or call (800) 755-7597

Issue #272

Weekly Newsletter

by Liya Swift

Student Successes

Recording Connection grad Ian Izquierdo Goes from Stuck in a Rut
to Hired & Thriving in Music.


Recording Connection graduate Ian Izquierdo

  When Ian Izquierdo found Recording Connection he’d gotten to know firsthand, just how ho-hum a life of working 50-hour weeks doing work that didn’t speak to his soul could be. Circumstances out of his control made him reassess where he was going and look into taking his first love—music—more seriously. Little did Ian know just how far staying true to his calling and investing in his growth would take him. Read on!   How’d you get started making music in the first place?   “I had some buddies in high school, and we’d just fool around, making a couple of bars or whatever, like a couple lines. We used to write, like, lyrics and basically short poem… just roasting each other in the poems or whatever. …   Then eventually I was like, ‘I should try to get more involved in music,’ …. So I ended up taking my music tech class in junior year, and it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. The teacher was really great…. It was like tough love, you know. He would never really be like, ‘Oh, that was amazing.’ It motivated me to be, ‘Oh, I want to get that reaction out of him, that emotion out of him.’ So I ended up taking an independent study [in music tech] in senior year, which was great.”   It sounds like you were going strong in growing your production skills even back in high school. What happened?   “I spent 60, 70, 50 hours a week working [as a driver, transporting people in wheelchairs], and I barely had any time to do anything. I [had] stopped doing music completely. I didn’t do any production, I didn’t write.   So, I would make playlists, and that got me back into music, like finding new artists and seeing… how the genres have been evolving. And it just got me into thinking like, ‘This is like something I want to do.’ It’s always been like the one thing in my life that I felt like I couldn’t leave. [When] I got laid off from my job because of COVID… I said, you know what, I’m going to see if I can find some type of school.”   Learn more about how Ian found his way and changed his life in our Straight Talk video below!   Eventually, that led you to Recording Connection. But we weren’t the first program you enrolled in. Tell us about that.   “I did about 10 hours at another school. And I told myself, ‘This is not what I’m looking for because… I didn’t want to go to the school and [to] have to tell them what I wanted to learn. I wanted to have them be like, ‘These are the things that you should know, and these are the things that you should learn and you need to learn if you want to be in this industry.’   So, I found Recording Connection. And from there, you know, now I’m here and working at a studio and doing production gigs and it’s just a blessing.”   Take us back to your first interview with your mentor Steve Catizone. How’d that go down?   “I just remember, like, walking in and having this feeling like, ‘Whoa, like this is the real deal.’… From there I knew the moment I walked in and did the interview with Steve, I knew this is where I need to be and this is where I’m going to learn the most. …   I remember being a little nervous, just kind of, like, antsy… then Steve started asking me what… I wanted to get out of this. And I just told him that I want this to be a career for me…. Instead of using 50 hours a week doing a day job that I have no care for, I wanted to find a way to make this something that I can make a living off of, and also have fun doing it. So yeah, that’s kind of how it went down.”   What was it about you that made Steve take you on as an engineer/producer at Infinite?   “I thought about this for a while, but I think it’s persistence, really…. I kept just going in…. I would just walk in, like, ‘Hey,’ say hi to everybody and just… like stay in on a session and annoy every engineer, like, ‘Hey, when’s your next session? Can I stay in?’… I wanted to take as much as I [could] out of it and absorb everything that I saw, and try to apply it in my own time. I don’t know if that was it but I feel like if anything, that would be it, just me being persistent.”   You also just mentioned applying what you’re learning on your own time. That’s huge too. So, what’s your advice to current Recording Connection students? How can they make the most of their education?   “I’d say if there’s anything you’re stuck on, ask the question and spend time figuring it out. There’s so much that Recording Connection teaches you, that if you let it pass you by, you’re going to regret it because eventually one of those things is going to show up and you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, damn, I did learn about this at one point.’ … Just spend as much time as you can trying to understand everything Recording Connection has taught you. And I think most importantly, like I said before, be consistent and persistent. As long as you do those things, success will come.”   Learn more about Recording Connection, for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Beat Making, EDM, Live Sound, Music Business, DJing, and more!  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Student Successes

Radio Connection grad Larry Grant Goes from Trying to
Get a Foot in the Door to Owning a Radio Station!


