How to Become an Audio Producer
Victoria "Tori" Meyer is an assistant professor and chair of the Audio Aesthetics & Technology department at Webster University. She holds two bachelor’s degrees in music and media from Webster University, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Sound Design from California Institute of the Arts. Tori has worked as a musical theater director, and she is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in a band. She has also worked on several television series, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes in the sound department. In addition, Tori is an accomplished musical composer.
What is audio production and recording?
We focus on audio in media, meaning we teach music recording but also location recording, sound for film/TV, radio production, acoustics, live mixing, and post production.
Why did you decide to go into audio production and recording?
One of my first memories is hearing that the Tarzan call in all the jungle movies was actually eight sounds mixed together, one of them a lion's roar. I got my first Craig Cassette Recorder at age 8 and was hooked. In high school, I worked as an on-air personality and continued that route through most of my 20s. When the digital transition happened, many old school mixers were unable to leave behind the old and heavy analog boards and racks. This created a huge need, and an opportunity for those of us who knew DAW (digital audio workstations). I specialize in teaching MIDI (musical instrument digital interface). It is far cheaper and easier for a production company to hire me instead of an orchestra. Once a company figures out how to go cheaper, regardless of what business they are in, they never go back to the more expensive way. I am the new orchestra!
Are there common misconceptions about your profession?
Yes, for some reason people think it's easy. Just because someone owns an iPod doesn't mean they understand audio platforms.
Are there subfields of audio production and recording that students might not be aware of?
MANY. Anywhere you have a professional sound system, -- churches, hotels, casinos, hospitals, court rooms -- an audio professional is employed there.
What are your favorite aspects of audio production and recording?
I am an artist who paints outside of a visual medium.
What are your least favorite aspects of audio production and recording?
The cost of upgrading. Along with DAW came constant upgrade fees. The analog generation invested way less money on a yearly basis.
What careers do students commonly pursue with a degree in audio production and recording?
Many do go into to music mixing and are extremely successful at it. Others choose the touring lifestyle, while still others are now in the corporate/sales side of the audio industry. There are more career avenues in this field than I can even touch on!
Is a graduate degree preferable for a career in audio production and recording, or can someone enter the field with a bachelor's degree?
You would need a master's degree or higher for one of two reasons: to be a professor or to write a book. That's pretty much it. The bachelor's program, especially ours, is a complete career training program with a liberal arts degree attached.
What personality traits do you think a student should have in order to be successful in an audio production and recording program?
Thick skin because it can be stressful at times. The ability to be dependable, available, and able to adapt is key. Being proficient on at least one instrument is a big plus; we do offer private instrument and voice lessons here as part of our curriculum. Long hours and late nights are also a common requirement.
What subjects should a prospective student of audio production and recording study before entering a formal college program?
Sound and its physical properties (physics), math (through precalculus), and music classes of any kind are key.
What pieces of advice, or caution, would you offer to a prospective student of audio production and recording?
Be ready to work for it. I'm going to make sure you are employable when you graduate!