Marketing my skills to local bands

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by ceeinwa, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. ceeinwa

    ceeinwa Member

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    I'm toying with the idea of approaching a few of the better local bands to offer my services as a live engineer.

    Some light background:

    only one local venue has installed sound, so everyone has their own rig for the other places
    no one is paid very well

    The plan is to use my mixer, but their speakers, monitors, etc.

    Without even getting into what to charge because I'll decide what I can accept, then biggest issue I can see is, "But our fans already love how we sound. Why should we hire you?" I can't even figure out a good reply for that.
     
  2. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    It's tough out there. Everyone thinks they can do it (and some do pretty well) or just OK is good enough.

    All you can do is give it a shot and see if anyone takes you up on your offer.

    You might have to do a free gig to prove your worth.

    If you catch on, maybe more folks will think you're worth it.

    I hired a sound guy to work for me because I watched him work and heard how good the band sounded with him behind the board.

    You just gotta get out there and get some exposure.
     
  3. TheRockDoc

    TheRockDoc Member

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    Basic sales is making it about YOU (the customer). Make it about them not you, maybe 1 out of 10 'yes' is better than zero :)
     
  4. Hired Gun

    Hired Gun Member

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    We've got a guy here (Balt-Wash) that does exactly that...uses our speakers, stands, etc. and brings his own mixing desk. He also brings cables and microphones AND sets it all up. Typically he gets an equal share of the pay, which works out to $100-$150 on these types of gigs (five/six piece band playing bars, concert on the town square, etc.).

    It's not that we can't run our sound, but the selling point for us is that it is one big thing we don't have to deal with at these gigs. This guy is reliable and does a good job. Other gigs (less musicians, smaller budget) we set up and run it all ourselves.
     
  5. RCM78

    RCM78 Member

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    A lot of bands dont value a good soundtech... They think set it and forget it is good enough... It's not!!!

    My advice would be to start with the biggest bands out there and offer to run sound when their normal guy isnt available. Build a reputation from there. But you better be good!!!
     
  6. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

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    This is ultimately why this is a terrible business idea. If you want to do it for fun, then charge whatever, but when nobody is getting paid well, there's not much to pay non-members.
     
  7. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    1. You're asking for trouble, if you expect to use the bands stacks, monitors, mics, etc. The vast majority of the time, they'll be crap/broken and you'll spend more time fixing/tweaking them in, than if you brought your own.

    2. As for "deciding what you'll accept" - you're going to have a very hard time getting more than $100 for a briefcase gig. $75 is more realistic, for a bar band.

    If they're still bringing all the big stuff, they're doing all the grunt work. All you have to offer is the ability to provide great sound, consistently, for both the band and the audience.
     
  8. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    IDK, I'm thinking about what I would pay you... I'd expect you to know more about live sound then I do my self and be able to come up to speed with my rig extremely quickly (ie. an hour before the first gig). You would also have to own better stuff than I own which might not be the case.
    I'd pay a friend $50 to come to a gig (and hang out all night) walking around with an iPad just to get our levels right and also help with setup/breakdown (really just cabling and a little grunt work, I'd still end up doing most of everything).
    If I'm giving a sound guy and equal share ($100-150 depending on venue) than he would be completely responsible for ALL gear -- setup/breakdown/micing and mixing the event.

    The one time I hired a sound guy he had a metric **** ton of gear (some of it nice, some of it very beat to hell), took about 2.5 hours to setup, another 2.5 hours to breakdown/leave and he made the most of anyone in the band that night. I also felt guilted into helping load out all of his crap... never again.
     
  9. hubberjub

    hubberjub Silver Supporting Member

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    We always have a sound guy and use his equipment. We usually even use his equipment if the club we're playing has sound. He has good gear and knows his way around it. Keeping a reasonable stage volume and having someone who is running sound for you are two of the best ways to be a better on stage band (IMO).
     
  10. stevel

    stevel Member

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    That's business.

    Before you even think about starting a business, you need to research the marketplace.

    There is already a glut of people with too much borrowing power and not enough skills who've gone out and bought a huge PA under the idea that they'll run sound for a living (or for extra cash).

    Then they want to charge 300 to a band that's getting paid 150.

    You want to get hired by good bands? You need a portfolio, and name recognition. You need to be better than everyone else in every way. More punctual, more professional, more effective, more reliable, and...until you can build demand... more cheaper!

    I can tell you right now, if someone calls me up and says "hey, I'll run sound for you for free", I'm going to be like "what are your qualifications?".

    I'm going to want to hear them say they worked for X sound company for Y years, or with M band for N years.

