Back to Top
Call: 800-755-7597 or 310-456-9623
Recording Radio and Film Connection
Visit our Mentor/Externship Locations:
For More Info: 800-755-7597 or 310-456-9623
Menu Menu Menu Search Subscribe

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER April 25, 2016 by L. Swift and Jeff McQ


Are you getting CONNECTED?
Hosted by multi-GRAMMY-winner IZ (Usher, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan)
our NEW Connected Hangout takes place every Monday!
Bringing you the best jobs in music, film, and broadcasting! Don’t miss out on opportunity. Sign up for next week’s Connected Hangout now!

‘What is a Grind Opp?,’ you ask? It is a job opportunity. A help wanted ad.

Persistence and paying dues:
Isaac Wolfe earns his stripes at the Record Plant

Recording Connection student Isaac Wolfe

Recording Connection student Isaac Wolfe

Besides learning the technical aspects of audio production itself, breaking into the music industry typically requires a combination of two things: a) a persistent, go-getter attitude; and b) a willingness to “pay dues”–that is, to be willing to do the small jobs before graduating to the larger ones. Recording Connection student Isaac Wolfe is a great example of these two things working together. Not long after beginning his apprenticeship with audio engineer Matt “Linny” Linesch (Van Halen, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) at United Recording in Los Angeles, CA, he proactively began applying to dozens of studios in the area until a random email landed him an entry level position at the Record Plant, one of Hollywood’s most prestigious recording studios.   Isaac’s musical journey is a bit of a winding road, as he tells RRFC he actually started off pursuing a career in film production. “I studied film in high school,” he says. “I got a pretty thorough education in film production and then, when I was applying to colleges…I spent one year at school in Orange County and really did not enjoy it. I don’t know, maybe growing up in San Francisco, and then coming to the O.C., it was just like a culture shock, or maybe I was just kind of losing my fire for film. I don’t know what it was, but it became increasingly clear to me that film production was not the heart that’s within.”   All during this time, however, Isaac says he’d nurtured a love for music that seemed to be growing even as his “fire” for film was waning. For a self-described “middle-class white Jewish kid in San Francisco,” it seemed a bit odd even to him that he was most drawn to rap music.   “I always connected a lot with it,” he says. “I listened to these stories of kids, you know, talking about gang violence and growing up and struggling, and I felt far more emotionally connected to those stories than to, you know, like, indie rock songs or EDM. For some reason, I don’t know what it is, it’s always moved me a lot…I played in a bunch of different bands. I played piano and drums growing up, and then me and my friends would always get together and kind of rap with each other because all of us listened to rap music and it was a fun thing for us to be able to do, and kind of a non-committal relationship to music. And then as soon as I left San Francisco, I kind of shifted my mentality…[If] it’s something that I enjoy doing and that makes me feel good about myself, a good creative outlet, then why not start taking steps to kind of create a more professional relationship with it?…   After his move to L.A., Isaac says he started off working on his own music, but eventually came to realize he was more interested in the production side. “It became clear to me that I was really far more interested in the technical part of music-making,” he says. “I really enjoyed kind of the attention to detail and spending hours working on the computer, kind of fine-tuning the song.”   That’s when Isaac had an epiphany that ultimately led him to the Recording Connection.   “In the middle of the night,” he says, “I was lying in bed, and I was thinking about what I was doing, and I was getting tired of telling people that I was in L.A. trying to promote a record because it didn’t feel like that was really what I wanted to do. I impulsively pulled out my computer and started looking online at the different kind of audio engineering programs and I saw Recording Connection and it looked really cool… I sent somebody a message telling them that I was interested in learning more about it and got a quick response, and it all happened very quickly.”  
Recording Connection mentor Matt Linesch

