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Is it worth studying to become a live sound engineer
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Gavin S
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5th February 2012
Old 5th February 2012
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Is it worth studying to become a live sound engineer

Hi guys i am new to the forum. I am a music producer in London and been at it about 2 years now. Aged 30 and always been a dj etc.I am not to bothered long term about dj work anymore or heading down the production line. I am looking for a long term job to get my teeth stuck into.

My question really is are there job opportunities within this line of work? I mean this in regard to perhaps working doing the sound at a concert, theatre, radio, tv channel. Basically anything along those lines.

I have found a college in london but the course is £5,000 for a diploma in live sound engineering so you understand my questioning.

So if any of you on here do this for a living or have any advice i would be very greatful. I am going to the college in the week to have a chat and see what my options are. I can work a small job etc to earn money while i study but do not wanna lay that kind of money out if long term there really is not a large market for this.

Might sound crazy but id be happy workin a local theatre just earning a living.

Thanks in advance
Gav
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5th February 2012
Old 5th February 2012
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Radio, TV, live concert, theatre - these are all rather different fields and require different qualifications.

Basically, to answer your question - job ops, yes or no, the very short answer is hardly any.

The best would be to do a proper degree in either electrical engineering or electronics. The good news is that you can do this is short one-year bursts, going from ONC all the way to a pukka HND degree.

But private courses that tell the gullible that there are jobs out there for live engineers are ten-a-penny. Some cost 'just' £5,000 and some cost ten times as much - and they are all worthless!

They are sometimes even less than worthless, some of these courses actually serve to discredit you, as they give the impression that you could not get a 'proper' education at an accredited college.

A real education that is respected by employers and that could get you through to an interview will always be in a 'real' subject. These vocational degrees, private courses and that whole sort of thing just do not get your letter onto that small pile of CVs of those to be invited for interview. Sorry, but that's the way it is!

Even state accredited universities are now churning out these vocational non-degrees in golf-course management, music technology, ethnic studies, environmental studies, lifestyle structures, you name it and the less reputable colleges of all sorts have a course for it.

If I were you and you did not want to get bogged down for three or four years of study (and debt!!!) I would look at becoming a lighting designer. Get an electrician's certificate (that means schooling, but it has to be done!) and at the same time, learn all there is to be learnt about DMX programming.

Lighting is more fun than sound!
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Gavin S
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5th February 2012
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Thank you very much for your reply. I was thinking this would kind of be the case. I will have a look into it and let you know how i get on.

Thanks mate
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6th February 2012
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You could probably get some experience working for free (or beers) in some small venues, just to see whether you like the job or not. Just saying that as after getting stuck in and started, you might find it's not for you. You certainly don't want to go on a course and then find that out!
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15th February 2012
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This can be a tough answer sometimes. I went to Full Sail in Orlando and learned a lot in my live sound classes. I learned the foundations of routing a big and small system and how to properly use gear. Now you can learn all of this out in the field but once you get out into the real world you do have a head start on the foundations of live sound to find your own way.
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15th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beat Poet View Post
You could probably get some experience working for free (or beers) in some small venues, just to see whether you like the job or not. Just saying that as after getting stuck in and started, you might find it's not for you. You certainly don't want to go on a course and then find that out!
This is what we do over here. In a small venue I work sometimes, ee have stagehands who help to setup the stage and the FOH. If you are doing good, you mix a GIG on your own within 3 or 4 month.

Thst's how I learned it. Thst works. Troubleshooting skills are a must (that's where the electronic degree comes in).

