a nd coming engineers" (Ryan and Kehew 46 ). How the engineer did during an artist test, would determine how they would be scheduled with clients. Most Balance Engineers stayed at that position for the remainder of their careers although some would choose to move on to the Technical Engineer position in the Amp Room. Brian Gibson best explains the job of the Technical Engineer at Abbey Road in the 1960s : "At that time the [Technical Engineer] would actually set out the microphones on the studio floor, acco rding to a plan drawn out by the Balance Engineer. Having set out the studio, the Technical Engineer would test that the microphones were workin g and assigned to the correct channels on the desk, ensure that the echo systems were working and that any speci al requirements were in place and working. Then, in addition, he would align the tape machines read y for the start of the recording." (Ryan and Kehew 50 ) Besides setting up every session that ever happened at Abbey Road, Technical Engineers were in charg e of maintenance for every piece of equipment in the building. All tape machines, consoles, outboard gear, microphones and other studio equipment was serviced by the Technical Engineers. The Technical Engineers worked out of a room holding all of the amp lifiers for the building which coined their workspace the name of Amp Room. Geoff Emerick explains the separation between Technical and Balance Engineer well. "The Balance Engineer would draw a plan, and the [Amp Room] used to put the mics out, roughly position them and plug them all in. The Balance Engineer


5 could then move the mics, but if he wanted a mic changed from say, fader 5 to fader 6, he wasn't allowed to do that. He h ad to phone up for someone to co me do that." (Ryan and Kehew 50) Many of th e classic innovative sounds that The Beatles recorded were ideas that the Tech nical Engineers came up with while noodling with equipment. If an artist or Balance Engineer came up with an idea for a new sound the Technical Engineer would be the one who wou ld actually make it happen . The Beatles were notorious for wanting to record during late, odd, unscheduled hours. In many cases, the Balance Engineer wasn't able to be there so the Technical Engineer would take their place behind the console (Ryan and Ke hew 50) . Ryan and Kehew tell us that the highest position within Abbey Road Studios creatively, was the role of Producer or A&R Manager. The producer was in charge of booking out studio time for artists, booking studio musicians to play on tracks, keeping the engineers on task and advising the artists on their music. George Martin was The Beatles producer, and as the years went by he became more involved with their sound. Martin would end up writing most of The Beatles orchestral arrangements as w ell as their notable harmony and piano lines. According to Recording The Beatles , o n the other end of the spectrum is the "Browncoats " or Studio Attendants. These employees were usually hired into this position and stayed there throughout their career. Studio Attendants were in charge of moving and placing furniture, acoustic paneling, chairs, music stands and vocal booths in the stud ios before and after sessions. Their job would also entail cleaning the studios after sessions. A lot of Studio Attendants would make extra money in tips by helping


6 studio musicians load their gear in and out of the studio. This position wasn't the most glamorous but it was more than necessary for the studio to run smoothly. Abbey Road Studios set the standard for commercial studios and how they were run day to day. With each role focusing on a certain set of tasks and those tasks only, they were able to excel musically. No one can say if Geoff Emerick would have done as amazing of a job balancing The Beatles records if he was setting up microphones and plugging cables into the patch bay before every session he did. But one could make the assumption, that focusing as hard as those engineers did on the tasks at hand probably had something to do with the quality of the end products. Recording studios in America functioned very similarly to those in England throughout the 60s and 70s. The major differen ce between the two is just the naming conventions of the roles of engineers. Dewitt F. Morris goes into specific detail on the different roles and responsibilities within the American recording studio in the AES Journal article titled "The Audio Engineer Ð Circa 1977 What Does He (or She) Do? It would be redundant to summarize his article after going into detail on the Abbey Road roles, so I created a table to reference the title differences. Table 1. Comparison of Audio Engineer titles between Abbey Road and American Recording Studios Abbey Road in England American Recording Studios Tape Operator Tape Recordist Disc Cutter Disc Recordist Balance Engineer Recording Director, Mixdown Mixer Technical Engineer Maintenance Engineer Producer/A&R Manager Recording Director/Producer/A&R Manager


