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Author Topic: How are you preparing for the future (of live sound) during this time?  (Read 2372 times)

Tim McCulloch

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Fire sale prices and pennies on the dollar liquidations.  There's gonna be a lot of good used gear on the market and if anyone has higher aspirations and cash it might be a good time to buy nice things.

I have 2 clients I'd love to keep no matter what happens (over 20 year of continuous service to them until SARS-CoV-2 hit), annual events that have become my pride and joy.  Both require lots of gear and 10 worker crews.  I've got a year to figure that part out no matter what happens...

I do know that if I can't be back working in audio really soon now, I'm out of audio forever.  I'll take a job I hate, with a decent benefit package, for the 4 years that separate me from full S.S. retirement.  The pandemic is/will kill my equity-based investments and cash savings pay so little (and dwindle fast).  Basically I'm screwed after nearly 40 years in the industry.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Ed Taylor

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I get it Tim

I'm looking at my 64th here in December

Age was part of the factor in accepting an offer for my business.

my commuter car, the family 3500 duramax and the camper and boat that it pulls, are all aged, paid for, but aging out like their owner.

I was trying to come in for a soft landing..so paying off everything, but even with that, SS will not cover it going forward and if I were to loose my day job in the midst of this, my savings would last us til next spring at best.

The wife has a small side biz, calendar at the beginning of the year was showing about $20k and I was anticipating about that much from my small rig, mainly because I didn't feel like working it that much..avoiding the holiday concerts in favor or enjoying family time..something that I had not done in about 2 decades.
almost all of that extra income vanished..and while we don't depend on it to pay the bills, it was planned for some home repairs, vacation, upgrade to a newer camper, etc..so all that is on hold.

I have bought a couple items at very good prices..things that I had been wanting, spare console, mics, etc...likely grab a couple QSC K12s here shortly.

but honestly I'm hanging on to my cash a bit more right now.
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Mark Scrivener

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I hear you guys....it is rough for small business owners all around, not just in our segment. I full expect this thing to go on for a long time and for a huge portion of small businesses to go completely under. Yes, there will be fire sale bargains to be had for those with cash, but more importantly, there will be an interesting backside to this. At some point, private events will start to happen - weddings, graduations, family events, and the small operators left standing will be working their tails off. It will be much longer until festivals and larger events start happening - and the landscape there will be even more interesting.

I consider myself very fortunate that I decided years ago to focus on teaching guitar over session work, playing gigs, music production, or event production. The teaching has been reasonably steady during this time (though I'm sick of Zoom), while everything else has gone to zero for me. The only studio work I've done since this started has been for my own projects and I'd bet money that the next "gig" I have will be a recital for my students (in someone's back yard no less).

The businesses that survive will be those with other sources of income or extremely deep pockets.

doug johnson2

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First off, I also need to address your liability issues for your stage cover and stage.  As far as the cover, you maybe alright.  Your issues are going to be, is it a true commercial quality tent or consumer quality?  Are there local ordnances as to what minimum specifications are required for such a structure and does it meet such requirements?  As far as your homemade stage, unless you have your plans signed off by a Structural Engineer and your finish product certified by the the same, you are in trouble.  Also, using cinder blocks and 5 gal bucket are not acceptable methods of elevating a stage.
Many, if not most, municipalities require inspections of such temporary structures, even if it is a private event in someone's backyard.  I guarantee your stage as described will not pass an inspection.  As someone whose wife has worked in upper management for a major insurance provider for over 19 years,  your insurance company has one #1 mandate and that is to limit their liability.  If you don't do every up to or exceeding required and industry standards, they will walk away and you will be on your own. 
  As far as what I am doing to weather the current storm?  I some ways, I am lucky.  All of the equipment I own is long past paid for.   It is long in the tooth but, in the market that I typically have been competing in, it is better than what most have.  In the past, I did do a fair amount of regional/state fair level events that I sub-rented for.  I also, in the past I did a fair number of installs. 
   The part that sucks is, I was just recovering from 3 years of being pretty much sidelined because of health issues.  This was the year I was going "make my come back".   I had a fair number of live gigs lined up. Due to physical limitations I have been trying to minimize my install work.   It looks like I will be trying to build up the installs. 
    i don't know when the live stuff will come back, and i don't know what my market will look like.  Will I be dealing with more bottom feeders or will the bigger guys be desperate for work and push me out buy offering more for less.
 
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Mike Pyle

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I'm trying to trim my sales inventory, some production stuff too. My warehouse lease runs through January. If things are no better by then I may look into jamming everything left into storage and abandon the warehouse until we recover.
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Mike Pyle  Audiopyle Sound  707-315-6204
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Ed Taylor

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hey Doug..."bottom feeders or big guys desperate for work"...definitely both.

talking to friends who have the larger rigs..they "will take anything right now" is their answer.

Those are the guys that used to feed me the small jobs..things that didn't fit their business model...they wouldn't roll their expensive gear for a $1500 wedding deal for example.

These days, they'll snap it up..and probably do it for less.

The bottom feeders have always been a problem...I'd get a call for a job that I might quote $1800, and there's a couple guys in the area that will roll in for $800. 
I used to let the client just choose to suffer and walk away, plenty of good customers who want it done as right as possible, don't need to chase the other...and yet, I think there will be a new price sheet on the street when things do come back around.

