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EP 10: David Barbe, producer/musician/Director of Music Business Program at UGA
Episode 107th April 2021 • Music Rookie • Sweetheart Pub
00:00:00 00:39:25

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This week on the podcast I’m talking with David Barbe, Director of the Music Business program at the University of Georgia

David's career in the music business spans over 40 years, ranging from time as a touring bassist in Bob Mould's band Sugar, running a studio in Athens, GA (where he's worked with Drive-by Truckers, Deerhunter, and more), and ultimately landing in his current role as a professor. He knows the ins and outs of the music business as well as anyone, and, well, it’s literally his job to educate people on it. While our conversation touches a lot on studio work / audio production, he gives us advice that is applicable in almost any facet of the music business.


Frank Keith:

Hey, I'm Frank Keith of sweetheart pub. And we'll come back to music rookie this week on the podcast, I'm talking with David Barbie director of the music business program at the university of Georgia. David's career in the music business spans over four decades, ranging from his time as a touring bassist with Bob Mould in the band to sugar, running a studio in Athens, Georgia, and ultimately landing in his current role.

As a professor, he knows the ins and outs of the music business, as well as anyone and well, it's literally his job to educate people on it. So I was excited to have him on the podcast. While our conversation does focus a lot on studio work and audio production. We are not going to get into like, you know, mixed bus compressors or anything like that as this is not an audio production podcast, but David will give us plenty of advice that I think is applicable in almost any facet of the music business.

And he'll echo some themes that we've heard from other guests. So without further ado, let's talk with David Barbe.

How did you start on that journey? Like, pre-chase park transduction, or maybe even at the genesis of chase park? When were you like, I'm going to be an engineer, I'm going to be a producer?

David Barbe:

Well, that's the better part of the story anyway, because sometimes how you get somewhere is I mean, Larry Bird. Shooting baskets at an iron rim nailed up to the side of a barn is more interesting than him like winning championships with the Celtics. We know that part made my first recording involving another human being.

When I was about nine years old, my dad was a musical composer and produced a lot of things like jingles in the sixties and seventies. And so I had like a quarter inch reel to reel tape machine was a Roberts three 30. It was a tube. Quarter-inch and I would rock record me and my friends out. First of all, it's like what?

I call it a band. Well, just me playing the drums and like another kid playing the guitar and both of us like singing like one microphone. And I made the first album with multiple people in a band and I was 12 years old. We sold cassettes at school. It's my first album, but I was always into it, you know?

And then like when I was in high school, I still had this quarter inch machine and I would do things like, and I had this weird sound on sound function. It wasn't a true four track. Where was a multi-track where you could. You could record more than one track, but it was like, you were just defeating the erase head, meaning like he recorded the drums and then you add the bass and then, but like you're putting the bass on top of the drums.

Like there's not going to be any mixing of this after like you're committing when you do this. So it was interesting. I learned like I would play the drums, then I would listen record like the guitar or something. And then it was like, it's too loud. And, and what I have to do is go back and rerecord the drums and then rewrote early and hard.

But that's how I learned to do this is just by. Piecemealing these things together. And then I would do things like bar the glockenspiel from school and like the school band room and play along on something at home, and then very carefully put it back the next day. So no one could tell a thing had been taken away.

I think surely statute of limitations in this kind of thing has been run out by now. But the big breakthrough for me was the advent of the four-track cassette deck. The first one I had, but what I really cut my teeth on is Fostex X 15, a Fostex X 50 and four track, which was. A thing that you could record and have four independent tracks on.

And so I got one of these when I was, I might've been like a freshman at Georgia is right when they came out. And so early eighties. And so I was recording myself. Writing songs. And the reason I got into recording is because I was a songwriter. The reason I played in bands because I was a songwriter, most people play in a band and then realized, Hey, we need to write some songs like the rolling stones or the Beatles.

They didn't write songs. First. They were played in a band and then realized we should write some songs or realized we should wrote some songs. And so I but with me, it was I was writing songs and needed an outlet to get them out of here and into here so I could hear them. So I Got into making these, you know, home demos on four tracks and then started recording my friends and my own bands with them and just really got into it.