Recording Connection mentor Matt Linesch

Before he knew it, Isaac was placed as an apprentice with Matt Linesch at United Recording. “As soon as I met him,” Isaac says, “I knew that it would be incredibly beneficial to spend time with somebody who was as successful and experienced as he was.”   Besides learning the ins and outs of recording and mixing, Isaac says he’s been particularly impressed watching the way his mentor deals with clients. “Every time I see him in the studio with recording…people who are paying him to work on their music, he is open to every suggestion,” he says. “It’s like he becomes this significantly softer and more open guy when he’s around the artists, and that was very cool to see…You can know everything about your system and about your console and, you know, maybe you’ve produced hundreds of albums and you know exactly what to do, but when you have somebody expressing themselves- somebody who’s paying you to, you know, kind of help guide them, that they express themselves creatively, I think he understands how fragile that moment is and how fragile that connection is, and he really does a good job at making artists feel safe and comfortable and like anything that they suggest is worthwhile.”   Meanwhile, having become recently unemployed, Isaac decided not to wait until he graduated to start finding his entry point in the industry—and that’s where the persistence and dues-paying we spoke of earlier came into play.   “I actually just applied to a ton of different studios,” he says. “I must have applied to 10 or 15, or 20 different studios and, all of which, kind of said the same thing. It’s just like, ‘Hey, we’re not, you know…’   Admittedly feeling discouraged, Isaac remained persistent, including sending a random inquiry to the Record Plant.   “I somehow got access to their email,” he says. “It didn’t seem like that was the type of e-mail that anybody would check…and so, I randomly sent it off one evening, kind of in the midst of other applications…I didn’t spend a whole lot of time crafting my articulate message to them. It was just kind of a two-sentence sort of deal. And I woke up in the morning to a call from one of the guys at Record Plant, saying they got my e-mail and that he wanted me to come to the studio within the hour to interview for a position…I went there and they said they were looking for a runner, and that the only thing that I needed was a car…and so, I lied and I said that I had a car and they said, ‘Okay, well you have the job, so take the weekend to think about it and call us on Monday and we’ll get you started.’…And so, I went home and I emptied out my savings account and I got a car.”   Persistence having paid off, Isaac is currently splitting his time between apprenticing with Matt and working at the Record Plant as a runner. “It’s a hard position,” he admits. “But they have a pretty clear promotion system…They only hire their assistants and engineers from the runner staff. They don’t hire from…they don’t outsource or hire from the outside. Everybody who is an engineer there started off as a runner…I’m very grateful that they’ve taken me in. It’s a tough job, but I really feel like it will pay off, and I’m enjoying it.”   Meanwhile, as Isaac continues learning from Matt and “paying dues” at the Record Plant, he has long-term plans to put his skills to use for himself. “What I, ideally, would like to do is have a studio,” he says, “and have artists and bands come through and kind of talk about what they want to do, what sort of projects they want to put out, and help us come to fruition…I think that my strong suit would be taking somebody else’s content and really fine-tuning it and paying tremendous attention to detail, so that it sounds, you know, as good and as fresh as possible…We just moved in to this new house in Northeast L.A…We have a back house which is not being used for anything. So, the plan is, as soon as we can get a little bit more money together, we’re going to start constructing that and turning that into the studio space. My roommates and I will be doing that.”   With a bit of persistence to get his foot in the door, a willingness to pay dues along the way, and his Recording Connection training to help him master the technical stuff, Isaac is now on a trajectory toward a long, rewarding career in the music industry. No more winding roads for him—it’s obvious he’s in it for the long haul.   
 *  *  *  *  *  

