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Your first contract!

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Your first contract!

Postby PapaGanush » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:27 pm

Hello all,

This question is for self-employed engineers who worked alone most of their times in weddings partys and small gatherings.

I am a freshly graduated sound engineer, these times are hard for us to start a career in live music but we adapt, wait and prepare as much as we can for when days will go back to normal.

Before it used to be a word of mouth, it is still valid of course but we have so many ways now to promote yourself just like Facebook now you pay like $30 a month to promote yourself. Or creating a website which I did. I'm asking you how did you get your first contract I'm only curious about your story your first contract.
I'm just trying to find all ways possible remote myself as a self-employed independent sound technician with my own PA system for now and day by day I keep investing in more equipment.

Share your story
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:31 pm

Yeah, me too.
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby PapaGanush » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:34 pm

blinddrew wrote:Yeah, me too.

Lol sorry I publish it before finishing my story xD
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:44 pm

My first live sound gig was simply providing the kit for our band to do a charity gig at our rugby club. Wasn't great, learned a lot, bought a new mixer very quickly!
Second one was another charity gig, but a bit more involved and first 'proper' gig I'd say, at this one I just stepped in because the original engineer got sick and had to drop out.
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby CS70 » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:00 pm

Word of mouth :D
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby PapaGanush » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:08 pm

CS70 wrote:Word of mouth :D

Sorry mate english is my 4th language ,,☺️
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby PapaGanush » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:40 pm

blinddrew wrote:My first live sound gig was simply providing the kit for our band to do a charity gig at our rugby club. Wasn't great, learned a lot, bought a new mixer very quickly!
Second one was another charity gig, but a bit more involved and first 'proper' gig I'd say, at this one I just stepped in because the original engineer got sick and had to drop out.
So your 2 first were charity gigs. The one you had to replace the other sound engineer how did you find about him? He is a mentor ?
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:52 pm

I don't really remember how I started, I have been playing in bands and doing gigs since my teens, usually providing the PA. At some point that turned into supplying and running PA for other people and eventually getting asked my a mate, when he started a PA Hire company, to work alongside him. I'm retired now but still do a few gigs, both band and PA.
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby PapaGanush » Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:08 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:I don't really remember how I started, I have been playing in bands and doing gigs since my teens, usually providing the PA. At some point that turned into supplying and running PA for other people and eventually getting asked my a mate, when he started a PA Hire company, to work alongside him. I'm retired now but still do a few gigs, both band and PA.

Its actually the type of answers I am looking for. I am starting my own audio services and rentals company so its always good to hear how the elder generation of sound professionals started!

I hope more people will post their stories
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:30 pm

Like many on here, I had a day job as well as my musical/sound activities for much of my working life. What I would do in your position is to get to know as many people in the industry locally as possible, some will be very protective of 'their patch' others will welcome another profession they can call upon when an extra pair of hand are required. If you are easy to get on with, have a professional attitude and are willing to get stuck in with whatever is needed some of those other professionals will welcome you help and the contacts you make will serve you well into the future. Make sure you learn and observe the etiquette of working with other companies, it's pretty obvious but if it's their gig don't go handing your own business cards out left right and centre and if anybody asks refer them to the boss. A bad reputation for sneaky business dealings is hard to lose and even the nicest guys can be a little paranoid at times.
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby CS70 » Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:59 pm

CS70 wrote:Word of mouth :D

I wasn't taking the piss :-)

The first gig as a recordist/mixing engineer was exactly word of mouth. I had produced a song for my band and a fellow liked it and asked at which studio had been done.. I said "no studio, I'm recording and mixing and the final mastering is made at XXX". The week later a friend of his asked if I was willing to help recording his band, and I said "why not".

Not sure about "before" but I think it's still a very important part... the creed, at least. Nowadays everyone can pick up an interface and a laptop, look at half a dozen YouTube videos and declare him/herself a mixing engineer.. and actually get reasonable results.

