Jamie King is known as the brains behind The Basement Recording Inc, where he has worked with bands like Between The Buried and Me, The Contortionist, Scale the Summit, and He is Legend. If you want to learn how he works in the studio, be sure check out his CreativeLive Studio Pass get a behind-the-scenes look at his process.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
My name is Jamie King. The Basement Recording is in reference to the audio engineering, production and mastering services that I provide out of my basement in Winston-Salem, NC. I’ve been recording bands and individual musicians since about 1996. I started recording on a 4-track, then moved on to a couple of Adats and now I use a Pro Tools system on Macintosh computer with some top of the line industry standard outboard gear and microphones. I generally specialize in recording and producing amateur to pro rock and metal (with all the relative genres) bands and musicians. My primary goal is to help bands and musicians (along with their respective label and or management) achieve an audio product that is professional sounding while incorporating the artists personal tastes in tones and audio production at the most affordable price possible. My experience as a musician in bands and previous dealings within the music industry have enabled me to provide advice and insight on many aspects of engineering and producing records for bands and musicians with many different goals.
What drove you to choose your career path?
Necessity. I was bands during and after High School and College and we tried recording with many local engineer/producers at all price points and and always got a product that wasn’t exactly what we wanted and needed. After spending 13k for a recording at a $90 an hour multimillion dollar facility and getting a poor result, I decided that I’d just spend my money on gear and figure out how to do industry sounding recording in 1997.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I just started part time in business for myself. I’m completely self taught. I read books and did a lot of experimenting and talking to bands about their experiences recording with other industry professionals that were doing the kinds of recordings and mixes I wanted to do. Later, I was able to learn things from DVD and online tutorials. I’ve gotten better by just recording and mixing over and over for years.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
Production editing. Mostly drum, bass and guitar quantizing and manual melodic vocal tuning. That’s the most time consuming stuff for an industry spec fully produced product
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
That it’s easy and fun all the time. haha There’s a lot of tedious work that goes into it that requires a certain amount of OCD a patience with tracking, editing and mixing too.
What are your average work hours?
Currently, I try to keep it at 50-60 hours a week. I worked 70-80 a week for about 5 years straight up until a couple years ago when I had a panic attack due to stress and anxiety due to working to much.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Outsource time consuming production editing. My bother, Kevin King, does much of my quantizing now and I have a few assistants that help with vocal tuning. It gives me a break on projects which helps me stay more objective on mixes and keeps me from getting burned out on records. There’s no shortcuts unfortunately. I save time and money for the clients by scheduling efficiently and tracking entire records in one session. This also enable guaranteed consistency so that can save time also and def makes tracking and mixing quicker and easier.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
Tracking in one session is different from most. I encourage my clients choose their own gear and/or tone choices. Most industry pros use their own tones and gear choices resulting in records that pretty much sound the same as others that they’ve done.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
Just hit my manager up at email@example.com and let us know what you’re looking to do and when and we’ll hook it up!
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
I don’t absolutely hate any part of the job. But I guess the production editing can get irritating after a while. That’s one reason I out source that. And I hate dealing with unreasonable clients that come in unprepared and/or are uncool people to hang with and/or artists or labels that don’t pay or don’t pay in a timely fashion.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
I most enjoy listening back to the record once it’s all done and sounds good to me. It’s still very rewarding even after 500 records.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
Unfortunately, not much anymore. I gross around 100k a year but after taxes and related expenses and such, I get probably about 50-60k a ycreativelive.comear. Just enough to live and provide for my family comfortable. I’m fine with that. If you get lucky and have an band that you recorded sell a lot of records, you can command more money. That’s more luck than skill really.
How do you move up in your field?
By providing a desirable sounding product and recording bands that become successful.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Learn from industry pros that are doing what it is you’re looking to do. Get in with those that are offering education sessions or internships and find the information directly from them online like on creativelive.com. Schools are largely a waste of time and money and there’s loads of misinformation or irrelevant to your desired style of production info in books and online to sift through. You’ll get much better much faster with the right gear and knowledge of the right processes for your desired style of music. I wasted a lot of time and money with the wrong gear and processes as I didn’t have access to industry pro direct info when I was coming up. I as well as many other pros have classes on sites like creativelive.com so you can learn the real info directly form the people doing it. It’s way quicker and cheaper than any other way. And make sure to not work too many hours like I did. Sitting in front of a computer all day isn’t healthy and too much of anything is bad. Try to max out at 50 hours a week of any work or you’ll likely end up unhealthy or with a stress anxiety disorder like I have. haha