Consuming music and audio should never just be about the artist. Whether it's a classical composer or an upcoming indie band, there's a number of industry experts working tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver a seamless listening experience. While artists perform for audiences, audio producers are the grit that pulls everything together, working to combine every element into a package that works.
From film scores to virtual reality, audio production careers traverse a wide area in the industry that rests at the heart of art, audience and its ever-changing technologies. From shaping the sound of an album to creating virtual sound fields for video games, a career in audio production is dexterous and jumps industries including music, entertainment, television, film and pop culture—and here's 10 surprising careers that do just that.
Virtual Reality (VR) Audio Producer
When it comes to creating an immersive virtual world, audio design is critical. An essential in virtual reality and emerging gaming and film industries, specialising in sound is an open door for working on the latest technologies. Often, a VR audio producer will have the skills to use ambisonic microphones, directional microphones and a whole assortment of specialist studio quality equipment depending on the specifics of the shoot. VR audio producers are critical in connecting the senses and are in high-demand to be flexible, creative and forward-thinking.
Fashion Sound Producer
Fashion is a huge market for audio producers, where sound plays an intergral part in setting the show. From audio design and installation to producing the sound for the runway, fashion sound producers need to have the ability to read the room and research a brand to deliver a cohesive experience. With varied options in fashion labels and events, the ability to work in a live space as a sound producer is one that is both expansive and open to niche, with many fashion sound producers being rostered for specific labels, styles or events. Think high fashion runway mixtapes, fashion film soundtracks, store playlists and much, much more.
Audio production is often viewed as behind the scenes from the outside, but there are plenty of opportunities to work closely with artists and composers in studio. A synth programmer works with artists to help program musical sound modules—ranging from synthesisers, samplers, and other sound generating modules—to create unique, high-quality sounds. Experts with their technology, they are very familiar with programming and can often perform field sampling; the skill of recording a sound in the real world, and bringing those samples into film and television with clarity and complexion.
Learning the foundation of audio production can lead to a career on film sets as a recordist. From recording vocals and background noises to preparing sound equipment, a film recordist focuses on the synchronisation with the camera to enable the highest quality "real" sound to be recorded at the time of filming. Solving problems created by particular locations or situations is a huge part of a recordists job and generally fall into two areas: production sound and post-production sound. Post-production sound, for example, could have film sound recordists working closely with foley artists to ensure real and authentic sounds, with the overall sound design being that of "a beautiful lie."
Sound System Designer
There are multiple opportunities for unique roles in audio production and its specialisation. One such example is sound system design, predominately used in large shows and festivals. Sound system designers provide audio support for the biggest venues and live acts, reinforcing spoken word and making systems intelligible without adding or subtracting anything. Listeners are unaware of the amplification, with sound system designers balancing tone changes, dynamics manipulation, and frequency shifting to added reverberation in order to deliver the best live experience possible. Basically, sound system designers are the people who ensure you can hear artists at a festival, no matter where you are.
Theatrical Sound Engineer
Theatre is a huge industry that presents a number of rewarding opportunities in an everchanging creative space. Theatrical sound engineers are best known as those responsible for amplifying, mixing, recording, syncing, and reproducing sounds, alongside effects for theatrical rehearsals, productions, and special events. Their role often looks over equipment, checks connections, and coordinates staff; working alongside other theater professionals including sound mixers, sound designers, producers, and performers. Overall, a theatrical sound designers main goal is to plan and carry out the best structure of sound.
Noise is generally a by-product of increased urbanisation and development that takes over nature. In the study of ecoacoustics, noise is said to alter the acoustic environment of aquatic and terrestrial habitats, changing their environment and relationships to their surroundings. Acoustic ecologists implement ecoacoustics (or soundscape studies) to observe the relationshps of sound between human beings, nature and their environment. For those curious about the differences between sound and noise and wanting to take a more academic route, acoustic ecologists study everything from the sonic impact of road and airport construction to studying noise pollution in the oceans.
Installation Sound Production
The arts sector has a huge number of roles beyond curators and managers. From exhibitions to art festivals, there are many people involved in the installation and promotion of a project. While works can span from race meetings to courtrooms and hotels, the installation sound production is critical in ensuring a working exhibit. In a gallery or museum setting, you may be responsible for specifying, installing or running sound equipment, and checking equipment before and after an event. For a festival, this could also include leading a team of people and coordinating digital sound distribution over a large area.
Audio Equipment Design & Sales
If technology is your interest when it comes to audio, then being a direct link can be a rewarding path. Pursuing a career in design, sales or manufacturing can help deliver new innovations to an industry you're passionate about and connect people with the technology they need. From assisting the design, writing algorithms, modeling software or understanding virtual reality technology, the range of creating and selling audio is large and wide. There are a lot of different aspects to how musical and audio equipment gets made, so specialising in how those parts go together can ensure a successful sales career beyond design.
If being involved on a production and its final touch appeals to you, then a mastering engineer could be the job for you. A mastering engineer is a person skilled in the practice of taking audio—typically musical content that's been translated into a single, EP or LP—and finishing that mix as mono, stereo, or multichannel formats and preparing it for distribution. Whether the work becomes a CD or a vinyl record, the mastering engineer considers the product and how its audio will translate across platforms, allowing room for creative interpretation. Overall, a mastering engineer is an individual who loves creating a cohesive and polished product, ready for listeners to digest.