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Questions For A Live Sound Engineer

ITdrummer

Hi! My name is Mike and at my college I am trying to land a job working for the schools stage crew/audio crew. There is a couple questions they asked and I was just looking for help answering them. With your experience could you please help me answer these questions. I will post my answers below and let me know what you think.
(Q) What personal qualities do you think are most helpful for a live sound engineer?

(A) I feel that a live sound engineer needs to be understanding, friendly, not shy, patient, quick thinking, able to deal with problems, good communicator, neat, organized, and dedicated.
(Q) Please tell us how you might handle the following situation: You are mixing a band, and the manager of the band tells you to increase the overall volume of the mix. However, the manager of the venue has already told you the volume must not be any louder. Tell us your thoughts about this situation, and how you might approach resolving it.
(Original A) I would tell the band manager I will raise the volume but don't actually do it. Then I would tell the venue manager that the band manager asked for more volume and leave it up to the venue manager to choose what to do.
(Better A) "Cite house policy- that makes it a fight between the manager and the house's policy, not between him/her and you. And then get the house manager and the band manager together and let them work it out." --Michael Hoddy
(Q) One of our most important goals of the college audio crew is to provide artists with professional-level service. Putting yourself in the shoes of a live sound engineer, think and write about some different ways of achieving the best service possible. We are not looking exclusively for technology-based answers.

(A) Need Help with this one. But I think a sound engineer needs to have everything ready before the artist is there. And when the artist is there, give him all your attention and try to please all of his needs. Be organized and neat.
Thanks for your help!
Mike
September 27, 2012 @02:19am
michaelhoddy

I think you're on the right track. I have the unique perspective of living on both sides of this equation- having been a FOH engineer in some decently larger-scale situations, and frequently being on the band side of things as a musician, also in some reasonably serious and somewhat larger venues.
For me, the biggest things that are important as a bandleader to find in an engineer are for that person to be helpful, not passive-aggressive, not having something to prove, and having nailed down all the technical loose ends before we get there to soundcheck. There's nothing worse than an engineer with attitude, and nothing more confidence-draining than showing up to the venue and finding the engineer buried in the back of some rack while we're ready to get going. I also really don't need the gig to be the opportunity for the engineer to demonstrate how smart they are. I want the results of the engineer's skills and aptitude to be coming out of the PA, not out of their mouth.
I would rather have an engineer with 90% of the talent and good people and organizational skills than one with 100% abilities and less of the latter. In general terms, the person behind the desk should lower my blood pressure level, not raise it. I know you're applying at a college, and unfortunately, many times I have played at college-staffed venues I encounter know-it-alls who obviously have more time in their production class textbook than they do working in a professional environment. This does not make for a better gig.
For question 2, I disagree with your answer. Don't be passive-aggressive with the artist or band manager. It's disrespectful to say one thing and do another. Be honest. It builds trust, even if you have to say disagreeable things. Cite house policy- that makes it a fight between the manager and the house's policy, not between him/her and you. And then get the house manager and the band manager together and let them work it out.
For question 3, the thing that really tells me a venue has it together is when I show up and the stage is set according to the rider, the monitors are check and rung out and some basic mixes are established if possible, all the lines are tested, and the staff is not rushing around trying to fix stuff that would be fixed if they came in early. Also, and this is a huge one: PLEASE DON'T BLAST MUSIC ON THE PA. I don't care how awesome it sounds, or that it's your favorite record, we've heard PA's before and it's just stressful and makes it impossible to communicate.
I think that's all that comes to mind for now!
September 27, 2012 @08:06am
ITdrummer

Thank you Michael Hoddy for your help. I do like your answer to question 2 better.
September 27, 2012 @01:04pm