7 Advancing Audio Technology Over 50 years ago, Alan Turing, (the father of algorithmic computing) predicted that computers would have about one gigabit of storage at the end of the century, and he was right. From this, we have learned that most technology follows a predictable growth slope, with technologies that offer more economic incentives growing faster than others. Figure 1 shows a graph depicting growth in audio dynamic range over time. With this growth, t echnology is also changing to keep up. Figure 1 : Systemic Unweighted Audio Dynamic Range Millennia Media Another growth slope is the Magnetic Data Storage found in Figure 2. Magnetic storage bits per dollar has been doubling every 18 months since th e 1950s. This means


8 that digital storage is becoming more available in larger sizes for increasingly less money on the consumer end. Figure 2 : Magnetic Data Storage Millennia Media With these trends of growth in technology it has been getting and will continue to become cheaper for consumers to buy their own audio equipment, making the shift from traditional recording studios to home studios less surprising and more frequent. Most of the roles that I described above existing in Abbey Road have bee n taken over by technology or merged into a single versatile audio engineer. This growth of technology is also affecting the distribution and consumption of music. Streaming services are taking the lead over physical goods at an alarming rate which impac ts the entire chain of the recording process.


9 Relevance of Research With audio engineering education becoming more available around the world, and the continuously advancing audio technology , it is becoming easier to learn multiple skillsets in audio. The employment trends in audio engineering have gone almost completely to free lance work with a lot of artists attempting to do everything themselves at home rather than involving a professional . Home studio rates are forcing commercial studio rates into a race to the bottom driving audio engineers' annual income down with it . As explained above in the history of audio engineering roles section, some of the best music ever created and recorded was done so in an acoustically treated room by a large tea m of engineers working together so they could focus more intently on their individual tasks in the recording process. Besides the changes in audio recording technology , the vastly changing trends in distribution and consumption of audio is severely affecting t he role of the audio enginee r as well. Through this research I hope to find out what the role of the audio engineer will look like in the future. CHAPTER II CURRENT STUDIO TYPES AND ENGINEERING ROLES With audio technology becoming vastly more accessible and affordable with the advent of digital audio workstations, engineering roles are changing. The traditional recording studio is not as popular as it once was . "Musicians tend to produce their music themselves in home studios, without necessarily collab orating with a professional producer or a sound engine er." (Pras and Guastavino 1)


10 The Traditional Recording Studio The traditional recording studio is one that was built or turned into an acoustically sound space for recording music. An acoustician i s usually brought in alongside a contractor to design a nd build the isolated rooms. In the 60s you could find a fully staffed studio with twenty or more full time employees working day to day depending on the size of the studio. Currently it would be hard to find a recording studio with more than five engineers employed. The recording i ndustry has moved towards free lance employment, meaning they keep a couple of engineers on staff and contract work to other engineers when necessary. This shift in employment is from multiple factors, one being the decline in studio pricing. " It'll prob ably reach a crunch point in the next couple of years. Unless the day rates do start going up, you will see more fall by the wayside... I would say that anybody who goes into recording studios now, and invests the sort of money that's needed to make a good studio, and expects it to be a business, would be crazy. " (Young : Lamont) The Project/ Home Studio Affordable project studios have been around since the 1980's, when MIDI hardware and software became available for personal computers (Figure 3 ). MIDI bro ught a multitude of options to the table when it came to adding instruments to tracks. For project studios, this meant they could play all these instruments themselves instead of hiring studio musicians, keeping that money in their small budgets.


11 Figure 1 : Audio Engineering Society: An Audio Timeline "Based on MIDI technology and the increasing quality of low cost recording equipment, the so called Ôproject studios' Ð often little more than large home installations that had begun to take on commercial work Ð were soon regarded as competitors by the la rger, more professional studios. Typically, the early project studios were limited to about eight tracks of audio recording (augmented by considerably more MIDI capability) and consisted of little more than a control room and perhaps a small booth or part itioned area for occasional vocal and solo instrument recording." (Theberge 2004: 778) H ome studios have been rising in popularity alongside the advancing audio recording technology. Time and money are two huge factors of any decision to struggling art ists so recording at a home studio can be a very attractive option. Home


