August 1999
Making the Most
of Audio 101

AN ADDRESS TO THE INCOMING CLASS OF 2003

ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW MACCAULEY
by Paul D. Lehrman

First of all, don't worry about the sunscreen. For the next four years, where you're going to be spending all your time, you're not going to need it.

Worry instead about this: If you ever--well, more than once--ask yourself,"What am I doing here?" then you probably don't belong here. Pursuing a career in professional audio is no fun. It's not linear, it's not predictable, the hourly wage usually sucks, and the working conditions are often less than ideal. You'll have to deal with all sorts of jerks, from marketing jackasses to egotistical clients to wretched guitar heroes and worse. You'll be wrestling with user-hostile equipment, hopeless tech support lines and the constant threat of obsolescence of both you and your gear, while working the type of hours that make it impossible to even dream of having a personal life.

So if you don't love this, if you can't imagine yourself spending the rest of your life anywhere else except in front of or surrounded by a bunch of speakers, devoting all your energy and creativity to perfecting in one way or another the sounds you hear, then you're in the wrong place. This is not a business for the faint of heart or for those who just figure, "Hey, it's a cool way to get through college." If you can't say to yourself, at least most of the time, as you slog through classes, homework, exams, studio exercises and term projects, "This is exactly what I want to do," then you should be doing something else.

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman