AU alumna continues to work as an audio engineer in quarantine
Svetlana Karapetyan is finding opportunities to share her love of music and educate others despite the pandemic
American University Class of 2020 alumna Svetlana Karapetyan, known in the music industry as “Mixed by Lana,” is continuing to pursue her passion for music by working as an audio engineer, despite the unique challenges of a college student transitioning into the professional world during a pandemic.
According to Karapetyan, there is one thing that always remains a necessity with or without the pandemic: having good people who can guide you in the right direction. Karapetyan credited her mentors for getting to where she is today.
“The most important thing I could tell anyone entering college is to have professors and mentors that can lead you the right way,” Karapetyan said. “I had good experiences with professors and mentors who helped me.”
Karapetyan initially started at AU in the School of International Service before transferring to the audio technology (ATEC) program. Karapetyan always had an interest in music and sound.
“AU was great because it was so diverse in the artists and musicians they brought in for recording classes. We recorded bands and musicians ranging from jazz bands to rap groups to alternative rock,” Karapetyan said. “I love music overall, so there isn't a genre I wouldn't want to work with.”
The pandemic’s impact on the music industry was palpable from the start — live concerts in concert halls were no longer happening while streaming services such as Spotify took off in popularity. One of the biggest changes during the pandemic was that already existing trends accelerated, specifically music technology increasing at a more rapid rate.
“Music and arts was definitely the first industry that was hit. We are getting more hopeful with hiring coming back,” Karapetyan said. “The arts world is a lot about what to give to an audience.”
For Karapetyan, the changes in music technology present challenges for her as an audio engineer. She said that she enjoys working on other people’s music projects and explained that she has been able to stay motivated. However, one thing that was on her mind was how technological advancements have impacted her career.
“Maybe people, like hip-hop artists, for example, aren’t going to need mixing engineers with technology advancing quicker,” Karapetyan said. “Their beats are electronically produced. A lot of people were creating different opportunities.
Audio engineers and producers do similar but different jobs. Audio engineers are in charge of operating the soundboard, mixing the audio and setting up the studio equipment. The producer is in charge of the entire music project and can decide how they want the song to be arranged and, for example, create electronic beats.
Karapetyan is currently working independently from her home in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. She said that she has her own personal equipment to do her work on projects. Karapetyan is collaborating on the upcoming EP of a New York City-based rapper, St. Wave. She is also mixing a song for LA-based rapper R. NoKelly, who is dedicating the song to his mother for Mother’s Day.
She was also not short of advice for students who are entering the professional world.
“Don’t be afraid to contact people internationally, especially since a lot of music business is international and not just in the United States. Be personal, friendly, and treat others how you want to be treated. You have to always have good energy. Know that no one is holding your hand anymore,” Karapetyan said. “You learn a new kind of discipline in the professional world.”
Karapetyan also mentioned that as disciplined as one thinks they are after college, that there is another kind of discipline required in the professional world. She has continued her job search for a job in audio engineering and has gotten multiple interviews.
Karapetyan’s next goal is to educate others about any music-related topics such as copyright issues or music theory. She is launching an information resource center to fulfill that purpose.