Everything you hear on TV, the radio, in a podcast, streaming devices, commercials, movie soundtracks and released by your favorite band has had the hands (and ears) of an audio engineer on them. And there's never been more ways to deliver that content to the audience—making the demand for skilled engineers higher than ever.
MPR News host Kerri Miller led a panel discussion with three women working in different audio engineering fields to talk about what got them interested, what their experience has been like, and why women are still outnumbered in the field.
Kerri was joined by:
• Veronica Rodriguez, a Technical Director at MPR and former Radio Broadcast Engineer for the Minnesota Vikings
• Katharine Horowitz, a Theatrical Sound Designer and composer, and a 2017 McKnight Theater Artist Fellow at the Playwrights' Center
• Rhaelee Gronholz, a freelance live sound and studio engineer in the Twin Cities (Freelance includes - Fineline, Crooners, Armory, CEO Jill of All Trades, CEO of Hub Entertainment, Lead Vocalist at Rhaelee)
MPR Link below:
Pass The Mic
Talking Shop with Rhaelee Gronholz, Owner and CEO of Jill of All Trades
Talking Shop is a series where women, trans and non-binary folks in the music business give you a behind-the-scenes look at their day-to-day lives. Talking Shop was created with the philosophy that representation matters, not only for performers, but for all careers in the music industry. The series demystifies jobs in music with the goal inspiring younger generations to pursue their dream job.
For the first installment of Talking Shop, I visited Rhaelee Gronholz at a studio in IPR College of Creative Arts, where Gronholz studied audio engineering. She has a background in audio, but does much more than sit behind a sound board. Gronholz describes herself as a “Jill of All Trades.” She owns her own company, works as a freelance live sound engineer and studio recording engineer, writes, sings, and releases her own music. She is currently working on her debut album, Music=Language.
Name: Rhaelee Gronholz (she/her/hers)
Job Title: Owner and CEO of Jill of All Trades
What is a “Jill of All Trades?”
The Jill of All Trades, I look at it as a value base, a character base. That means that you’re willing to take on any projects that need to be taken on in any scenario. If you’re the one delegating the roles in a situation, you should be able to own up to personal responsibility if something goes wrong, or if you delegate a role to somebody who isn’t capable of fulfilling it, then you need to step in and take care of it and figure it out because either way the show has to go on. If you think about concerts or theater performances, they don’t just stop for nothing— they go on regardless.
The three main things that I split myself into are my live sound engineering for the Fine Line [Music Café], Crooner’s Lounge & Supper Club, and other places I freelance at; my studio work with clientele and creating music with other people; and my own personal music, which is really important to me. I have one single out and I’m releasing a 10-song album soon.
What does a typical work day look like for the Jill of All Trades?
It would look like me waking up and playing some piano. I don’t like waking up to an alarm clock— most of my gigs happen at night— eating breakfast, hanging out with my Pomeranian Jack Jack, going to a meeting— usually I meet up with multiple different people during the week; we have consistent meetings and band rehearsals, I do arts management. So just multiple different things— I do studio sessions and live sound for venues at night like the Fine Line, First Avenue, and Crooner’s. Those are just a couple places I work, but I freelance all over, so you’ll see me doing that on a day-to-day basis.
How did you get started in the music industry?
I got started in this industry when I was five, I like to say, because when anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a singer. Me and my mom would sing in the kitchen all the time together to Patsy Cline, “Crazy,” songs like that, classic favorites.
I started being intrigued with this side of it [points to sound board] when we used to do karaoke together. She had a pretty beefy setup: 12 channels, each with EQ. I mean, 12 channels now to me seems like nothing, but back then I was like, “What? All these knobs make it sound weird?” I started messing around with things, and then I realized that I had a knack for what sounded good in a room and what sounded harsh and hurt your hearing; how to create an environment for your listener.
What is one thing you love about your job?
I love multiple things about my job. I’d say that music is something that everybody can relate to, whether you’re in the music industry full-time or if you’re just a listener and a consumer. Music for me has been life changing; ever since I was a kid it was my own escape. There’s not one aspect of the industry that I don’t love, at this point. We all have to do things that we don’t like sometimes to succeed, but that’s part of getting to the other side of success; it doesn’t just come easy, or everybody would be doing it. So for me, I view it as, as long as you know what feels good to you and what feels right, then you’re doing what you should be doing.
