Two Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Live Sound Engineer

People think to become a sound engineer you need to have a talent and know everything about audio straight away. This isn’t true.

From reading the blog from Nathan Lively (http://www.sounddesignlive.com/how-to-become-a-sound-engineer/) called ‘How to Become a Sound Engineer’ the first thing he states is “The truth is anyone can be a sound engineer”.

There are two questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to become a sound engineer.

1. Why do I want to become a sound engineer?

2. What do I crave?

As quoted by Dave Swallow from his book, ‘How to Become a Sound Engineer’: “If you are after fame and fortune, you are in the wrong job. If you want to hang around and be friends with famous people, you are in the wrong job. If you want and crave credit for the work you are doing, you are in the wrong job.”

In my eyes being a live sound engineer is similar to being a football manager. If your team wins a game the players get the credit and if your team loses the manager gets the blame. So in this case if the gig goes well the musicians get the credit and if the show doesn’t go well then the sound engineer gets the blame.

Being a sound engineer doesn’t always including mixing front of house for a bands you like. As Nathan Lively describes “You’ll work with bands you dislike. You’ll work on corporate events with no music.” Having the interest of constantly going to live shows will decrease over time with Dave Swallow saying that he doesn’t even go to live shows anymore. What can be done is realising the job that you do can be hard and that once you have done it well, even if you don’t like it, is that you have achieved something that adds to your experience.    

An important part to becoming a good sound engineer is not so much the physical things you do i.e. working the mixing desk but instead the mental things you do. Mental things such as not being stressed and pride of work (as mentioned before) are important in the job. If things go wrong and don’t plan out the way they should then, as Dave Swallow explains “What are you going to do? Moan about it or get on with the job. I don’t see any point in getting stressed about it. It is what it is. These things happen and it’s part and parcel of being on the road. Things will go wrong. If you stress about them, you’re not really doing yourself any favours or anyone around you any favours, so just chill.”

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