1. Freelance engineers. They always complain about your choice of gear, especially speakers. They also point out what's broken on a regular basis. damn.

2. Toilets. You have to clean them unless you get an intern and then you feel bad asking them to do that.

3. Interns. They're not so bad, when you get one and they work out well, but you'll get calls from people wanting to be one every frickin' day.

4. Taxes. I pay more in taxes than I pay in rent. I don't understand that at all.

5. Repairs. My tech costs $75 per hour. Everything falls apart eventually.

6. Potential customers. People will call and grill you, book lots of time, and then cancel mysteriously a week before. You'll never know why.

7. Actual customers. Your love of music may be put to the test on occasion.

8. Headphones. They always blow out, proper mixes for tracking bands are impossible, the extension cables fray, plus they get sweaty and gross from the drummer's head. And decent ones are $100.

9. Shopping. Buying stupid stuff you would have never thought about — like toilet paper, hand towels, pencils, tea, sugar, condiments for the fridge, the fridge itself, bottled water, Q-tips, etc.

10. Stocking. Having to keep numerous CD-Rs, cassettes, reels, DATs and such in stock because no band ever remembers to pick any up.

11. "But what does it do?" Buying a $500 power conditioner and spending $1200 to hook it up

12. Ads. Feeling like you better run them even though you're pretty sure no one notices.

13. Responsibility. Do you really want to get paged/called at 1 AM on your birthday with news that the deck is down?

14. 9 volt batteries. People "borrow" batteries like they grow on trees.

15. Theft. They also steal your E-Bow, guitar straps, SM 57s and break your glass slides.

16. Really crappy bands. There are more than you ever guessed and they'll call you. If you work with them they'll call again.

17. Really great bands. They end up having sessions with you right after you recorded the crappy bands and you're exhausted.

18. Exhaustion. It is possible to work 35 days in a row — I did it once. You get kinda crabby.

19. Relationships. You might not have one soon with all the time you'll spend at the studio.

20. Patchbays. Did you know you could easily spend $1500 on a cheap setup? They're really fun to wire up too.

21. Scheduling. Every band always wants to record at the same time of year/month as everyone else.

22. Down time. There's always one dead month in the year but you never know when it will be.

23. Trends in recording gear. "What do you mean you don't have _______?"

24. Debt. You will learn to embrace it as a close yet feared friend.

25. Food and sleep. You will never again conform to any semblance of a normal routine. Meals are of random quality and at odd hours. Sleep is rare.


1. I like this job. This has been the most exciting and engaging career I've ever had in my life. I never know exactly what I will be doing day-to-day, which I adore (no rut). There's a wall of CDs I've worked on that I can stare at when I feel beat down. I can schedule time off without a boss getting mad — and hopefully fill the schedule with freelance engineers. And once I even got paid to record The Go-Betweens. That's enough for me!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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