Jett offers this advice to women wishing to enter into professional audio - “It’s already a given that you have to love this field if you want to become an audio professional. But in addition to that, you have to remember to love the journey. There will be a lot of obstacles but it’s all part of the experience, and you should learn to thrive amidst these setbacks. Keep your eye out for opportunities, make sure to work on your portfolio, keep track of your achievements and put them on a resume, learn to promote yourself.”
Jett continues to give back to the audio community: She is a regular panelist for AES and NAMM, she volunteers with organizations that work to empower women and is helping to develop a mentoring program with SoundGirls and other organizations to help youth learn their craft.
I lived and breathed music growing up thanks to my parents who managed and trained pop rock bands for a living. My dad also encouraged me to tinker with computers as a kid. Having these two different passions growing up - music and tech - I had an epiphany when I realized audio engineering would be the perfect world that combines both these fields. I got laser-focused towards pursuing it as a career since.
I've always been drawn to mastering ever since I was taught by my first mentor Robbie Grande in the Philippines. I worked in a commercial recording studio in the Philippines for over four years. Back home, engineers were expected to handle all stages of record production themselves--from recording, mixing, to mastering. Fortunately, I was taught to approach mastering with the proper tools and mindset. Wavelab was our mastering DAW of choice back then.
The interest in mastering got deeper when I took Berklee College of Music's Mastering program taught by Jonathan Wyner. Studying through Wyner got me exposed to all the possibilities mastering can provide within its limitation. I was fascinated by how huge mastering can contribute to the overall sound of a record even with the subtle, nuanced processing that takes place.
Further expanding on this knowledge through my years working alongside Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab sealed my fate in a way. Being incredibly fortunate enough to have learned with Doug until he passed away in 2015, I knew that the only choice moving forward is to continue on his legacy.
I love working on different genres for different reasons. It's a treat to master music styles that are characterized by its organic lush sound such as jazz, folk, and classical to name a few. But at the same time, the high you get from the working on an EDM, punk or rock record is unique to its genre. One of the virtues of working in a mastering studio is this wealth of music you get the opportunity to work on on a regular basis. And as a mastering engineer, you're expected to be versatile and be able to understand the unique demands that each record needs for it to sound its best in a consumer listening experience.
A typical favorite day in the studio would be working on a genre such as world music in the morning, and then capping off the day with a hard-hitting hip-hop record at night.
JOAN JETT. For obvious reasons.
Keep listening to music and start doing it critically. You don't need an expensive setup to begin training your ears for critical listening. You can start by loading an EQ plug-in and conducting A/B listening tests between different parameters. Complement your critical listening with textbooks on mastering. I highly recommend Jonathan Wyner's "Audio Mastering: Essential Practices", or Bob Katz' "Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science".
Apply what you've learned by practicing on your music, or better yet, by offering to master others' works as a training exercise. Word of mouth goes a long way towards establishing yourself as a go-to engineer among your peers. All this is to say that mastering engineers aren't born with golden ears. We get to where we are today because we exercise our critical listening on a regular basis.
One of the biggest advantages to learning audio production in school is having state-of-the-art recording facilities, high-end microphones, outboard gear, etc. available at your disposal. Couple that with the fact that you're surrounded by highly-skilled musicians, songwriters, and other like-minded creatives who are eager to get their music produced and recorded. It would be a WASTE to simply follow through the provided course program and then call it a day.
Seize the opportunity to use available studio times to sharpen your engineering chops, build your portfolio and expand your network. Take advantage of volunteer opportunities in your school's audio program. Volunteer to be a recording assistant/engineer for ensembles. Offer your services to musicians who are looking to get their music recorded or are seeking for someone to do live sound for their shows. Building your network amongst peers who will also be pursuing careers in the music industry will help you along your journey in the long-term as well.
The fact that many people still claim that they don't know women working in the audio industry is enough of a reason that we need the EQL Directory. Kudos to all the organizations who are doing an amazing job empowering young women to aspire for careers in audio and music tech. Now that there are more and more women in various fields of arts, entertainment & tech, the EQL Directory can serve not just as a database but also as means for these women to seek out like-minded peers through their journey.