And then from there, I started going into the studio with other bands first, like with my own bands to see you and just kind of take the lead in the studio. And then I started recording other bands and the reason the West started doing that is I became an engineer producer by telling people that I was one.

Which is much like in the:

And so it started out with me taking my little four track and my like two microphones and. Recording people like that. The trick with the X 15, is it only a two inputs and you can only record two tracks at a time. And so I had this giant PA board, it was a son with two ends on it and I would get a mix through there and like, record, like.

Like everything onto one track through that. And then do overdubs pretty much like people making records in the early sixties or this next I got was a Yamaha Mt. One X, which he could record all four tracks at the same time. And that was like mind blowing to me to be able to record all four tracks at the same time.

But I was recording other people's bands on the barbecue killers or an early one. The primates were an early one for me. Tragic dancers. I was another atoms fan. I did this with, and then I started going into the studio first of my own bands with mercy land and then with other bands and the first other band to give me a chance in a real studio was the barbecue killers.

And so I would go to the studio with them and just sort of tell the engineers, this is how I think it ought to be and to sort of direct traffic. But studio engineers, especially back in those days, little persnickety about letting other people touch the equipment. And so nobody would let me touch their gears almost like I was a threat to them somehow, but there was a guy Robbie Collins who had the CDO over on Avalon can call underground sound.

And Robbie was an older dude and he was really helpful by older. I mean, he was probably like 30. Or something, he would let me sit at the console and touch the knobs. And he could tell that I was really into this and it was really helpful to me. So I would go over there and he would explain things to me.

And I started working on all these studios. And then once I had done a few records as the producer, Well, then I was a producer cause I had like real album credits. And from that point John keen, when my band, I was in mercy land, which was my punk rock band, when that finally became engulfed in the flames, that was always destined to.

To be and broke up. John saw in the local, we don't have the, maybe it was in the flat. We might've had the flagpole by then. He meant to the saw and the flagpole that my band had that mercy, Lana broken up. And John, I was always coming over to the studio with other bands and with mercy land and always trying to tell him what to do and always like.

Arguing about things. One great argument we had was about the use of reverb on drums. And I could go on for five hours about how I feel about that, which is, it depends on the reverb. It depends on the drums. It depends on the record, but at the time, this is the era of like artificial gated, digital reverb on drums.

And that's just like far more triumphant that I ever want anything to sound. And I was into like Ruth experimenting with room mikes. I had a really been into like the sound of the Zeplin records and pixie surfer Rosa, which Steve Albini had done was one of the first things I heard him do. And I was like, man, that sounds different.

And then my friend, Brian Paulson, not my friend yet. He became friends after hearing this. Excellent record. He made spider land that I think is like one of the greatest sounding engineering jobs I've ever heard in my life. And they're very natural. And so I was really into that. And so I would argue with engineers all the time about getting the drums to sound like that, which is basically, Hey, turn a few of those processors off and let's just hear the sound of the playing and hear the sound of the room.

And I still favor that natural sound when I can get it. Anyways. So John called me up and he said, Hey, I saw on the paper, your band broke up. Do you want to learn to be an engineer? I need somebody to work over here, which is like, this hardly ever happens anymore because there's so much competition to get into this now.

And at the time I was in my mid twenties and I had a baby and a pregnant wife, and I was earning like maybe, you know, maybe seven to $9,000 a year. And my wife stayed at home with the kids so that the baby and plus you've cracked it too again. So it was like, Yeah, I need to, I was driving a delivery truck and it's like, and my band broke up and it's like, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Like I need to do something. So it was like, yeah, the engineer, they get paid. Sure. I want to do that. And then start working at John's and it's like, John Key deserves so much credit. Because for my whole career, really, because he needed help, I wanted to do it. And as soon as I started engineering in a studio and it was a first time in my life that I felt like I was a natural at anything or natural fit for me rather, I was comfortable doing it.

No work hours are too long. I'd record any band and little things in the studio like punching in on an analog tape machine just seemed real easy. To me just like figuring things out in a studio, how to make it work. I mean, engineering is simply to solving problems. That's it? We want the drums to sound like this.

