At The Village, there is a system of “runners” that has been in place for many years. When I arrived, I felt it was a cumbersome and sometimes unfair structure that carried over from the recording industry's “golden” or dark ages. As far as I can tell, this system is a carry-over from when there were few schools — if any — that offered a structured education in audio recording and production.
After a couple of years here, I began to see the system actually worked quite well for the studios and the new employees. At this point, there are more schools, universities and programs turning out well-qualified graduates than ever, and most, if not all of these institutions, have placement departments that offer their students contacts, opportunities and, more importantly, tips on how to handle contacts, structure resumes and get through the interview process.
So, what are we at the studios looking for? We are looking for people who will fit into and contribute to our company. All companies have “cultures” — the people in the building, and how they interact with each other and with clients. It's clear we want someone who is eager, enthusiastic, intelligent and pleasant. The quality and extent of the education will become apparent once the person is hired; this is what will set this employee above the others. I look for someone who understands the concept of service: Having experience as a waiter can be an asset, as what we do is indeed a service.
Because a large part of what we do is music, a knowledge and understanding of music is always a plus. That ability can come in very handy when an engineer is doing edits and needs to communicate with the producer and artist about particular elements of a project.
Happily, analog is alive and well, and some artists will only record using tape and vintage equipment. A thorough understanding of all methods and techniques of our art is essential to anyone hoping to be successful in this business today. In addition, there are various brands and methods of digital recording, workstations and software that have their own learning curve and might be used together or in various stages of projects. An engineer must have a working ability of this huge and varied array of products, not to mention the endless universe of consoles and automation systems.
Oh, how are your video skills? More and more projects at The Village — commercials, films like Walk the Line and videos — require cutting or mixing to picture. There are many material sources and methods an experienced engineer must be familiar with.
If that seems daunting, it is. Very few people can walk out of any school with all of those skills. This is where it can pay to be a runner. The people we look for are the ones learning and studying every time they get a break from their duties running. The ones with the manuals under their arms as they go home, they are the ones to watch.
Above all, we look for someone who loves music. What we do is an art. We practice the science of recording and manipulating sound, and when we do it well, we create magic.
Jeff Greenberg is the CEO of The Village.