So the main differentiatior is just your reputation imho.
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:05 pm

PapaGanush wrote:
blinddrew wrote:My first live sound gig was simply providing the kit for our band to do a charity gig at our rugby club. Wasn't great, learned a lot, bought a new mixer very quickly!
Second one was another charity gig, but a bit more involved and first 'proper' gig I'd say, at this one I just stepped in because the original engineer got sick and had to drop out.
So your 2 first were charity gigs. The one you had to replace the other sound engineer how did you find about him? He is a mentor ?
He's a friend, another musician I've played with lots, he knew I had some kit but also that I could be trusted to be sensible about levels and manage the other bands. Probably. ;)
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby Dave Rowles » Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:37 pm

i got a degree in studio sound from Salford Uni. This was back in 2002, and the bottom just dropped out of the project studio market and I was scratching my head as to whether I was up for the challenge of fighting my way up the ranks of studio engineers, or the endless pushing at doors until one opened. Studio was and always has been my passion, but my parent's spotted that a Local venue was looking for volunteers. So I thought "It'll get me working with music till I decide what I actually want to do".

Forward 2 months coiling cables, being patch monkey, and generally doing what I was told, the engineer is charge of a gig didn't feel like mixing, so told me to instead. A few weeks after that I started being the engineer in charge on a few gigs (which meant money!) I was still working outside of that job to make enough to live, but eventually I had enough work at the venue to make it the only job. 2/3 years after that I got called up by an ex-student (I did classroom teaching for a bit) who was in over his head on a show. He had only been engineering a few months and had landed himself a monitor engineer gig with 8 wedges, and 2 IEM mixes, and he couldn't cope. I replaced him. 2/3 years of doing that show the lighting engineer got me on a bigger/higher profile show that was looking for a new monitor engineer, and so I moved up to that. Then a year back I got moved up to FOH (Well I see it as moving up as that's my preferred position!)

I also have my own small rig that I use locally for smaller gigs, and I've got a couple of festivals that I'm house engineer for that I've had going for 10 years or so.

I've never got a gig through a website advert. I've never got a gig through a facebook advert. I've never got a gig from emailing - though I know people that have (be prepared for pester power for that to work....or luck). I've only ever got gigs from other people saying "I know someone who can do that" to the guys/gals in charge. Being nice to people, and showing you know your stuff, plus developing the ability to use any piece of equipment you ever come across, is what really makes the difference. I make it a point to ask about any piece of equipment I come across that I've not used before and get the house techs to talk me through it.

But yeah. "Word of Mouth" is still the strongest way of getting into the industry. That and a healthy dose of luck!
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:41 pm

blinddrew wrote:he knew I had some kit but also that I could be trusted to be sensible about levels and manage the other bands. Probably. ;)

This is probably the most important skill of the live sound engineer, musicians (like all creative people) often have fragile egos, it goes with the territory, and 90% of your job is to manage those egos. It's often hard and a thankless task but upsetting the talent is a quick way to become unwelcome at future gigs...
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Re: Your first contract!

Postby AlecSp » Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:53 pm

I'd been doing relatively simple sound for my own band and others.

Having played a few sets at a local 400 cap venue, I asked to mix a couple of support acts to test my skills in a more pro fully miked setup. All went well, so I mixed a couple of local bands. All went well, so I took a name headliner. All went well, and I was available and capable, so ended up as regular house engineer for all our bigger shows. Over the last 12 years of doing that, various acts passing through have been impressed enough to ask me to be their touring engineer - the day job, along with the desire to keep my marriage intact, have always resulted in a no.

In my view - word of mouth, reputation and right place at the right time. It remains a frustrating fact that getting a foot in the door is the hardest part. Once you've done that, and if you're any good, more stuff will follow.

College courses are all very well, but I'm not sure they teach you the people skills that are arguably more important than the technical ones.
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