Making it in the Music Industry
Title: Music Producer/Audio Engineer
Company: Will Yip Music
Music has been very uplifting for Will Yip, leading him from toiling in his parents’ basement to touring with Lauryn Hill. At 16 years old, Yip was charging bands little to nothing to record and mix tracks on an old Dell computer. Now, at 23, the self-taught music producer and audio engineer works with a $750,000 soundboard at recording facility Studio 4 in Philadelphia.
Yip and his mentor, Grammy winning engineer Phil Nicolo, recently worked as sound techs for the Raggamuffin Tour in Australia and New Zealand, featuring musical acts Shaggy, Sean Kingston, and Lauryn Hill. Yip played the role of audio engineer, keeping the house sound in check. When on tour, Yip usually acts as a drummer and stage tech. In the studio, he meticulously positions microphones to get the ideal sound of an artist and builds a song by recording and layering digital audio tracks. Hi-tech equipment may seem like an integral part in his career, but Yip says his people skills and a passion for music are the most important tools.
Here’s What Will Yip Knows:
I was putting in full-time hours in my studio the second I stepped into college. I was going to school and putting in eight hours a day, seven days a week. When I wasn’t in school and wasn’t sleeping, I was playing drums, writing songs,and working in front of a board, mixing and recording.
One internship isn’t enough. I made my life and my future from volunteering my time in four different studios. I took out the trash. I made coffee. You couldn’t get rid of me!
Competition for clientele is the hardest part. The toughest thing was finding clients and competing with the recording studios. But luckily, I’ve had a core group of guys that I still work with who have been with me since I was 16 and working in my parents’ basement.
Equipment is very, very expensive. I’m working on boards right now that are close to $750,000. When I first started out, I always found a way around the lack of equipment and money just to at least make music with people. And I’ve learned that it’s not the plane that gets you there—it’s the pilot.
It’s not a 9-to-5 job. You have to be on your game every second—and be passionate about what you’re doing. If you’re passionate about it, you’ll be fine. Because then all you’ll want to do is work.
Miss [Lauryn] Hill is one of the most intense and brilliant artists I’ve ever met. We’ll have rehearsals from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 in the morning. It’s like physical boot camp with her. She’ll push her musicians to the limit physically, and really their emotional limits, because people are just on the brink of going crazy. But she tests you and she pushes you so she can get the best out of you.
I want to be the least talented, least well-known person in the room. I constantly want to be inspired. Surround yourself with the right people. Surround yourself with motivated, good, hardworking people because it will rub off on you. Other people definitely bring out the creative side of you, and being inspired is such an integral part of furthering yourself.
Anyone can push one of these audio faders but being able to connect with people on a personal level is so much more valuable. I’ve picked up the personal and business skills along the way. And that’s probably the most important thing about running a studio.
I’m big on vibe. I’m big on making sure people work well together. If I’m not going to be the best person for the gig, I don’t want to do it. It’ll be hard for both of us.