Need opinions on situation with my band and ownership of live sound; How would you handle?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by npbassman, Jul 29, 2019.

  1. I have been in your situation with the only difference being that I am a sound man and I own a PA. It usually starts casually enough with being asked to bring some PA gear to a gig. Eventually it leads to me being responsible for all PA gear and sound work. This is of course in addition to my playing duties.

    It always ends up with one person doing double duty and the end result usually being a sound product that is not as good as one where a dedicated sound person is employed. I know you love the band and you hope to resolve the situation, but at this point if the other members refuse to hire a sound person, it's time for you to move on. Things will not get better because they already have the mind set that YOU are the sound man.

    Personally, in the future, I have decided to hide the fact that I own PA gear and also the fact that I am a sound person. No more double duty for me.

    Thump on,

    Anemic_SluG, Wasnex and BassGuyFL like this.

  2. You can steal what I did

    Guitar: "hey can you bring your subs and lights (bulky and expensive)"
    Me: "nope - sold them... needed the cash"
    Guitar: "what are we going to do"
    Me: "I'll move my amp & turn it up ... and bring a light (of some kind) that I can see with"
    KarateChris and garp like this.
  3. I run sound from the stage on shows where we provide the PA. It's a digital mixer and we took the time to figure it out at a series of tech rehearsals where I left the bass on stage running a loop and just mixed the band. With a mix that sounds good to start I now only have to EQ for the room and it never takes more than 5 minutes. It's still a bit stressful, but manageable.

    Monitors have been a different story as we tried a bunch of different things, from everyone working their own mix to having the rhythm guitar player mix everyone's monitors. In the end, we've been doing it so long that the natural way was to just give everyone the FOH mix. It also makes it easier to make adjustments as everyone can hear what's going out to the room. If you're too loud in the monitors, roll back a little... that sort of thing.

    It took a lot of time to get to where we're at, and live sound is something I've done professionally in the past. I'm comfortable with the amount of work I've got to put in, and it helps that the other guys recognize how much extra work I do. It sounds like you're in it a bit over your head with a band that doesn't really understand how crazy hard it is to both run sound and play your instrument and sing even when you really know what you're doing. If I were you I'd insist on hiring a guy to run the board.
    Wasnex likes this.
  4. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I'm an excellent sound guy, and a darn good bassist. As good as I am at those two things, if I tried to do both at the same time, I'd be a hack at both. I'll never accept a gig where I have to do both sound and play. You need to put that foot down as well.
    City likes this.
  5. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Running sound and playing is a thankless job that I also do all the time. Once you do it, the job is yours. People don't want to take a pay cut to hire out once they see you do it for free.
  6. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    hiring a sound guy is probably best. IF you continue to run sound it should be with the understanding that people manage their OWN monitors... IME that's the biggest headache, also the best feature of the digital boards. teach 'em how to use those phones. for FOH you can probably get and maintain a decent mix if people aren't obnoxious with their volume. but yeah, btdt and i feel this pain.
  7. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    In my experience, it's the same people who played for decades with a crap PA and monitors – straining to hear anything but noise – who are the first and loudest to moan about the mix once you introduce a better PA and monitor solution like a digital mixer. They were perfectly fine on a stage that was louder than a freight train, but now that you dare bring a mixer with an iPad, they insist on nothing less than audiophile sound quality.

    Another important thing is to impress upon everyone (and by everyone I mean guitarists) is that once you set the input gain for the guitars, they can no longer raise the volume at the amp without screwing up FOH. Their volume comes from their wedge and not the guitar amp -- which is very easy to control on their tablet.
    Plectrum72 and Wasnex like this.
  8. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    I have almost always owned the PA, run the PA, and taken an extra 20-25% (of the regular cut, so $125 instead of $100, for example). Mrs.1952 knows how to wrap cables properly, which tub contains the mics, which tub has speakers cables, etc.. I don't let anyone else mess with the mixer. I know the system, and how to get it sounding its best, and no one is riding the faders, screwing around with the mix. If we play a bigger show, with supplies PA and soundman, I'm perfectly happy to defer to someone else, but for a 100 seat club, I see no reason to pay a soundman. I've been doing this a LOOOONG time...
    Stumbo and Wasnex like this.
  9. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    When you give an inch, they take a mile... lol
    I'm the "sound guy" by default in my band, but I've got it down now. We have a really simple setup, one monitor mix and one main mix from a mackie powered mixer. It's still annoying to be the only one who knows how to turn a knob and plug in a speaker cable, but I'd rather have the control and know that I set up things right than worry about it from someone else messing around. If I was in your situation I would suggest a sound guy help out, at least a few times. If you are "ringing out" a room, you are past the point of just setting up and tweaking sound like me, and into full sound guy territory.
  10. Wissen