    Honestly, for a band that has its own PA and runs it themselves, asking to run sound for them is a bit like asking to sit in.
     
  11. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

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    Also keep in mind that anyone who is setting up, running the gig, and breaking down is doing a minimum of 8 hours of work. If I'm getting paid $10 an hour AND exposing my gear to possible damage - um, no thanks...
     
  12. RCM78

    RCM78 Member

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    Here's my situation. I own the PA. I'm also the guitarist in my band. I have a full time sound tech run my rig for $100 a night. We consider him a member of the band and I place a very high value on sounding great out front.

    His responsibilities are to help me load the trailer at my house, help load in, set up, mix, break down, load out, and unload the trailer back at my house...

    I think it's money well spent.

    On a side note, We have an audition coming up at a premier venue, built in sound and a house tech. Our tech is coming just to make sure things sound right for free. I gave him the option and he said, don't worry about it. Whatever you need I'm there...
     
  13. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    I've been doing sound for maybe 12 years in church, so I have some experience, but I started properly 2 and a 1/2 years ago by putting a notice on a local message board as a free sound engineer.

    I did three free gigs out of that, which went well. Armed with some confidence from that, I approached a local venue but getting some sound work. They agreed to give me a gig at 50% of my asking rate to see if I was any good, that went well too. They had a film crew there that night, and I got my mug on national TV ;)

    From that show, the venue booking manager recommends me as their first choice, and through that I got probably about 20 paying gigs last year. The rest of my work comes from being involved in the wider music community.

    I try hard to be really easy to relate to and work with, and that has led to me becoming involved in a lot of local festivals and included on crew or monitors for a lot of national level bands coming through our area.

    I would say these are the keys:

    1. Be the perfect team player. Be on time, friendly, communicate well, remember names, and remember you are serving the band.

    2. Mix like a boss. Work hard the whole night. Have a really, really good sound check so you are starting from a good baseline. Keep your eyes on the band. In every break, go talk to the band, check that they are happy, check that your mics haven't moved.

    3. Help the band pack up their gear, congratulate them on a great performance, and leave the show as friends.

    Every gig will have members of other bands in the crowd, so treat every single gig as an audition for the next.
     
  14. Uncle Pat

    Uncle Pat Member

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    Great advice all the way around, and #2 can't be stressed enough. I had an artist's manager tell me the band was talking about me (in a good way) at their restaurant stop after the show I mixed. Why? Because I worked that sh*t and never let go of them. They weren't used to that in Nashville!
     
  15. ceeinwa

    ceeinwa Member

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    I appreciate the comments, everyone. Lots of things to consider.

    As with most things, there are success stories and of course the horror as well.
     
  16. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    Substitute bassist for guitarist and this entire post would apply to me as well, except that on smaller gigs I usually mix from the stage.
     
  17. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    If I were you I might seek out a paid gig as a church soundguy instead. Steady work, predictable hours, your nights are yours, etc. I think most of them use a volunteer workforce, but if they're struggling they might choose a pro instead.
     
  18. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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    I know loudboy definitely knows what he's talking about here. I think it's one thing to have someone help with sound and another to provide the sound so the band does not have to worry about it -- hauling, setup, positioning, bringing what's necessary for the particular gig.

    Sitting back at the mixer using the bands' monitors, speakers, subs is not a huge investment on your part, plus you would have to deal with the variables of each band's random equipment. I feel to do it in a professional way, I think you have to provide the whole package to add more value.
     
  19. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    Yeah, but you have to deal with church politics and keep quiet about stuff you disagree with. No thanks.

    Also, it's not as challenging or as varied as 'real world' sound.
     
  20. MLG Audio

    MLG Audio Member

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    I started out about 3 years ago. I'll be perfectly honest in saying I was not a great sound man. I would probably even say I was pretty bad. I bought some "nice" fear right off the bat and worked some really ****** shows. As time went by I got a lot better (YouTube is an amazing tool) and bands noticed.

    One of the bigger country bands around here took a liking to my work ethic and they have used me at least once a week for almost two years now. I'm certainly not making a lot per gig (150 to 200 for a bar show using all my own gear), but it's a guaranteed 4-6 gigs a month on top of the other bands who use me.

    All it takes is some positive word of mouth and some people skills. Hell I have a few bands fighting over me for some dates this summer.

    One of the biggest things to learn is to troubleshoot mid song. If something goes wrong you'd better have it fixed by the end of that verse/chorus. Mostly this entails learning the ins and outs of every piece of gear you could be using. It certainly helps a lot when it's all of your own gear. I've been on aw briefcase gigs where something is wrong and it could be one of numerous undisclosed issues.


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