Making the Band: Audio Engineering Careers in Minneapolis

Making the Band: Audio Engineering Careers in Minneapolis

American musical genres such as gospel, soul, blues, hip-hop, dance, and jazz have all been a part of Minnesota's musical fabric for generations.

Musicians such as the Andrews Sisters and Bob Dylan helped give birth to the development of an active music industry in Minneapolis, but the most significant contributions happened in the 1980's and 1990's with artists like Prince and The Replacements.

Minneapolis Music History

Minneapolis has been home to several important recording studios. The first studio in the state was Kay Bank and in 1969, Herb Pilhofer and Tom Jung, both of whom worked at Kay Bank, went on to found the world's first digital recording studio, Sound 80 (the original recording studio still exists and is now home to Orfield Labs).

In the 80's, performers such as the multi-platinum soul singer Prince helped encourage the development of local talent to produce and record at home. Prince was the first architect of the Minneapolis Sound--a funk, rock and disco-influenced style of R&B. He also inspired a legion of subsequent performers, including the Prince-related acts The Time, Wendy & Lisa and Vanity 6.

In short – as Minneapolis is home to the legendary entertainer, it's no surprise Prince stuck to his roots by keeping his recording studio near home. Paisley Park opened in 1987 with several studios recording sound and film as well as a stage for occasional performances. Funky, modern and state-of-the-art, the space has been used by creative artists for production, photo shoots, commercials, rehearsals and events.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are another legendary R&B and pop-music songwriting and production team from the Minneapolis area. They have enjoyed great success since the 1980s with various artists, most notably Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Usher.

Audio Careers

In commercial production of a recording, there are four distinct steps. Recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. Typically, each is performed by a sound engineer who specializes only in that part of production.

Studio Engineer

Either a sound engineer working in a studio together with a producer, or a producing sound engineer working in a studio.

Recording Engineer

Recording engineers manipulate audio consoles to mix sound and dubbing machines to record dialog, music and sound effect tracks.

Mixing Engineer

A mixing engineer creates mixes of multi-track recordings. It is not uncommon for a commercial record to be recorded at one studio and later mixed by different engineers in other studios.

Mastering Engineer

A mastering engineer is trained and skilled in the art of taking audio that has been previously mixed (in either the analog or digital domain as mono, stereo, or multi channel formats) and preparing it for use in distribution, whether by physical media such as a CD, vinyl record, or as some method of streaming audio.

Other Related Career Fields:

  • Game Audio Designer
  • Live Sound Engineer
  • Foldback or Monitor Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Audio Post Engineer

Audio Engineering Degree Programs

Obtaining an audio engineering degree is the best first step to getting a job, or starting a career in audio engineering. Several community colleges, technical schools, junior colleges, and many universities in Minneapolis offer degree programs in audio sciences leading to an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree.

Areas of study may include:

  • Music Theory
  • Digital Audio
  • Audio Recording Sessions
  • Sound for Film & Video
  • Concert Sound
  • Audio Technology
  • Fundamentals of Editing

While usually associated with music production, an audio engineer also deals with sound for a wide range of applications, including post-production for video and film, live sound reinforcement, advertising, multimedia, and broadcasting. When referring to video games, an audio engineer may also be a computer programmer.

Schools in Minneapolis for Audio Production Degrees

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