Okay, cool. Let me think about this. And it, sometimes it's a microphone or my career or a compressor or the room or the head or the stick or the drummer, or how it relates to the other sounds in the mix or something, but like right away, I felt comfortable in that environment. And so I, in terms of John for a few months, and then I went to this seven week crash course, Of a recording school in Ohio.

I'm the recording workshop. What does a really phenomenal experience? It's. Very much sink or swim. It was five days a week, eight or 10 hours a day. And you're not, well-rounded when you come out of there, you learn one thing, how to signal flow then onto analog pay machines. Now, of course it's all digital up there, but you get out of that.

And it's like, after these six or seven weeks of this, you can either do it or you can't, it's not a year. It's not six months. It doesn't cost a bunch of money. It is. Very bare bones and intense. I thought it was like the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. And I came out of there and came back and was like, now I am an engineer.

It's like the old, a Kris Kringle Santa Claus is coming to down town, Claymation Christmas. Are you old enough to remember? Yeah, I am. I'm just old enough for all you young people out there. You need to buy a couple of bags of your favorite Frito lay products, and then like sit there and power, watch some rank and bass children's Christmas specials.

They're incredible, but there's one where Santa Claus is coming to town. Young, Kris Kringle, the boy. One day when I'm a man and the next scene, he's standing by the window and it's the same puppet, but he's got a beard and he says, I'm a man now. And that's how he become Santa Claus. So for me, it was like, I'm an engineer now.

So I called all these bands. I knew barking tribe from Birmingham, Alabama, Daisy, here in town Roosevelt here in town days yet. So I'm working on it, working on it like a record Daisy, like now 30 years later. Are called all these bands I knew. And of course the jacket nuts. And I'm said, I'm an engineer. Now I've gone to school.

I know how to work in the studio. And John keen is giving me a cut rate deal if I can book studio time up there on the weekends. And so I was just booked right away and I am blessed with a sense of delusional overconfidence. That is. No matter what it is. I think I can do it. And I have busted my ass and failed so many times in my life.

As a result of this, I have blown up monitors and studios. I have had to take a machine to a repair shop in two Ziploc bags of parts because it's like, I can't put it. I don't know how I got up. I got can't put this back together again. I don't know. Anyway, but, but seriously, it's like, I always have felt like I'm going to dive in and figure it out and I'm going to do it.

And I have blown a lot of things by doing this, but I'm also learned how to do a lot of things by doing this. And so one of those things was because I was not afraid of taking chances in the studio. I learned a lot and I was confident when I call people on the phone and it's like, give me a chance.

There are times where. I definitely. Dug myself a deeper hole. There's definitely times where I punched the tar baby and paid for it and got caught. But there's other times where I'll tell you one more thing and I realize this is the world's most rambling answer. One of the first times I was working with a band or a job canes was a Stan called greenhouse and they were going to do a session produced by Mike Mills and they hired me to engineer.

So band came in and I put, this is I've been working there a couple months, pretty confident in my abilities. And so They recorded the track felt good. It's a good vibe. I had already, thanks to John had worked with RM a little bit, and I knew those guys from like the early days of being in Athens. And so we were already, you know, real friendly with each other and I knew the people in the bands, good situation, good vibe.

You're feeling good. And they've got confidence in my abilities because I work at the studio now and I feel like I know what I'm doing. So they play the track track. Sounds great. Bass player says, Hey, I'm going to punch in. You hit a bad note, transition to the bridge. It's like, okay. So just go in there and we play it.

So I'm on an analog tape machine. You have your tracks armed. And you only want to on the tracks that you're going to record. And since the band had just been in there, I had all 24 tracks armed. Now what you're supposed to do before you punch in the bass, I had two tracks of bass. One for the amp. One for the DEI is you turn the tracks off on all the other tracks and you only have the two bass tracks armed.

So when you hit record, only those two tracks record. And because I'm so confident in my lightning fast abilities to punch in and out. That one of the first bands I recorded, I was nicknamed the Cobra, which stuck with me for awhile because of my fearlessness about punching in. And like I punched in the middle of the work because I believe I can get in and out.