12 studios are exactly what they sound like, a recording studio in a home. One can speculate that t here is less overhead involved in a home studio because the owner isn't renting out a separate place to run their business, re sulting in lower hourly rates potentially . Home studios vary in size and quality depending on the home, construction of the studio space, knowledge o f the audio engineer and gear. John Frusciante, the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Pepper's, interviewed with the Electroni c Musician website in 2005 about his home studio endeavors. " It's really good to have the equipment that I love working on in my own place. Also, for the amount of money that I spent on Shadows Collide with People , I could have bought lots of studio equipment and had it forever. And I love the idea of being able to create music all the time without having to book studio time. " (Tingen 2005) It is no surprise that artists and engineers alike are investing their money into home studio set ups rather than paying traditional recording studios for sessions. Approachable c ompanies like Guitar Center have noticed this home studio trend and have started marketing towards it . Figure 4 shows a "complete r ecording studio" bundle for just under $1000.00. When renting out a traditional recording studio could cost this much for a day or two, consumers are deciding to put their money into something that th ey can own.


13 Figure 2 : Apple Complete Recording Studio with Mac Mini v6 from Guitar Center On the other side of the spectrum you have artists that want a "raw" sound and think that the do it yourse lf approach is the best way to get that. A great example of this is Primus' 1997 Bro wn Album . Les Claypool reminisces, " i t was also another one of those records where we took all the vintage recording gear and did it all ourselves, so it had the really raw sound to it. There's distorted microphones, clipping drums, and all this shit! " ( K aye). Although the band members and some fans really loved this album, the record label was not a fan. Getting a "raw" sound is typically referring to getting a sound similar to those in the 60s and 70s recorded on tape with analog gear. What some artis ts


14 tend to forget, is that ionic sound was created in an acoustically treated recording studio utilizing audio professionals at every stage. CHAPTER III CHANGES IN DISTRIBUTION AND CONSUMPTION OF MUSIC "The album's role as the structural spine of the industry is over. This shift is fundamentally changing how music is created, distributed and interpreted" ( Luckerson). The entire chain of music production from recording to distribution has been extremely dependent on the growth of technology throughout time. The medium of which consumers buy their music from not only has a financial impact on the industry but it also impacts the relationship between artist and fan. Physical Distribution In the early days of music distribution seven inch records were a ble to hold around 4.5 minutes of audio on each side. To be successful with this type of distribution artists would create music that could stand on its own as a "hit song" Ð the basis of commercialized pop music. When the LP record became a commercial o ption for distribution, artists had more freedom to create albums of music that didn't need to be as hard hitting but could flow with different ideas and composition throughout its 44 minutes of playtime. The adaptation of CDs in distribution allowed 74 m inutes of music to be played on the smallest , most portable medium to date. Digital Distribution In an interview with NPR Karlheinz Bradenburg , "The Father of MP3" says, " It was in Ô 97 when I got the impression that the avalanche was rolling and no one c ould stop it anymore. But even then I still sometimes have the feeling like is this all a dream or


15 is it real, so it ' s clearly bey ond the dreams of earlier times " ( Rose, Ganz). When the MP3 compression format came out it was immediately taken advantage of . It was no longer necessary to buy and own a physical copy of music, one could just download it from the internet or copy it from a friend's hard drive. The monetary and physical relationship between fans and artists took a huge hit because the music wa s available for free now. With portable digital music players , consumers had the option to create playlists of individual songs from multiple artists. Creating mixed CDs was of course a popular way of making a personalized playlist but it took a lot more work than clicking and dragging and you also had to own the physical copy of the disc in the first place. With MP3s, music went digital and became ve ry easy to obtain and manipulate. The Economic Impact of Digital Consumption The MP3 was the seed that sparked the music streaming revolution. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Tidal, Spotify and Pandora have completely taken over the music industry's distrib ution and consumption. Developers quickly found out that consumers are more likely to pay a small monthly fee for unlimited access to music that they don't actually own rather than a per item purchasing cost to own a piece of music indefinitely. In Figur e 5 you can see the estimated retail dollar value of physically distributed audio from 2014 to 2017. Figure 6 shows the retail dollar value of permanent digital downloads and Figure 7 shows the retail dollar value of digital subscription and streaming ser vices from 2014 to 2017.


