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Getting Started As a Live Sound Engineer...?

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  • Getting Started As a Live Sound Engineer...?

    I'm a student in the audio production course at my community college and I know I want to have a career in music. What are the best ways to network in the live sound industry to get clients that will work with me as I learn? I'm pretty green and just know the basics, what I need are real world scenarios in which I can learn and gain experience. I'm aware that I can't sell half of a product so I'm willing to kind of "intern" for artists and groups to work their live sound gear/consoles. How can I build on my foundation?

  • #2
    I met a guy a couple of years ago who took an audio production course with the objective of working as a recording engineer. Instead he got a job with a live production company as an assistant and started working his way up. The last time he was here, he was running the show and doing so very competently.

    When I complimented him on how quickly he picked things up he said it was because he had been working with people who were really good at what they did. I'm a firm believer in apprenticeship and I think it works in this profession as well.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by onelife View Post
      I met a guy a couple of years ago who took an audio production course with the objective of working as a recording engineer. Instead he got a job with a live production company as an assistant and started working his way up. The last time he was here, he was running the show and doing so very competently.

      When I complimented him on how quickly he picked things up he said it was because he had been working with people who were really good at what they did. I'm a firm believer in apprenticeship and I think it works in this profession as well.


      There's a lot of sound companies out there and summer festival season is here depending on where you live).

      You'll want to work under somebody, and then get your name out there.

      Lots of stages that will play to 10,000 peeps, also have smaller side show venues. They look for folks that can handle and are will to run a small system, while others are running the big boards.

      I think in the end you will be moving lots of gear, so you will not only need to know how to mix, but break down a system, and move it to the truck or tractor trailer.

      Like you said your work your way up the ladder.

      _____________________________________
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      • #4
        ^ all good advice. Also, head into the local clubs and talk to the sound guys. Most are barely competent, but every now and then you find a gem who is willing to mentor you. It isn't just the board, you need to learn mic selection and placement, monitors, bluetooth, wifi and wireless, lighting, amp and drum baffling, rigging...I know because I did this for several years professionally and still do it for myself and my bands. Much of it I learned just being in bands, but I also took classes in broadcasting in college, which lead myself and my later partner to be the 'student recording engineers', and then the sound reinforcement team for the college. We were fortunate that we had a great mentor who was in the industry and was teaching part time.
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        • #5
          There's been some very good suggestions already.

          In addition to interning and starting your way up the ladder from the bottom and doing all the independent / remote learning (book and Internet study) that you can, try to get around town and see / meet the local bands. Find some of the younger / newer ones and volunteer to work with them - for free at first of course - like them, you're learning the ropes... but it might evolve into something as time goes on and both your skill level and theirs increases. Also, it never hurts to know all the local musicians - you never know what bands they may be in later, and they may remember you when they need a soundperson in the future.

          You might also want to ask this question over on the Live Sound forum to get their input and perspectives on it.
          **********

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

            You might also want to ask this question over on the Live Sound forum to get their input and perspectives on it.
            Absolutely. Get the perspective of guys who've done this at every level, right up to the A national tours.

            Be prepared for this to not be what you expected, just like most jobs.
            "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else" - Yogi Berra, 1925-2015

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            • daddymack
              daddymack commented
              Editing a comment
              hey, get back to where you belong! and take Phil with you!

              But, yes, Craig V's forum is fertile ground for information on this subject...

            • Phil O'Keefe
              Phil O'Keefe commented
              Editing a comment
              Hey daddymack!

          • #7


            "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else" - Yogi Berra, 1925-2015

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            • #8
              I would advise that you carefully research this endeavor before jumping in, making a living at live sound is not something a great many people do. Most of the folks I know who actually make any money at this also do other things such as operating a retail store, rentals and have a very substantial inventory. Is it possible to be a Gun-For-Hire engineer without doing all that? I suppose it is but the air is very thin up there. I don't mean to rain on your parade but the longer I've done this as a great side job, the more I'm convinced it would have been a very poor choice (for me anyway) of a career that needs to pay bills.

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              • daddymack
                daddymack commented
                Editing a comment
                Good point...I do know several guys who are professional sound engineers, mainly doing roadwork/tours. Not only is it highly competitive, but there can be a lot of down time between gigs, so you really do need multiple income streams [like pretty much everything else in the Music Biz these days].
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