Audio Production Careers for Individuals with Vision Loss

How To Establish A Career In The Audio Production Industry!

Copyright 2001-2009 The Accessible Planet, Inc.
The following information is intended to serve as a guide to assist blind individuals in developing a professional career in audio production and has been successfully tested. While The Accessible Planet, Inc. intends to provide accurate and up-to-date information in this guide, we do not guarantee results of any kind either technical, financial, or otherwise.

Part I.: Introduction
This guide attempts to provide you, the blind audio producer, with the essential information you will need to plan a professional career in this field of work. The particular circumstances that any blind person may face are extremely diverse, and we attempt to provide guidance for as broad a range of situations as possible. You will have to determine how your own circumstances and goals can be applied to the information provided here.

What kind of information is provided in this guide?
This guide attempts to provide all of the essential information you will need to plan a professional career. Steps along the way include:

  • Identifying your business, artistic, and technical strengths
  • Choosing between employment and self employment
  • Selecting primary clients
  • Developing a Business Plan
  • Making a request for funding proposal
  • Locating potential funding sources
  • Designing the appropriate Technical system
  • Packaging your services
  • Accessing the existing knowledge base

How easy is it to establish an audio production career?
Nothing about this process or this profession is particularly easy. The process for planning and funding an audio production career is lengthy (usually nine months or more) and is replete with paper work (proverbial red tape). The actual task of using a screen reader program to access digital audio and MIDI applications is not particularly easy either. If you dislike computers or technical mumbo jumbo, this is not the career for you. The point here is that it is certainly possible for those with a strong aptitude and interest to acquire the appropriate technology and develop a lucrative career producing music, radio commercials, and other industrial recordings for businesses.

What knowledge does a person need for this profession?
A solid comprehension of basic computer skills is absolutely required for this profession. An ability to effectively use word processing software, database software, and internet applications with screen reader technology is strongly recommended before attempting to learn to produce audio products via computers. A clear understanding of the paths that information travels through a computer is necessary. Thorough knowledge of the meaning of terms like RAM, Hard drive, processor speed, PCI slots, ribbon connector, CDR, SCSI, SMPTE, MIDI, analog vs digital, and plug-ins is also important. The most overlooked and underrated necessary information is knowledge of the audio production industry and general business principles. Current market conditions and trends vary from one geographic location to another and from one year to the next, but a good understanding of the actual business environment is a MUST in order to succeed in this profession. Who are the large and small players in the field? What services do they provide? What do they charge for those services? Who are the undeserved customers? In the long run, answers to these questions will far outweigh any answers to technical questions in terms of earning a comfortable living.

How does one obtain an accessible audio production system?
Naturally, there is much excitement involved in discovering that it is possible for a blind person to produce professional audio products. It is important to remember to focus on the most important questions first such as: What kind of audio work will I do? How will I find customers? How much can I earn producing audio?

When it is finally time to ask where can I obtain a system, the important fact is that the average local music technology retailer will not normally know what to sell to a blind customer nor how to provide support to blind customers. It is important to consult with any of the blind audio producers who are currently working in the field before purchasing a system. Sound Adventures sells music technology and understands the needs of blind audio producers. Another company associated with Sound Adventures who can serve blind customers well is

In many cases, blind individuals themselves do not have the funds to invest in an audio production system whose cost can range from $ 5,000.00 to $ 25,000.00. In these cases, a blind person will need to create proposals requesting funding. These proposals can be submitted to State Departments of Rehabilitation, local arts organizations, and other nonprofit agencies that support employment for blind persons. Guidelines for creating effective requests for funding are included in this guide.

What kind of equipment is needed?
Usually, the question of what to buy is addressed much too early in the process of developing a career. This question cannot be answered properly until other issues have been resolved such as:

  • What opportunities exist in the local audio production field?
  • What applicable knowledge and skills do you already possess?
  • What type of audio production work will be your primary service?
  • What size budget are you likely to have?

When the time comes to determine specific components of a particular system certain basic elements must be considered: The computer--what platform? The highly recommended Macintosh or for other reasons perhaps a Windows based system? Which screen reader technology (if Windows is the platform)? Which type of MIDI interface (based on anticipated type of work and existing MIDI gear)? How many channels of simultaneous audio input is required (according to type of work)? Which analog to digital converters to use? What speed, size, and brand of hard drive to use for audio? Whether to use ProTools or Logic Audio? If not using ProTools, which audio interface card to use? What type of MIDI control surface is necessary (according to the extent of plug-in programming needed)? What type of monitoring system? Are any additional plug-in effects required?

