Sound Engineer work prospects
Sound engineers are generally divided into two groups and they are either full time employees or part time free-lancers who may work for all manner of different live acts and or event managers. Often these free-lancers are picked off by the sound companies who realise they have a very capable person in their midst who they need or want to stay permanently involved with.
Most sound companies have spasmodic work loads and are reluctant to take on a lot of full-timers who they may worry will be standing around with very little to do in their quieter periods in the middle of the winter. However a substantial number of good techs do find themselves in full time work if they want it enough and go out of their way to prove their worth.
One of the best ways to appeal to a sound company is to bring them plenty of work and any good soundy can do this. Even while still at school, you can be working for a part time band as a part time soundman and there is no reason why you can’t be busily working for several bands at once, especially if you combine with one or two other sound engineers who are doing the same thing as you are. You simply stand in for each other if demand for your services requires you be in two places at once.
Once a sound company realises you are continually hiring sound equipment from them, you will start to become an asset to them and they will definitely not want to lose you or the work load you are bringing them. They would be quite happy for you to just continue hiring gear from them addinfinitum, but once you are doing this on a regular basis you really will have some good leverage and they will certainly not want to lose you. Now I’m not suggesting you start getting heavy or threatening and put the screws on them to give you a full time job, because this is not the way to do things. The way to go about this is to ask them for part time work so they can get to know and trust you. This will or should gradually increase as you gain their confidence and they begin to regard you as somewhat indispensable.
I have seen this happen many times. It will get to the point where they must realise that if they want to keep you around they simply must offer you a full time job. This of course may not suit you because by this stage you could be so popular with the bands who are using you, that you can do far better working in that manner. This arrangement may well give you a lot of free time during the day that you may not wish to sacrifice.
This can be a really nice life style but it is fraught with risk if your work load should fall away and hence your income becomes greatly reduced. I have seen this happen with movie sound engineers when a film contract ends for example.
Familiarization is often the key. The sound industry is continually growing for better or for worse. Get to know people in the industry. Do work experience if you have to and visit the places bands play. You may be asked to become an in house sound engineer in a nightclub or a bar. It can really help if you can double up as a DJ.