Thank you again for taking the time to answer all these questions, it has been a very valuable read!
Although the time slot for your Q&A is already over, it would be remiss to not ask this question:
Can you talk about the role of your assistants that the senior engineers have at your studio? I‘m interested in what sort of work they get to do as well as where they factor in in terms of communication with the client.
When do you think the time is right for an ME to hire an assistant, what sort of qualities do you look for?
As always, thank you in advance!
My assistants at Sterling handle everything aside from the actual mastering (creative treatment). I have two production engineers and a project manager. My project manager handles the scheduling, receiving payment, and coordinates receipt of the mix files and delivery of the mastered files. My two production engineers download the files received and set them up in Sequoia sessions for me to work on. Once I’ve done the mastering and the files are exported, they do a second listen through (QC) of the files. If there are any issues, it comes back to me to address. Then the files are sent to the clients for review. Once approved, my project manager will schedule any additional delivery requirements to be made like alternate resolutions, vinyl wavs, DDP, etc. These are scheduled with my production assistants to take the approved mastering and package them as requested by the clients. Production engineers also manage the archival of all data once the project is complete.
It’s good for an ME to hire an assistant as soon as you can sustainably afford to do so. This will free you up from doing tasks that aren’t mastering in order to take on additional mastering projects. You have to weigh the balance of the expenditure with the additional income anticipated, but at some point, you won’t be able to grow your business without hiring an assistant. I think at the very least, having a manager helps, as it’s often difficult for engineers to communicate with clients about money matters. A manager will always get more money for you than you will settle for negotiating on your own.
The qualities I look for in assistants:
Being teachable, willing to take feedback, direction, and criticism and learn from it.
Easy to be around, polite, pleasant demeanor, team player.
Good listener. Capable of holding conversation but don’t feel the need to talk all the time or be the center of attention.
Curious about learning in general. Having an interest in new tools and technology.
Musicality – from performance experience as a musician/vocalist.
Some kind of audio engineering education and experience – recording, mixing, live sound, post production, etc.
Interest in the artists and genres I work on.
Hope this helps.