Radio Connection graduate Larry Grant

By the time Larry Grant enrolled in Radio Connection, he’d been trying to get his foot in the door at radio stations for decades. Thanks to the training he received in our 6–9-month Radio Connection for Radio Broadcasting Program, Larry was able to get the foundational education he needed, locate areas he needed to improve upon, and elevate those skills through working one-on-one, remotely, with mentor John Caignet of Jolt Radio.   What led you to Radio Connection in the first place?   “What brought me to Radio Connection in the first place is that I knew I wanted to be in radio, and I knew that I didn’t have any formal education into radio. I was sure there was things that… I didn’t know prior to getting into radio, so I wanted to find that ‘step in’ and get the education that I needed to make the next steps into broadcasting to further my love of what I do.” Larry shares more of his experiences in Radio Connection in our Straight Talk video below!   You’d been trying to get into radio for years.   “Every time I’d see a different, I don’t know, ad for a job placement or whatever, this is in the late ’80s, early ’90s, mid 90’s, I always put in for it…. in… market five radio You have to have a lot of experience to get in. So I never really got the experience or the knowledge that I needed to get in there. I didn’t know where to go so I started, you know, doing more club work. And then I got to tour overseas as a club DJ in different clubs throughout Europe for about five years. And then, it kind of brought me back to The States and I was like, ‘Okay, so now what do I do?’”   During your training with John, you were able to use your knowledge of dance music and DJing to build and run your own show on Jolt as part of your training. How did that come about?   “He suggested [it] to me, [he said] ‘Well, since you do dance music… why don’t you do a show on the network that way you get some experience and we can work through your program?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay, I can do that.’ So… [he said], ‘Come up with a name and then, you know, [let’s] sit down and do this and we’ll see what happens.’ So I did. I did a pilot and he listened to it and… [he said], ‘Let’s do it.’ … I think [we]… did like 15 shows altogether, but and then just he said, ‘I’m going to let you do it. I’m going to let you have the experience in the DJing part…. [Go] through me to do the interviews… the presentation so forth.” …   How did going through Radio Connection enable you to improve your skills and education in radio?   “My airchecks were horrible before. I mean, it was basically me mumbling and going on. After that [Radio Connection] my airchecks were spot on. I knew exactly what they were looking for. I knew exactly what I needed to say… exactly how long it needed to be and, you know, what needed to be in a complete aircheck package and that’s just one element. But yeah, that’s a big one because that gets you the step in the door, then you have to get the rest of the stuff in. But yeah, it gave me the confidence to be able to do all of that. …   Learning the different aspects of different kinds of radio, for instance, sports radio and music radio and talk radio and the different things that go on. What a commercial is, what a spot is, what a jingle is, those things, you know, you think you know, and… for somebody that is not educated, [you can] kind of make it up if you will, but not to somebody that’s in the industry. They can call you out and be like, ‘Uh, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ So it helped me learn all that stuff and actually make myself a better package altogether…. Learning the history of radio or learning the FCC’s role… has helped me greatly when I’m buying a station.”   We’ll get back to that shortly. After graduating Radio Connection, you finally landed that job in radio. Tell us about that.   “When I graduated and I was working with [Victor] at Radio Connection who was helping me with my resume… [and] I was like, ‘Look, nobody’s going to sell me better than me.’ So, he helped me get my resume together… and [I]… just started bombarding radio stations from coast to coast with airchecks, whatever. And you know, and a couple of them would give me bites, a couple of them said, ‘Yeah, sorry, you’re too far away, you know, and it’s only part-time, blah, blah, blah, blah.’… Well, KIRO had this part-time opening and they were local. They were the only one… that gave me a bite…. And I interviewed, and the guy said… ‘I want to give you a shot. You sound like you’d be a perfect fit.’”… I got a job working part-time as a board op for KIRO Radio…. I did that for a year, but during that time was when COVID happened.”   It turns out that the pandemic played a pivotal role in your life-changing decision to buy a radio station.   “Life is too short. Having almost died from COVID made that perfectly clear for me…. everybody [at work] was remote and so I took it upon myself to figure out, well, ‘What do I want to do? What is my next steps?… So I decided that, you know, I would take the “Get Smashed” radio thing that I’ve had for 20 years and I would actually make something of it. And I bought an FM station in Colorado and I just completed the sale in mid-July so, yeah.”   You now own a radio station in Colorado.   “I own, I operate, I program and do everything for a radio station in Colorado, and I voice track an afternoon show, that’s what I was just finishing when you called.”   What’s your advice to current and future Radio Connection students? How can they make the most of their time in the program?   “Learn everything you can by the text or whatever, but also from your mentors, ask questions. They are there to answer all those questions. They’re there to help, but they don’t know what’s going on in your head. If you have a question, don’t pretend like you know the answer, ask them. You’re not going to sound stupid. Ask them and soak in as much as you can from them because you will learn so much just from that experience.”   Learn more about Radio Connection for training in radio broadcasting, sportscasting, podcasting, announcing, and more!  
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or call (800) 755-7597

Mentor News

Recording Connection mentor Lucas Abend on Getting Out of Your Way,
Putting the Ego on Ice, and more!


