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Author Topic: My (work) life... up ended.  (Read 9095 times)

Allen Corneau

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My (work) life... up ended.
« on: August 05, 2011, 05:48:23 pm »

Howdy folks,

I know I’ve been a bit come-and-go on the forums lately, and for that I apologize.

I have a new situation: As of August 1st, my boss (the owner of the studio) has reclassified me from an employee (W-2) to a subcontractor (1099). While that wouldn’t be a huge issue by itself he has also told me that at some point in the near future he will be closing down the studio completely.

So it looks like I’m now a freelance mastering engineer. Yea for me. :-\

I’ve never been in this situation so I’m looking for any friendly advice you could offer to help me out.

- I don’t really have any gear of my own, and I also don’t have the money/credit to buy a studio’s worth of gear, so setting up my own shop is out of the question right now.

- I’ve started talking to one other mastering studio in town about renting some room time but I could use some advice on how something like that is usually structured.

- I guess I need to hang out my own virtual shingle. What should I call it? “Allen Corneau Mastering”? Web page, Facebook, and all that crap?

The thrill of the unknown future... Ugh.
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DOMC

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2011, 11:05:44 pm »

Best of luck and I hope it works out for you -where abouts are you situated.. maybe you could hit up some local audio colleges for teaching work to help in the mean time - I find it a great source of secondary income and its a darn rewarding job as well.
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Domc
 
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PBM

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 03:07:41 am »

Howdy folks,

I know I’ve been a bit come-and-go on the forums lately, and for that I apologize.

I have a new situation: As of August 1st, my boss (the owner of the studio) has reclassified me from an employee (W-2) to a subcontractor (1099). While that wouldn’t be a huge issue by itself he has also told me that at some point in the near future he will be closing down the studio completely.

So it looks like I’m now a freelance mastering engineer. Yea for me. :-\

I’ve never been in this situation so I’m looking for any friendly advice you could offer to help me out.

- I don’t really have any gear of my own, and I also don’t have the money/credit to buy a studio’s worth of gear, so setting up my own shop is out of the question right now.

- I’ve started talking to one other mastering studio in town about renting some room time but I could use some advice on how something like that is usually structured.

- I guess I need to hang out my own virtual shingle. What should I call it? “Allen Corneau Mastering”? Web page, Facebook, and all that crap?

The thrill of the unknown future... Ugh.

Hello Allen - really sorry to hear about this. My first thoughts were to make sure that when your boss closes the company you keep in as much contact with your current client base as you can (start spreading the news) and perhaps negotiate with him for a deal with the equipment (I'm assuming he's not closing down to set up elsewhere). You do already have a `name' - so yes: `Allen Corneau Mastering'!

Free-lance can be good!

All the best,

Eric


 
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lowland

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2011, 03:26:08 am »

What Eric said, to which I would add that although things may look bleak at the moment, I know that being forced to consider one's options and plot a new course can be extremely positive, if painful at the time.

The most valuable property you own is all that experience you've built up over the years - you would, for example, be much better placed if cash is short to work ITB for a while and make something of it than someone with no dues paid.
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Nigel Palmer
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Patrik_T

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 04:04:33 am »

...
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2011, 06:02:33 am »

I did this 17 years ago and although there have been some rocky times I would do it all over again.

I second the idea of telling your current clients about your starting out on your own and I would make sure I had their phone numbers and addresses if your current employer is OK with the idea. Some employers can get very possessive over their client list even if they are going out of business. Your employer could, as many of them do, ask you to pay for the list info.

I also second the idea of finding someone in your area that has a mastering/recording studio and partnering up with them. If you were to partner up with someone you would probably be asked to have your own client list to bring with you. If the studio is doing well adding on another mastering engineer may appeal to the owner since he or she could widen out their client base. Make sure if you are partnering up with someone you have ALL the details worked out in advance and have a signed contract with your new partner. Also get some idea of what he or she is currently spending for rent, heat, lights, water and sewage as you maybe asked to "share" half the expenses. You may have to work strange hours so as not to infringe on the person's time who owns the studio.