And sometimes I can't, you know, you don't know if you try until you try something. So he goes in and I'm feeling great sessions going around. I'm all high adrenaline punch in and the song's going along. And second I hit record. The whole track is silent. And right away, because I'm fast, I'm punch right back out.

Everybody stops in the room, look who that. And I was like, Hey, I accidentally just point I thought about it. And without even thinking that I was like, Hey, I accidentally just punched over the whole band. I'm sorry about that. But there's an easy fix if you guys want to go back in there and just play along with the track, I'll just punch the whole band and punch in and out.

And they were like, Oh, you can do that. My it's like, I didn't know. You could do that. I was like, Oh yeah, you can do this. No problem. I was like, okay, great. Well, why don't you guys do this? And it might take me a couple times to get the timing. Right. But we'll get it. And I said, well, I gotta go make a phone call.

If you guys just want to do that, let me know when you're done. I was like, okay, great. So Mike goes out and make the phone call and the band goes in the other end record. Everything's cool. Because I've just explained it's no big deal. This happens all the time. I'll punch you right in and out. And as soon as nobody's in the room, I'm just like

Frank Keith:

did you get it the whole, the full band punch or stack it?

David Barbe:

Yeah. But the truth is I thought about it in the moment. It was like, okay, I had three choices, one tell them I can't do it. Okay. Are there really two choices? One is I can't do it when I say I can't. And then three possible outcomes. If you say you can't do it, here's how most people would do that would be like, gosh.

Okay, I'm sorry. I just screwed up or a quarter of the whole track. I'm really sorry. It's really bad. I'll give you some free studio time and you blind everybody's confidence. You are not, it's like, that's funny. I can't really recall, like too many instances of Rick Ruben or Glenn Johns, or, you know, who pick your engineer producer of choice.

I don't think that Trina Shoemaker would have that happen to her in the studio. So you don't want to do that. Remaining conflict people, keeping the artists confidence is key. Keeping the vibe of the session, good health, the good vibe, and the says is more important than the microphone. It's, you know, a song and how it feels is always going to take precedent because you hear all this like low five bedrooms and pop and the stuff's amazing.

It's not about cool gear. It's about cool music and cool vibe and cool ideas. So three things are going to happen. One, if I couldn't do it, if I said I can't do it. We've got to do it again, vibes, busted, or I could say I could do it. And if I can't do it, we have to go back in the beginning and do it anyway.

So that's exactly the same. So I may as well say I can do it or three, there is a chance. That you can get it. Right. And so I just trusted my principles of how to punch in which to me was always count 32nd notes in your head and try and punch in and hit record in between them. The key is you gotta have a good drummer.

The drummer on the session was a guy named Mark step. I don't know if he is still in the business or not. He'd moved to Nashville and was working in a studio up there, but he was such a consistent drummer. That guy was like a drum machine that I was able to time it up. And I told him, I was like, it might take me two or three times to get this.

So just like. We'll start at the beginning of the course, just play along with it and I'll just punch in and out. And it took a couple of times to do it, but I got it. And you couldn't tell at all, and this vibe of the confidence is high. And I don't think I'd knitted this to anybody in the band until probably like 10 years later, because one of the bass player in the band was going to sits in.

It was one of my first in terms of chase park. And I finally told him, and he was like, Oh my God, I remember you doing that. We were so impressed that you could do that. I was like, I'd never done it before in my life. I had no idea. You know, it's either, you know, you either, but if, but I thought that in the moment, it just seemed like blessed.

The vibe of the session would be more costly than not trying something new. So there you have it. I don't even know what the question was.

Frank Keith:

I don't remember either, but there's, there's a good overarching takeaway there of just self-confidence

David Barbe:

the I've been watching a ton of like COVID bubble ball, especially cause especially NBA.

And one of the things like you hear people talk about, I love the NBA. Anyway. I like the story. I have the characters. I like how open the NBA is like their players. It's like. Why, why do we have to have our names on our Jersey? Can we have black lives matters or vote or something on the black or the back of our Jersey?

And it's like, sure is the NBA. They're cool. They're, they're, open-minded about things, but the personality is one of the things that like you would see, especially as I got in the playoffs is who do you want to take the last shot of the game? I was like, you want the guy that wants to take the shot? So there's something to be said, no matter what you do, and having a competence in your ability to pull it off and other people, other people feed off it.

