Bailed on running sound

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by RichSnyder, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I have been running sound for a group of friends for a little over two years and decided that I'm kinda done with doing that. I like the guys, but basically it's an all day of work for me, load out, load in, set up, sound check, run sound, tear down, load out, drive home, unload, drive home, home. They get to play and have fun for ~ 3 hours or so. So, I'm working and often wasting a PTO day if it's an earlier weekday show. The band is a five piece and the money goes into a band fund to pay for community gear or whatever. That's fine, we've all agreed to it and it's not uncommon around here. But, they undercharge for a 5 piece, full PA, lights, and sound guy. It's often $250 or $300 for a night. $300 is what you charge for two fools on stools or a solo acoustic set. So, I'm doing this as a favor for them but since they're charging so low, I'm really wasting an entire day or evening to basically work for free for the venue. I already told them that I'll finish out the next two gigs we have on the books and then I'm finished. One will be outdoors but the last one will probably be indoors in a more vaccine hesitant area. So I'm not entirely thrilled about that one.
  2. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    One of the least satisfying musical experiences for me over the years has been as an essentially volunteer/low compensated sound guy. It’s a thankless job at the best of times. I politely decline when asked these days.
  3. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    When they're doing band introductions and skip over me, yeah that probably factors into the decision as well.
    Geri O, bobalu, J_Bass and 9 others like this.
  4. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    IMO, the most underrated person in a band is the sound guy. If you have a good one no one notices but if you don't, everyone knows something is wrong. Maybe they'll have to learn to do sound on stage with no sound guy. It's been done.
  5. Kevorargh

    Kevorargh Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2013
    West Bethel, Maine
    It's easy enough to justify wanting out - if you're not making enough money, then it makes no business sense to keep doing it, especially if it interferes with day job.
    PlatoFunFactory and tbz like this.
  6. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009

  7. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    I support you 100%. The musicians should be sacrificing their pay for you. It's your gear and you move it? Yikes! You're worth at least the 300 bucks. They'll learn when you are gone that renting, picking up, setting up, tearing down, and returning the gear is not worth it for 250 per show.
    birminghambass, 51PRI, andy67 and 4 others like this.
  8. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    We won't haul our gear out anymore, period. It stays in our studio where we rehearse with multiple bands. When people first come into our studio they sometimes ogle the gear and make noises about using our PA. We tell them that they're welcome to come in, tear it down, haul it out, set it up, tear it down again, bring it back, and set it up again for the next rehearsal, and that we'll be happy to help them.

    That eliminates the issue because no one else actually wants to do that work. There's a reason for that. It's work!

    I recently played a show where I was asked if we could bring our PA gear. I pointed the BL to a local company that rents out. Their fee for a basic system with a four channel mixer and no monitors was more than the entire band pay. I told him that if he could get the venue to pay for the PA rental at a comparable price I'd be happy to bring out a comparable system. We did end up bringing a couple of monitors out for that show, which is about as much as I'll typically allow for. I'll help you piece something together, but don't expect it to all fall on my shoulders. I always bring a mic, stand and mic cable, so that's not ever an issue.

    I don't get this thing of expecting something for nothing from musicians and I don't know why so many of us seem reluctant to stand up for ourselves and say no when we're asked to do things that nobody else would ever do uncompensated. Maybe when I was young and more eager it made more sense, but it doesn't make any sense to me today.
  9. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Best decision I ever made in music was refusing to run sound in my band.
  10. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Like the actors ask: where's my motivation?
    51PRI, BassGuyFL and bolophonic like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    Let them suffer w/ no sound person until they come back to you. And that time, price your service correctly.
  12. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I bet the rest of the band pay for the gas they use to drive to gigs. Running sound is a service to the function of playing music, and you ought to be paid, just like any of the band members would pay for a taxi ride to the gig if needed.
    4SG likes this.
  13. Well, just to put your effort value in perspective, we hire a sound company @ $600 a gig. 11 piece horn and vocal band. Needless to say, we don’t do a lot of $200 gigs. Actually, now that I think about it, we don’t play a lot of gigs period. LOL!!! OK, about 10 a year.
  14. Bassngtr


    Jul 21, 2007
    Methuen, MA
    Thankless is right. Over the years I bought enough PA gear to be able to have 2 full setups, and I know what I am doing, so I offer to do sound in addition to playing bass and backup vox. I do get help loading and setting up. But the endless complaining has made me want to stop. My only pre-gig stress is from getting the sound set up and getting a good sound - I cannot even think about my bass playing until we finish the 2nd or 3rd song. Over my 4 years in this band I am the only sound person who has never caused a moment of gigantic feedback into the speakers (every other 'pro' sound guy who we hired always did it at least once a gig, sometimes more than once.). In 4 years I've gotten one 'thanks for doing sound' from the drummer and one from the keyboardist. Plus their endless complaining. Every couple months I am asked "would a 24-channel mixer help us"? And I reply 'well, sure; who's going to run it and set it up?' We are a (very good) local cover band - why on earth would we need 24 channels and separate monitor mixes???? I am kicking myself for being stupid enough to ever buy PA gear.
    Lex P., J_Bass, Jason Hollar and 4 others like this.
  15. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    I don't mind running sound if I don't have to load or setup.
    Like at a local club that the sound guy calls out sick and I have to throw up some mics and get some sounds, sure I'll do that.

    Last time I actually brought a small PA to a show with bands was about 3 years ago at a golf course "festival" which was really just 3 local bands. I worked hard that day, but got paid decent and ate / drank all day long. Plus we hit the driving range on break and had a really good time. Other than that, I only use my small PA once in a great while. My larger PA system has not left the rehearsal studio in many many years!
  16. 4SG


    Mar 6, 2014
    Bailed? Sounds like you escaped.
    Spidey2112 and jam.majors like this.
  17. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    I have always been the sound lights and bass guy, always. Since retirement my sound guy stuff sets in the garage. I am now in a band where I show up, play bass, go home. It's nice.

    However it's frustrating to give up that portion of the show as I believe I do it better.
  18. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    Being a sound guy is basically being a furniture mover for 8 hours with a brief break for a couple hours in the middle to run sound. It's not so bad if you're running an installed FOH system, but if you're bringing all the gear it can really suck.
    BlueTalon and HolmeBass like this.
  19. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Where's the "suck knob" cartoon when you need it??
  20. One of the primary reasons for leaving the last band I was in was because I ran the sound and two of the members who took the least amount of interest in learning about it or helping with it were the loudest and first to complain about whatever they thought was not right.

    Our band now, I get plenty of help setting up/loading and the other two members both know the basics about what's going on. So if we're on break and I forget to hit mute or if the break music stops and they're close they know what to do. We say the gear schlepping, set up, tear down is what we get paid for and the music is free.

    After we get paid the other two take a portion of their pay and give it to me for running the sound and lights too.
    Bonecat, Lex P., covermego and 8 others like this.
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