The recording and musical production industries are professions that are very attractive to the young people in our target population. Everyone is familiar with the financial success achieved by rappers and disk jockeys over the past two decades but, while popular success as a rapper or a DJ is something to which many aspire, very few aspirants ever reach that pinnacle of success.
A far more reachable pinnacle of success is the prospect of becoming a recording engineer or musical producer.These are very lucrative, high paying positions that afford those who achieve them opportunities to build their own businesses and to prosper according to their abilities.
The current generations of recording engineers and videographers – men and women who grew up from the 1960s through the 1980s – will be aging out of the job force over the next ten years, creating a demand for even more recording engineers. Another factor impinging on the recording industry in general is the necessity for the tastes of the recording engineers and producers to be “in sync” with the performers they are recording, which requires that the engineers and their assistants have a sympathy for the forms of musical expression they are recording, and for the life experiences reflected in the music.
This creates the rare opportunity for a younger generation of talented technicians to reach out and grab those good jobs which are – in very rare tables turning reality – opportunities for which “inner city” kids are, if anything, more qualified than their more affluent competitors because they have the “street creds,” as well as the “street grit” that it takes to make it in a very difficult but very rewarding professional occupation.
Manta.com, a business to business website that lists businesses in many different fields, has 10,871 recording studios in its database. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there were 13,750 “sound engineering technician” jobs in the U.S. in 2014 with a median income of $49,870.Based on these numbers, it appears that only 2,879 of these employers have more than one sound recordist, since each recording studio, of necessity, has to have at least one.
In the much larger field of “broadcast and sound engineers,” the BLS reported that there were 121,400 such jobs in 2012 at a median income of $41,200 per year, with a ten year job outlook suggesting the need for an additional 10,600 sound engineers by 2022.
The real value of these professions with respect to their impact on job readiness are the opportunities for self-employment in these fields. Entrepreneur Magazine estimates the start-up costs for a recording studio from $10,000 to $50,000, and predicts a net profit to the studio owner of up to $100,000 a year after salary after wages, expenses and taxes. (Our own study indicates startup costs of approximately $25,000 for equipment and furnishings, exclusive of occupancy costs, which we estimate at $24,000 a year, so that $50,000 figure looks pretty solid to us.) Any business with a 200% return on investment in the first year of operations is a win-win for both the entrepreneur and the community because, the more entrepreneurs we put into this situation, the more the community prospers from their presence.