Welcome to our second feature of our Guest Blogger! This week’s graduate is Anthony Maldonado. Anthony interned at Zac Recording in Atlanta, GA and is now a freelancing audio engineer in Sioux City, Iowa.
Hard Work Really Does Pay!
Hello everyone, my name is Anthony Maldonado, a proud graduate from CRAS.
After graduation many of you will find yourselves on your own journey to hopefully own your spot in the audio industry, weather that be in the studio, live sound, or post production. I myself was looking for studio work. Leaving CRAS, I went to Atlanta, GA.
With great help from Rachel, it wasn’t long before I landed my internship at Zac Recording. This is where hard work plays a huge role into first getting your intern to pass the interview. But, it starts from your work ethic as a person. You’re only going to get out what work you put into it. I made sure to give 110% while at school and away from school. I landed the internship between me and five others who interviewed at the same time.
They told me the reason I got the spot was because I was more active during the interview process as the others were just sitting around doing nothing, as well as the great attitude I had as well. I was on time and also the only one to show up with my resume. So make sure to print and bring copies of your resume, because something simple as that can make all the difference between you and competitors wanting YOUR spot.
At my internship, I moved quickly. I learned my duties, what needed to be cleaned, stocked, wiped down, and organized. I was a full time intern and there was about 4 other part time interns as well. I didn’t have a job so I was there every single day 8+ hours. So I made sure soon as I got there to clean everything I needed, because as soon as cleaning was done, if the rooms were not occupied by a client, then they’re free for us to learn. Cleaning the small things is where they notice your work and attention to detail as CRAS always tells you. So keep that in mind while you intern.
Anyone can wipe down a counter top and sweep the floor, but not everyone will take the time to wipe the walls, clean the stair rails, or wipe dust from ALL units that collect dust such as picture frames, desk, TV, DVD, etc.
All these things I made sure to keep an eye on, which other interns did not pay attention to, and that made me stick out. How do I know? Because I was acknowledged for it. They would tell me they can’t remember the last time something was dusted or that the walls were that clean before, unless they had told someone to do it. Soon as I was done cleaning, if there were sessions going on, I made sure to go in without interrupting and make sure that the clients had everything they needed, engineers, and see if there were any runs that needed to be made if any. If there was then I would do the run and get back ASAP.
Then I would find an empty room if there was, and study learn the room. I would bring my bag, just like at CRAS, with everything I needed in it. I would pull up my own sessions and start learning the patch bays and I/O’s. Learn all the gear they had. All at the same time, I made timers to make sure and check back on the sessions going on every 20/30 minutes to make sure clients and the engineer had everything at all times. Then go right back to the room. Other interns would be sitting in the lobby watching TV waiting till they were called to do something.
Keep in mind these interns have been there 4 to 6 months prior to me. So maybe they know the rooms already, maybe they don’t. All I knew was that regardless of how long I was there, if there was a free room I would rather have been in the room learning and busting my butt off instead of watching TV, wasting time. Head Engineer Tony is a great guy, and I got to help quite a lot with repairs on gear. We got to take apart a few SSL channel strips to fix some issues they were having. So learning he inside of an SSL channel strip was pretty amazing. He made it seem a lot easier than it looked with all the components inside of it. Within less than a month, I was already able to start assisting on a few sessions.
Keep in mind these other interns were there longer than me, weren’t even assisting yet in that short amount of time. So to me, this was a big deal! Shortly after that, the owner Jim, another amazing and funny man, let me engineer a whole session on my own for a folk band in the large SSL room they called Stonehenge. So another intern and I got the whole room set up ready to record, made sure to scratch test all the mics so that by the time the clients came it was just fine tuning and ready to have a great time, and what do you know? It was an amazing time. The band was really fun and outgoing. There was one issue towards the end of the session while going back to do an over dub, signal stopped coming in from a mic. So my instinct was to check the cable and it was connected perfectly, so I decided to change the channel it was routed too and it worked fine.
After the session I told the head engineer Tony about the issue and he said it was great for me to quickly get around it and keep the session flowing, and we went and looked at the mix panel that wasn’t working and there was an issue there that he had to fix.
That session was my first paid session from the owner. It wasn’t much but I got paid to do what I love, and that was an amazing feeling. Jim the owner had been in the industry for 20+ years longer than I have been alive. So for them to see my work ethic and let me assist and give me my own session in less than 3 moths time meant a lot to me. When someone who’s been in the industry for as long as Jim, you can tell when someone has the drive and passion for what they love, and I feel like he’s seen that in me and my character. Another unexpected session I had was on Mother’s Day. All the interns were scheduled off this day and the studio was closed. I get a call from Marc, another engineer from Zac Recording asking if theres any way I can make it to the studio in 2 hours. Keep in mind I’m staying with a friend at the time about an hour away from the city. I tell him, “Yeah, no problem. I’ll be there.” So I’m there in an hour and wait for him to come and open the doors to the studio. He gets there and can’t believe I made it there before him. So he thanked me for making it on Mother’s Day and offers to buy me food for making it in such short notice on a holiday.
