How to Transition from the Classroom to an Audio Career

Josh Colby

SAE Institute Nashville alumnus, Mixing Engineer, Audio Consultant, Writer and Producer Josh Colby shares his experiences of transitioning from the classroom to an audio career.

What skills did you take from the classroom to your professional experience?

Before I attended SAE Institute, I had been a self-taught engineer and at the time, there wasn’t a whole lot online like there is today to get tricks and tips. SAE Institute helped me learn the reason “why” behind what I had been doing and to figure out the dos and don’ts from working professionals. I feel it really is important to develop your own style, but truly learning the fundamentals is key to developing your own style. Attending SAE Institute really helped me achieve that. Coming from the Metro Detroit area, we didn’t have a lot of studios in the area, so it was great to learn the basics of how a true studio operates.

What advice do you have for aspiring audio engineers?

Don’t ever give up! It takes time to find your path in this industry. Some learn that they want to work their way up in a studio, some feel the need to develop their own brand and business. I ended up on the route of working independently and building my own studio to work out of.

What are some challenges you have faced in the audio industry? Also, what are some successes?

The biggest challenge I was up against was being able to handle failure, learn from it, and figure out the next move. Also, being able to handle criticism was a roadblock I faced often, but I took that as an opportunity to only develop myself. My successes tie directly into my challenges, they’ve only helped me achieve what I have so far. I was able to build my own private studio that fit my exact needs and workflow, this was a huge success for me. I’ve also had the chance to work with incredible artists over the years and am always grateful that they’ve trusted me with their music.

How important is your personal brand and how do you market yourself?

My personal brand is everything to me, it defines who I am and what I stand for. In this industry, it’s all about relationships and just being a truly honest, trustworthy person. The best marketing I’ve learned is just connecting organically with artists, getting yourself out there is key! You will earn the trust of artists and from there, you’ll gain referrals, etc.

Read more about successful SAE Institute graduates and their audio careers on our site.