So you’re looking for the technical qualities of sound engineering mixed with the thrill of live? You’ve come to the right place!
There are so many opportunities around for those wanting to work on gigs, concerts, theatre or corporate live sound. But, with very few ads or ‘help wanted’ signs going around the creative industries, how do you get your foot in the door? Although the obvious option is to get a Diploma or Degree in Audio Engineering & Sound Production, where do you go from there?
Local venues like the corner pub or bar are a good place to get your first sound gig. There’s usually plenty of places welcoming performers for a set and if the band is more of an afterthought, it can be a great place to make a few “learning mistakes”. Of course, doing the first gig on your own can be daunting which is why it’s a good idea to shadow a mentor or go as part of a class.
Our Audio students get to manage the live sound at gigs during their course with mentors on-hand to help throughout. The more live events you do, the more confident you will become, so get that hands-on experience first.
Speak to the manager about who is in charge of production. Even if they’re contracting a freelance or small company, get their contact info and reach out. There’s no harm in asking!
Start at the Bottom
Everyone has to start somewhere. Speak to local production, staging or crewing companies who may need more stagehands, runners or interns. Many soundies may start out working on gigs loading and unloading gear or setting up and tearing down equipment – it’s also a good job to have whilst studying. It’s a great way to gain knowledge in all aspects of the production, get experience on a range of large scale productions and major concert events and a good opportunity to meet experienced live engineers on the job.
If you’re a JMC student, speak to your tutors or head of department who will have lots of contacts that may be able to get you work like this during and after your studies. Once you’ve gotten to know the team better, earned their trust and proven you are hard-working, you may be given a shot to move up the ranks.
As we’ve said before, it’s extremely rare that you will see an ad for a live sound engineer. According to Ram Castillo, only 20% of jobs available are publicly advertised, which means word of mouth takes precedence when looking for your dream career. It’s all about who you know, so get to know the right people! All of our tutors at JMC are industry professionals, so there’s your first step in the industry right there!
The best piece of advice we can give you here is to be nice. Be easy to work with, work hard and prove yourself, and word of mouth will take you to the top.