16 Figure 5 : United States Estimated Retail Dollar Value of Physically Distributed Audio Ð Information gathered from the Recording Industry Association of America Figure 6 : United States Estimated Retail Dollar V alue of Permanent Downloads Ð Information gathered from the Recording Industry Association of America $1,832.60 $1,482.50 $1,130.80 $1,057.30 $314.90 $414.50 $355.40 $388.50 $91.20 $71.20 $56.90 $38.60 $12.60 $13.80 $9.20 $11.00 $$200.00 $400.00 $600.00 $800.00 $1,000.00 $1,200.00 $1,400.00 $1,600.00 $1,800.00 $2,000.00 2014 2015 2016 2017 IN MILLIONS, NET AFTER RETURNS YEAR UNITED STATES ESTIMATED RETAIL DOLLAR VALUE OF PHYSICALLY DISTRIBUTED AUDIO RIAA CD LP/EP Music Video Other Physical $1,407.80 $1,195.10 $872.90 $650.80 $1,150.90 $1,090.00 $818.80 $623.70 $66.30 $54.60 $51.10 $34.20 $16.20 $10.10 $24.20 $22.00 $$200.00 $400.00 $600.00 $800.00 $1,000.00 $1,200.00 $1,400.00 $1,600.00 2014 2015 2016 2017 IN MILLIONS, NET AFTER RETURNS YEAR UNITED STATES ESTIMATED RETAIL DOLLAR VALUE OF DIGITAL PERMANENT DOWNLOADS RIAA Download Single Download Album Ringtones & Ringbacks Other Digital


17 Figure 7 : United States Estimated Retail Dollar Value of Digital Subscription & Streaming Ð Information gathered from the Recording Industry Association of Amer ica From the above graphical information , it is easy to see that over the past four years physical consumption of m usic has declined drastically while digital subscription has sky rocketed. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, revenue from recorded music grew materially for two years in a row as you can see in Figure 8 . This is the first time the music industry has seen this type of growth since 1999. This current revenue level is back up to where it was in 2008 but it is still 40% below peak levels due to the streaming growth being offset from the declining physical a nd digital unit based sales. (Friedlander, 2017) $773.40 $802.60 $883.90 $652.00 $800.10 $1,158.90 $2,244.20 $3,500.50 $294.80 $372.70 $489.40 $658.60 $$500.00 $1,000.00 $1,500.00 $2,000.00 $2,500.00 $3,000.00 $3,500.00 $4,000.00 2014 2015 2016 2017 IN MILLIONS, NET AFTER RETURNS YEAR UNITED STATES ESTIMATED RETAIL DOLLAR VALUE OF DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION & STREAMING RIAA SoundExchange Distributions Paid Subscription On-Demand Streaming (Ad-Supported)


18 Figure 8 : U.S. Music Industry Revenues RIAA In an interview with TIME Magazine Catherine Moore, a music business professor at New York University said "The song is the unit, the whole concept of the al bum as an umbrella under which several songs fit doesn't really matter anymore" (Luckerson). Artists today are adapting to the way music is being consumed by releasing singles or EPs digitally rather than entire albums physically to promote their tours. The major downside with this trend is that artists make a lot less money from streaming sales than they do from album sales. "A mainstream artist can earn between $2 and $3.40 for a CD sale depending on the terms of his or her contract. Spotify pays righ ts holders between $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream, with only a portion going to the artist" (Luckerson). If artists want to make money, they need to stay relevant. Releasing an album is only one burst of attention compared to releasing multiple EPs or sing les throughout the year that continue to get your brand noticed. With the decline in CD sales


19 it is unfortunate that artists really don't have a choice but to adapt to the new streaming consumer. The chain of music production has many parts. Funding fo r new recording projects usually comes from record labels or profits from previous projects. With the streaming services becoming the new norm for consumption of recorded music and the focus of production being single hit songs to catch the consumers ear, audio engineers roles in the studio are changing. CHAPTER IV MARKET ANALYSIS In an attempt to gain insight on what engineering roles are in different markets around the country I created a survey. The survey was an online multiple choice/short answer t ype that consisted of 10 questions taking most participants less than two minutes to complete . I had 63 total responses to my survey from varyi ng locations as seen in Table 2 . Table 2: Location and Number of Participants in Audio Engineer Online Survey Location Number of Participants Chicago, IL 4 Denver, CO 24 Los Angeles, CA 6 Miami, FL 2 New York, NY 11 Minneapolis, MN 2 Rochester, NY 2 Other 12


20 The Survey 1. ! Do you consider yourself an Audio Engineer? Y. Yes N. No 2. ! In which of these cities do you primarily work in or around? A. ! New York, NY B. ! Denver, CO C. ! Nashville, TN D. ! Charlotte, NC E. ! Atlanta, GA F. ! Chicago, IL G. ! Austin, TX H. ! New Orleans, LA I. ! Los Angeles, CA J. ! Other Ð Short Answer Option 3. ! How would you categorize your income as an Audio Engineer? (Choose as many as you like) A. ! Salary B. ! Independent Contractor C. ! Hourly D. ! Other Ð Short Answer Option 4. ! How many different companies are you contracted by? (Short Answer) 5. ! In which category do you make the most substantial portion of your income?