    Wissen Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Central PA
    I just left a band for basically this same exact reason (among a few others, but this was my biggest gripe with the band). Except it was a church band, so while we were getting paid, the money wasn't the reason I hung around as long as I did.

    They could get on without me, but if I was there it was my job to run sound. I made my displeasure perfectly clear with the bandleader, and he genuinely did want to find a full time sound engineer. He understood my plight. But as mentioned before, the money wasn't going to be there to do anything about it.

    That means all of the things you mentioned: Band members complaining about sound (which I admit in my frustration I took the wrong way some times), me being a self-taught rookie in the first place, not getting to set up my own equipment and do any kind of warmup until two minutes before showtime, when everyone then gets on my case for making noise. Add in the fact that, as a low-pressure church gig, I used it to boost my skills on secondary instruments, so I was setting up more than just my bass. Ever tried to tune a mandolin when you aren't supposed to be playing at all? The BL got complaints about it, which to his credit he ignored.

    Life changed, an exit door presented itself where I wasn't quitting the band solely because I didn't want the extra responsibility anymore, and I took it.

    I was fortunate to be able to leave on good terms, and my terms. Given the differences in our specific scenarios, my overall advice is: if it's not fun, don't do it. I've been in too many bands where it was a job, and it killed the joy for me. Eventually that led to conflict that broke up the band. If you play music because it's fun, you will find another situation where you can have fun playing music.
    Wasnex likes this.
  11. pawnshopbill


    Jun 20, 2015
    Here's what I might do in your situation, Hire a soundman for a single gig, preferably an outdoor one where room tuning wont be much of an issue. Have everyone come an hour to an hour and a half earlier then they normally would to set up for the show.
    Have everyone set up and have the sound guy set FOH gain and EQ / FX / Comp (the soundguy should know what he is doing) and then I would have him save that show. Once hes done with FOH have him help everyone individually with their monitor mix and have him save those settings.

    Then you can have a conversation with the band about monitor expectations, with digital mixers there's no excuse for someone to not like their mix if they have the option of fixing it themselves from stage. they might need to have some education on why its not okay to adjust the gain levels on the mix or their EQ settings and as long as everyone uses roughly the same equipment and mics and volume settings for every gig, you can set up the PA and load your base show and tune the output eq on the whole mix to the room pretty quickly.

    Also it may help to set up for the gig earlier then you normally would. Its nice to be able to take a breath or have a beer after loading in and soundcheck to not be so stressed on the first set.
    Bullitt5135 likes this.
  12. I feel the pain of the OP. My guitar player is the one to run sound, but he is on tour with another band so its left to me. I am not a sound guy at all. Its definitely a struggle.

    Maybe what you can do is have a band practice, but instead of working on songs, teach everyone how to use the PA. Walk them through how to adjust their own monitors, where their stuff gets plugged in, how to run cables. Stuff that can take the burden off you for a bit.
  13. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    maybe they should actually Pay you a few bucks for the extra work/stress ... !?

    i've run sound on-stage for decades ... even when playing multiple instruments , singing & running lights ...

    multitasking is fun ..!! paying other people to do nothing = not
  14. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    To the OP... as you get more familiar with that Soundcraft Ui24 mixer, check out he EQ tab on the AUX channels (monitor mixes). Utilize the HPF/LPF and EQ to get the most/best out of the monitors. Know how to use the AFS (feedback suppression). I did this for my buddy's system, and the monitor sound quality improved immensely. If possible, record rehearsal with the built-in multi-track recording function, then play it back through the mixer so you can take your time fine-tuning each monitor mix (by yourself, without distraction). Save your settings early and often.
  15. crguti


    Feb 14, 2011
    I would fire the drummer
    Yellow Bang66 and Stumbo like this.
  16. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Best answer is hire an SE.