So we both grab some food and wait for a client to come. The client shows up not too long after we arrived there. Marc and I had already gotten the mic set up for them to come and record some R&B vocals. I didn’t even know I was going to be running the session at this point. I originally thought he wanted me there to set up the session to record and then wait for runs with the client. So after the client gets there, he pulls up the session he has for her and then tells me to hop in the seat and start recording. So I didn’t complain, haha! He pretty much played the producer and I engineered it all. It was a great time and I had fun with the client. We shared some laughs and overall it was a heck of a lot better way to spend my Mother’s Day than at my friend’s place, doing nothing all day, since my whole family is back home. For me to have done this much within 4 or 5 months proved a lot to myself and to the facility. I worked my butt off and it was starting to pay off.
My car broke down. I’m an hour away from Atlanta. staying in Newnan. I haven’t got a job, and I’ve just about used ALL of my money. So I guess you can say I’m at a rock bottom point. I have no money to fix my car or get a new one, and there’s no way to get from Newnan to the studio by bus. Especially on the way back, when I could end the night at the studio at 4 or 5AM if theres a late session. So I have no choice but to have my family pick me up and I have to leave Atlanta. I called the owner and explained the whole situation to him.
Before my family as able to get me, I was able to stop by a few days after my car broke down. My friend, who had just gotten his car, came to drive me down so that I can say bye in person and try to stay in good terms with everyone. So I’m talking to the owner and he gives me the best/worst news! He shows me his schedule and in the next 2 weeks he had me listed to sit in with Kevin (Wale’s mix engineer who works at Zac Recording) to help assist and do the final mixes for Wale’s album “The Gifted”. In the album you’ll see Cody’s name as the assistant mix engineer. Cody is also an engineer at Zac Recording. Another great guy I got to become friends with. That feeling in my gut that that point when I heard the news was indescribable. I was amazed with myself, but so mad at the same time because I knew I couldn’t be here to stick it out that long with no car. But they way I see it till this day is that, there’s something BIGGER, something BETTER for me that’s coming.
My close friend Tanner, who I consider my brother told me that stars can’t shine without darkness. So this was one of this times where I feel like my shine will come later from that moment. But in order for me to be scheduled to assist with that, over other interns who were there 4 to 6 months prior to me shows a lot. It shows that not only do they trust me, but that they saw my passion and the hard work ethic I had for music and engineering above the others. When you’ve been in the industry for so long, it becomes 2nd nature, and you can sense when someone has what it takes. So I took it all in as motivation. That Jim knew I was ready for that, so even though I wasn’t there for that session, I feel like I made it. There’s just a bigger platform for me to rise to.
So now that I’ve had to come home, which is still where I currently am located in Sioux City, IA. A small town that no one will ever know about. I instantly took to freelancing and charging for recording vocals & foley, and mixing out of a project studio with another close friend of mine, Cesar, who also graduated CRAS with me and had to come home as well shortly before I did.
I still keep in contact with Jim and Zac Recording every now and then to keep my relations and network. Jim told me that whenever I get back on my feet an am more stable to live in ATL that I’m welcome back any time. So that again tells me that my hard work speaks for itself. So currently I’m working on getting myself stable and to get back to ATL as soon as possible. I’m still networking with clients, mixing for artist in my hometown, ATL, Los Angeles, and Des Moines. So I’m still working hard and networking with people ad clients. currently working to publish a website for my services coming soon. I learned a lot from Zac, but have grown even more since freelancing on my own and learning new things. When I’m not working, I’m either mixing, reading back school notes from CRAS, watching tutorials on new tricks, looking at new gear in the industry, new gear that I want to buy myself, or studying new music thats released to keep hearing whats new with the sound and whats the same.
My top mix engineers at the moment who are greatly influencing my mixes are Manny Marroquin, Mixed By Ali, Jaycen Joshua, and Rick Ruben. I really love the material they have been working on.
Moral of the story in my 1st ever blog today is, do not be a slacker and work hard! If there’s anything to walk away from CRAS with aside from studio etiquette and the certifications and all the great knowledge, walk away with the work ethic they try and push through you. Be hungry for your spot in the industry, or else the next guy will be all over it. Stay hungry & work hard constantly. There are no breaks when your striving to be successful.
I wish the best for all CRAS students and graduates!
Thanks so much for your submission! We are proud of your accomplishments achieved since leaving campus!
If Anthony’s story was inspiring and you would like to learn more about CRAS, request information here: http://www.audiorecordingschool.com/requestinfo.html