So you want to get started in live sound and you are wondering where you can get some experience or a job? How and where do you do that?
How much do you know?
If you have only very basic or no knowledge, you’ll want to choose carefully. Equally important as what you learn is who you learn from. Studying under the wing of someone who is well respected and has a professional attitude will get you further than the local sound tech who is known for being miserable and doing shoddy work.
If you have zero knowledge and are looking to get some education in audio and music production there are many options, ranging from basic courses to full-blown university degrees.
No matter which route you choose, it’s important to understand how this business works. The reality is you are not going to graduate from one of the many technical schools and be immediately hired by Taylor Swift to mix her next tour.
Degree or not, you need to gain some real-world experience. Here are some ideas on how and where to do that: (For more info on any of these jobs, click on the associated links)
Check out the local music scene and offer your services to an up and coming or hard-working local band. Start hanging around where the local bands in your area hang out and/or play. Get to know them. Become part of the local music scene. Once you build a relationship with a band or two, see if they’ll let you practice your skills mixing them.
A/V Department at a Theme Park
Most major theme parks have an in house department to handle the audio and visual needs. This can cover everything from tech’ing the music playback system in the park restaurants to setting up the PA for the evening fireworks display and mixing sound at any of
the park live performance venues. While it may not be your dream job it will teach you how to troubleshoot and work with a variety of gear. What’s it like to work at a theme park? Click HERE.
If you can commit to living on a ship for most of the year, working as an audio tech on a cruise ship will help you cut your teeth. The job can be intense and all-encompassing. What’s it like to work on a cruise ship? Click HERE.
Theaters, Clubs, Casinos, and other Music Venues
Find a local venue that books a lot of shows and get yourself on the crew. This is also a great opportunity to meet and network with visiting touring production people and learn from other sound engineers. Listen, learn, pick their brains.
Scan your town or citie's local paper, most have an entertainment guide that lists live music venues. Start hanging out at them and getting to know the bands and audio people who work them.
If you aren’t sure of what venues are on the national touring circuit- check out Pollstar.com and enter your city for a list of venues.
Local and regional sound companies are a great place to get a wide variety of experience. The jobs may range from shop work to mixing at local venues to corporate audio. Working for one of the major touring companies is another option if you have some experience and are willing to relocate to their location. What’s it like to work for a major touring sound company? Click HERE.
Churches are another option. Church sound has become a huge market with some of the mega churches having the equivalent of an arena level touring sound system. What’s it like to work in audio for a church? Click HERE.
The bottom line is you are probably not going to start out doing your dream job and that’s ok. Concentrate on just getting whatever job you can in live sound. Experience is experience and you’ll know when it’s time to move on. Cast a wide net and take the opportunities that come your way. Learn everything you can from each job and work hard, show initiative and you’ll be surprised at how new and better opportunities will present themselves.