    Second-best: tell your bandmates if they want anything in their monitors, they'll need to set up their own phones or tablets to run their own IEM or wedge mix. But even then, any powered wedges (or power amps for passive wedges) need to be set very conservatively unless the particular player running wedge X has enough sense not to run it to the edge of feedback.
    the yeti likes this.
  17. Charlzm

    Charlzm Guest

    Mar 25, 2011
    To the OP:

    In my band, everyone has a role.

    • The singer handles nearly all booking/publicity and most social media.
    • The guitarist is our gatekeeper for songwriting and arranging
    • The drummer is a sound engineer who owns a studio
    • I handle all video and graphics needs

    We split it up and each person handles their bit so there isn't any (well, much) resentment.

    As long as you're absolved from having to do any of the other stuff and just run sound, take ownership and start handling it like it's your main job besides performing.

    Just a thought. Might work.
    Wasnex likes this.
  18. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I will confess to having utilized that technique once or twice.

    Them: "Oh, can you also bring your [Item 1], [Item 2] and [Item 3]?"
    Me: "Nope. All gone."
  19. Yellow Bang66

    Yellow Bang66

    Jun 5, 2019
    I Agree.

    I maybe wrong but, I always believed the PA is the lead singers' rig & his responsibility, usually the LS can have their hands free too. anyway, I don't expect anyone to dial in my bass amp, at a gig! I'd tutor the LS & BL(since the pa is the bands' property) to run the PA at the next gig first, at least then, they will see/feel your pain(in the A). and after let them decide about a $oundman.
    Ask your band this Question: if the band broke up tomorrow, Who would "own" the PA?... their answer is the new Soundman! or at least the new trainee :smug: :roflmao: :smug:. GL! (ownership=responsiblity).
    Plucky The Bassist likes this.
  20. DanGroove


    Apr 27, 2017
    First and foremost, people need to get off your back about their monitor mixes. One of the big advantages of these modern digital mixers is that multiple users can connect. Everyone should be dialing their own monitor mix. You can enable access controls do they only have access to their personal mix so they cant accidentally screw things up. It's not rocket science to know that if you want more kick, you push the kick fader up etc. If they don't own or want to spend the money on a tablet and stand for it, they can do it on their smartphone. If you are going to play bass and run sound you do not need to babysit everyones monitor mix. I prefer control of my own mix so when I say "more vocals" we don't play a guessing game about how much more I want.

    Second, you mentioned the drummer likes to tweak on the fly. That needs to end. He's not even in a position to hear what it sounds like FOH. I would tell them that if I am taking control of the mix, then it's me only, then lock him down to his monitor mix only. If he wants to play the "well its my board" card, he an take the responsibility of controlling the mix. Put it out that you are willing to take this responsibility, but you aren't going to play tug of war.

    Third, hopefully that "unplug the mixer to make room for my..." incident was a one time thing and lesson was learned by all. That should never ever ever happen. Everyone knows (or should know) how important the mix is to the entire band. Aside from losing your mix, there is the potential for damaging pops through the mains when it unplugs and/or when it powers back up with the mains already hot.

    Other helpful tips.

    If you haven't already, get an external router. The internal wireless in the digital boards is sub-par and you will get dropouts and lose control of your mix and dense wi-fi environments. I own your exact board and I learned that lesson the hard way when the wireless dropped right as i turned on a mic that had the gain too hot and started a horrible feedback through about 12,000 watts of PA. We had to scramble to power down the mains because it took over a minute to regain wireless connectivity. Also, try and run your wireless in the 5Ghz range only if everyone's device supports it. It will have less spectrum competition from cell phones, house wifi, wifi jukeboxes etc, as well as free up sapce in the 2.4Ghz spectrum that you guys might be using for instrument wireless.

    Ideally get everyone you can on in-ears instead of stage wedges. The drummer and keyboard player if you have one (basically anyone with a stationary instrument) should be able to get up and running with wired IEM for under $300. Everyone else will need to spend a bit more for decent wireless. Even if you can't all get there, every wedge you take off the stage lowers your stage volume and feedback potential.

    You know you can save your mix already. You should be able to recall and use that mix with minimal tweaks for future gigs. You can separately save your master bus EQ and name it for each venue you play so you only have to ring out the room once per venue, then minor tweaks in the future for crowd density etc.
    Wasnex and Nevada Pete like this.