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General Manager • Manager • Owner


The manager or owner manages and books the recording studio's rooms, acts as the liaison with the clients to ensure their needs are met when working at the facility, and solicits new business. “I'm like the concierge at a fine hotel,” says Ocean Way manager Kelly Erwin. “I make sure that everything is running smoothly and that our clients are extremely happy.”


To succeed, you need good organization and problem solving skills, attention to detail, patience, and a pleasant phone manner. A friendly personality and the ability to get along well with people are essential.



“When you finally figure out what you really want to do, it is so important to put it out there and have confidence in what you want. A person can really manifest that conviction. It's getting through the mind blocks that say, ‘I can't,’ and believing I can.”

“It is impossible to know about all the recording equipment available, but the more you do know so you can answer clients’ questions, is a big asset.”

Upon her morning arrival, Erwin checks through e-mail and reviews the previous day's work orders. Throughout the day her focus is on booking the studio. “Doing the booking for so many rooms is like a puzzle. A producer could call and say, ‘I want to book five days starting Monday.’ It could take three days to receive the PO [purchase order] from the label because they don't know the producer and artist have decided to book time. There are several calls going back and forth between the label and the producer and finally you get the days all set. Then, late Friday or early Saturday, I'm at home and I get a call that they have to cancel everything because the artist has to do a show in Canada. I have to scramble and find someone else to book that time.”


“When I have rooms booked, someone cancels, and I have to scramble at the last minute to try and fill the time.”


“When I've really tried to help somebody with a rate or tried to figure out a way to make it work so they can come in, and it happens. When I see that the client is really happy and excited to come in, I'm excited.”


“Find out all you can about the industry and how the recording process works. Become familiar with names of producers, engineers, and artists. Get an overall view of what is happening today in the recording scene, then start trying to just get your foot in the door and see where that takes you.”


Music has been a part of Kelly Erwin's life since she was a very young child, and she begged her brother to play his Beach Boys records. But it wasn't until years later that she would consider a career in the industry. After four years working as operations manager at an animation production house in Los Angeles, she found herself laid off and re-examining her career path. “I started to think about what it was I really loved and it was music.” Not knowing exactly how to go about getting into the business, she began by telling everyone she knew about her dream. Over the next year several leads failed to produce a job, until a long-time friend of her mother's offered to introduce Erwin to a neighbor who worked in the business. The neighbor turned out to be Jack Woltz, general manger of Ocean Way Recording studios, who offered her a receptionist job at smaller sister studio, Record One.

Beginning as a receptionist in 1992, Erwin set her mind to learning everything she could about the facility and its equipment. After six months, she switched places with the receptionist at the larger Ocean Way studios, and sought out additional ways to keep busy. She started handling the studio's collections then took on accounts payable for Ocean Way Nashville. After proving her ability to handle multiple operations functions, she was taken off the front desk to book the studio rooms, and gained the title of manager. Paul McCartney, Black Crows, Black Eyed Peas, Eric Clapton, Diana Kroll, John Mayer, and Janet Jackson are but a few of the artists who have recorded at Ocean Way. www.oceanwayrecording.com


Pro-Audio companies rent equipment to recording studios. Items for rent may include tape machines, microphones, and outboard gear such as delays and effects. Recording tape is available for purchase. Top of the line equipment can be very expensive and because recording technology is constantly improving and changing, it is often more cost-effective to rent special gear on a need-to-use basis.



The manager handles the daily operation of the company, including customer relations, sales and service, contract negotiation, and management of staff. A thorough knowledge of current and cutting edge recording technology is essential.


A background in electronics and experience with recording equipment is essential. “Being able to talk to people on the phone is a big plus with Dreamhire,” says Jeff Altheide. “You've got to be able to convince them [potential clients] that you're going to be able to give them the equipment that they need and make sure that it works.”



“Develop people skills: being able to talk with people and work with people.”

“Stay updated with the equipment that is coming out and where the technology is goingthat is very important.”

Altheide arrives at the office at about 8:30 a.m. and gets the computer system up and running. (The company has a complex computer system that keeps track of the gear and prints out all of the contracts.) Throughout the day he handles phone orders and quotes prices for rentals. As manager, he is responsible for time cards, payroll, and other managerial duties. Because many of the company's clients are in Atlanta, Austin, Orlando, and other major cities with recording studios, the end of the day is devoted to filling orders and packing them for Federal Express pickup. “I keep track of every rental, what gear is going where, if the client calling already has billing set up with us, or if we need to get credit card information and set up an account. I delegate the authority to the other employees to get the gear delivered or packed up.” When he leaves the office at the end of the day, he is still on-call 24 hours a day.


“It's time consuming at times; being on call, keeping the phone around, but it gets easier. I'm the manager and responsible for the amount of business that we do, so I'm happy to see the phone calls come in.”


“Being around the equipment and learning about a lot of different aspects of the recording industry. The whole idea of rentals got started because technology started growing so fast, with so many different pieces of equipment coming out, that there is no way a studio could afford to keep up. I get to go to trade shows and meet people from all over the country that have new pieces of equipmentgear that all of those studios can't afford to buy. We go out and buy all those pieces of gear and rent them to the studios. And, we get to use the gear whenever it's not being rented. That's always a plus if you're a musician and getting your own recording projects going.”


Working for a studio rental company is a good beginning job for those interested in becoming studio engineers and producers, because you get an opportunity to become familiar with, and use, cutting edge equipment. When delivering equipment, you meet individuals who work at recording studios. A basic knowledge of equipment is required and can be gained through taking recording or electronics classes, reading and studying about equipment, or interning at a recording studio or rental company.


Jeff Altheide grew up in Evansville, Indiana where he learned to play the guitar when he was eight, later switched to bass, and played in local bands throughout his junior and senior high school years. After high school, he continued to play music for a few years until he heard of a recording engineer class offered by Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio. After completing the six-week crash course, he returned to Evansville to find a job. “It's a good-size town, but not overloaded with recording studios,” Altheide recalls. “In 1989, I decided to move to Nashville because it wasn't far from my home town. I figured if I got down there and couldn't make any money, it wasn't too far of a crawl back home.”

Altheide found work at a tee-shirt printing company that supplied merchandise for country artists Hank Williams, Jr., Randy Travis, and Brooks & Dunn. He decided that a greater knowledge of electronics might help his chances of landing a studio job, and he enrolled in courses at ITT. “I was ten years out of high school, so I was a little more serious about college.” Altheide graduated with honors, earning a 3.9 grade point average, and was offered a job at the school. “I had real long hair at the time and I didn't want to cut it. The school didn't want to hire an instructor that had hair down to his waist, so I went out and bought a wig. Every morning I would get up and ball my hair up, tie it up, and put this wig on over the top.” A year later, Altheide was ready for a change. One of his students worked at Dreamhire as a tech repairing gear, something Altheide yearned to do. He telephoned the general manager of Dreamhire USA and landed a job, negotiating a pay raise from his teaching job. When the manager position became available, Altheide initially turned it down. “I was playing in bands and wasn't interested.” He later became assistant manager and a couple of years later, when the manager position opened up again, he accepted. In 2003, parent company Zomba closed the Nashville office of Dreamhire, but the company was reopened later that year as Dreamhire LLC and continues to thrive in its New York City location. www.dreamhire.com

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessRECORDING - Production: Producer • Record Producer, Recording Engineer And Mixer, Engineer • Second Engineer, Mastering Engineer