What is a challenge that you have faced in your job, and how did you navigate it?
One challenge that I have faced in this industry has to do with nobody else but my own self. That would be just getting down on yourself every once in a while and doubting that you have the capability to do what it takes to make a living in this industry and to keep making a living, to keep staying relevant. There are constant technology changes in this industry, and I have to be at the top of it, otherwise you get left behind. For me, I think that has been the hardest challenge: just maintaining the balance of it. There are people who don’t even know this is a job position, period. There are people who, when they hear that you’re in music, they say, “Oh that’s not a real job, that’s your side-job.” It’s like, no, I do this full-time— that’s my job. I think that’s been the biggest struggle, is just to find my place and find my authenticity; that I’m real and that I’m here and that I’m doing it; that I do what I say I am going to do.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out? What advice would you give to someone aspiring to enter your field?
Nothing good comes easy; it doesn’t come quickly. They did this study on kids— very simple. They had a marshmallow and asked them, “Do you want this marshmallow now, or do you want two later, in an hour?” Almost every kid wanted it right away; instant gratification. And we are a generation that’s gotten used to instant gratification with phones, with everything else we’re doing. But the kids who decided to wait, in their adult years as they grew up showed major success. Because they knew the kind of things you can get from waiting, and getting twice as much, just by the way that you are thinking about it.
Small Business Saturday: Jill of all Trades/HUB Entertainment
Rhaelee Gronholz, IPR alumni and owner of Jill of All Trades/HUB Entertainment
Rhaelee Gronholz is an IPR graduate of the Audio Production and Engineering and Live Sound and Show Production programs. Since graduating, she has started her own staging company and has worked alongside well-known venues in the Twin Cities area.
In addition to being a live sound engineer and audio producer, Rhaelee is also a performer. She has just released her Music = Language EP on Apple Music and Spotify. On this EP, she has collaborated with fellow IPR alumni, as well as instructors including Walter Chancellor Jr.
Rhaelee had participated in IPR’s Women in the Media Discussion Panel on November 15th, where she had discussed highlights of working in the audio industry. To view recaps and live streaming of this event, please see our Facebook post.
What is the name of your business? When did you officially “open your doors”?
The name of my business is Jill of All Trades. It’s an umbrella company to my second business Hub Entertainment, a staging company. I first opened the doors on May 22nd 2017.
What does your company do? What is your website (if you have one)?
My company specializes in sound manipulation and live or studio engineering as well as, hydraulic stage rentals for outdoor shows. I have multiple venues and production companies that I partner with across the twin cities for different events, sessions and performances. We strive to reach as far as necessary in order to give clients a safe stage setup for shows. Whether its performances, motivational speakers, or even outdoor yoga events, we will accommodate our clients needs.
Both my personal music projects and HUB Entertainment links can be found at Rhaeleesmusic.com.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from having your own business?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned, is that no matter how many times I may fall down, to always get back up and do it with a smile. There isn’t one thing I can think of that I didn’t learn or take away from during these experiences, good or bad. Owning a business isn’t easy, and sometimes I have to say “Yes I can do that for you!” at times when I just want to relax and silence my mind. You know it’s like that saying “Success isn’t easy, or everyone would be doing it.”
What has been the most rewarding aspect of having your own business?
The most rewarding aspect of owning my own business, is getting to work for causes and organizations that I believe in and can get behind. Working with movers and shakers that understand, in order to be the change we want to see in the world, we should be demonstrating that change. It’s one thing to talk about issues on how this world can be a better place, but it’s another to go out and put actions behind words.
What advice do you have for other IPR graduates or students who are aspiring to be self-employed?
Do it. Anyone that tells you it’ll be too hard, or too time consuming, or when will you be able to go out and hangout, do you have the money for it? Don’t listen to them, do the things you aspire to do and be the passion that’s lit inside of you. Go out and find a way to get it done, and if that doesn’t work try a new tactic, many people forget that we can reach the same destination a multitude of ways.
Jill of All Trades
Doin it for the love