Like you, my rig has some age on it, but it's clean.

Long as my day job holds out, I may choose to let my rig sit rather than take my entire weekend to bring home $400 net.

That said, I've always been amazed at the $ the DJ biz is able to pull, so I don't want to sound like  a hypocrite.
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doug johnson2

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The other side of the coin is clients.  I mostly work for non-profit, civic, and municipal organization.  They are also taking a hit financially and I can see them coming out of this looking to trim things back and save money.  Most of my clients are also 15 + year customers.  I foresee that  those relationships won't count for as much as the have the past when someone comes offering a lower price for an event.
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Mark Scrivener

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First off, I also need to address your liability issues for your stage cover and stage.  As far as the cover, you maybe alright.  Your issues are going to be, is it a true commercial quality tent or consumer quality?  Are there local ordnances as to what minimum specifications are required for such a structure and does it meet such requirements?  As far as your homemade stage, unless you have your plans signed off by a Structural Engineer and your finish product certified by the the same, you are in trouble.  Also, using cinder blocks and 5 gal bucket are not acceptable methods of elevating a stage.
Many, if not most, municipalities require inspections of such temporary structures, even if it is a private event in someone's backyard.  I guarantee your stage as described will not pass an inspection.  As someone whose wife has worked in upper management for a major insurance provider for over 19 years,  your insurance company has one #1 mandate and that is to limit their liability.  If you don't do every up to or exceeding required and industry standards, they will walk away and you will be on your own. 

You do realize that professional theater companies, universities, and theater groups small and large have been building their own stages for centuries? The stage platforms I built are a slightly beefed up version of a design used by theater groups for a few decades now - known as a triscuit. These platforms are more robust and structurally sound than most of the commercial solutions I've seen on the market. Like I said, you could park cars on this stage. The sub floor in your home probably isn't as strong and stiff as these platforms - and many concrete footings are essentially cinder blocks. This design easily exceeds industry standards....and my wife works in the insurance industry as well...I also happen to hold a Masters in Engineering....this stage is as safe and solid as they come.

Ed Taylor

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The other side of the coin is clients.  I mostly work for non-profit, civic, and municipal organization.  They are also taking a hit financially and I can see them coming out of this looking to trim things back and save money.  Most of my clients are also 15 + year customers.  I foresee that  those relationships won't count for as much as the have the past when someone comes offering a lower price for an event.

yep, over the years I've had those special clients that were good business..and they might ask me to do a favor and make a price happen on a certain gig, or wait on payment, etc..and I'd look back over the years and realize the total revenue and value of the relationship and was good to make it happen for them.

I'm sure I'll move the day going forward so that everyone can get something out of the pie.

the private events things tend to be more one-offs though, so I've usually just politely walked away ...example

while back, at a venue..high end- golf course over looking the large lake - venue director loves us and recommends us.
we had just done a wedding ceremony on the lawn, 180 seated..my audio was simple enough - wireless for the pastor, wireless on a stand for 2 readers, classical string trio, background tracks before service, feed to the videographers who were building the day's story..including drone flyover before the service started. My rig was completely wireless and the Bose L1 compact units even have custom made white spandex slip covers to match all the fixtures out on the lawn, I'm in the back dressed in a suit with an ipad mini in my hand..no cables anywhere. $750 and the bride's mom was happy to hand me an $800 check.
I get a call 2 weeks later from a new bride's mom saying the venue director recommended me..she has the same exact setup..200 guests, string trio, etc.. I told her, yes, i had just done one for the $750...the mom freaks out at the price and says she'll just have the reception band bring down a speaker... I politely tell her that I'm sure that would be a good solution for her..and the call ends.
I'm thinking to myself, you are paying for that venue, lawn seating, the reception hall, band, sit down dinner and for the most important 20 mins of your daughter's life, you wanna just toss a speaker out on the lawn...ok...have a nice day.
fast forward to 2021...if that venue told me the new price point of pain is more like $350... hard to consider...if I pass on it, then I loose the venue to a hungry vendor.  mind you, if I am providing PA, drum kit etc to the reception band, then yeah we toss the ceremony in for $300 since we are already there for what ends up being a $2k day..but for just ceremony.. I have to hope I can upsell a keyboard rental, etc to make the day worth rolling the van.
Again, at the moment, I have a day job, this is extra income, but my longer term goal is to retire and have this on the side, so I don't want to burn bridges in 2021 for work I'll want in 2023.
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Luke Geis

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I have started working on moving in a different direction. This is the second time I have been hit by a recession that has left me wondering what to do. It took two years the last time to crawl out. Granted I came out stronger than ever, but just as I was starting to get into the upper tier this crap happens......

So luckily I had some savings and am also rather crafty and industrious when it comes to building and designing. I bought a CNC machine and am looking to make faceplates, signage, guitars, plaques, and whatever else I can think of. I am also building a guitar pickup winding machine to make and sell pickups. I figure I will also finalize my guitar ampifier design ( all original ) and build a couple of other " borrowed " ( as all the makers seem to do ) designs and build amplifiers as well. Anything to keep the ball rolling. The next big project is building another website! I am 90% there with the CNC machine and the pickup winder, so I have some work to do!!!! Needless to say the only things sound related in my life these days is you guys :)
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