How Does one Succeed in this Career?
As a self employed business person, one needs to develop the usual skills in marketing, sales, and customer service that any successful business requires. It does not matter how much technical understanding one has of the equipment, if the services are not packaged properly the customer will not buy them, and if the service does not meet the expectations of the customer, there will be no repeat business. The truth in this concept may be realized when one considers the tremendous number of poorly conceived products that have sold millions upon millions as well as the great number of brilliant ideas that never succeeded in the marketplace. It really comes down to ability to sell and ability to meet the customers' expectations.

Any successful self-employed person knows that the ability to motivate oneself is crucial for operating a business. Getting started, following through, and working efficiently when working alone are all important skills for success in self-employment. Self-employment also requires a diverse skill set. One must be able to wear several different hats effectively: salesperson, customer service rep, accountant, marketing specialist, engineer, and producer. It is a more difficult road in some respects but holds out great satisfaction when it works and greater earning potential too.

As an employee in the audio production industry, one needs to have the usual kind of professional attitude and work ethic that make any employee successful. As a blind engineer, one ought to be able to work as quickly as the average engineer in the field. It is also helpful to have an added value such as knowledge of music or broadcast standards. Most professionals in the industry already possess a knowledge of technical concepts and equipment, so brilliance in this area does not have the appeal that most would assume. In fact, since opinions about specific gear are very diverse, leaning on one's own opinions about specs and equipment can make for an argumentative environment that is not conducive to a good working relationship in employment situations.

Part II.: Identifying your Business, Artistic, and Technical Strengths
As the cliche goes, you must first determine where you are before you can get where you want to go. It is advisable to consider what skills, talents, and knowledge you already possess that might serve you well in the audio production industry. Below are some brief surveys to help you determine your strengths. The first two surveys, music and broadcasting, are helpful for establishing your own business, but also indicate what value added skills you might have as an employee engineer. Rate your knowledge and experience in the following areas. Use zero (0) to mean no knowledge or experience. use one (1) to mean very little knowledge and experience. Use two (2) as moderate knowledge and experience. Use three (3) to mean extensive knowledge and experience.

Survey 1:

  • Ability to read music notation (print or Braille: --
  • Music theory and composition: --
  • Performance proficiency on one instrument: --
  • Performance proficiency on more than one instrument: --
  • Formal music training/education: --
  • Ability to tune instruments with precision: --
  • Ability to identify chord quality (major/minor) by ear: --
  • Ability to identify orchestral instruments (Cello, Clarinet, etc.) by ear: --
  • Ability to identify specific instruments (guitar/keyboard model) by ear: --

Total score in the music production category: ----
Your score in the survey above may help determine your readiness and/or aptitude for entering the field of music production. A score of nine or less suggests that you have a lot of learning to do before applying your audio production skills to music production. A score of 19 or more might indicate that music production would be a good focus for your audio production efforts.

Survey 2:

  • Proficient at writing radio ad copy: --
  • Creating and editing sound effects: --
  • Experience utilizing large SFX libraries: --
  • Knowledge of music publishing/licensing contracts: --
  • performance as a voice over artist: --
  • Education/training in radio voice over: --
  • Experience as an on air DJ: --
  • Other radio work experience: --
  • Ability to identify accents and dialects: --

Total score in the radio production category: --
Your score in this category might help you determine whether you are well positioned to utilize an audio production system for radio ads and broadcast projects. A score of nine or below suggests that you probably need more experience and education before trying to focus on these types of projects for your financial well-being. A score of 19 or more might indicate that you are ready to enter the highest paying sector of the audio production industry which is radio ad production.

Survey 3:

  • Proficient at programming dsp effects parameters: --
  • Ability to distinguish between fx (reverb, delay, chorus, etc.) by ear: --
  • Proficient at equalizing for flat dynamic response: --
  • Experience with eq's (multiband graphic, parametric, shelf, pass filters): --
  • Ability to identify frequencies by ear: --
  • Knowledge of microphone types (cartioid, condenser, ribbon, etc.): --
  • Experience with mic pre-amps, compressors, limiters: --
  • Knowledge of speaker components (concentric, multi-component): --
  • Effective mixing board operation (bussing, fx loops, etc.): --

    Total score in the technical studio category: --
    The above survey may help you determine how familiar you are with the tools of the audio production trade. A score of 9 or less indicates that additional education/training will be required for you to effectively run your business or to become gainfully employed as an engineer. A score of 19 or more suggests that you may be ready for on the job training and perfecting of skills.

    The conclusion of this guide will be added here soon! Visit often and pass the word. We are dedicated to serving visually impaired individuals who wish to pursue professional careers in this industry.

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