Saturday, March 3, 2012

True Diversity

My fellow Brethren of the Knob and Fader will recognize the term "true diversity" from wireless mic equipment. I plan on using it as a wider metaphor here. Let's start with a little history. Way back in the day wireless mics were big clunky affairs that transmitted audio back to a base on a single frequency. If there were any RF issues then you got fading and interference. So as electronic components got smaller, manufacturers were able to cram a second receiver into the package. With a simple voting circuit the receiver could decide which antenna was getting the best signal and use that. The result: mics that were a lot more stable and useable.

Now to apply that to the life of a sound guy. It's pretty rare to find a guy that is able to just mix for a living. Even cats who are at the top of their game are also running a rental company or developing products or even working on stuff that's not audio related at all. And that's the key to keeping a roof over your head and food on the table.

For years I would swing a hammer by day and hit the venues all weekend.  And once at the gig people would often call on me to repair gear, stage manage the show, record their band and so on.  The list of services available was ever expanding.  Lighting guy got sick, no problem I'll push the buttons. Bass player locked his keys in the car, no problem I'll get my tools.  Venue needs an electrical upgrade, call me on Monday.  Your band needs a web site, let me grab my laptop.

The point, without rambling on too much is that there's  any number of things to be doing in the industry that have little or nothing to do with sound.  The more skills you have to put to use, the more people will want to use them and the more weeks out of the year you can draw some income from it instead of having to pump coffee at Fourbucks or square shelves at Stuff-Mart.

One bit of good news though is that bands come and go... but the sound guy is always there. He also almost always gets paid and quite often paid before anyone else.  That was what got me into the biz in the first place.  I was playing bass in a band and one night took home the princely sum of $4.35 while the sound guy stuffed a c-note in his jeans.  So if you're thinking about breaking into the biz or even just contributing some time at your school or church, make sure you think about the total package you have to offer. 

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