Ask the industry
Industry Insight Local creative professionals provide unique perspective.
Mediaplanet: What is your current position, and how long have you been in the industry?
Erin Davis: I'm host of the 98.1 CHFI Morning Show with Mike Cooper. I've been paid to do what I love since my third month of college in 1980. Wow.
David Mohacsi: I have been working professionally in the industry for about 10 years and in my current position for about six. I am a producer, engineer, and Pro Tools specialist. I wear many hats. I am the guy sitting at the mixing console. I’m also the guy staying long after the band has gone home, tweaking the tracks to sound their best. Sometimes, I’m even the guy writing the music and playing the instruments.
MP: Why did you decide to pursue this career, and what were your first steps in making it happen?
ED: I tripped into radio: the two speakers I had signed up to hear on a high school “Careers Day” were booked, so I ended up hearing Brian Olney from Loyalist College (Belleville) talk about radio. I felt like I’d been hit by lightning - my love of reading aloud, performing and music all came together in one amazing opportunity.
DM: I have loved music from a very young age. I was in several bands in high school. Money was always tight and we could never afford to book a studio. I was good with computers so I ended up getting some cheap recording software and teaching myself how to do it. Eventually someone heard something I had produced and thought I’d be good at live sound. I started with open mic nights every other thursday. Within six months I had taken over managing sound for the club and was training two other engineers who would eventually take over for me.
I wanted to get back into actual recording in a serious way, so I enrolled at Metalworks Institute in Mississauga. This place had top notch gear for students to learn on and great instructors, but I chose Metalworks because of their ties to the industry. Upon graduation about six years ago, Metalworks connected me with record producer Gavin Brown, who has been nominated for and won countless Junos and Grammys. He took me under his wing and taught me most of what I know about how to make records and how the business works. He is still the source of most of my work.
MP: What advice would you give to those who want to break into your industry?
ED: Be ready to work long hours for low pay, give your life to this career you’ve chosen and never, ever give up on your vision of what you want to accomplish. It’s a difficult industry in which to succeed - never mind excel - but with talent, drive and perseverance, you can do it.
DM: Everyone is always talking about how there are no jobs in the music business. The truth is that there will always be room for hardworking, talented people. I got where I am today through nothing other than hard work. When I was in school, I worked hard so that everyone would know I was the best. Because of this I was recommended for an excellent position upon graduation and was given the chance to work with some of the industry’s most successful people. I worked hard to impress these people and they decided to keep me around.
"Everyone is always talking about how there are no jobs in the music business. The truth is that there will always be room for hardworking, talented people."
When I say hard work, I mean it. I routinely work about 80 hours a week. I have to learn new things on the fly everyday or risk becoming obsolete. If that doesn’t sound like fun, than this business might not be for you. I have met tons of people that tried to do what I do, but found that when something you love becomes your job, it becomes work, and stops being fun.
If, after reading that, you are still interested in a career in the music industry, my advice would be to get an education, learn Pro Tools, and find an internship with someone successful. Work for free. Trade your time for valuable knowledge. Once you’ve got the skills, money will come.
MP: Where do you see yourself and your industry in the future?
ED: Canadian radio has done what our neighbours to the south have failed to do: remembered that local matters, and the one-to-one connection of a personality with their community (especially during emergencies like horrible weather or ice storms and power outages). Unlike the USA we haven’t killed the industry and smaller town radio. I’m so proud of Rogers radio for that. As for me - I’ll keep going as long as our ratings are soaring. As designer Bill Blass said, “Know when to leave the party”, and I hope to do that. But not for a bit - this is way too much fun!
DM: In the past couple years I have had the pleasure of working with some great artists like Barenaked Ladies, Metric, The Tragically Hip, and Headstones (whose record, Love and Fury, that I engineered, is nominated for a Juno… shameless plug). Going forward I hope to get to work with more and more great artists, as well as discovering new artists and helping them develop their careers.
This is an ever changing industry. We are at a very interesting time in which more people have access to more music than any other time in history. There are also more people making music than ever. Distinct genres are disappearing. A song that is a country/rock/dance hybrid can be the biggest song world. Getting your music heard through all the noise can be tough, but that is the problem that artists and industry professionals must solve. I look forward to seeing all the creative ways people overcome these challenges.