I'm restarting my career and was thinking of becoming a sound designer, recording engineer, or producer. I'm getting training in all the positions and I would enjoy all of them. I was thinking of becoming an independent, freelance businessman who would offer sound design, engineering, and producing to music clients. Anyone been down this road who can provide any advice? Thanks.
I am a freelance sound recordist and designer with over 10 years experience in television, film, radio and theatre. I also do sound editing, ADR and sometimes even produce some smaller music clips.
I think that is important to know (and to have some experience) all segments of audio production, from recording (in studio or on location) to final mixing and mastering.
I have done both professionally, but not at the same time. I used to mix music and do post as a hobby, now I do post professionally and do music as a hobby. I love both, but I prefer post.
Someone you may want to talk to though is Tim Prebble. He's around here somewhere...
He is a sound designer and composer from New Zealand. He recently did sound design for "The World's Fastest Indian", and he just got hired as the Music Supervisor for an upcoming film. He can fill you in on the details (as I'm sure he'll run across this post sometime soon).
In my opinion, it is difficult to pursue all three of the things you are talking about. At least at the same time. You don't want to be a jack of all trades (master of none). Every once and a while it can work out, but usually not. There's just so much to learn about all of them, and each one takes such a tremendous amount of networking and hustle. It would be very difficult to work as a freelancer trying to pursue all of them. I'd pick one to start with and follow it with all you've got. It'll give you a professional identity. Once you've established that, you can think about branching out.
Where are you training?
From a video game perspective, with the rise in recent years of indie games, it seems like it has become more common now for audio people working on these kind of games to be a one stop sound guy solution - recording, designing, and implementing sound effects, while also writing and producing the music. This is not to say that 'everybody' who's active as an audio person in the indie game world is working this way, but it's certainly a difference from the bigger budget titles, where job roles are more specialised.
I personally mainly work as a sound designer, but occasionally also produce music for promotion/commercial videos. So that's a bit of a hybrid, although music production is generally more of a hobby for me than a steady stream of income.