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This Month’s Engineers “Breaking In” Tips

Seasoned engineers give tips on how to get a gig, how to act on tour and more.

Sound Image’s Rob Mailman (Bridge School Benefit)

How to get a gig: the question of the century. There are several ways to get a gig, but if you don’t know any up-and-coming bands to tag along with, this is my suggestion: Most of the live sound schools now have sound companies that they are associated with to offer internships. Go and work for a sound company and pay attention, ask good questions and listen closely to all instructions when asked to perform a task. If you can complete simple tasks in the shop, show up on time and have a good attitude, you will be a first choice when the company is looking to staff a tour. Most of all, be patient.

How to act on tour: Always be on time. Be patient but persistent with local stage hands. As always, stay happy and have a good attitude-a cool head always prevails. Befriend the right people and stay out of trouble. And did I mention be on time. Nobody likes waiting on the new guy.

Marty Strayer (Dixie Chicks monitor)

Get along with people-all kinds of people-be well-rounded and keep your mouth shut!

Mike Kent (OK Go FOH)

Get into the club, work for free if necessary. Move cases, wrap cables-whatever it takes. You will get used to working hard for 15 hours per day and you will meet as many people as you can. This business is all about having a lot of friends. They are where you get work. They are the people who teach you the little things you can’t learn in school. They are the ones who have your back when you find yourself in over your head. And the pearl of all wisdom I learned while I was getting started: Don’t drink until you are done [with the gig]. There is no quicker way to lose the trust of the band or club owner than being tanked while they need you to trouble-shoot a major problem. And once the trust is gone, so is your gig.

Got a tip? Tell us at [email protected].