Request Information


A Day in the Life of Our Students

Colin Motlagh and Matt Collett. Photo credit Keith Morgan

Colin Motlagh and Matt Collett.
Photo credit: Keith Morgan

Former Recording Connection student-turned-mentor Matt Collett, along with business partner Colin Motlagh, recently completed construction on a new deluxe recording studio, The Garage, in Savannah, Georgia. The ambitious project took six years from concept to launch. Along the way, Matt even took a job working for a local electrician company and ended up wiring his own studio himself. The goal: to serve the community. Matt says, “The whole point, really, was to set up something that served the community but also gave us a professional studio to be able to use with less overhead. We’re not, by any means, really profiting off the local bands. Basically the whole operation essentially just sustains itself and then the studio is really the X-factor… It was important to us just to set up a really stable model [so that] we would not have to…capitalize on local bands and the culture. That wasn’t the idea. It was really to supply and fill a need, but then allow us the resources that we need to now do bigger projects.” Amazing work guys!    Add Article ‹ RRFC News — WordPress.htm Recording Connection apprentice Shawn Hoefer of Baton Rouge, LA is following through with his passion for audio by getting solid audio skills with mentor Devon Kirkpatrick at Sockit Studio! The husband, father and volunteer firefighter says, “I started getting into doing voice over work and wanted to learn more (as I always do) so the technical side of Audio started to appeal to me….Now I’m hooked and taking the next steps toward what I hope will be a very rewarding entirely new career!” We say, go, go, go Shawn! Follow your passion!   
 *  *  *  *  *  

Apply Now


Recording Connection mentor Shamel Hughes: The power of self-branding in the music industry

Recording Connection mentor Shamel Hughes

Recording Connection mentor Shamel Hughes

Believe it or not, there’s a difference between being a good audio engineer and being a successful one. In our experience, the most successful producer/engineers aren’t the ones who just talented and skilled; they are the ones who think like entrepreneurs, who see themselves as being in business for themselves. That’s exactly what makes Recording Connection mentor Shamel Hughes such a wellspring of wisdom for our students, and why his own story is such an important object lesson. Teaching out of Oz Studios in the heart of Manhattan, Shamel has come from being a struggling kid from Brooklyn to building a name for himself as one of New York’s more in-demand freelance engineers, working with artists like Elle Varner, K. Michelle, Musiq Soulchild, Busta Rhymes and others.   How did he do it? Branding. Through hard work, smart decisions and a go-getter entrepreneurial attitude, Shamel has worked steadily and tirelessly to turn his own name into a recognizable brand.   Shamel’s journey into audio, interestingly enough, came from a love for poetry. “I used to read a lot of poetry when I was a kid,” he says. “I used to rap, used to write rhymes. I used to DJ, I started DJing when I was around 15 years old. I started making these cassettes. I was an entrepreneur at a young age…When I was on the streets, I was selling mix-tapes, I was making a lot of money at a young age…I got really creative when CD’s started hitting the market. I started building computers to actually duplicate CD-ROM’s, which wasn’t really available unless you really had the money to do so…The technology wasn’t accessible at the time for people to do it. It was just me and the bootleggers that were selling mix-tapes that were novel or original…I was already making money and doing things on my own as an entrepreneur.”   After taking classes at the Institute of Audio Research, Shamel’s first break came with an opportunity to intern for a year at Quad Studios, one of the most prestigious recording studios in New York City.   “I became an assistant within that year,” he says, “because I was in the middle of my game, it still wasn’t really good money. I had an audio job [in] retail…I was still learning new gear, learning about products and different equipment so I could be able to keep the internship and not worry about money. I just had enough to eat, pay my phone bill, and get the necessities. That was fine. I didn’t care.”   Shamel’s hard work at Quad ended up opening other doors for him, including the opportunity to work on tour with Busta Rhymes. “One of the engineers I worked with at Quad was like, he didn’t want to be on the road with Busta anymore,” he says. “Because of my personality and how I dealt with clients and things, he thought I was a great candidate to work with him. I was able to be on the road with Busta for a year. That turned out very cool. I met a lot of people and made a lot of connections.”   But for Shamel, something was still missing, which is what ultimately made him decide to turn freelance—and that meant building his name as a brand. “For the past 10 years or more I worked for everyone else,” he says. “I wanted a different respect level. So I figured…the only way they’re going to respect [me] as the person I want them to respect me as is to go into business with myself. Still do what I do, as a recording engineer, still be great at just doing what I do, but now I can do it on my own time…I don’t want to be given a rate, I want to give my rate, and I want them to respect me for it. I want them to want to work with me because I’ve got my own thing going on.”   Smartly, Shamel had already laid the groundwork for branding himself while working as an assistant at Quad. “I came and ensured the client was welcomed, made sure they would feel comfortable,” he says. “I made sure I always knew the client on a first name basis…A lot of times, then, clients came back to the studio they always requested me in their sessions…I did that so I could take that brand, so people would know as I start to develop my skill set, as I get deeper in my career, as they’re still working as an artist, producers, or whatever, they would know who I am.”  
Control Room in Oz Studios

