[Note: The following . Check it out to learn how to break into the live sound industry, run small sound systems and deal with unpredictable musicians.]
Even though mixing live sound might be an awesome job, it’s just a small part of what you do as a live sound engineer. Sometimes running live sound just sucks. Especially if you just started and are stuck with all low level tasks.
Hopefully you’ll work your way up and start mixing live sound like the experts. Until then, here are some of the reasons why live sound is the worst job in the world.
Heavy Lifting – Those speakers don’t stack themselves. Heavy amplifiers, multiple speakers and huge mixing boards are just a small part of all the crap you have to lug around when you are mixing live sound.
Dirty Cables – It’s nice to handle cables at recording studios. They don’t make your hands black as you roll them together at the end of the session. The amount of dirty XLR cables you need to throw around at a live venue make your hands as black as a coal miner’s.
Late Hours – Bands don’t play from 9 – 5. Shows are during the evenings and on weekends. If you like kicking back in front of the TV at night then I suggest you find another job.
Low Pay – As you start out you will probably be working for an extremely low amount of money. The hours are long and the pay sucks, but if you love it you stick with it.
Ungrateful musicians – Musicians sometimes don’t understand exactly what you do. They think you are a miracle worker, and if you do one thing wrong they’ll hate you forever.
Awful music – Sometimes you have to endure listening to some pretty awful music. Just like there’s really bad music on the radio; it’s out in full force on the concert scene.
Being Blamed for Everything – If the band isn’t tight and just plain sounds bad they blame you. If the bands sounds awesome, the audience will praise the band. You will get all the blame and none of the credit. Deal with it.
Chasing Money – Trying to bill unreliable bands is a nightmare. You have to chase them down to get them to pay you since you are just an afterthought for them. Make sure you get paid and don’t get screwed over.
Never Enough Time – There’s never enough time for a sound-check, things always go wrong and you don’t have time to fix it. Somebody is inevitably late and you’ll be racing against the clock to get the sound in order before the show starts.
Shitty Gear – Unless you’ve worked your way up to nice P.A. systems and speakers in working order, chances are you will be working with some pretty shitty gear. But make the shitty gear sound good and you’ll have a chance in the long run.
What about you? Do you have any live sound stories to tell? Why do you think mixing live sound is the worst job in the world?
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Image by: Rudolf_Schuba