Ep. 132: The secret life of… the recording studio engineer; with John Long

recording studio engineer

Photo by SoundGirls Women in Audio on Unsplash

What exactly IS a recording studio engineer, and what do they do? We discuss the “golden era” of sound engineering (1955-1975), the dual roles engineers played during this time, how the role has changed in recent decades, and why today’s engineers have a renewed interest in the processes of that era.


My guest today is John Long, who is joining me from the Houston area of Texas. John is the creator of a brand new educational website that is dedicated to telling the stories of the engineers, studio facilities, and technologies behind the development of post-WWII pop music. The website project is called The Recording Session Vault. John is a former assistant recording studio engineer who worked with Grammy-award winning artists and engineers in recording studio facilities in Austin, Los Angeles, and the Nashville metro area.


We discuss:

  • What IS a Recording Studio Engineer, and what do they do?
  • Why was 1955-1975 considered a golden era of sound engineering? How is the recording process different today than it was pre-1975?
  • How the role of the recording studio engineer has changed & evolved since the 1950s
  • Why the biggest audience drawn to the website are people (including Ed Sheeran’s engineer) between 18-34 years old.
  • What is was like to work in the industry with Grammy-award winning artists and engineers.
  • Future predictions for this role.
  • What’s a typical career path for someone in this field (IS there a typical career path)? What type of person would be a good fit for this role? Recommendations for those contemplating this career.
  • John’s educational website project, The Recording Session Vault, including its various elements (website, blog series, and podcast) and the reason John started it.

Connect/Other Resources

In-Episode Promo

The Business Side of Music podcast


John says: For me, one of my earliest memories of my love for music came when my Dad took me to a place called, Unclaimed Freight, which was where items that had been damaged or were defective were taken and sold. He bought me a radio/cassette player that had a small speaker built into it. In the early 1980s, of course, we called it a jambox. With it, I could record my favorite songs from the radio and since cassettes were so expensive, but blank cassettes were relatively cheap, I used it to develop collections of my favorite songs. It was my first experience with music recording. I also enjoyed and still sometimes think about hearing all of the wonderful music that I would listen to on the local radio station while riding around in my grandfather’s truck while we were taking care of his cattle or baling hay for them, or working with the local farmers in our small rural community. 

Closing Words

Thanks so much to John for enlightening us (me, for sure) on this behind-the-scenes role of the recording studio engineer. Check out John’s new educational website project that we discussed – it shines a spotlight on this engineer role, including its history, profiles of some of the heavy hitters of the industry, and a Q&A blog. You’ll find it all at www.recordingsessionvault.com.

All links from today’s episode – including a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes. All links are also in the episode details right in your podcast app. While you’re there, I would love to hear from you! Let me know how music is enhancing YOUR life. You can reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

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