<When I interned I worked the night shift from 4:00 pm to 12:00 every night (most times we did not get out of the mastering studio until 2 am or later as we were that busy) The engineer I worked with had been doing this for a while and kinda liked the hours. >

The other option would be to find someone to bankroll you, although in these risky financial times it maybe a problem finding someone and would not be my first suggestion.

I was lucky in that when I started out I already had most of the equipment and was able to get my studio built for about 1/3 of what it would cost me today. My studio is in my home so I have a very short commute.

The first thing I would do is make a business plan if you are thinking about starting out on your own. Ask yourself the hard questions and figure out how much money you need to generate then you can figure your rates from there. I did a business plan when I started and have had to tweak it a couple of times but it is basically the same plan I drew up 18 years ago.

Best of luck and keep us informed. Think of it not as the end but as the beginning of your new life.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2011, 06:32:25 am »

Hi there, my honest advice if you wish to stay in the business... This assumes not having to take a loan which not be great idea right now.... start a small mastering studio yourself ASAP. Even if it is ITB to start with, do the acoustic work yourself, your experience, care and attention will shine thats where it's at, not the boxes. Of course ultimately you know your position and practical options better than anyone on a forum does so go with what you know. The struggle will be building clients but there are threads galore if you need to suppliment those you take with you if possible. Also apply for a job immediately with every mastering studio within traveling distance so you are on their radar. All common sense stuff really.

Freelance to me is that you work in numerous studios and people hire you at your hourly rate.
I have always wondered how freelance mastering would ever work because every studio speaker system and room is going to be a bit different and the years you put in knowing the room are a collossal part of the end results.

I wish you all the best and I am sure we can help you out somehow with advice etc. Seems you
have some time, thats going to be useful, put it to good effect.

cheers

Barry
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dietrich

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2011, 07:37:48 am »

Sorry to hear this Allen.
I agree with the other comments to work whatever hours you can at other spots.
While at same time start saving or borrow for proper computer, convertors and monitors asap. Add outboard as you can. So even if you rent a decent room you can bring in gear you know

D
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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2011, 09:55:47 am »

Another thing I have understood is that when you have a energy pushing in any given direction there tends to be interesting coincidences and openings that appear. Do not repeatedly knock on doors ( metaphorically speaking) too long, but just focus energies on those with whom you naturally empathize and those who support you.

I suggest, full steam ahead.
That will be good for the soul.
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Barry Gardner
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2011, 05:45:35 pm »

Thanks for all the advice and sympathies, everyone. I really appreciate it.

I just stopped by a brand new studio in town to check things out. Another possibility, but no solid decisions yet.

Onward through the fog.
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Allen
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2011, 12:46:35 pm »

Hey Allen,

Persistence and tenacity are the keys.

As others have said, hang in there and keep your chin up, things have a way of working out for the best, especially if you don't beat yourself up over it.

Darkest before the Dawn.

One door closes, yet others open.

Silver lining, etc...

Best Regards, Jerry
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bblackwood

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2011, 01:27:03 pm »

Sorry to hear of your troubles, Allen. Keep your eyes and ears open and move forward with a positive attitude - I suspect you'll look back on this at some point in the future and see it as a blessing...
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 10:41:20 am »

Howdy folks,

Still trying to figure things out, but... It looks like I may be working out of another facility.

Since I've never been in this kind of predicament before I would love to speak to anyone who has been/is in this kind of situation. I would like to get a feel for what might be considered a "normal" arrangement.

If you would like to help please email me directly at Allen (at) ESMastering [dot] com.

Thanks.
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Allen
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 07:51:24 pm »

Hey Allen, From what I know,

Engineers are usually treated as contract labor (1099 misc),
And usually receive half or less of the hourly rate, as payment (usually less).
That means you have to pay your own taxes, FICA, health insurance, etc.

Who furnishes the equipment, what the hours of operation are, pay rate, and benefits (if any), are negotiable, depending on how much business you can bring in, including previous clientel, and if you bring any gear with you.

