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Where to go in the industry?


Chris McDonald:
I started out with a sound company right out of high school working festivals, concerts and special events. Actually in HS I recorded a CD and was leading up the technical end of a community TV station. Anyway my responiblities at the sound company quicky became lighting and data/video projection, just because no one else wanted to do it. Anyway at the same time I've been working on a Diploma in Telecommunications Engineering technology which was majorly focused on electronics and computers.

Anyway I have one sememster left after xmas and then I'm not sure what I want to do. One side of me is saying get a job in telecom and work in AV on the side. Another is saying go become an electrican where there is lots of work and good money. Another side of me wants to work in sound or lighting full time and start my own AV or video production company on the side. In the long term I'd would like to be working in TV production, maybe on a remote truck(I'd hate to be working in the same place everyday).

Any advice you guys would like to pass along?

In general what AV services are in demand?

Ken Freeman:
Hey Chris,

I see a whole see of folks in the same boat.  The only common theme I see in these businesses is that change will come and come quick.  At some point, you have to follow your heart.  I was in the very spot this weekend back where I made my decision and have not looked back once...other than to do shows in the same venue. I was well on my way to a degree at a prominent University in Chemistry of all things, when I got a night job in a bar to help pay the bills.  That led to rebuilding the bar A/V system so we could do shows, getting hired by the student center to look after the house systems, running the crews for the campus events and so on...

First off, finish the degree.  Don't do what I did and walk out at the 90% mark and build steel for a major rock show in finals week. It was really fun, but a bad idea in the long run.

Second:  Ask yourself which one of these business look like something you can live with for the next 40 years.  A big part of who you are is what you do and vice versus.  Example: A lot of "Social decisions" will be made for you if you plan to spend 250 days a year in a remote truck.

Third:  Try one out.  I mean, it is not like you are signing up for the Merchant Marines and can't get off the boat if you change your mind.  Many organizations offer internships, hire freelancers or temp help for there busy seasons.  Ask around.

Forth:  Start building a Resume and collecting letters of reference from your professors, prior employers, bands that you have worked with, etc.  It will take time for you to build a name for yourself and this will help answer the "What have you done?" question.

Fifth:  Get in the habit of being on time to everything you do.  Luck is when preparation meets an opportunity.  Be on time so you can take advantage of that when it comes.

Have fun!  You are not going to excel at what you do not enjoy.


Grayson Rech:
Along what Ken mentioned about trying things out, your personal life WILL revolve around your decision.  I've found that being a traveling engineer freelance, touring, or whatever isn't so much about what and who you know (although that does help out alot!) rather how you deal with the swings of the profession.  In the biz of freelancing can you handle: not knowing when or where your next job is? will you be able to afford gas?, will you eat? can you make enough to get insurance coverage?  is your family, wife, girlfriend, what ever able to deal with the lonely nights? and forget about having a holiday.
If you choose a more stable road theatre, prod. company, TV studio, 98% of the time you are still working in the same place day in and day out.  EVERYONE who posts here with any conviction has or will go through this very question.  Some try and keep local will choose the "start a sound (or A/V or lighting whatever)company" to give it a try.  Some work out, some don't.  Most will have another source of income (myself included).  I put myself through college by touring my senoir year.  After I graduated and the loans started pounding me, I couldn't afford to hang my life on the thin thread of hoping the next show would be closely behind.  Remember, when the economy hits people personally, the first thing to go is costly live entertainment.  It's just cheaper and easier to go rent a movie.  It isn't a kicking concert but at less I'll have lunch tomorrow.  I can buy a case of beer for what it costs for 5 or 6 drinks at the bar . . . hmmmm that's a tough one there?!
I've gotten a little winded here but I think you'll get the point.  Personally, I'd get that electricians degree/ certification and get tight with all the local and regional production theaters and concert halls.  Often, promoters run into problems with power and need a power guy (or gal) to come immediately to hook up a distro or tie in.  During those times, because of what it is, they are willing to pay whatever to get things rolling in time for showtime.  

Best of luck to ya,
Always keep learning . . .



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