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10 Reasons Why Mixing Live Sound is the Worst Job in the World


[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?

P.S.

Get the Live Sound Survival guide at over 40% off when you buy it with the Recording & Mixing Strategies bundle. Check out what you get here.

Image by: Rudolf_Schuba


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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LEAVE A COMMENT

  • I think it’s one of the best jobs in the world.

    I travel the world and get paid to do it. I listen to some great bands (and a few terrible ones) every day. I make friends all over the country. I don’t have any expenses at all while on tour. Get to eat amazing food around the world. Show up mix the show, pack up my mics and console, next show.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Yes, well that’s the great thing about live sound. But I’m sure you didn’t start off that way 🙂 I love it too, but it has its ups and downs.

  • I think it’s one of the best jobs in the world.

    I travel the world and get paid to do it. I listen to some great bands (and a few terrible ones) every day. I make friends all over the country. I don’t have any expenses at all while on tour. Get to eat amazing food around the world. Show up mix the show, pack up my mics and console, next show.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Yes, well that’s the great thing about live sound. But I’m sure you didn’t start off that way 🙂 I love it too, but it has its ups and downs.

  • i think everything you listed above is part of the reason i do my job,only shame is im just starting out and finding work is very hard

  • i think everything you listed above is part of the reason i do my job,only shame is im just starting out and finding work is very hard

  • Valleyguy19

    I am a live sound engieer I have my own system now I travel with different bands and your right unless your with a professional band these bands have no clue what is really happening with the sound these amateur bands are the worst they really have no cluse what is happening they dont know how to set up thir mixer but they know it all just pure crazy but I love it

    • Absolutely. Sometimes you get frustrated, but for some reason, when the job is fun you wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • Valleyguy19

    I am a live sound engieer I have my own system now I travel with different bands and your right unless your with a professional band these bands have no clue what is really happening with the sound these amateur bands are the worst they really have no cluse what is happening they dont know how to set up thir mixer but they know it all just pure crazy but I love it

    • Absolutely. Sometimes you get frustrated, but for some reason, when the job is fun you wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • olya

    OK, I don’t know if this page is still active but I’m hoping that someone could tell me what’s going on!!
    I’ve been trying to get ‘good’ in the live gig industry for about 5 years, everything was going as expected…busy times, quiet times,good gigs, bad gigs, making contacts and establishing a good rapport with everyone I meet. I mainly did foh at various venues but a year ago landed a regular spot as a monitor engineer in a good venue. Everything was going so well, gigs ran smoothly, no feedback,everyone can hear themselves etc. Recently things just started to go wrong, little things, but ones that make you look completely incompetent! i.e. accidentally catching the “program’ button on a mh3 and muting everything, not plugging things in or unplugging things that I should’t! I thought you are supposed to get better with experience not worse! Has this ever happened to anyone?

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      That just sounds like bad luck or you not being careful. Stop stressing yourself out and take your time with things and you’ll get better.

  • olya

    OK, I don’t know if this page is still active but I’m hoping that someone could tell me what’s going on!!
    I’ve been trying to get ‘good’ in the live gig industry for about 5 years, everything was going as expected…busy times, quiet times,good gigs, bad gigs, making contacts and establishing a good rapport with everyone I meet. I mainly did foh at various venues but a year ago landed a regular spot as a monitor engineer in a good venue. Everything was going so well, gigs ran smoothly, no feedback,everyone can hear themselves etc. Recently things just started to go wrong, little things, but ones that make you look completely incompetent! i.e. accidentally catching the “program’ button on a mh3 and muting everything, not plugging things in or unplugging things that I should’t! I thought you are supposed to get better with experience not worse! Has this ever happened to anyone?

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      That just sounds like bad luck or you not being careful. Stop stressing yourself out and take your time with things and you’ll get better.