Frank Keith:

I, I remember you telling me a story years ago about chase park. I think you built it twice or something like that or it got it. Did it get renovated because you called the guy in to look at it. I don't want to tell the story for you.

David Barbe:

When we built chase park, I freelanced from the Time I, worked at John Keane's before I built chase park.

I freelanced, I worked in studios all over the place. I've had to work in 50 different studios and not, you know, Athens, Atlanta, Nashville Magonia make the sugar records different parts of the country just was all over the place, making records and just took notes and knew that I liked to finally, by 97, I was like, okay.

I need a place. Cause my kids at this point 97 would have been a three, five and seven. And so it's like, yeah, I gotta get like settled down here. So in the warehouse and started building the studio, I'd worked in 70 plays. I had a good concept of what I wanted to do in terms of like the way that rooms are laid out and gear and et cetera, et cetera, I was building it and I called and as far as like acoustic treatments go, I decided to call.

Russ Berger, who is a world renowned CEDIA designer, rust design, 10 93 over on Boulevard. Russ has designed probably a thousand studios. He is a legend and a well deserved, deserving legend of CDO, acoustic design. He's a brilliant guy, caught him on the phone and said, Hey, I'm just curious. It's like, we're building the studio.

And as far as like interior sound treatments, if that had a question well, before I just know I caught him. Twice. Cause the first time I called him before the city to ask them how much would it cost to get a design and whatever it was, where he started at the price of a design. I was like, you know what, I'm going to cut you off right there.

That like, you're way out of our league. I know you're worth every penny. I know you're busy and can command even. I'm sure you're not telling me top dollar because I'm an indie thing, but. I knew worth it, but like, I can't pay any of that. And so basically I'm not gonna, I don't even want to waste your time and thanks for taking the call.

And he was real, very gracious about that. And he said, well, he said, look, I'll tell you what build your studio. And if you get any questions along the way, Call me, I'll be happy to answer questions. And I was like, great. I, so I got about halfway in. And so we had built a, a wall and I was telling him about asking him a question like, so we've built our walls and we've got our dry wall on both sides of the studs.

And I was filling something and he was like, why'd you do that? Well do because why'd, you put a piece of drywall on the backside of the wall too. I was like, well for better soundproofing. And he said, well, that's not really how it works. Let me ask you a question if you if you w which has a more resonant sound, if you're recording a drum kit, Iraq, Tom, with a head on the top and a head on the bottom or a RACOM that would have.

Two heads on the top and no head on the bottom, almost like, and right away, I was like Tom, that has two heads on the top and nothing on the bottom, it would kill the sound he said, right, by putting a piece of dry wall and nailing it to both sides of a wall, you've essentially created a resonant cavity.

And it's like, if you walk into a new apartment or new house and you thump on the wall, it's just like, boom, boom, boom. It's like, and so I was like, well, what do you put on the back of the wall? It will nothing. Because an air gap is the best soundproofing. You're going to put all your mass and density on one side of a wall and then nothing on the back.

Cause it'll kill the sound will die in the air rather than having it resonate. And. So I said, I listened to him. I was like, he said, I hope you hadn't done too much. I was like, Oh no, just call and ask a question. And meanwhile, I'm looking down the stairs and can see these guys that have built this giant wall that are just about to pick it up.

Cause you build a wall on the floor, then you pick it up and push and push. And I told them, it feels like I've said, well, thanks for the help. And so I walked downstairs and I told them, it's like, tear down, start over. All right. What do you mean? I was like, well, I explained it was like, Russ just told me this and I go, well, maybe it's not that bad.

I was like, now we gotta do it. Right. Because I want to be, we might be here for a while now. We've been there 23 years. It might be there for awhile. We're going to have to just tear that down, start over. And one of them was like, man, this is going to take out a time and you know, cost a lot of money. I was like, well, it was my time and my money.

So Just tear down and deal. Let's get it right. I went outside and might have let a few expletives fly and then came back in and just didn't worry about it. And just kept on building. I sent Russ Berger. A really nice bottle of a 12 year old Macallan, scotch, single malt, scotch. He was an older gentleman who I thought might appreciate this.

