How to get started in Live Sound
Getting an Education
There are many colleges and technical schools that offer degrees and education in audio engineering and music production.
If you’re not good at learning on the job and/or have no idea where to get started, get an education at a trade school or college. Your best bet is one that offers real world hands on training. Understanding signal flow and theory such as proper gain structure, trouble shooting are as valuable as getting your hands on the console and mixing.
On our Profiles page you’ll find a constantly growing collection of stories about the successful women engineers/producers/ and technicians in the industry. They’ve got excellent advice and information to share about what it takes to make it in this business and how they did it.
If you’ve already got a basic background in audio, try and find a Mentor.
Start by learning as much and getting as much experience wherever you are at the moment – if you’re in school, does your school have an active A/V department or music production program? Does your school have a sound system that it uses for events such as band concerts, theatrical performances? Get involved and learn how to use the equipment.
Already have some experience? Approach local sound companies, venues, or local bands for a job. Explain to them your interest in live sound and ask if they will give you the opportunity to work and learn from them. Be prepared to work as an unpaid intern until you have enough experience. Gaining knowledge and experience whether it is shop work, loading trucks, or working a show are all valuable assets. Be available and open to working every opportunity that is offered to you. Proving that you are reliable is as valuable as your mixing abilities.
No experience? Are you a fast learner? Can you learn on the job? Are there any opportunities where you live? Inquire with sound companies, bands, and venues for internships. If you have no experience you will need to find an opportunity to learn on the job. Inquire with local sound companies or sound engineers if they will take you under their wing. Often bands cannot afford a sound engineer but desire to work with someone capable, that they can trust and knows their material, approach local bands and see if they are open to this. Expect to start out working for free, consider the experience you acquire as payment.
Is there a local club or live music venue with an in house sound system in your area? Explain to them your interest in live sound and ask if they will give you the opportunity to work and learn from their house engineer. Be prepared to work as an unpaid intern until you have enough knowledge.
Join the local stage hand labor company or union (IATSE) and work as many shows as you can, and request that they put you on the sound call. If you live in a major city such as LA, NYC, Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, you have many options available to you: sound companies, stage hand labor companies, IATSE, equipment rental companies and rehearsal spaces (such as SIR).
Work as hard as you can.
Learn as much as you can.
Show initiative, have a positive attitude and be prepared to jump at opportunities as they arise!