21 A. ! Live Sound Reinforcement B. ! Music Recor ding C. ! Post Production Audio D. ! Production Audio E. ! Podcast/Radio Production F. ! Video Game Audio G. ! Education H. ! Acoustics I. ! Theatre J. ! Other Ð Short Answer Option 6. ! Which title best describes you? (Choose as many as you like) A. ! FOH Engineer B. ! MON Engineer C. ! Audio Technician D. ! Recording/Mixing Engineer E. ! Mastering Engineer F. ! Production Sound Mixer G. ! Boom Operator H. ! Utility Sound I. ! Supervising Sound Editor J. ! Post Production Recordist K. ! Post Production Editor L. ! Post Production Mixer


22 M. ! Sound Designer N. ! Acoustician O. ! Podcast Audio Engineer P. ! Radio Audio En gineer Q. ! Video Game Designer/Engineer R. ! Theatre Audio Engineer S. ! Education T. ! Other Ð Short Answer Option 7. ! Do you have a college degree or certification in audio engineering? Y. Yes N. No 8. ! How many years have you been working professionally as an audio engineer? A. ! 0 3 B. ! 4 8 C. ! 8 12 D. ! 13 18 E. ! 19+ 9. ! Which income bracket do you fall into? A. ! <$30,000 B. ! $30,000 $40,000 C. ! $40,000 $50,000 D. ! $50,000 $60,000 E. ! $60,000 $70,000


23 F. ! >$70,000 10. ! Where does the majority of your income come from? A. ! 1 source (ie. Studio, post house, network) B. ! Multiple revenue streams C. ! Other Survey Results After analyzing the results of the survey I found that the majority of participants were independent contractors with multiple revenue streams. Figure 9 shows a breakdown of how the surveyed engineers get paid based on where they work. Figure 10 shows if the engineers were being paid by one source or multiple revenue streams and which annual income bracket they fall into. Figure 9: How Surveyed Audio Engineers Get Paid Ð Data collected from online survey


24 Figure 10: Surveyed Audio Engineer's Income Source and Bracket After compiling the data from the survey , I found that about 30% of my participants gained the majority of th eir income from one source and the remaining 70 % gained the majority of their income from mul tiple revenue streams. The number of revenue streams varied vastly without any co rrelation between the engineers or type of audio work they do which I thought was surprising. Out of 63 participants, 11 engineers have full time salary positions and only 4 work full time without working on the side as an hourly employee or independent contractor. Out of the 11 engineers with full time salary positions, 4 fall into the $40,000 $50,000 bracket, 2 fall into the $50,000 $60,000 bracket and 6 fall into the >$70 ,00 0 bracket. 23 of the participants work as hourl y employees but only 7 of the 23 solely work as an hourly employee. 2 of the 23 hourly employees also have salar y positions and the remaining 14 work as an hourly employee as well as independent contractors. Out of t he 3 1 2 2 3 10 16 6 5 4 2 9 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 <$30,000 $30,000-$40,000 $40,000-$50,000 $50,000-$60,000 $60,000-$70,000 >$70,000 Number of Engineers Annual Income Surveyed Audio Engineer's Income Source and Bracket 1 Source Multiple Revenue Streams


25 7 engineers that wo rk solely as an hourly employee 1 falls into the $60,000 $70,000 bracket, 1 falls into the $50,000 $6 0,000 bracket, 2 fall into the $30,000 $40,000 bracket and the re maining 3 fall into the <$30,000 bracket. Questions 5 and 6 on the survey were the most interesting data that I collected. Question 5 asked in which category of audio do you make the most substantial portion of your income and question 6 asked participant s which title best describes them. For question 6 participants were allowed to pick multiple choices while for question 5 they could only pick one. Tables 3 9 show the variance in job titles based on the area of audio in which an engineer makes the most substantial portion of their income. Table 3. Variance in Education and Other Categories Table 4. Variance in Theatre and Video Game Audio Categories Table 5. Variance in Music Recording Categories Table 6. Variance in Podcast/Radio Production Categories


