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Working for a Major Touring Sound Company

Sound companies are an obvious place to start if you want to work in live sound.  From small local companies to the big players who provide sound systems for all the major concert tours. Below I talk to Taylor who works as an audio tech for one of the biggest touring sound companies in the U.S.

Tell me about your experience working for the company.

I’ve been working for the company for almost three years now, and I love it! It’s been perfect for me as an up and coming freelancer to get my feet into the industry and start making a name for myself. It’s provided me so many opportunities to meet new people and work some really awesome shows.

What are your typical duties on tour?

For most tours I’m the stage patch tech, meaning that I handle running XLRs and multipoint cables from monitor world out to the stage. I also handle placing microphones on instruments.

How long did you work for the company before doing a live show? How long before going on...

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Working in Audio at a Major Theme Park

Theme parks are a great place to build your live sound skills. Christian Rosado who is currently Entertainment Production Planner for a major theme park talks about what working in audio at a theme park involves.  

Tell me about your job working as an audio tech for a theme park.

When working at a theme park you have two options, you are either a stage technician or an event technician.  Stage techs are only scheduled at stages in which they know tracks or roles and or they can learn other stages.  When you get trained at a stage you can let the managers and crew chiefs know that your skill sets are on a specific discipline for instance mine is audio, then they can go ahead and train you in the audio positions at the stage.

As an event tech or what we call a flex tech, you are capable of doing stages and events.  At events you can be A2’s or audio assists or you can be the A1 (Audio Engineer), we are always in need of good A2’s but we only have a...

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Working on a Cruise Ship as an Audio Tech

Working on a cruise ship is one way to get a lot of live sound and mixing experience but the job comes with many challenges!

Below, Victoria talks about her experience in working for one of the major cruise lines. 

Tell me about your job doing audio for cruise ships. What was your official title?  What were your duties?

I worked as a Lounge Technician. I was in charge of all the smaller entertainment spaces such as the Piano bar, Karaoke bar, Pool Deck, and any pop-up events. The number of venues varied by the size of the ship. I was responsible for the audio and lighting for all the shows that happened every night. Some of the larger ships have two Lounge Technicians, but most of them just have one in charge of it all.

 

What are the other audio positions on a cruise ship and what do those jobs include?

The only other audio position on the ship is a sound technician. They are assigned a space such as the main theater, the ice skating rink, or aqua theater. They...

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Tips for Mixing a Great Show.

Whether you are going on tour with a new artist, running sound for a local venue, or working for a sound company there's a lot more to mixing a great sounding show than just turning knobs and pushing faders.

Step 1- Do your homework-what kind of music will you be mixing?  Learn the artist's songs and get familiar with the style of music.  If you are going tour with them as their sound engineer you'll want to deconstruct the songs and make lots of notes.

Step 2- Communicate with the artist, band, or client on what their needs are.  What ideas do they have for their sound? How many inputs do they have?  What are they?  What do they need in the way of monitor mixes?  What songs have solos or instrument changes, go through the set list so you know what to expect for each song- different vocalists?  BGVs? Solos?  Are there any specific cues?

Step 3- Show up prepared.   Have an input list, stage plot, and audio spec.  Advance the gig so...

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How musicians can work with the sound engineer to have a great show.

live sound soundcheck Dec 31, 2019

A well run soundcheck can make a world of difference in your show. 

A great sounding show is the goal of every live musician and sound engineer. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if from the first downbeat your stage sound was dialed in and you could just enjoy playing instead of trying to dial in your tone, monitor levels, and fighting to be heard over stage volume?

Lots of things need to happen prior to the performance and depending on the circumstances, there is often not as much time as would be desired. 

What can you do as a musician to help make the most of the time available?

Whether your band just plays for fun on weekends or you are a full time touring musician, here are some tips to help you work constructively with the audio crew and get the most out of your soundcheck time so you can have a successful show.

Where’s the soundguy/gal?

Your sound engineer is here to help you. We (band and crew) are all working towards the same goal- a great show.

...

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How to get the most out of Soundcheck

A well run soundcheck can make a world of difference in your show. 

Wouldn’t you love to start the show with a great mix instead of spending the first several songs trying to pull it together?  What can you do to get the most out of soundcheck?

Line Check

Prior to doing a soundcheck with the band, it’s very beneficial for the audio crew to run through a line check of all the inputs.  This can be done with the band technicians or another audio tech.  During line check the house and monitor engineer should be making sure all of the inputs are patched and working correctly, no buzzes, crackles, or pops.  Listen for things like bad cables, noisy lines, interference, etc. repair or replace as needed.. Line check is also time to work on getting inputs dialed in. 

Line check has several purposes-

1- To make sure all inputs are working correctly.  All signals should be clean and strong and patched in the right channels.

2- To set input...

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The Business of Working Freelance

Uncategorized Dec 20, 2019

Many of us in the world of concert touring are working freelance. Some touring professionals have house gigs or local work when they are not touring and other’s income is solely from touring. Regardless of how your make your living, if you work as an independent contractor or freelance, there are some things you need to consider when it comes to your finances.

Even though we are in essence working freelance, unless we are incorporated or an LLC, we are paid as an employee for the duration of the tour. Most who work directly for the band or artist, (the sound engineer, lighting designer, backline technicians, PM, TM, PA, etc.), fall into this category.

Although we may be paid as employees we usually don’t enjoy the benefits that most employees enjoy such as health insurance, 401ks, bonuses, paid vacation and more. Most don’t even think about these matters until it’s too late.

After all when you are in your early 20s retirement is the furthest thing from your...

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Crash Course!

I recently got called last minute to mix a few shows for Janet Jackson.  The gear was already on the truck on its way to the first gig and I would be mixing on a Digico SD7.  I have mixed on Digico a handful of times over the past several years but the Midas ProX has been my console of choice and where I have spent the majority of my time.  Needless to say the Digico and Midas platform are quite different.  

This is a fairly involved production with 80+ inputs so it was going to require some serious thought.  If you’ve read my previous blog about console workflow, you know that proper layout of the console is very important to mixing a show of this size.  

So I needed a crash course in Digico. 

Here’s what I did-

I found an excellent tutorial for Digico online as well as the user manual .  

I downloaded the SD7 offline editor and started building my file while watching the videos and scouring the manual whenever I needed...

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How to mix when your life is in danger.

 

My recent conversation with Jed Parle who was the soundman for Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and his solo band Skunkworks, when they played a concert in war-torn Sarajevo in 1994 during the Bosnian war.

We talk about all the craziness that went into pulling this off, how you mix a show knowing the venue could be bombed at any time, and more.

Be sure to check out my previous Blog where I talk to Chris Dale, who was Bruce's bass player at the time, about the film 'Scream for me Sarajevo' which recounts the events leading up to and following this very unlikely and incredible concert.

 

 

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Scream For Me Sarajevo

 

I recently caught up with my friend Chris Dale who was the Bass Player for Bruce Dickinson (lead singer for Iron Maiden) in the mid 1990s.  During that time, Bruce was asked to do a concert with his band Skunkworks for the people of Sarajevo while the city was under siege during the Bosnian war.

Chris recounted the whole experience to me when we were on tour together in 2009.  Since then, a documentary has been made about the whole event- Bruce and his band making this impossible journey to Sarajevo, the concert, and what it meant to the people living in the city during the siege.  You'll find our conversation in the video above.

Scream for me Sarajevo is an intense and eye-opening film.  I encourage you to see it if you haven't already.  

https://www.screamformesarajevo.com/

In my next blog, I'll be talking with Jed Parle who was the soundman for Skunkworks at the time.  We'll get his version of events.

See you there!

Michelle

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