How to make a living as a sound technician

Whatever the size of any particular live event, often the number of people onstage are vastly outnumbered by backstage crew when it comes down to who is ultimately responsible for making the whole thing happen.

Event Crew is basically the catch-all name for the different workers who are involved in the off-stage activities of any successful event. From the humblest equipment haulers through to riggers, drivers, backline techs, lighting crew and security personnel, there are any number of essential professionals without whom an event simply wouldn’t happen.

Perhaps the most important of all crew roles is that of sound technician. Live event audio engineers have much in common with their studio-based counterparts, but the role also has many differences in required skill sets and specialisations too.

Technology

Being a sound engineer means working with ever-evolving state-of-the-art technology and so keeping up to speed with developments is vital.

Sound technician, sound engineer or audio technician are all interchangeable terms for the same job, which entails looking after the sonic requirements of the event in hand.

Of course this doesn’t just mean working with bands and singers as sound technicians can find their talents being used for conference speeches, exhibitions, DJs and a whole range of special events.

Mixing

As well as looking after the PA equipment itself as an in-house sound engineer in smaller venues, the main thrust of the job revolves around mixing the live sound at the event.

This means making sure that the end result reflects the intention of the artist or band and the promoter or event organiser by providing the sonic power and clarity necessary for attendees to enjoy their experience.

Most sound engineers start in an in-house role and move forward in their careers according to their aims. Some top-class live sound techs simply started as ‘friends of the band’ and built up their own reputations, while others may have forged a connection with artists visiting the venue they worked at and been offered a touring role from there.

Ultimately the job can be played out at many levels across the live event industry and while a touring role may suit some, others might be far happier with a permanent in-house role.

As with most jobs that have a creative element, the way to make a living as a sound technician is simply to get out there and start off in any way you can. Talking to the sound person at your favourite local venue and showing an interest is the most tried and tested method of getting a foot in the door in the first place.

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