Life As a Concert Audio Technician
If you’re apprenticing as an audio engineer with a dream of becoming a concert audio technician (or live audio engineer, as some call it), you might be wondering what you have to look forward to. What does life as a concert audio technician really look like?
Some of it obviously depends on what type of live audio you’re working in. For example, if you are a house engineer for a local venue, you’ll stay close to home while you work with lots of different bands. On the other hand, if you get hired for a tour, you’ll work with the same band every night in a variety of venues. Each scenario has its own set of advantages and challenges, but some aspects of the job are fairly similar in any role. Here are some things to expect as you move out of your apprenticeship and into your career.
EXPECT LONG HOURS AND HARD WORK
Most concerts happen at night, so you can look forward to working late each night. Your job doesn’t end when the show’s over, either—you’ll likely be part of closing up the house, or packing up the gear for the next venue, if you’re traveling. You’ll also be on-hand hours before showtime the next night, setting up the gear, checking the sound and solving any acoustic problems. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours, no matter how you look at it.
EXPECT TO DEAL WITH LOTS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE
Whether you’re traveling or at home, life as a concert audio technician means you’ll be encountering and working with lots of different types of people—and as in any business, some are nicer than others. You’ll have to learn how to deal diplomatically with tired artists with sensitive egos, and you’ll have to learn how to be gracious while doing what it takes to get the job done, night after night.
EXPECT SOME LONELINESS
While you may start off being dazzled at the chance to work with potentially famous rock stars, eventually it settles in on you that while everyone else is dancing and partying to the music—you’re the guy/gal working behind the board or backstage, making sure everything is working correctly. It isn’t a nightly party for you—it’s your job, and it can get lonely behind that board. (If you’re on tour, while going to a different town every night sounds exciting, after awhile it can get exhausting, and you might feel a bit homesick, as well.)
EXPECT A LOT OF PERSONAL FULFILLMENT
Perhaps you’ve figured out that this job isn’t as glamorous as people make it out to be. However, if you’ve got a passion for the music and a strong work ethic, and if you’re the type of person that thrives on the challenge, there’s a lot of personal fulfillment to be found in making a good band sound great onstage, and in creating a fantastic audio experience for the fans who bought tickets for the show. For the right person, this can be the best part of the life of a concert audio technician.