I had so many moments of doubt while trying to build a career in this industry. Well, not really moments – more like weeks and months of doubt. It seemed like so many people I knew were getting breaks and landing big tours while I couldn’t find the way to get to the next level.
One of my favorite parts of my job is working with other like-minded people. I’ve made some really good friends on tour! And when I asked some of them to give interviews for this site, they agreed. Here's a short compilation of what they had to say about getting their first jobs in the touring industry.
When I’m asked what the most difficult concept to explain in live sound is, the answer is pretty clear: Phase. It also happens to be one of the most critical things to understand, especially when setting up speaker systems.
But we definitely have to think about Phase throughout our entire audio system. This could be the phase relationship between two inputs, latency in plug-ins causing phase issues on console outputs, or setting the correct delay times on speaker systems to ensure phase coherency.
For a signal to get all the way through an audio system, it passes through a bunch of components and cables. Every one of these needs to be connected in the correct order and have functional cabling in between to make it work. If any part of this signal chain is broken or compromised, we won’t have the sound we’re looking for.
Usually the first thing people say when I tell them I don't have an active YouTube channel is: "That's weird. The whole point of The Production Academy is video training, so why aren't you on YouTube?!" Fair enough, my friends. But now we have the ELST up and running strong it's time to launch our YouTube channel! Our first video discusses the difference between Mic and Live level signals and features a special edit directly from our Essential Live Sound Training.
In live music production, we mostly use just two types of microphones: Dynamic and Condenser. But there's yet another type of microphone that can be great for live sound, called a Ribbon mic. They tend to sound really smooth, with a rich and detailed mid-range. I really love them on electric guitar amps and they're also great for sustained keyboard sounds like organ.
One of the Q+A Webinars we did last year (which are archived as part of the Essential Live Sound Training curriculum) featured a really talented engineer, Amanda Davis. We talked about a bunch of things throughout our conversation but the topic of women in sound came up when someone wrote in with a question.
Doing television shows is always fun for me. I’ve done a ton of them with different bands: The Tonight Show w/Fallon, The Late Show w/Letterman and also w/Colbert, Seth Meyers, Ellen, Wendy Williams, The Today Show, Jools Holland, Graham Norton, various BBC specials, and my favorite - Saturday Night Live. And you know what? I barely touched a console at any of them!
I used to own a studio in Chicago and had a lot of fun making records. But there was a point when the work I could get as a live sound engineer quickly became more attractive than hustling for studio clients. After all, I enjoy having just a few clients per year instead of many per month, I like how steady the work is with actively touring bands, and I love traveling around the world!
When I was interviewing my friend Amanda Davis earlier this fall (FOH for Janelle Monáe, Tegan & Sara), we had fun talking about all things audio and touring. Of course, this was part of our Live Q+A series, so thanks to our awesome webinar attendees we had questions coming in from all over the world!