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  #1  
Old 10-21-2012, 08:01 AM
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Default Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

How many times have you gigged where the sound man makes more than the musicians? In principle, I think the musicians should make more, but today's world is different. I justify it because of the rehearsals, and because it just seems right that the musicians should get more. Hey soundmen have a tough job, not saying anything like they don't deserve it, they do. I just don't like to see the musicians making less. Soundmen don't attend rehearsals. Any opinions on the matter?
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:21 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
How many times have you gigged where the sound man makes more than the musicians? In principle, I think the musicians should make more, but today's world is different. I justify it because of the rehearsals, and because it just seems right that the musicians should get more. Hey soundmen have a tough job, not saying anything like they don't deserve it, they do. I just don't like to see the musicians making less. Soundmen don't attend rehearsals. Any opinions on the matter?
The soundman is usually there for the whole night, not just one band. Sound men must also practice and learn - or at least they should. I can see some justification for paying a soundman who produces good results, and who stays for multiple bands, somewhat more than a musician in the top paid band.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:40 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

Soundmen make more only because they take care of their business more cleverly. If you want to make more money, you must bargain for better contracts.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:47 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
The soundman is usually there for the whole night, not just one band. Sound men must also practice and learn - or at least they should. I can see some justification for paying a soundman who produces good results, and who stays for multiple bands, somewhat more than a musician in the top paid band.
Well, being in both unions (AFM - American Federation of Musicians and the International Alliance of Television and Sound Engineers - IATSE), I would say the rates between the two are about the same. Both positions are creative and take a certain amount of knowledge to be able to do well. You may not be in a unionized situation like me but here it's really close. There's different things in the contracts, for instance, as a sound engineer full-time means 8-hour days, whereas for the musicians its a 7-hour day plus a lunch, so even if the musicians make a little bit more, it balances out in the amount of hours we get. The sound guys (techs) have more opportunity to make OT, whereas the musicians hardly ever make any overtime. And I've noticed that as a tech guy, we're a bit more relaxed because even if you're working on a show that gets cancelled, you'll move on to another show. For some musicians, once the gig is over, they've really got to hustle to pick up another gig. But I notice that some positions, like being the principal percussionist with a major symphony, can mean you will retire from that position if you work hard at it once you get it. I think the Johnny Carson Tonight Show Orchestra were able to build retirement too.

But I think a good soundman, like a good drummer, is worth his weight in gold ;)
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:17 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
The soundman is usually there for the whole night, not just one band. Sound men must also practice and learn - or at least they should. I can see some justification for paying a soundman who produces good results, and who stays for multiple bands, somewhat more than a musician in the top paid band.
I also agree that it is because sound men will often have a degree or some sort of qualification to be doing what they are doing. Musicians dont often have degrees, some in bands have even been self taught, and although I'm sure there are some sound guys who have just grown through experience, it is not often the case.
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  #6  
Old 10-21-2012, 10:38 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

Specify the credentials with the word "engineer", and you can at least double your rates. Yes, depending on the venue, I make a much better living shaping sound, in commercial studios or on location, than most musicians in the same envelope of time. I've been doing both jobs for about the same amount of time and I'm pretty much in tune to rates in both union and nonunion shops. I love drums, but audio was a passion of mine early on in the late fifties before I picked up sticks. This is why I couldn't voluntarily give up one or the other.

Most musicians play the same sets over and over. A sound engineer faces new obstacles and challenges head on with every single event or session.

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Old 10-21-2012, 11:12 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

Music to me is a hobby. I enjoy playing out and playing whenever I can. It is a way to forget about work for a little while.

When I play a gig, and if there is a sound man, and he gets paid more than the band, I really do not mind.

I am not a professional musician, I look at paying the sound guy as part of the payment for using the equipment, like using the golf course and paying the caddy. I do not have delusions of grandeur of being a professional musician, I play for the fun of it.