The term (length) of that arrangement can also be negotiable, after which any percentage raises are negotiable.

The other arrangement would be to rent the room for a flat rate, and charge whatever you charge.

Perhaps a top notch outfit like Sterling or Masterdisk may have a more "employee with benefits" situation.

Any other perspectives?

JT
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2011, 08:33:20 am »

Thanks Jerry, that's great info.

With everyone's help, I'm slowly muddling through this process and hopefully I'll be in a good situation when I come out the other end.
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Allen
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Allen Corneau Mastering
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Joe_caithness

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2011, 05:58:17 pm »

Sorry to hear that Allen, what a blow.

My advice is echoing many statements, if you have the experience, the gear might have to be minimal but the work should be good enough to build up pretty quickly.

A studio share would be a great idea perhaps, can you muster up any money? 2000 dollars could get you a pair of really good near fields, a good enough DA, the basic plugins to do decent work and home made acoustic treatment.

That and a part time job to pay the bills could work a treat, I mean, do you have a room in your house that could be converted? I actually was forced because of financial and contractual reasons to move my studio into my house, originally just for a while, but I ended up making the room so much better than I had it before, and liked the working life at home, that I'm sticking here.. keeps the overheads down that's for sure!
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2011, 10:23:10 pm »

News update:

For better or for worse, I'm now officially on my own.

I'll be working out of the well-appointed Omega Mastering Studio. First session is already booked for a week from Tuesday!

http://omegamastering.com/

For the moment I'll be going with the name "Allen Corneau Mastering" (surprising, huh?!?) Hope to get a logo designed and a website up soon.

Gotta say, getting used to having 4 different EQ's at your disposal is going to take some getting used to. Even worse is getting used to the new room and speakers! I feel like I'm in a foreign land.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who has offered advice or an encouraging word. I'll let you guys know how the first session goes!
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phonon

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2011, 10:41:48 pm »

Nice going, AC! Looks like Omega got an alpha ME on their roster.  Like the gear.  Especially the Manley "bulbs eq."  (;   Didn't Dave Hill build the Summit eq?  Omega website attributes it to R. Neve.  ?  Love the Dunlavy setup (with Bedini Class A!).   I have a subtle tweak to the SC columns for my liking, anyway.  It uses piano felt strips attached to the cabinet front on either side of the already-felted M-T-M section.   When operated without the grille, the columns no longer have a radiused edge.  However, with the extra felt edges, on the sides, it doesn't matter.   The focus is still quite sharp, but is, to me, a little smoother, if that makes sense.   Glad you have these big digs and plenty of eq decisions to make, but with that Backbone, it could be quite easy to decide which one is working best.


Andrew
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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2011, 10:57:39 pm »

(;   Didn't Dave Hill build the Summit eq?  Omega website attributes it to R. Neve. 
Those model numbers have always been confusing. IIRC Rupert Neve was involved with the EQ 200 and Dave Hill was involved with the EQP 200.
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bblackwood

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2011, 11:06:49 pm »

IIRC, Dave Hill did all the silver-faced Summit stuff, Rupert Neve helped out on the digitally controlled analog (blue-faced) stuff.
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Brad Blackwood
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2011, 11:50:38 pm »

Congrats Allen! Looks like a good situation.

Jerry
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2011, 12:06:22 am »

Nice going, AC! Looks like Omega got an alpha ME on their roster.  Like the gear.  Especially the Manley "bulbs eq."

Yeah, funny thing about that... both the new studio and my old one have the Massive Passive, STC-8 and HEDD, so I'll be familiar with those guys. Getting used to the Ibis, 5500, EQ-200 and most especially the Dunlavys/room and Sequoia 11 will be the biggest challenges.

Wish me luck!
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Allen
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Allen Corneau Mastering
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phonon

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2011, 12:46:11 am »

IIRC, Dave Hill did all the silver-faced Summit stuff, Rupert Neve helped out on the digitally controlled analog (blue-faced) stuff.

Go ahead, Sir Rupert...       But, no mic pres?  */*

 The "bulbs" got me thinking we might be entering Funk Logic territory with the gear list - possibly, on purpose.   

