I am convinced that there should be an asylum, not a retirement home, waiting for retired techs. What person in their right mind would take on a career like this? What would a realistic job application for a tech look like?
Application for entry level tech to spend their life in this business
Do you have a passionate appreciation of music?
Are you fully willing to lose that appreciation in exchange for a meager check and critical attitude?
Do you enjoy spending time with people of different cultures and backgrounds?
Are you carrying appropriate self control to allow them to yell at you and insult your existence?
Do you enjoy the satisfaction of completing a project?
Are you able to stay positive when that project repeats itself 150 times a year, with increasing foolishness?
Do you enjoy spending time with family and friends?
Are you wiling to exchange them for roadies and musicians?
Do you find yourself daydreaming about owning your own business and gear?
Are you ok with compulsive behavior and spending your last dollar on one more adapter?
Do you enjoy the respect and admiration of people who are fascinated with the music industry?
Are you current on your Prozac prescription?
Do you enjoy spending your life in the service of others?
Are you ok with the “others” riding you like a three dollar donkey, demanding absolute perfection, adding extra unpaid hours, stealing the best years of your life for one ridiculous event after another, making you figure out how to keep a system breathing with no time or money, being treated like Quasimodo and left to hide in the shadows for the rest of your pitiful life?
If you answered “yes” to all of these, congratulations! You could be a tech!
Honestly, there’s more truth in there than I want to admit. It’s not all bad or frustrating. It’s honestly a very satisfying career, if you go into it with your head on straight. If you get in, play smart, learn the trade, control the attitude and never, ever let the job take the place of your family… It might be great.
Since most of us started out in church, or as volunteers, we understand the early years. There are mistakes. There are insane expectations. It’s frustrating and satisfying at the same time. It’s hard to explain this to someone who hasn’t been there. Why do we do it? What makes it worthwhile? Why do we show up, week after week, to a stressful job that doesn’t pay and gets people mad at us over laws of physics that they don’t understand?
I have no idea.
But, I was compelled to do it. Like a runner who just has to run. Even though they are running circles, and end up where they started. Even though they don’t seem to accomplish much by running away and then running right back. It’s something they want. It provokes something in them that can’t be explained. It makes them feel alive.
When I was a kid, my dad was a musician. Well. He played bass, anyway. When I was about 13, I decided to pick it up. Never got very good, but I really enjoyed playing it. Got to play with a few different guys growing up. Nothing like jamming for hours. Making good music sound bad. That was us.
The one time we were actually asked to play at an event, we screwed it up. Our amazing lead guitarist had wicked stage fright. Ended up hiding in the bathroom, smoking pot until he was useless. The drummer was amazing, the only one of us who ended up with a career as a musician. He didn’t set his drums up right. Cymbals fell off during one song. The singer forgot lyrics. The bass player got lost on several songs and messed his part up. Didn’t make sense. We practiced that whole set twice.
Even though I enjoyed playing with those guys, I never considered it as a possible career. Other than the pipe dreams of having fans and playing big shows, I didn’t really think about it. We did it for fun. Just something to do on the weekends.
Had I pursued it, learned theory, practiced daily, learned to live on canned dog food… I could have made it. But it wasn’t a priority. I didn’t have the desire or drive to be a professional musician. Still don’t.
This audio tech gig you are getting into, do you enjoy it? Stick with it. You don’t have to make a full career out of it. There are plenty of guys out there who are good at it, but have productive lives and normal jobs. They learn the trade, but choose to do it as volunteers. They seem to understand the difference between a hobby and an obsession. Most of us don’t. Much respect.
Most of us figure that since we enjoy it so much, we should make a career out of it. We start looking for ways to get paying gigs. We look for up and coming bands to work for. We start looking for soup kitchens and goodwill stores. We figure out, eventually, that most musicians are barely feeding themselves. They don’t have money to pay us. Most of us take a while to figure that out.
Robert Kiyosaki recently made a comment that I wish I heard in the beginning. He says, “when you are young, you should work to learn, not to earn.” Focus on getting as much training and experience as possible. Don’t be so quick to get paid for something you haven’t mastered. Makes sense. Young guys generally have less responsibilities and bills than us older guys. Use that freedom to your advantage.
There are days when I really wish I could have been content as a volunteer. Keep working the good job, keep collecting steady checks, keep most of my weekends with my family. Stuff like that. I felt driven to throw myself into this business and find a way to get paid for it. I have that kind of personality. Hopefully you don’t.
Take your time. Play it smart. Learn as much as you can. Walk into your first paying gig as someone who knows what he is doing. You might avoid getting tagged as a dumb kid, if you know what you are doing the first day.