26 Table 7. Variance in Post Production Audio Categories Table 8. Variance in Production Audio Categories Table 9. Variance in Live Sound Reinforcement Categories As you can see from the tables above, the audio engineers who took my surve y work in multiple fields of audio. Participants who make the majority of their income in live sound reinforcement had the most variance in audio titles. The next highest variance in audio titles came from production audio, post production audio and podc ast/radio production categories respectively. From the results it is clear that there were more versatile engineers in the participant group than engineers working in only one job title. Analyzing the Results Figure 11 shows the total national mean of so und engineering technicians annual salary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics only count s salary or hourly employees in their data because independent contractors are harder to


27 track. The term Sound Engineering Technician is very broad and encompasses multiple types of audio engineers just like my survey. Based on my survey the hourly and salary participant's wages correlate with the national mean annual salary. Figure 11: Total National Mean of Sound Engineering Technicians Annual Salary Ð About half of my survey participants were independent contractors only and their annual salaries varied pretty evenly throughout the brackets following a similar pattern of the salary and hourly participants. 24 participants classified themselves as part of the music recording process making a mean annual salary of $43,300. This is close to $0.00 $10,000.00 $20,000.00 $30,000.00 $40,000.00 $50,000.00 $60,000.00 $70,000.00 $80,000.00 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 Annual Salary Year Total National Mean of Sound Engineering Technicians Annual Salary


28 $30,000 less than the Bureau of Labor Statistics mean annual salary for sound engineerin g technicians. CHAPTER V CONCLUSION Throughout my research , I have found that consistently growing technology has a direct impact on the profession of audio engineering. Technology has made the art of audio engineering more compact, less expensive and faster. Traditional recording studios are smaller than ever w ith less full time staff and more freelance independent contractors taking the work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn't tracked the independent contractor trend but if they want to get up to date numbers on the profession they need to start. As you ca n see in Figure 12, there is a steep decline in Sound Engineering Technicians from 2008 to now. This decline can mostly be explained by the continuous shift of audio engineers becoming fre elancers rather than employees since the Bureau of Labor Statistics isn't tracking them.


29 Figure 12: Total National Employment of Sound Engineering Technicians Ð With the phenomenon of streaming music services continuing to grow while physical and individual sales of music are continuously declining the profitability of recorded music is shrinking. Artists and labels are making less money from their music with streaming services therefor they have less to spend on record production. With the new trends of grabbing consumers' attention rather than keepin g their attention and building a relationship the money in the music industry is being funneled towards marketing instead of producing potential talent. Artists are expected to have a polished product to get noticed but they have less money now than ever to create that project. This lack of money in production and consumption is fueling the home studio and "do it yourself" markets. 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 16000 18000 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 Number of Sound Engineering Technicians Employed Year Total National Employment of Sound Engineering Technicians


30 The music industry will always need talented audio engineers although the way in which they are used will continuously chang e. Engineers will continue to become more versatile as certain areas of audio become more profitable than others due to the market. Streaming services are not going away and the music industry cannot thrive with how they are paying for streaming right no w. In the TIME Magazine interview with Professor Moore she said "The money will come, but not in a predictable way" (Luckerson). The MP3 was invented in 1992 and after 25 years the music industry still hasn't figured out how to regulate the transfer of i llegally downloaded and distributed music. With the history of the music industry recuperating from being behind technological advances in favor of the consumer it's hard to speculate how long it will take for the industry to get ahead of the streaming ba ttle. Until that time, the music recording process will continue to evolve and the audio engineer will continue becoming versatile in other relevant fields of audio to stay financially stable. After concluding my research I found that there is definite ly more to be done. Due to the lack of numbers and variance in demographics of my participants I was unable to come to any complete conclusions. I believe that the research I did can be added to by another scholar and it will be a great basis of informat ion and guidelines on how to successfully draw the conclusions I could only speculate. To get more participants in the survey I think one would need to reach out to every audio organization in the country with a detailed proposal on why the survey is nece ssary. Then, they could potentially have the organizations send the survey out to all of their members. I had only sent the survey out through personal contacts in the industry as well as on social media audio groups which got a good amount of traffic but not on a