And I got a call from him and I just said, Hey, thank you. Because I'd asked him like, can I pay you for your, you know, I don't pay anything. So I just sent him his bottle of scotch in the mail said, Hey, thank you for, and he wrote, he called me back and he said, you can call me. Anytime you want it to be, he said, nobody's ever done that before.

I was like, man, you, you, you probably saved me a lot of time and money over the years, but helping my control room sound better. And he did. And it's like, if you think about it, it's like, yeah, that cost hundreds of dollars to redo that wall. It costs $75 to buy a bottle of single malt, scotch and 25 bucks to ship it, which may be against the law to ship alcohol across state lines.

But let's just say the whole thing costs me. 500 or a thousand dollars or something. Well, 23, three years in business, we've got two studios going in for the last 15 of those we've booked thousands and thousands and thousands. I mean, just like day, I mean, 23 times 365 is a basically. My studio sounds so much better at an expense of maybe a couple of pennies a day.

And if you ask somebody that I a studio, Hey, if there was a machine in your studio where every day when you came in, you could put a penny in it the whole time you own the studio and make it sound better. What'd you do that? And the answer would be, of course I would. I wouldn't. I do that. And that's about, I mean, that's the, you know, you've got to look at the long game.

It's like, if you make a mistake, if you, you got to spend some money, if you've got to spend it twice to cover your mistakes, spend it and cover your mistakes. And just, don't worry about it. That's done once it's done, it's done it's water under the bridge. Just keep on moving. You'll do a better job. You'll make better records, better records.

We'll get you more records and more records. You'll more than earn the money back. If you take the time to do it right then you will. If you hurry through something or cut a corner. Because you're not going to get the work cause your records don't sound good and telling somebody, well, it doesn't sound good because I was saving money.

It's like, I don't want to make a record with somebody like that. I'm going to make a record with somebody that tells me they can make my guitar sound like I'm walking through outer space or something.

Frank Keith:

No consumer is going to be like, Oh, well, if you were trying to save money, I get it.

David Barbe:

This burger tastes awful, but they saved money making it.

Yeah. I don't care about that.

Frank Keith:

And I, again, I think that's a good takeaway just in general, not even in the music business, in any business, any pursuit in life is just do it right.

David Barbe:

Yeah, do it right.

Frank Keith:

You touched on, I don't want to call it a recording Academy. Andy, you mentioned how much competition there is to get into the game nowadays, especially with the advent of home recording, stuff like that.

Do you have any thoughts on like, You've got your full sales out there, your Belmont's things like that, people that are interested in pursuing a career in this, like what, what should they be doing?

David Barbe:

The first thing they should be doing is recording. I mean, I don't care if you're making records on garage band or a four-track cassette or Ableton or pro tools, it's all cheap and it's all affordable, making something cool and learning how to do it.

There's so many online resources too. I would just start doing it. And then I would also read Tape Op, and that is a reference to the old tape operator and studios that look like this picture back here behind me, or you have somebody that ran the console and somebody else that operated, hit play and record on the tape machine, a tape op.

And so tape op is a magazine online or in print, you can get a free subscription to it. It is so brilliant. It is a practical recording magazine about creative, creative recording. And it ranges from people who have never done this. Who've like do this in their bedroom and how they make records up to people that make huge hit records and write like movie soundtracks.

That's a great resource. I would just start doing it and read Tape Op and if I want to go a little farther. Then you look into your education options and there's things out there. There are people that want to get a college degree. And if you want to get a college degree and learn how to produce records, you could come here to the university of Georgia, which is where I'm doing this.

Now you could take our production classes and you could do some internships and we'll teach you how to do this as part of your college degree or so like, well, what I really want to do. Is I only want to study audio engineering. Okay, cool. But I want to call it a degree. Great. Go to the university of Indiana our good friend Drew Vandenberg is product of the university of Indiana audio engineering program. And based on the before and after of drew, he started working for me when he was in high school and coming out of that program. And then the other people that he introduced me to, you went to that school. Joel Hatstat. I believe he went there.