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#7
15th February 2012
Old 15th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kessler_Audio View Post
This can be a tough answer sometimes. I went to Full Sail in Orlando and learned a lot in my live sound classes. I learned the foundations of routing a big and small system and how to properly use gear. Now you can learn all of this out in the field but once you get out into the real world you do have a head start on the foundations of live sound to find your own way.
+1


and btw...

live sound engineer?

please do not go into that field if you want to make a living.

go into electrical engineering... learn some stuff about sound enginerring and
go work making better products and cool stuff...
and not have to wait for little winey "musicians" to finish their concert
so you can pack up and leave at 3am and get little money.

that career is more for the ones that just didnt "make it" and fell of the wagon (or on) but if you are already thinking of a career...
then dont do that and enter a field which is more prodcutive to society.
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23rd February 2012
Old 23rd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsilbers View Post
+1


and btw...

live sound engineer?

please do not go into that field if you want to make a living.

go into electrical engineering... learn some stuff about sound enginerring and
go work making better products and cool stuff...
and not have to wait for little winey "musicians" to finish their concert
so you can pack up and leave at 3am and get little money.

that career is more for the ones that just didnt "make it" and fell of the wagon (or on) but if you are already thinking of a career...
then dont do that and enter a field which is more prodcutive to society.

Im interested to know more. What would the career of an electrical engineer entail? I will read up on it now. Thanks
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23rd February 2012
Old 23rd February 2012
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I would recommend the ONC through to HND (if you get that far and want to get that far) route. At least, that's what it was in my day (UK only!)

Some universities get you to start with ONC and then take you on in their full-time degree course after that, so you get to start a real degree course in a real subject, but without having to have good A-Levels.

Whilst you are doing that, you could be working part time or as a trainee for a live sound / lighting company.

Have a look here - A Career in Audio and at the letter from Hugh at the bottom in particular!
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24th February 2012
Old 24th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsilbers View Post
and btw...

live sound engineer?

please do not go into that field if you want to make a living.
Not strictly true, but yeah you need about as much luck to get decent pay as a musician. I know a professional sound engineer, I think he got onto a course in London where they actually sent the students out into venues regularly (the Scala might have been one) and got them experience. He also techs for various touring bands. So there's another sideline to sound engineering, teching or doing monitors.
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28th March 2012
Old 28th March 2012
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Study? Absolutely YES!
A good education is the best investment you can ever make in your life.
And for sure knowlegde is worth more than any gear you´ll ever touch... in all aspects.
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#12
6th April 2012
Old 6th April 2012
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@gsilbers
I have a live sound background. However in my hometown, i get a good amount of my money from live sound. However I graduated with a degree in Studio engineering, and loved it. Definitely study as well, i have a pretty heavy amount of debt from my education but i know enough to make a living at what i do. Also, i am looking into taking some electrical engineering classes to get ahead.
#13
8th April 2012
Old 8th April 2012
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I see you're in the UK, and as far as I've heard, things run a little differently over there than they do over here in the States, but over here, yes, you can definitely earn a decent living running live sound. Here, you can attend a college that will teach you the basics, just enough to get your foot in the door, and from there you'll have to make connections. MUCH of what you learn, and will use on a daily basis, is going to be learned on-the-job, so it's important to try to get in at a reasonably well-sized live sound company. You'll do the 'grunt work' most of the time, but you'll gain valuable experience and knowledge, and within 6 months should be running some small shows on your own. The question I would ask, however, is does the lifestyle of a live sound engineer fit the kind of lifestyle you want to live? I've been lucky enough to land a spot as an in-house engineer at a local venue with a good PA, but my years before that were spent on the road, working long, hard hours, where most of my day was spent lugging giant PA systems around, setting them up at a location (and believe me, high-end systems are NOT light!!!!), running the show, then tearing everything down at the end of the night and either going to the next town or unloading the gear back at the shop. So I could easily work a 14-hour day with maybe 3 hours of it involving actually mixing a show. It can be a tough but rewarding life, and no, lighting is not more fun than sound . It is easier though (let the flame-war commence!!! haha).
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17th April 2012
Old 17th April 2012
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I speak only as someone from the US, but to me it's about supply and demand. NOT ONLY are there FAR too many people, but overall people are more educated now so the few jobs that do exist are even more hotly contested.
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