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The 3 Takeaways from Coming Out of Live Sound Retirement

Last Saturday I came out of “live sound retirement” as a favor to my wife.

She’s the director of the TENWEST Festival and we threw a big local music showcase downtown to celebrate arts, entrepreneurship, and technology.

So naturally, we shut down one of the busiest intersection in downtown Tucson for a concert with four great local bands.

A word to the wise, people do not like it when you shut down a city block for a private festival and force people to walk the extra 100 feet to go around.

It was a fascinating social psychology experiment, one which prompted this meme exchange when I was directing people around the barricades:

Anyway, back to live sound.

Our goal was to showcase a diverse selection of local music so we featured four awesome bands. The lineup couldn’t have been more different, but that was the beauty of it:

And everyone, much to our relief, loved it!

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t really do live sound anymore. But my studio partner Chase at Icelandic Embassy Studios is a veteran live engineer so I assisted him behind the scenes, coordinating the bands, helping them set up and making sure they were comfortable on stage.

Even though I hadn’t done it in a while, nothing had really changed.

The three things that always remain the same in any live situation are:

  1. It’s a rush from start to finish – Sure, you get a break to listen to the music while the bands are playing, but you still need to be aware of anything that might go wrong while they’re playing.
  2. Something always goes wrong – Without adequate sound-check time for every band you end up praying that everything goes smoothly when you’re setting the bands up for their set. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go as planned. And when you have a diverse lineup of bands with varying needs and instrumentation a mixup or two is bound to happen.
  3. If you book great bands, you’ll have a great time – We were lucky with the lineup because these bands were the cream of the crop. I had worked with most of them before so I knew we could bank on their performances being amazing. And as you know, if you have a great performing band, everything else becomes easier.

I hope you keep those takeaways in mind when you find yourself doing live sound next time.

If you’re looking to get into it, me and James have a great course on the live sound basics you need to know to become a successful live sound tech.

Check it out here:


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About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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