Typical Roles at a Recording Studio


A recording studio will typically staff a small number of employees, usually a few producers and the studio director (who may be the owner, or a senior producer). Fierce competition between other studios tends to keep them small, with only a few employees. When it comes to actually working with clients, your employees need to understand precisely what the musicians want to sound like, and be able to use the equipment to achieve that goal.

Some studios employ separate producers and sound engineers to accomplish these tasks, but most will simply employ producers who know how to manage the sound equipment.

Studio Director

The director serves as the manager, overseeing the logistics of running a recording studio. This role may be filled by the owner or a senior producer.

Typical Salary: $55,000

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Managing office logistics and staff
  • Ensuring clients are satisfied
  • Guiding the creative direction of the studio

Who to Look For:

  • Business experience
  • Knowledge of the recording industry and technology
  • Passion for music

Producer

The producer works with a client to record their music, specifically managing the equipment and acoustic properties while recording.

Typical Salary: $42,000

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Setting up and running audio equipment to suit the client
  • Editing tracks and consulting with the client
  • Working with the client to create the style and tone they want.

Who to Look For:

  • Degree as an audio technician or engineer
  • Experience in particular musical styles
  • Customer-oriented

Audio Technician/Engineer

The audio technicians manage the sound equipment, repairing and calibrating pieces as needed.

Typical Salary: $17/hr

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Setting up and testing a variety of audio recording equipment
  • Calibrating equipment

Who to Look For:

  • Relevant degree or experience
  • Attention to detail
  • Passion for music

Recording Studio Hiring Tips


Hiring employees can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it doesn't have to be. We break the process down into four basic steps: (1) Planning; (2) Recruiting; (3) Interviewing; and (4) Completing the Hire. Here are some tips for each phase of the process

Plan to Staff Your Business

When starting a recording studio, your staff will be determined by your budget and equipment. Smaller studios will have employees filling many roles at once (producers that act as sound engineers, mixers, and technicians). Larger studios will have dedicated personnel for different technical tasks, as well as accountants, receptionists, and other administrative employees. Unless your starting budget is particularly large, it may be wise to start small and hire talented employees who can fill multiple roles.

Sound engineers and producers (technical employees) are “flavored” by the genre of music they have worked with. Recording is as much an art as it is a science, and experience working with the particular tone and style of a certain genre is mostly applicable to just that genre.

Because of the specificity of experience, studios try to hire producers with different specialities so the business can work with a variety of clients. To get the best results, you will want producers and engineers working on projects that complement their experience.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy

Administrative roles can be recruited from usual channels such as free online job boards. Technical positions such as sound engineers or technicians can be recruited from local technical colleges or schools. Many colleges have internal online job boards that you can post jobs to, giving you access to new talent as soon as they graduate.

Interview with Confidence

If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.

Nonetheless, it is natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

When interviewing producers and experienced sound engineers, look for reviews and credits to ascertain their reputation. Reviews and references from other musicians can give you a good idea of how easy to work with the candidate is, while a list of credits can establish an employment history of sorts and show you what styles of music they’ve worked with. Reviews should generally be trusted more than credits, however, because a producer will occasionally end up working on a project due to relationships or their role may have been minimal, neither of which are reflected in a credit.

Additionally, request samples of songs the candidate has produced. It’s important to judge the producer’s work and not the music itself, as even the best can’t work magic with a bad song. Listening to the producer’s work can be the best indicator of whether the candidate will be a good fit at your recording studio.

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most recording studios look for producers/engineers who are:

  • Passionate about music
  • Experienced in relevant genres
  • Experienced in the required technical skills
  • Patient and easy to work with

Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:

  • Talk about your favorite music project you’ve worked on.
  • Describe a particularly challenging studio project you’ve completed.
  • Describe your ideal day working in a recording studio, regardless of your job.

Be Familiar with Hiring Laws

After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.

One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.

For more details, please refer to our guide on the topic, Contractors vs. Employees: What You Need to Know. We also provide templates for the essential hiring forms you will need.

Set Up Payroll


Once you have a growing team of employees, it's time to set up your payroll. Using a payroll service provider saves you time for running your business, and also helps ensure that you comply with important federal requirements such as employee tax withholding.

To help our readers save money and grow their business, we negotiated a 20% discount for you with payroll provider ADP, the most popular small business provider in the country.

Try ADP and get 20% off payroll services for your business.

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