31 large enough scale to draw conclusions. The site I used for the survey showed how long it took for participants to take the survey, how many people visited the survey and the completion rate. There were 107 total visits but the completion rate was only 57.6%. There were only ten questions on the survey and the salary bracket question was optional. I cannot conclude why so many potential participants decided not to finish the survey and I'm not sure how to make the survey more attractive. The questions were made very easy and quick to answer so participants didn't feel like it was taking up too much of their time. I think time and pin pointed effort is the main component to getting a successful amount of responses to a survey. If someone were to take these survey questions and focus on getting as many responses as possible without a time restraint I think they could be more successful. To be able to draw conclusions from this research someone would need more participants in general as well as an even amount of participants from different music industry markets. With the right amount of data collected I believe this survey could prove why audio engineers are becoming more versatile as well as show which markets and audio engineering roles ar e thriving. The potential results of this survey could help draw correlations between changing audio technology and audio engineering roles in the future.


32 REFERENCES "An Audio Timeline." Audio Engineering Society . Audio Engineering Society Historical Committee, 13 June 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2017. . "Apple Complete Recording Studio with Mac Mini V6 (MGEM2LL/A)." Guitar Center . N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017. . Friedlander, Joshua P. "Reports Archive." RIAA , RIAA, Homer, Matthew. "Beyond the Studio: The Impact of Home Recording Technologies on Music Creation and Consumption." Noble World . Nebula, Sept. 2009. Web. 1 Mar. 2017. Kaye, Ben, et al. "Les Claypool Breaks Down the Entire Primus Discography." Consequence of Sound , 2 Oct. 2017, claypool breaks down the enti re primus discography/full post/. Lagrou, John. "The Future of Audio Engineering." Tape Op Magazine . Tape Op, Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2017. . Lamont, Tom. "The Recording Studios That Are Still in the Mix." The Observer . Guardian News and Media, 27 June 2014. Web. 5 Mar. 2017. recording studios still in the mix Luckerson, Victor. "How the Death of CDs Is Changing How We Listen to Music." Time , Time, 9 Mar. 2016, t west life pablo streaming cds albums/.


33 Morris, Dewitt F. "The Audio Engineer Circa 1977: What Does He (or She) Do?" Journal of the Audio Engineering Society , vol. 25, no. 10, 1 Nov. 1977, pp. 864 Ð 872., lib/browse.cfm?eli b=3312. Parkes, Taylor. "The Space Is The Place." The Quietus . The Quietus, 24 Mar. 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2017. the beatles abbey road Persson, Sarata. "Technology, Society, Industry and Music The Changing Roles of the Record Producer and the Recording Engineer since 1970." Lulea University of Technology , 2006. Pras, Amandine, et al. "The Impact of Technological Advances on Recording Studio Practices." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technolog y , vol. 64, no. 3, 2013, pp. 612 Ð 626., doi:10.1002/asi.22840. Pras, A., and C. Guastavino. "The Role of Music Producers and Sound Engineers in the Current Recording Context, as Perceived by Young Professionals." Musicae Scientiae 15.1 (2011): 73 95. Web. Re ali, Christopher. "Helping pave the road to FAME: behind the music of Muscle Shoals." Southern Cultures , vol. 21, no. 3, 2015, p. 53+. Expanded Academic ASAP , raria_main&sid=EAIM&xid=31876f4f. Accessed 8 Apr. 2018. Rose, Joel, and Jacob Ganz. "The MP3: A History Of Innovation And Betrayal." NPR , NPR, 23 Mar. 2011, mp3 a history of innovation and betrayal.


34 Ryan, Kevin, and Brian Kehew. Recording The Beatles: The Studio Equipment and Techniques Used to Create Their Classic Albums . Houston, TX: Curvebender, 2009. Print. Theberge, Paul. "The Network Studio." Social Studies of Science 34.5 (2004): 759 81. Web. Tingen, Paul. "John Frusciante's Creative Explosion." Electronic Musician . Electronic Musician, 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 8 Mar. 2017. . Wheeler, Geoff. "Capitol Records' Criterion Series." IAJRC Journal , vol. 41, no. 3, 2008, pp. 53 62 . ProQuest , https://search proquest


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