mentor Doug Boulware
has had a unique relationship with RRFC over the years, in that he actually started out working in our corporate offices in Los Angeles. From there, he eventually landed a position as an audio engineer with one of our mentors, Donny Baker at ES Audio,
where he soon began taking on his own apprentices. These days, Doug is the VP of Operations at The Abstract Recording Studios,
an up-and-coming L.A. recording studio with lots of opportunities for student growth.
Suffice it to say we’ve had a bird’s-eye view of Doug’s path toward a successful career—a career which Doug himself credits to the “hustle.”
“That’s literally what I’ve built my career on,”
he says. “It is kind of a hustle mentality… I never had a staff position. It was never like, ‘Oh, I’m just kind of trying to get a job at a studio.’ I would go out to shows and I would hand out business cards that I made on my computer…I started doing stuff for free for people and hip-hop guys around my neighborhood and people I went to high school with… Very rarely did someone ever say to me, ‘How long have you been doing this?’ It wasn’t a question that came up a lot, once they saw how excited I was about their music and how energetic I was about doing it…”
Eventually, the stakes became higher for Doug, and once again, he hustled to meet the challenge. “I’d meet people who’d say, ‘I actually have a budget and I’m looking for a studio,’”
he says. “There was a disconnect between the music I was making in my basement and the stuff I was hearing on the radio. So what I did was I went to bigger studios…and I said, ‘Okay, I get that you don’t have a job, but if I bring you a client, can I hang out in the session and just kind of soak everything up?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, of course.’”
Doug’s “hustle approach” eventually found common ground when he went to work with the Recording Connection. “That’s what I was so attracted to about the Recording Connection,”
he says. “It literally solves that problem that I kind of had to bump my head up against the wall several times to kind of figure out, like, ‘How do I get in the room with these guys?’”
Once Doug made the transition from the corporate office to the recording studio, his passion for student success found a whole new outlet. Instead of simply helping our students connect with mentors across the country, he had become a mentor himself! As such, Doug is able to recognize the hustle mentality when he sees it in his students, and reward it with opportunities.
“If I see a student,”
he says, “and they’re like doing this kind of stuff, they’re watching videos on their own and they’re learning music theory on their own, to me, I am automatically drawn to that, and I will go and take an active role and say, “Okay, how is it going?” and ask questions and kind of see how they’re picking up on those type of things, because…I know that it’s something that I can use.”
A perfect case in point is Recording Connection graduate Andrew Flores, whom Doug first encountered at ES Audio, and whose dedication and hard work eventually landed him in a full-time position when Doug helped launch The Abstract Recording Studios. Doug recalls what first impressed him about Andrew:
“First of all, the guy was there constantly,”
he says. “The thing that he had going for him was he would literally go home and he would spend four to six hours at home making music every day…He was constantly bringing these tracks in, and…I’d give him tips and pointers here and there.”
Synth Rack in The Abstract LA
When The Abstract opened up, Doug remembered Andrew and brought him in at the ground level, assisting one of his engineers. “Within the first three months the engineer that was working for Mark had to bail out,”
says Doug. “So Andrew slid into that position, and it wasn’t long before he was a paid employee of the studio…Now he’s on my payroll, he’s a great employee, and now he’s kind of indispensable.”
That’s not even the best part.
“We were doing an album for a band called Dire Docks, who is my head engineer’s band,”
Doug says. “[Andrew] happened to bring this song in, and we were like, ‘Wow.” It was just leagues above where what I had heard from him before. And so we ended up using that song, or a version of it, I should say, on that album.
Doug has since paid Andrew for the use of at least three more of his songs on recordings, and in fact he’s made it an open opportunity for other apprentices who come in.
“For me, to have a catalog of tracks is like super crucial,”
he says, “and I always make that offer to every student. Like if you have tracks and they’re good, I will use them and I will pay you for them. And that can happen pretty much immediately if the track is somewhere in the neighborhood of where I need it to be.”
Nowadays at the new studio, Doug continues to hustle, and it’s already paying off in a big way, in the form of more notable clients.
“We started working with IGA, which is Interscope Geffen, and A&M,”
he says. “We’ve done some production projects with them. I had a couple of their producers in, which is awesome. Scoop DeVille’s been in, who does tracks for everyone…he’s worked with Eminem, Busta Rhymes, keys on the track on the first Kendrick Lamar album. He’s become a friend and part of the family here at the studio….Bruce Bang, he’s a big producer in Houston. He does work with a really well known rapper named Paul Wall…The clients have just been getting bigger and bigger, which is good.”
This progress, of course, eventually turns into more opportunities for his Recording Connection students, particularly those who share his hustle mentality.
“What I’m talking about is really not something that you can…you know I can’t teach you that,”
he says. “I can explain it to you, and I can try to encourage it from students but it’s something that you just have to kind of have. I won’t say that’s something you can’t learn. If you motivate yourself to be that way, you absolutely can do that, but the motivation has to kind of originate from you.”
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