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Careers in Live Music

In case you hadn’t noticed, live music is big business. The highest-grossing tours by major label artists can rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and are getting more lucrative all the time—not to mention the thousands of indie acts and up-and-coming bands who perform in small to mid-size venues to gain exposure and supplement their income. Music fans love to hear their favorite bands play live, and they’ll shell out good money for a ticket.

Suffice it to say there’s money to be made in live music. You don’t have to be a touring artist to make a living performing live, although if you want to be, that’s cool. But behind the performing acts are lots of other people making things happen. If you’re preparing for a career in audio engineering or the music business, there are plenty of possible careers in live music for you to consider. Here are just a few:

  • Live sound engineer. Mid-size to large tours are always in need of skilled audio engineers (or team of engineers) to travel with them and make them sound outstanding in a wide range of venues. Hooking up with one of these tours can be very lucrative. If you’re the type of person who likes the challenge of creating an excellent sound experience in a variety of settings, or if you just like to travel, this might be just the gig for you.
  • Live venue engineer. If you prefer to stay local and work with a lot of different bands, you might consider becoming the house engineer at a small to mid-size venue in town. These venues need good sound people to help them stay competitive with other venues. As a live venue engineer, instead of trying to work in a wide range of settings, you’ll get the challenge of supporting lots of different types of bands in creating a great sound experience.
  • Guitar tech. Ever notice how so many touring guitarists switch guitars in between songs onstage? A guitar tech is the person backstage who coordinates these changes, managing the gear and effects, and tuning and setting up guitars for the players while they perform. As a guitar tech, you’re providing critical support to help the show run smoothly.
  • Concert lighting technician. Who makes the band shine–literally? It’s the concert lighting technician, responsible for everything from throwing a spotlight on solo player to creating a dazzling light show for the audience to enjoy. If you have an eye for color and good technical sense, this could be the job for you.
  • Concert promoter. Great live shows don’t just happen; they’re coordinated, organized and advertised by concert promoters. The promoter sets up the date at a venue, schedules great bands to fill the time, and gets the word out about the show so people will come see it.
  • Venue owner. If you get a kick out of seeing great shows by different bands every night, if you love seeing music lovers come to enjoy the music—and if you’d like to make some money while making that happen—how about launching your own live music venue? Venue owners literally “set the stage” for live shows, providing a great location for bands to perform and fans to come see them.
  • Band manager. For bands and artists to be successful, they really need someone to handle the legwork of scheduling the shows, covering promotion, scheduling press interviews, etc. That’s the job of the band manager. If you have a band or artist you believe in and you want to help them connect with fans, this is a great way to do it.