Neil Warner. Alex Crow, every one of those guys, just great engineers, a solid solid foundation. That's one of the best pure audio engineering programs. I got to think any that I've ever encountered, I've never been there, but people would come out of that program. It's a great program. So I mean, you pick what works for you.

You can go to college, you could go to one of these recording schools. I will say that of the for-profit recording schools. There are two things that consumers should know. And be aware of one, some of these things take several years to do and cost a lot of money. Some of them like the recording workshop, which is still in operation today, take six or seven weeks and cost.

I don't know what it costs today. I would, when I did it, including room and board and gas and everything going up there, I spent about 3,500 bucks for seven weeks. It was the best investment of my entire life. Professionally that is any money I spend on my children. That's my real bet. So that's on my life, but but anyway, I bet I bet the recording workshop.

Now you can do this for maybe I'm guessing don't quote, we'd go on their website, look it up. I'm guessing five, $6,000, something like that in today's dollars, six, seven weeks. Boom. You're out. Can I learn this in six, seven weeks? I think you can learn whether you can do it or not. I say seven weeks and then it's on you.

For-profit education. And there's two things to be aware of. One is that. Going to one of these recording schools for two or three years. Yeah. You've got two or three years of education. I am not convinced that you need two or three years to do this because there's people that we know that, I mean, I'm saying this from the standpoint of somebody that owns a studio has a life of time of learning in this there's people that are figuring out how to do this on their own and their laptop that make amazing.

USIC so it's different for different people. I don't know that spending $90,000 for three years or two years or however long some of these programs are. I really don't know because the ones I know about are obviously the recording workshop, because I went there and then at a college, because I teach at one there's people that come out of those things that do amazing work, you know, but to me that seems.

ng like that is this it's not:

And two years after that, You're working on a led Zeppelin record. It's not 1991. And Athens for John Keene called me to ask me if I would consider coming over and learning how to engineer dizzy, because he needed somebody. There is a flood of competition to get into this right now. I love studios. I love gear

I love big rooms. Everybody recorded the same time I have them. And I think it's awesome. Don't think I would do it if I was 20 and starting out that way today, I would work in somebody else's studio because the financial risk is tremendous. But if you do this and you take on massive amounts of student debt, you may not.

Be able to find it could take you a very long time to pay that money back because it wasn't unlike taking on student debt to get a business degree or a teaching degree or something like this, where it's just like, well, I went to the university of Georgia. I got a degree in risk management. I work in insurance company.

I paid my debt back. I went to law school. It was frightfully expensive. I didn't do either of these things. And he says, and these are the examples. And I went to medical school and I'm paying my debt back. Yeah. But you're, you're making the money back. If you go to an expensive standalone for-profit recording school and you pay $90,000, I don't know where the, where the job's going to come from to pay this back.

The other thing is this in for-profit education, we see these ads on TV for these, for profit. Colleges, the, like the university of Phoenix or the ITT school of technology, the cordovan blue school of culinary arts, the Georgia school of bartending learned to work in a doctor's world, whatever these things are.

These are for profit institutions and a school. Like I said, a hot Institute of higher learning, like a traditional, unlike the university of Indiana or NYU or Belmont or Miami or UGA, these are nonprofit colleges. Right. But these for-profit schools. W they essentially operate almost 100% on student federal student loans.

And this is a weird thing to talk about a music business podcast, but I'm still gonna talk about scandal coming and just like you go to one of these schools and there are recording schools that operate like this too, or where it's just like come to our school. It's costs $80,000. I don't have $8,000.

Boy, do we have a deal for you? You don't need $80,000 because you're going to get a student loan. I don't know how to do that. It doesn't matter. All Billy over here, process processes, student loan, interest, meet with him and he'll fill out the FAFSA for you. It's a federal student loan application and then here's how it works.

They fill it out on your behalf. That pays for your education is that it sounds like a great deal to meet whale. They get paid, they get their tuition paid by the federal student loan, and then you, the consumer get the debt. And when you graduate, you have to pay it back. If you have graduated and have gainful employment.