Alan is getting to have an eq smorgasbord. 

Good luck, Alan.   

Andrew
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lowland

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2011, 04:46:32 am »

Congrats, Allen!

Yes, the "Massive Passive Bulbs Equalizer" may take some getting into, sounds like something used in horticultural quality control!

If you're still searching for a name, how about 'Cornucopia Mastering'? Plenty of logo possibilities there, I should think.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornucopia
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Mastertone

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2011, 05:58:56 am »

Congrats Allen!
Looks like an awesome place! And you are going to love Sequoia
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2011, 07:13:49 am »


Yes, the "Massive Passive Bulbs Equalizer" may take some getting into, sounds like something used in horticultural quality control!

Yeah, I'll have to get Jorge to fix that. (English isn't his primary language.)

Wouldn't an opto-style compressor be considered a lightbulb compressor?   ;D
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Allen
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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2011, 11:10:05 pm »

Congratulations Allen! I hope everything works out well for you at the new place!
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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2011, 03:17:15 pm »

Alls well that ends well. ;)
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2011, 05:04:24 pm »

I have a temporary website up and running.

http://allencorneau.com/

Woot!

(Gotta go add that to all my forum profiles now!)
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Allen
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Allen Corneau Mastering
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Joe_caithness

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2011, 08:10:38 am »

Happy for you bro.
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2011, 10:35:12 pm »

Update:

Did my first session in the new room today, a 4 song heavy-rock session, and while I don't think I quite "nailed it" I think I got pretty good results. 

Thanks to some great advice from Dave McNair and others I mostly relied on the gear I already knew (Massive Passive, STC-8 and HEDD) but tried little nudges with the other gear including the API 5500, Crane Song Ibis and SSL comp. Didn't mess with the Summit EQ-200 yet as it seems like the user interface has a bit of a learning curve and I've got enough of that going on already!

Some initial reactions:

First off, the Manley Backbone made it really easy to see what each processor was really doing for/to the sound. I like!

I took to the 5500 fairly quickly and I felt comfortable using it without too much second guessing (it's not exactly a complicated EQ!) Ended up using it on 3 out of the 4 mixes.

The Ibis is a little bit touchy in the boost/cut control (I think this is the standard version) and I'm used to being able to completely disable any/all bands like on the MP. Also find the musical notes a little weird, but I'm sure I get used to it quickly. I really liked what the low-cut was doing for some of these mixes. Used it on 2 songs.

I've never had an opportunity to use an SSL compressor before, and while I found it to be quite grabby I ended up keeping it on one song to help tame some peaks and tighten up the low end a touch.

Managed to get through the session without getting all FUBAR'd in Sequoia, which was my biggest fear. Still getting used to having to switch between two different sessions (pitch/catch) to listen between the songs previously done and the one I'm working on.

All in all, I think the clients really liked the new studio and I felt decently comfortable working in the room. For some reason I felt really good about the session even though I know I have a few things to tweak with the songs.

Woot!
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Allen
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Allen Corneau Mastering
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lowland

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2011, 06:04:44 am »

Nice one, Allen! I'm sure you'll go from strength to strength from here.
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bblackwood

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2011, 07:26:54 am »

Congrats, Allen. It's unnerving working in a new space, initially, but if the room's good, you'll settle in pretty quick.
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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #33 on: October 05, 2011, 12:48:13 pm »

Yes, excellent news! You'll be settled in no time, and after a few months has passed you'll be finding out things are rolling really good. Room change is always frightening, but it's also refreshing.
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Allen Corneau

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Re: My (work) life... up ended.
« Reply #34 on: October 29, 2011, 11:52:49 am »

Just finalized my new business logo...



Designed by Isaac Ayala, an old climbing friend of mine that now lives in Germany. (Skype makes this kind of thing very easy!)

DC: sorry for stealing your diamond design, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Business card and website design is in the works. Now if I can just figure out how to change all my forum avatars...
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Allen
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Allen Corneau Mastering
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