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MICHIGAN MUSIC

APRIL, 2000

FEATURED RID GRAD GETS RECORD DEAL

BY ROBERT DENNIS

Some people have all the luck.   But wait a minute - is it luck or hard work, dedication and the right connections?   Read a little about how RID Graduate Andy Toth got his national record deal and judge for yourself.

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Above:  Andy Toth picture from July. 1998 REQ article just after getting his Disc LTD engineering job
Right: A March 2000 Cover of MetroTimes issue (leading arts & entertainment weekly in Detroit area) featuring Andy, a Jive Records recording artist.  Andy & musical partner Paris make up "The Grand Pubahs"

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The Story Of Andy - Step 1: Training For The Goal
June 1997, Andy came in to the school for a tour of Recording Institute of Detroit and liked what he saw. He signed up for the full Recording Engineer / Producer training program with a starting date in August, 1997. Andy did well enough with his first classes that he was invited to join the October 1997 Advanced Recording Course before actually finishing Basic Recording.
On his enrollment survey and during his initial interview, Andy stated that he was interested in producing techno and dance music.    A buddy of his, a keyboard player,  signed up at the same time (we'll call him "Joe").  The idea was that both of them would take the program and then work together on making it in the music field;  Joe would specialize in the music and Andy would specialize in recording engineering.
Step 2: Getting Started
Both Andy and Joe did very well in the training program.  Both of them moved faster than the regular program schedule due to hard study and extra time put in.  By Spring, 1998 both were interning at The Disc Ltd, as they were finishing their final course requirements.
The offer from the studio went to Joe.   The studio was willing to begin working him in to paid sessions while he was still interning.  It would work out as sort of a cross-fade between interning and being fully- employed in the field.  The studio was impressed with both of them, but Joe's keyboard skills gave him a slight edge over Andy.  But Joe's employment only lasted four weeks before he turned in his notice.  Joe had decided that he really didn't have the patience to work on client's music and wanted to work 100% on his own music.   Joe suggested that Andy could work out better and the studio made the same offer to Andy.
Step 3: Getting Established
Andy did well from the beginning.   Clients liked him and he did well for a beginner.  He steadily increased his paid hours and client list and, as quickly as anyone, worked into being a main engineer at the studio.  On June 16,1998 (6 weeks after beginning his employment) REQ did an interview with Andy and a follow-up interview 3 1/2 months later.  You can read these postings by going here.
But there's more to getting established, and the studio realizes this.  I'm going to let Greg Reilly, the head of the studio tell you about this:
There's a lot to learn to get really good at engineering, far more than any educational program could ever try to teach.  I want my engineers to be the best; I want them to know every knob and every menu, every technique and even invent their own techniques.  This is important to the studio, it's clients and even to the engineer himself.  I'm willing to bump up salary and position as soon as an engineer can show they are worth it - it's just good business.
People are going to learn on the job, but if all of their learning is on the job it's really too slow and not optimum for anyone.  People learn best by being given an opportunity to "do their own thing"
Because of these facts we have had, since our first year of operation, an "In-House" recording policy.  Engineers who work for us can record their own projects when the facility doesn't have a paid client.  We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but there is always some un-booked time and slower periods in the year.  The requirements are stringent.  In house can be cancelled for paid work at a moment's notice.  Engineers have to keep hands-off of studio clients and not let doing their projects prevent them from being sharp for their client sessions.   There are, of course, other rules.  As long as the Engineer abides by the rules, he (or she) is free to use the facility for their own projects. - Greg Reilly
After I got the quote, I asked Greg, "What if engineers make  millions of dollars?"   Greg replied "Then they make  millions of dollars - hopefully they will spend some of it here."  Greg also added that this could change sometime in the future because it cost the studio more than a small amount of money to provide this perk, but that the overall vibe wouldn't.
Step 4:  Taking Advantage Of Opportunity
Almost immediately Andy began the project with Paris on his available in-house time.  By late summer of 1999 several cuts were complete.  He let me hear some of his music and I was very impressed.  I suggested a particular cut as his hottest but he and Paris were set on the cut called "Sandwich" (my second choice).   When the single was released in early fall my choice was on the "B Side" and "Sandwich" was the "A Side."
Detroit is know as a main center for techno music, especially in Europe.  A techno friend of Andy's began a techno distribution service in Ann Arbor, Michigan called "*67".  Andy and his partner pressed up 2000 copies and gave it to the Ann Arbor connection.  *67 got it into markets in Detroit, New York, Ohio and Japan.  The pressings sold out and the "noise" in New York's techno scene attracted Jive Records' attention.  The deal was cut late January and the Jive release is due out shortly.
For those of you who don't know this, Jive Records is no small company.  They currently have the #1 album in Billboard called "No Strings Attached" by 'N Sync with over 4 million records sold in 4 weeks.
What Caused This Success?
Was it luck?  Was it hard work and dedication?  Was it industry connections?  It's possible that we all can agree that it was some kind of combination of all of these things.

Copyright 2000, by Robert Dennis, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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