Music Industry Career Profile: Sound TechnicianPosted on August 3rd, 2012 by Lee Jarvis in Career Profile
Image by Munira on Flickr (Creative Commons License)
Being a Sound Technician in the music industry can cover quite a lot of things. Here, we hope to clarify and explain the differences in order to aid you in your music career.
Essentially, all Sound Technicians handle some form of music equipment to make sure that performing and recording goes smoothly for musicians, in either a live or studio environment. You will have to set up, operate, test, and maintain the equipment in order to produce the right sound at the right time. Depending on the size of the performance, some Sound Technicians have a focus, usually on one instrument, or some are general technicians responsible for everything. A Drum Technician will have to set up the kit, clean it, tune it, change heads and be responsible for anything else percussion-related. A Guitar Technician works with a band to set up and maintain guitars, amplifiers and effects pedals, restring guitars and perform a sound check, along with any other needs the guitar players may have. A Backline Technician will often be responsible for everything, from unloading the van(s), running cables for power and sound transmission, placing and adjusting microphones, to laying out chairs, music stands, sheet music, laptops, keyboards, microphone stands and more. Studio Technician duties are often similar, but will also have to set up any recording devices and maintain other studio equipment.
Each Technician will closely watch the performing artists throughout the duration of the show and quickly respond to any needs that they may have, from making instrument switches, replacing parts, and working off-stage effects.
To become a good Sound Technician in the music industry, you must work hard, and have a great deal of music knowledge. You do not have to be a proficient player of any instrument, but you must know how an instrument works, where it may break, and how to fix it. A Drum Tech must know how to tune drums, a Guitar Tech to tune guitars, and all Technicians must be good at improvising in different scenarios. Employers will expect you to stay up to date with advances in technology and various hardware and software, and so a passion for music and electronics are a must.
Good communication skills are important, as you will be constantly working with other music industry professionals, as well as some diplomatic tact when dealing with rock star egos. Patience and a thick skin will also get you far. Strength and agility are physical aspects that Sound Technicians must have, as there will be a lot of activity involved in the set up and take down of sets. Endurance is another aspect, as Sound Technicians rarely work ‘normal’ hours; expect early starts and late finishes.
Most Sound Technician jobs are found after specialised training at technical schools or universities, however, some techs will be able to learn the trade by assisting an experienced Technician or Engineer. Because of the wide variety of performances that use sound in a critical way, Sound Technicians can gain experience in recording studios, radio or television stations, live music venues, sporting arenas, theatre, or movie studios.
Experience as a Sound Engineer or Road Crew is helpful when trying to move into a Technician role.
Current Technician Jobs
Current Technician Professionals
by Lee Jarvis.
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