Alternative Income Streams For Live Sound Engineers.
After the lack of live music events a few years ago due to the numerous lockdowns and the Coronavirus pandemic, it seems that good sound engineers have been quite sought after in getting the live music industry back on its feet.
One of my friends and mentor who is a sound engineer for some pretty high profile artists said that a lot of venues are currently crying out for good sound engineers.
However, if you're a sound engineer looking for extra work or other streams of income, then this blog should provide you with some ideas of what else to do when you're not working with artists or DJs.
If you're looking to learn more about sound engineering and music production we offer a foundation degree in Creative Music Production And Business here at CM. We have an in house professional PA system used for events and students that are interested in live sound can have the opportunity to learn more about this through extra curricular activities. Check out our course page for more information.
So without further ado let's take a look at some alternative income streams for live sound engineers.
Teaching is a great way to pass on your knowledge to aspiring sound engineers. It can be an extremely rewarding job as well.
If you're looking to teach part time at a further or higher education level, then you will usually require at least a level 3 qualification in education and training. We offer this qualification here at CM if you complete our Music Leader Training. Check out our course page for more information.
Alternatively, you can become a freelance tutor and teach your students independently. This can be in person or online. Getting students to teach as a freelance tutor will depend on you advertising and marketing your services and may take some time to find a consistent amount of students.
When I say "DJ" I don't necessarily mean it in the traditional sense of using a DJ controller to mix two different tracks together in a creative way. I literally mean, playing through a playlist that you've created to fit the theme of an event. If you have a portable PA and your own equipment then this is definitely a great option to get more income.
Lots of local venues such as pubs and bars are always on the lookout for people to provide entertainment to their customers and being a sound engineer with your own equipment gives you an edge over the competition. Lots of pub "DJ's" I've seen have a great selection of tunes but often have no idea about the technical aspects of live sound production. This leads to the overall sound not being so good. As a sound engineer, you have got the knowledge of how to EQ rooms and you know when to apply EQ and compression to the music to improve the quality of the sound.
You also have the experience of working with venue managers and the general public as a sound engineer, so having combined professionalism and a reputation for good quality sound will get you far.
Again, I use the term "DJ" very loosely here. This one requires more DJ-ing ability than the previous job, in the sense that you have to queue karaoke songs and mix between them and the music you play between each singer.
Also known as KJ's, karaoke DJs will need to be more interactive with the crowd compared to a standard sound engineer, but only for calling singers up to perform and trying to get everyone else to applaud the singers. From my own experience, the start of karaoke nights can be quieter but get more lively as the night goes on. Be sure to keep an eye on your equipment though, as people under the influence of alcohol tend to come too close to it with their drink or can fall on it when trying to dance! Apart from the health and safety aspect of this, potential equipment damage is another cause for concern. We can't stop people from drinking too much but we can try to prepare ourselves for their potential lack of responsibility!
Being a KJ as a sound engineer can again be a great opportunity for you to shine and stand out from the rest. This is because you understand how to set up the equipment properly, in the optimal place and of course know how to deliver great vocal production for the singers!
I notice at a lot of karaoke nights, the sound is terrible! The majority of KJ's I've seen don't know how to EQ vocals at a basic level, use effects properly or apply any necessary compression to create a balanced and clear mix. This leads to feedback and bad quality vocals. I know it's 'only karaoke' but people do notice these things and hold you in higher esteem, which can lead to more work.
So if you're a sound engineer looking for a bit of extra money from alternative income streams, this blog should give you some food for thought. The portable DJ and karaoke DJ jobs can often be good as well because they're often quite short shifts (3-4 hours) that can get you roughly £40 - 50 an hour upwards. Special events such as weddings will usually gain you more income as well.
If you're interested in finding out more about live sound engineering please check out our other articles:
Love Sound Engineer Survival Guide
Remember, with your skills as a sound engineer, you'll have an edge over the competition as well!