Life As a Concert Audio Technician
The music industry has lots of different types of jobs. Most people probably only think of musical artist and producer. However, there are loads more on top of those two. Audio Engineer, Mastering Engineer, and even Live Audio Engineer all provide valuable support for the various other positions within the music industry.
If you’re enrolled in the Recording Connection and working with a mentor currently, you might be contemplating what your future looks like. You might be studying to become an audio engineer and dream of becoming a concert audio technician. 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 externship and into your career.
EXPECT LONG HOURS AND HARD WORK
Most concerts happen at night. That’s just a fact. So, if you’re not a night owl, you better get used to the idea of becoming one. Because you’re going to be up late. There’s just no way around it. You’re going to be clocking in as the sun is setting and clocking out as it’s coming up. Better get used to that vampire schedule.
Your job doesn’t end when the show’s over, however. 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. If you’re someone who loves socializing, this will be great. You’ll be able to meet individuals from all walks of life. You’ll make friends and acquaintances. Who’s to say where this will eventually lead.
You’ll have to learn how to deal diplomatically with tired artists, people with sensitive egos, and very specific requirements in terms of sound. You’ll be dealing with individuals from all types of backgrounds, and they’ll all have different ways of communicating. The job can be really fun, but it can also be taxing. 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. You’re the one facilitating everyone else having fun.
You’re the person who is making it all seamlessly flow, 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, going to a different town every night sounds exciting, after a while it can get exhausting, and you might feel a bit homesick, as well. This is just the reality of the situation.
If you’re someone who thinks you’ll be able to handle this no problem? Great. If this sounds like a living hell, maybe do yourself the favor and try a different avenue in the music business. It’s the reality of the position. Don’t think you’re going to be able to overcome it and that “you’ll be different”. It’s just the way things are.
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 there’s no telling where you could go. 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.
The job of this job comes in creating a fantastic audio experience for the fans who bought tickets for the show. It might sound like a simple thing, but it’s not. It requires time, planning, and skills to be able to pull it off. For the right person, this can be the best part of the life of a concert audio technician.