How to: Finding steady Live Sound work in YOUR area
I got a great question this past week from Michael T. out in San Diego, CA, asking for some ideas of how he can make the transition from seasonal weekend work to making a living wage as an audio freelancer. I know that I’ve been in the same boat before and I get similar questions from other folks from time to time, so I thought it would be a good topic for this week’s video.
I’ve known so many folks over the years who have entered the world of audio through doing sound for bands, music or special events like weddings. While these are great ways to make money, learn and grow, eventually we all hit the same wall with only being able to be in so many places on a given weekend when all the work happens. As a small sound company providing gear, there are ways to maximize profits, but as a freelance technician you can only be in one place at a time.
While it may seem as though the work in your town is seasonal, and only happening on the weekend, it certainly pays to keep an open mind and do a bit more research before giving up. While there may only be a limited number of places doing live music, and only so many wedding venues in the area, there is almost definitely audio work taking place in your area on a daily basis if you know where to look.
The first step in this process, and what this video focuses on, is simple market research. As a freelancer, you’ve got to know who is operating in your area and what type of people they need. It’s really easy these days to get online and search for every production, live sound or audio related business in your area. Dig into their websites, and look for any job listings they might have. Search job listing sites like ZipRecruiter, Produciton Hub and even USAjobs.gov and get a good look at what audio jobs are out there. If you’re a freelancer, you’re probably not looking for a full-time job, but you absolutely should be paying attention to the skills these listings are looking for in candidates.
If you are looking to have professional, steady and diverse work throughout the year in your area, you simply need to know the market. Once you know what the market is looking for, you can begin to work to either align your skills better with your market, or have a real discussion with yourself about relocating to a market that better suits your goals. If you only want to mix live bands, but you’re in a town with no music venues, you need to have a real discussion with yourself about your outlook.
So looking for jobs in San Diego, there are actually a number of postings on ZipRecruiter right now looking for freelance audio people in that area. While I was shooting this video, even Club Med had an ad up looking for a freelance audio pro. If you are lucky enough to find freelance work advertised in your area and you meet the skill set, get out there and book that work! Most likely though at this point, you might find full or part time jobs that list at least some skills that you don’t have currently. These are the listings that we want to really pay attention to, keep track of what skills keep coming up, and figure out how we can go about learning those skills.
This isn’t something that only applies to folks who are new to the business either, I regularly look at listings all around the country and the world, to see what technologies, software and applications are in-demand or falling in & out of favor. My goal as a freelancer is to be a person the companies in my area can call to fill in the gaps in their staffing. I do my best to stay current on the gear they use; audio, video and anything else that might show up on a job. I don’t necessarily want to be a video operator, but those skills get me a lot of work on smaller shows where a crew of two people might need to setup and operate audio and video together.
You might find that in your area, these is a lot of audio work in a slightly different field, but still using your current skills. Maybe installation work is big in your area, or like my town, there might be a healthy news and press cycle. These are the types of jobs that you might need to learn some new skills, maybe take a handful of certification courses, but will fundamentally build on your current audio knowledge. Whatever the case is, the idea is to identify what skills your market needs and acquire the skills necessary to meet the needs. If you can begin to do this, you’re chances of landing steady weekday work as a freelancer will go up significantly.
In an upcoming video, we’ll talk about taking the next steps, and how to go about selling your services once you’ve identified potential customers.
I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments below about how you got to where you are now in your career. Did you start in music and branch out from there, or maybe you took things the other way around? Let us know and share your experience with the folks who are starting out on their journey.
The Handmade Audio Notebooks are back in stock, as are the new stickers! Head over to the DcSoundShop to check out the goods!