Then you're making enough money. You can pay it back. And if you get your job with your risk management degrees and insurance agent, or your job as a lawyer with your law degree, yeah. You're going to pay your debt back because you make enough money. You can do this, but if you pay too much money to a standalone, for-profit recording school and you can't make any money recording, you might wind up working fast food or something and scrambling.

You're making $9 an hour and you're trying to pay back 50,000 bucks. I mean, good luck. It's I mean, and it's sad, but it happens. And the problem, I see a lot of these things advertise as job placement, it's like, I don't know what kind of jobs you're getting placed in because as we know, there is a funnel of people that want to get into professional recording.

And the major studio business is changed so radically where there's so fewer. Actual job jobs and everybody's a freelance person and we are truly a part of the gig economy. So it's very much buyer beware. So basically I guess my standard assists, I personally would not recommend any young person that I know that came and asked me to attend.

A for-profit school, whether it's recording or anything that accepts federal student loans, because the schools make the money, the students get these loans that they may or not be able to pay, be able to pay back with the job they get as a result of their education. And the taxpayers are soaked.

Everybody else pays for this. I think that that is a racket and I don't mind, I'm comfortable saying that I'm not naming names of places, but any for-profit education that takes federal student loans, I think is a racket. And I've said this. A bunch of times and I'll continue to say it. Cause I think it preys on people that don't know better.

I think that's an unfair business practice. Any recording school does not take federal student loans could be a good option for you and they're out there. They and there's people that do teach this stuff and provide great education for it. But that would be the first thing I look at is do you take federal student loans or not?

And if they do. I'd be really careful with it because they don't have a good track record. If they don't take federal student loans, you just see if it's right for you, but you have to figure out if spending this amount of money. Makes sense as somebody who's in education, I totally will sing the benefits of education, furthering your education in whatever fields you want to get into, but the best way to get into recording.


Yeah. I hear you on that. Totally feel that and agree. I was just sitting here thinking about like how much my Apollo twin costs versus 90, $90,000


There's other people that make interfaces too. I'm not a shill for UA, but their stuffs. Right. And yeah, you could learn to get the stuff and learn to do it, and you're in great shape. Then if you want to go to school, go to school. If you want to go to college. There are plenty of colleges that have great programs, UGA MTSC Belmont, NYU, Miami, Drexel, USC, UCLA, then do.

And if you say, well, I don't want to go to college. I don't care about it. I just want to learn to record then research, production schools. And then, like I say, Make sure it's something that you can afford that you can visualize yourself making the money back. I mean, number one, rule of investing, this is true of buying a piece of equipment or investing in some experience.

Is this an amount of money that if it doesn't work out. You're cool with it. And if it's just like, well, it's a few thousand dollars, which, you know, at my entry-level job, will I just a lot of money, but I love recording and it's worth it to me to buy the computer and the UAA Apollo. Great. Cool. It's a few thousand bucks.

I'm going to go to study this thing. Great. I have all the money in the world. I don't care that it costs $90,000 of in order to do this well, more power to you. I can't personally imagine that feeling, but that's what I think is it like, you know, make smart investments only, only spending a mountain only spend the money.

That makes sense to you. Great,

Frank Keith:

David we'll I love for this went, again, I wasn't sure where it was going to start and where we were going to wrap up, but I feel like you've given us a lot of good Intel. And I appreciate you taking the time.

David Barbe:

Frank. I'm pleased to do it for the MBUS family, anything I can ever do.

And I hope that you'll be able to successfully edit down my ramblings. Long-winded non-sequitur answers.

Frank Keith:

And there you have it. Thanks again to David for taking the time to chat with me. And I forgot to mention in the intro, if you didn't already know this about me, I'm actually an alumnus of the program, which David currently teaches.

So he's been something of a mentor to me, and I'm always happy to spread his gospel out to the world. Thank you for listening as always, if you're interested in more insider information like this, be sure to check out our weekly newsletter. You can sign and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast.

If you haven't already. That way you'll be notified when the next episode drops. If you have any specific questions for me or any of our guests, feel free to tweet us at sweetheart pub or shoot myself or Rachel and email. That's or We are not hard to find this episode was produced by myself and Brandon kinder and the theme music that you're hearing each week was created and produced by me.

Now go do something useful.



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