Music is too much of an unpredictable way to earn a living, it is better for me to just use it as a hobby.
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Old 10-21-2012, 12:07 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
How many times have you gigged where the sound man makes more than the musicians? In principle, I think the musicians should make more, but today's world is different. I justify it because of the rehearsals, and because it just seems right that the musicians should get more. Hey soundmen have a tough job, not saying anything like they don't deserve it, they do. I just don't like to see the musicians making less. Soundmen don't attend rehearsals. Any opinions on the matter?
1. Sound engineers who get hired usually know what they're doing. That comes from experience, and experience is like rehearsals. Much like musicians, soundguys purchase gear, learn how to use it, and hone their craft through trial and error and repetition.

2. There are many bands who can throw together a set with one rehearsal, and others will need more than a year of bi-weekly rehearsals. Usually, in my experience, a band that *has to* rehearse a lot isn't that good to begin with. Bands shouldn't get paid according to how much they rehearse, but for the gig.

3. You hear of many musicians who love to play in front of a crowd, and would play for free just to get the opportunity to get their rock and roll jollies off. You never hear of soundmen who want to run sound for an event for free.

4. You're also forgetting the flip side of the coin. I've played a few gigs where the sound engineer was paid half of what the musicians made. Once, the soundguy was paid $200, but we, the band members, were paid $500 a piece. Fair? Yes...everyone worked for what they were willing and happy to be making for the gig.
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  #9  
Old 10-21-2012, 02:18 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

Depends primarily whether the engineer is the house guy at a club, or part of the band's crew (and the level of that band's gigging situation.)

For example, as mentioned, a house guy handling sound for several bands in a club will typically earn more than any of the bandmembers that night. That's due primarily to the unlikely economics of paying maybe 15-20 musicians each the same amount as the guy running sound, who may also be an employee of the venue.

But when there's a permanent member of a band's crew, the difference in wages is more likely to be in the musicians' favor, as they are the 'name' generating income. Wages vary, and there are really no rules outside of union dates. Musicians or crew people are worth whatever they can negotiate, and some gigs/bands/artists pay a little, some pay a lot.

I personally don't worry about what other musicians or crew make, or whether it's equitable. Again, there are no rules, and I could spend my entire life trying to sort out what's fair for people in this business. Best I can do is worry about what I make, and whether I feel that's fair. But that's easy to figure out - if I don't feel the money is fair for a particular gig, I don't accept it.

Bermuda
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  #10  
Old 10-21-2012, 02:59 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

It's also worth pointing out here that people in entertainment don't get paid simply because they're accomplished, or passionate, or because it's fair. They get paid based on their value to the persons in a position to pay. That applies whether it's a club owner, a concert promoter, the person who wanders into that club or buys a concert ticket, a record label, a band leader or manager, a TV or movie production company, broadcast TV, cable, or the web, etc.

Remember, it's called show business.

Bermuda
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  #11  
Old 10-21-2012, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

A good live sound is worth it's weight in gold so I certainly think the sound guy deserves every penny if he knows his stuff.
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  #12  
Old 10-21-2012, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

I think we all know how lavishly bar managers pay unknown rock and pop groups [sic]. So when an unknown band hires an engineer and PA the fee can easily take a sizeable chunk of the night's takings.

But skimping isn't always sensible because a great sound is inspiring, and not being able to hear the other players or vocalist is the pits.

In the end it's business - supply and demand. Also, a White Stripes tribute band might find a better muso/engineer pay scale than an Tower of Power tribute.
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

Somebody told me this one time and it kinda puts thins in perspective, if the drummer has a bad night , the drummer had a bad night, if the singer has a bad night, the the singer had a bad night, etc, etc. but if the sound guy has a bad night, then everyone has a bad night. Also I am not sure what goes on other places but around here usually the sound guy owns the PA, lights etc, etc so he gets paid quite a bit.
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  #14  
Old 10-21-2012, 06:25 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

They shouldn't really be paid more, but it depends on a lot of things.