Control Room in Oz Studios

Of course, it wasn’t just name recognition for Shamel: he also honed his craft so he’d actually have something to offer, shadowing engineers he respected and adapting their techniques into his own style. “I made sure I made my engineering was like a brand,” he says. “You have to be compensated for your skill set. I made sure I was always good, or I was always on top, or I was always the leading edge when it came to engineering…I was trying to figure out how to be Tony Maserati how to be Dave Pensado. I was trying to learn how to get to those guys. I was pretty much saying to myself, ‘I want their job.’ If I’m not working with Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, I am not where I need to be. That’s the kind of artists and clients I want to take.”   Being in business for himself has paid off. “I was making a killing,” he says. “I was doing a lot of business because my rate was very fair at the time. I worked like that for a while until I noticed my skill set evolving and improving, and my project list and my client list started to come in a lot more heavy hitting, a lot deeper. .. I started being more confident in my brand as a business and a sound, as an engineer. [So] I started charging more, which, again, changes the dynamic of business because clients will fall away or not want to work with you because you are now becoming too pricey for them. That’s the nature of the business. I learned that making those changes is necessary if you want to change the circle of clientele you want to work with.”   These days, Shamel has his hands in a lot of projects as a producer, engineer and mixing engineer for a wide range of clients. He also started his own multimedia company, and along the way, discovered he loves to teach which is why he’s mentoring for the Recording Connection.   “As people, we should always be teaching others to do better,” he says. “That changes people’s lives. I like that. That’s a satisfying thing….the aspect of me being able to do what I love and giving back to others…that’s a full circle…It’s not hard, it’s not work. It’s actually my passion. It’s audio. I live for that.”   Right now, Shamel says he’s particularly impressed with several of his Recording Connection students. “Nicholas Rodriguez and Edson Avelar…those two are very sharp… I just sent them a mass text just now seeing if any of them were available at 5pm today to do a session. Edson is available and he is going to be there to assist me.”   He also mentions a female apprentice, Felicia Artis: “She’s very cool and sharp, she’s collected, very ready,” he says. She gets the idea of the details, she is very responsive.”   As a mentor, it’s apparent that Shamel sees his students as future colleagues and trains them accordingly. “What’s so cool about Recording Connection is it actually allows me to groom or train the individual that I think is sharp to have an opportunity to succeed because of their attitude and their thought process,” he says. “I can actually give them something more and teach them more as an apprentice…because I want them to have a business doing it. I want them to be creative doing it. I want them to succeed.”   Learn more about Shamel Hughes at shamuzik.com.   
 *  *  *  *  *  

Request Information



Apply to Recording Radio Film Connection & CASA Schools

  • Personal Details
  • More Info
  • Tuition

Contact Information

Please enter your info below, and someone from RRFC will contact you:

More Info

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world audio production the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world radio production the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world film production the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world culinary skills the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Which of the following do you have experience with?

What large city is closest to where you live? (Or, which city do you live in?)


How do you plan on paying for your tuition?
*When paid in full, tuition will receive a $2000 reduction, bringing the program’s total cost of $12,250 to $10,250 not including administrative fees.

Are you a member or veteran of the military?

What are your goals?


Want to stay in the loop? Hide Hide Sign up to receive the RRFC Weekly Newsletter!