Who Needs a Sound Guy? YOU DO!
We all come to grips with stuff like this in different ways and in different places. For me, it was trying to heft a large three-way powered speaker into a trailer by myself after a gig and finding said self on my ass still in my gig-uniform pimp suit in an alley in Reseda, CA. That was my moment of clarity when I realized that playing and singing and running the band plus providing and running the sound system was just too much for one person. It was the last gig like that I did and it was about 7 years ago.
For me it was about the amount of work but that is not always the case.
Jack Or Master?
Musical and band experiences differ so much that it is almost dangerous to assume that what was true for me and on the circuit where i got started was true for anyone else. But we need a frame of reference, so here is my story.
My start playing gigs was doing teen dances at schools and Mormon churches across Southern Cali. The church circuit, especially, was a big one and we made about the same amount of money that most clubs want to pay for a cover band today. Three sets. Done by 11 and we made about $350 for a five-piece. Thirty years later it is five sets until 2 or 3 AM and getting $500 is like pulling teeth. But I digress...
Back then, the places we were playing barely had stages and certainly no sound system. So hauling the PA and setting it up and usually running it from the stage became the norm. And that was fine as long as we were running just vocals through the PA but everything changed when we added horns.
Now we had to mic instruments. Not the horns so much. They--especially the brass-- we're plenty loud. But stuff like the kick and snare drum were getting lost. As I learned more about sound I became the guy who did the mixing. And that was do-able as long as I was a guitar player who sang a little.
But 20 years ago I became a front man. And at that point I had to decide if it was possible to play and sing and front and mix and the answer was no. There is an old cliche about one being the master of one trade or the jack of many. A great reminder that no one can do everything well. I could do a good job of playing and sing and fronting or I could add mixing and do a mediocre job with everything.
Lucky for me, I had a partner in crime (Live2Play's own Jake Kelly) who knew as much or more than I did about audio and who took on a lot of that tech role. And all was once again well until Jake went off and spent about 20 years on the road with a bunch of different country artists and I fell back into trying to do it all again which brings us to that night with me on my butt in the street looking up at a trailer full of gear.
So, let's try to make sure the same does not happen to you. We are going to look at a few reasons why having someone just do the sound is a good idea and how to know when it is time to make that jump.
Check the videos for more....
Oh. By the way. I still get calls all the time for gigs where I need to provide sound and even lights. The difference now is that I figure in the cost of renting any gear I will need that I do not own as well as the cost of hiring someone to set it up and run it. Only if the numbers add up with those items added in do I take the gig.
When Is It Time To Stop Trying To Mix Yourself?
By Bill Evans