When I grew up playing locally. the soundman took care of everything, brought his own equipment that he had to maintain and upgrade. For bigger gigs he'd also bring someone to help him. Not saying that musicians don't need money for gear maintenance, but in that situation it was pretty fair.
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:00 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Somebody told me this one time and it kinda puts thins in perspective, if the drummer has a bad night , the drummer had a bad night, if the singer has a bad night, the the singer had a bad night, etc, etc. but if the sound guy has a bad night, then everyone has a bad night.
Nah, when drummers fail they tend to drag everyone else down with them too. Guess it's a matter of degree, but by that principle the drummer should be the best paid musician in the band.
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:05 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

My band plays at this place in Knoxville pretty regularly, and the sound dude there ain't worth a flip. He just roams around. He plays music over the system while bands setup, and they'll be ready to play while he's outside talking on the phone or texting. One night my band played the headline and every band before us got their kick drum mic'd. Well, not me for some reason. I set it up and everything, but he never turned it on. So nobody could hear my bass drum, at all.

If a sound guy does their job (make the bands sound good), then I think yes, they should be paid as much or more than the musicians. But if it's just some duface who pretends to know what he's doing, he doesn't deserve a cent. It's kinda' "do or die" for me in that scenario.
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:26 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

Assuming an in-house engineer, it's simply down to numbers....pretty much like everything else.

Venues allocate a pay scale per job, not per individual. They allocate money for entertainment and money for production. They don't think in relative terms of how much is each band member gonna make. They think, how much is the overall entertainment gonna cost.....the number of band members getting a split doesn't enter into the equation. The total value of the contract is what they're concerned with. If a band could do their job with one or two members, then the chances are they'd be walking away with a lot more than the typical sound engineer, who as a general rule with respect to local venues, only needs one person to fulfill the role.
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Old 10-24-2012, 12:51 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

I make $150 or $200 a gig for doing sound, I make nothing for playing in a band.

whereas, say Metallica... are going to get paid a lot more than the sound guy,
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Old 10-24-2012, 07:07 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
It's also worth pointing out here that people in entertainment don't get paid simply because they're accomplished, or passionate, or because it's fair. They get paid based on their value to the persons in a position to pay. That applies whether it's a club owner, a concert promoter, the person who wanders into that club or buys a concert ticket, a record label, a band leader or manager, a TV or movie production company, broadcast TV, cable, or the web, etc.

Remember, it's called show business.

Bermuda
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Old 10-24-2012, 07:07 AM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

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Originally Posted by tard View Post
Somebody told me this one time and it kinda puts thins in perspective, if the drummer has a bad night , the drummer had a bad night, if the singer has a bad night, the the singer had a bad night, etc, etc. but if the sound guy has a bad night, then everyone has a bad night. Also I am not sure what goes on other places but around here usually the sound guy owns the PA, lights etc, etc so he gets paid quite a bit.
And the sound engineer usually pays quite a chunk of money for that gear!

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  #21  
Old 10-25-2012, 09:08 PM
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Default Re: Do sound men deserve more than the musicians?

I play mostly in Maryland (but also va, pa and dc) and the soundmen/production companies usually earn about $250-450 per gig. For this, they are providing a full audio rig and a complete light show. They transport, set up and run all their own systems. All band members get their own monitor and custom mix. It seems to be well spent, since good production can make or break a band. Although, it is tough to realize each band member typically can net between $100-325 per gig(depending on the room).
As much stuff as I have to haul, set up and break down each night....it still pales in comparison to all the power amps, monitors, lighting rigs, etc that they bring in. Still seems slightly unfair though, because without the bands themselves hiring the soundmen, they wouldn't have the work.
The major exception being in the rooms that have "built in" house pa/light systems. At those venues, they are paid usually a salary or flat rate that's more in line with what the other bar employees earn.
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