Recording Connection mentor producer/artist Lucas Abend

Recording Connection mentor Lucas Abend (Snoop Dogg, Lost Kings, Krewella) is an artist/producer who’s passionate about helping others get the tools, training, and advice they need to make great-sounding music, whether they’re pursuing a career in music or are looking to enrich their lives through musical expression. We connected with Lucas to learn more about how he trains aspiring music makers in a remote, one-on-one manner, allowing him to take students across the country. We also discussed the necessity of putting the ego on ice, the virtues of making “bad music” when you’re just starting out, and more!   In the past, you’ve stressed the point that making music and training with Recording Connection really is for anyone who wants to do it, not just younger people looking to become artists and producers.   “I’ve had students from all walks of life. I’ve had kids, 19, 18, 20, who are just coming up and they really love electronic music, and they’re trying to get into it. I’ve had doctors who are in their 40s, and they want a new thing in life that’s going to be able to give them that moment to create…. I’ve had producers who have been producing for six years, and they just want somebody to give them something to bounce off of. They want that critical feedback. They know that they can make a step further in their production quality, and so working with those people as well.   Really, it’s kind of for everybody, because it’s not just like a curriculum of like, ‘Well, if you already know these things, then this program isn’t for you,’ because it’s really more almost just about that critical feedback… about having someone who can show you a new perspective on how to approach being creative, how to approach producing with a high production value.” Lucas shares his advice for learning music production in out Straight Talk video below!   Could you talk us through the nitty-gritty of what actually goes on when you’ve mentoring a student one-on-one remotely, through the computer?   “The kind of education that I’m doing right now with this remote stuff really was not possible even, like, I want to say five years ago…. I’m directly controlling and manipulating the student’s screen, but also hearing their computer audio at a high enough fidelity, where it’s not coming through their speakers. I can actually hear the output which really puts me in the room with them. And that way, we can both explore the sonics… in a high-enough fidelity where it’s actually usable. …   Instead of me just saying, ‘Oh, well. I don’t know how this sounds, but this is how you would do it.’ It’s like, we can actually get in [there], like, ‘This snare has too much mids, or low end,’ and we can discuss… the nuance (which is really quite nuanced), of production, sound quality, and all of that. So being able to essentially be right next to the student while we’re doing those one-on-one sessions is what makes this program special. …   There’s some great content on YouTube…. I encourage my students to still research that content, but there is no replacement for critical feedback, and there is no replacement for that one-on-one connection with someone who’s better than you. Working with people who are better than you is how you get better.”   What’s your advice to people who are musically inclined but aren’t experienced musicians? How can they stay committed to doing the work of learning and becoming music makers themselves?  

Recording Connection mentor Lucas Abend in-studio with friend

“So much of creativity is about just getting out of your own way and really removing your expectations. The biggest thing that I see in my beginner students, and really even in my advanced students is their expectations of where they’re supposed to be, and how those expectations really just hold them back. …   If you have this expectation that the first thing that you’re going to make is this beautiful, incredible composition, and you’re going to be lauded as a prodigy, and this amazing person, like, ‘Oh, my god, they’re a genius to the world.’ If that’s what your expectation is, you’re going to be probably severely disappointed with your first results. …   Obviously, it’s great to be confident, it’s great to know that you have something to say. But… if you kind of step back from your own ego, you’re going to give yourself so much more creative room to just start to explore the tool. And whether it’s a guitar, or it’s Ableton, or it’s Pro Tools, or its Logic, or, you know, any of these artistic tools that we have for us, if you can just sit with them, and have fun with them, and push away those ideas of, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be this great thing.’ … You have that drive… and that’s awesome. And that’s what gets you to the desk; that’s what gets you to pick up that guitar. But once that guitar is picked up, you got to chill on that ego, and you got to just let yourself explore and let yourself have fun. And that’s how you, sort of, open up the idea of learning something new, and finding that voice for yourself is just by having fun with it. Because if you don’t have fun with it… you’re not going to want to do it, you’re never going to get the skills and the familiarity with the tool to really achieve where it is that you want to be.”   So many newbies start out on-fire, then get disillusioned and give up on themselves. That’s painful to witness. If only they would persevere! Any advice on that front?   “The Dunning-Kruger Effect is this concept where there is this peak of confidence that happens at the very, very beginning of learning something. So the people who know the least amount in a subject have the most amount of confidence. And then, as they realize that there’s more to it than they thought, that peak is called ‘Mount Stupid.’ And then there’s this dip in confidence, and that’s called ‘The Valley of Despair.’ And so, what happens is people see The Valley of Despair, and so they try and climb back up Mount Stupid…. They’re trying to stay comfortable with where they are and not go that extra distance past that valley to a point where you can be sustainable, and you have experience, and you actually understand, you know, ‘Well, this thing is complicated, but it’s also easy.’”   Exactly. One’s discomfort is usually a signal to lean in and learn, not to give up. Do you have a personal mantra that inspires you to make music or create?   “‘Make bad music.’ That’s a personal mantra for me…. Especially when I was a beginner, that’s how I got through that phase…. The only way you’re ever going to make good music is by making a lot of bad music. …   Obviously, in reality, we’re not trying to make something bad. But if you come at it with that perspective, you’re going to be a little bit more resilient to something if it does end up being bad. Because if it does end up being bad, which it will at some point or another, it won’t, kill your ego. You’ll be like, “Hey, well, that’s what I was trying to do.’”   Do you get a sense of satisfaction from mentoring people?   “Definitely. A hundred percent. It’s great to see people grow. It’s really, really exciting to see someone who… never opened up Ableton before in their life, and then… even three months into the program… they’re creating these full beautiful compositions. It’s super rewarding.”   Learn more about Recording Connection, for Audio Engineering & Music Production, Beat Making, EDM, Live Sound, Music Business, DJing, and more!    
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