Robair Report: Striving to Become “Ready Now”

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Gino Robair

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Gino Robair

Teaching classes at the city-college level is some of the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. The real payoff is at the end of each semester, when I’m often amazed at the high quality of the final projects. But it’s not just the singer/songwriters, rappers and beat makers that impress me. The proficiency shown by the budding sound-designers and engineers is notable, and I marvel at how the most talented ones can easily transition between audio apps, video editors and loop sequencers. By the time they finish the certificate program, these students have a solid foundation in technology that will serve them well in the real world, only…

“Don’t these kids know there are no jobs out there?”

Or so the old-timers like to say. It turns out that the work is definitely out there if one persists. A California state audit revealed that 100 percent of the students in our certificate program find work in their field of study (not just flipping burgers). You read that correctly: 100 percent. Yes, it’s hard to believe, even for those of us who view the glass half-full.

Consider how pervasive audio is in our everyday lives: Somebody has to create the sounds that accompany cable TV ads, video games and smartphone apps. I’ve been fortunate to see students from our program find gigs at Electronic Arts, Activision and a host of small startups that create sound for game consoles and mobile devices. It’s grueling work that involves insane hours, often for moderate wages, but it’s work within the Industry. And my ex-students thrive on both the pressure and the rewards.

Unfortunately, it can also be tenuous work. Sound designers are the first to go if a product doesn’t sell or if the company has a bad quarter. Few, if any, of these companies seem to have long-term plans that involve their audio teams. Consequently, audio creators must learn to roll with the punches and keep their contacts and reels up to date because, with few exceptions, it’s a freelance world.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While freelancers must continually be on the lookout for gigs, they don’t have all of their eggs in one basket, either. Of course it’s glamorous to work for a major production company, but that thrill quickly fades after you’ve been laid off. And as product lifecycles become shorter and shorter, the developers also come and go with increasing speed. Those who want to be successful in the biz need to embrace this and keep an open mind about the industry, because it is continually changing.






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