Advice from Mark Trojanowski: SAE Institute Career Services Advisor

Mark Trojanowski

SAE Institute Career Services Advisor and member of Sister Hazel, Mark Trojanowski shares his experiences of how the music industry has changed over time and tips for working in the film and music industry.

How has the music industry changed in the last 25 years?

I think music has become more accessible to the masses. It used to be you only knew about artists and bands that were getting radio play or were touring heavily. In today’s digital world – streaming has allowed people to hear so many new artists that are not signed and do not have mainstream airplay. It has allowed bands and artists to get their music across the world without having to be signed to a label deal.

Established artists have the ability to thrive without major record labels. They can release independent records and tour on the brand that they have built and established.

Recording music has become easier, cheaper and has allowed artists to make records in their home studios. With the creation of Digital Audio Workstations like Pro Tools you no longer need thousands of dollars of studio equipment to make a record. With the exception of recording live drums most recordings can be made in small studios or home studios with good equipment for 1-2 channels of audio. This record can be mixed and mastered at home and then immediately released to the world.

What are the challenges as an artist?

Streaming has allowed so many new artists an opportunity to let people hear their music. Pandora and Spotify have changed how we listen to music.

There are a lot of positives to streaming music but I do think the one negative is how artists and musicians get paid. When streaming first started many of these companies were not even paying royalties since this was a new concept. Even after many updates in legislation and copyright laws the artists and musicians still do not see that much money. Music was devalued starting in the early 2000’s and many people no longer felt compelled to spend money to buy it. They could now just go to a website or app and listen to their favorite song for free.

Record sales and royalties were once a huge revenue streams in the music industry. Today artists have to find other ways to monetize their art and brand because record royalties are just a fraction of what they used to be.

Live music is doing well at larger venues, halls and arenas but I think many of the smaller venues have closed their doors or are struggling. This is extremely difficult for a rising artist because there are less and less small venues for them to perform at. Artists have had to find other ways to perform live for their new fans. They have started doing house party tours so they can get in front of live audiences.

What are some great areas to work in the music industry after graduating SAE Institute?

Graduates from our audio program have some great opportunities to work in live sound after completing their degree. There are many entry level positions with live sound that allow students to continue to learn and advance with a company or business.

Many artists are touring much more these days and that requires more crew people to go on the road with them. There are multiple audio positions on most tours as well as lighting and video jobs. You can be traveling on a bus across the country setting up a new show each day and getting an opportunity to see the world. Live concert touring offers many job options and there are opportunities for advancement.

Post-Production is another audio job that is a great entry level position for our graduates. They are opportunities to work with audio book companies and podcasts to record, edit and master these mediums. Usually there are only 1 or 2 tracks of audio to be recorded and edited so many of our graduates are proficient to jump into these positions right away.

Corporate audio visual jobs have grown because there are so many companies holding conventions, trade shows and seminars. These jobs offer the graduates the opportunity to receive continuing educational training on new equipment and consistent hours and pay. They will be running the sound, lights and video equipment for these events and can choose to stay in their hometown or possibly travel to some cities.

Cruise ships offer another live sound and lighting job path for our graduates where they can travel all over the world. Graduates will have the opportunity to mix live musicians and audio tracks during live performances. The performance halls on many cruise ships are now equipped with state of the art technology for audio, lights and video projection. This is another great learning ground to gain confidence in your craft and have the ability to save a lot of money. All your expenses (meals, housing and travel) are paid while working on a cruise ship.

These jobs can be the foundation to land a job on Broadway or in Las Vegas.

What are some careers for our film graduates?

Students in our digital film program will have many opportunities as production assistants to help oversee film and video sets. It is a great way to see how the whole film crew works together.

Many companies are looking for strong editing skills and the ability to archive and transfer files. With so much film being done on the digital format these files need to be backed up and cataloged.

There is a new area of video production that our graduates can immediately jump in after school. Many real estate companies are using drones and professional video teams to shoot houses and commercial property. These videos have music and are edited very slick to help sellers show off their properties to potential buyers.

What is some advice you would give someone interested in working in the entertainment industry?

I would learn all aspects of the business. Whether you are working in film, audio or on the business side all the parts work together and you need to know how they work. Even though we are working with art and creativity it is a Business.

If you are a song writer or producer you need to understand copyrights, royalties and publishing. If you are working for a label or publishing company you need to know how the writer, artist, publisher get paid. You also need to know how Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music pay royalties. If you are working in live sound you need to grasp contract work, 1099 income, per diems and how to track your expenses. A lot of work in the Entertainment Industry can be freelance work for our graduates as they enter the job market. Understanding and owning their own LLC can be very important for them as they are breaking into the business. It not only provides them protection but a great way to organize their income and expenses from working freelance jobs.

Allow SAE Institute to be your foundation to learn more about recording, mixing, and mastering your own music. Learn more about our campuses, program offerings, and award-winning instructors.