  • Bo

    There “are” things that suck, but those are the things you have to deal with to build character and personal integrity in dealing with certain issues. If you can’t do things like “lift” or “get your hands dirty” then you need to grow a pair of balls. Annoyances include being blamed for when things go wrong or dealing with idiot musicians. You just have to be really cool and calm – you are in control.
    You cannot act insecure, even if everyone else does, because then it will just add to the flow in negativity. When it all goes wrong, when it all goes right, it’s just rock and roll. You have to learn to hang. The best nights of your life you will have in live sound. And even if they are bad – would you trade them for anything?

  • Bo

    There “are” things that suck, but those are the things you have to deal with to build character and personal integrity in dealing with certain issues. If you can’t do things like “lift” or “get your hands dirty” then you need to grow a pair of balls. Annoyances include being blamed for when things go wrong or dealing with idiot musicians. You just have to be really cool and calm – you are in control.
    You cannot act insecure, even if everyone else does, because then it will just add to the flow in negativity. When it all goes wrong, when it all goes right, it’s just rock and roll. You have to learn to hang. The best nights of your life you will have in live sound. And even if they are bad – would you trade them for anything?

  • Ric

    We love it when we play shows with good soundmen
    We tote our own fairly large PA to some venues, so we have to be sound men as well as musicians
    That said, we have encountered sound men that
    Forgot the password to the Digital board. Forgot to turn the power amps on and were going to rent some more. Didn’t have the xlrs in the correct channels
    Didn’t have some of them plugged in at all. Threw a fit because they had screened the mics, and one of our guys prefferd his own mic. Purposely sabatoged our show with a bad mix because they were having a bad day. And the classic. Someone tells him its too loud, so he complains to the club owner, we were to loud.

  • Ric

    We love it when we play shows with good soundmen
    We tote our own fairly large PA to some venues, so we have to be sound men as well as musicians
    That said, we have encountered sound men that
    Forgot the password to the Digital board. Forgot to turn the power amps on and were going to rent some more. Didn’t have the xlrs in the correct channels
    Didn’t have some of them plugged in at all. Threw a fit because they had screened the mics, and one of our guys prefferd his own mic. Purposely sabatoged our show with a bad mix because they were having a bad day. And the classic. Someone tells him its too loud, so he complains to the club owner, we were to loud.

  • Gary Davis

    Owned my own company Digimax Productions for Ten years and love it We have all JBL SRX speakers and crown power and use SAC mixing software instead of a console 40 channels and 24 monitor mixes. We hear all the horror stories about bad sound guys, you wont see that on our set. all my guys have some music back ground and have worked as musicians. Thats what makes a good team

  • Gary Davis

    Owned my own company Digimax Productions for Ten years and love it We have all JBL SRX speakers and crown power and use SAC mixing software instead of a console 40 channels and 24 monitor mixes. We hear all the horror stories about bad sound guys, you wont see that on our set. all my guys have some music back ground and have worked as musicians. Thats what makes a good team

  • Chris Richard

    My motto has always been : I won’t take the credit when it’s good and won’t accept the blame if it’s bad. If the band sounds good, they’ll sound good. If they sound bad, there’s very little I can do to compensate enough to make it great. My job is to reinforce. I can create the flattest, purest, cleanest soundstage but if the band doesn’t deliver sonically, I’ll be fighting it all night and not mixing, which is what I should be doing.

  • Chris Richard

    My motto has always been : I won’t take the credit when it’s good and won’t accept the blame if it’s bad. If the band sounds good, they’ll sound good. If they sound bad, there’s very little I can do to compensate enough to make it great. My job is to reinforce. I can create the flattest, purest, cleanest soundstage but if the band doesn’t deliver sonically, I’ll be fighting it all night and not mixing, which is what I should be doing.

  • Bruce Fowler

    I have been live sound for 36 years all for free, its my hobby, as my day job I’m a broadcast electronics tech that works for a radio/ TV Station. Live sound can be hard, but its a lot of fun.

  • Bruce Fowler

    I have been live sound for 36 years all for free, its my hobby, as my day job I’m a broadcast electronics tech that works for a radio/ TV Station. Live sound can be hard, but its a lot of fun.