Non DJ jobs in the club/music scene: what are the best ones & how can I get them?
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  1. #1
    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
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    Default Non DJ jobs in the club/music scene: what are the best ones & how can I get them?

    Alright so I'm taking a break from my education right now and experimenting with other areas of interest. Now I'm starting to need a more steady source of income and I want to find a job in the club, production, or general electronic music scenes. I feel this will also enhance my connections many times over for when I want to really hit the DJ scene hard and give me time to work on production so when the time is right I can have the best advantage.

    What kind of positions are out there, what pays the best, and what training if any would each need? I thinking working as a Sound Engineer would be a good option, I hear most people have little to no training to get into the field. So, do any of you do it or have any of you done it, how is it as a job and how well does it pay? I am also interested in the technical side of doing audio system installation and consulting for bars, clubs, concert venues, whatever....

    Another option would be to get involved with lighting, I think it would be pretty cool to get into this, setup, programming shows, etc.

    I thought about promoting but I really am not interested in this so much, I would try it but I have a bad image of promoters, I suppose I could be a good one and it would definitely open a lot of door with networking and getting my name out and gigs as a result. How much do good promoters get paid and what is it like?

    I would really like to design nightclubs, but that is a whole different thing and I know won't happen now. In the future I really want to open my own club and I feel like getting into the scene now is important to learn how it all works and how to make it happen.

    What other opportunities are there in the club/music scene? And for the options mentioned above, what's the best way to get the job and what background should I have?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Xonetacular; 11-17-2009 at 12:28 AM.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
    I thinking working as a Sound Engineer would be a good option, I hear most people have little to no training to get into the field.
    LMAO, as a qualified sound engineer with 12 years experience, this made me laugh lots, while at the same time unfortunately having a ring of truth to it, as there are many people who seam to think they can just rock up and make a band sound great (just as there are MANY people who think because they can press play on their home CD player they'll be great DJ's).

    The problem is that with both sound engineering and lighting design it's similar to DJing in that it requires a significant time input in terms of learning how to do it and practicing, even more than DJing really cos there is far more to cover. I mean, do you know how to properly work a compressor? or do you know all the different technologies used in microphones and what ones are best for what jobs? How to ring out the monitors and then do monitor mixes from the aux's at the same time as trying to concentrate on the FOH mix on the same board (which is what you'll be doing in any small club you start off in).

    Same with lighting, you know the difference between a Par34, par 56 and par 64? or the difference between them and a Fresnel? Or how to program DMX and map out your channels for your moving heads and dimmer packs?

    Not saying its not impossible to learn, if its something your really into and want to learn then me and I'm sure others on the board will be happy to help you, but just trying to point out that its not something you can just decide to do at the drop of a hat have to put some time in learning and for all the time you put in, if your not committed then you'd be as well just putting that time into your DJing and productions and then get to the point you can make regular money that way.


    Outside of that though, there are some jobs that you could just slot into for some quick cash. Obviously you have mentioned promotion and that can be hit and miss just like DJing takes time to build up contacts and reputation and build up your night so may not be any more reliable or regular than your DJing work.

    Barstaff is always an option. Yeah its the most basic and least paid of the jobs in a bar/club usually but it is guaranteed reliable, long as your half decent you'll always have a job and money coming in. You will get to know the bar staff in your particular club, and then over a bit of time in other bars and clubs round about the staff all tend to know each other so its good for contacts. Its main advantage however is where you say you want to design bars and clubs.

    Most people who design them focus on the technical aspects, the decor, the lighting, best use of space etc but the most succesful ones are designed around the living, breathing organism that is "the public". They react and use spaces in very unusual, but predictable, ways and working behind bars and glass collecting for a few months will give you some experience of this and help in designing clubs that work well.


    However the job I would most recommend to you is PR. Your job is basicaly to be chatty and friendly out in the street and around the bars speaking to the public and trying to get people to come along to your club.

    Advantages are that you will get a good knowledge of the local scene very quickly, what nights are on where etc etc. You will get to know the other PR staff from the other venues so will make some good contacts, and probably bar staff and managers as well because you'll usually have either official or unofficial agreements with some local bars to say you can come in and leave your fliers in the toilets or hand some out, and its a great time to always say hi to the manager and get to know him/her, and also leave some free passes for the bar staff so they can come get a few drinks in your club afterwards (and the favor is usually returned in the form of a couple of free drinks next time your on a night out yourself.)

    You'll also get to know all the regular faces in terms of clubbers and make some connections that way, who are all potential customers when you promote or DJ your own night.

    You also tend to finish early most nights once all the punters are pretty much in the bar or club they'll stay at till the end of the night so you have a chance to relax and get a few drinks yourself.

    The downside is that its not just as reliable as barstaff (but is still fairly reliable) and really, man or woman, you usually have to be at least alright looking if not great looking as such and be pretty outgoing and able to just chat to strangers and be friendly and flirty and inviting.

    k
    Last edited by kevinmcdonough; 11-17-2009 at 11:42 AM.

  3. #3
    Retired DJTT Moderator DvlsAdvct's Avatar
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    ^^ What he said.

    I know some guys who have gotten into sound and lighting, but they invested a LOT of money of their own into gear before starting a more official company and building a lot of connections. Took them many years before a few clubs around the area have started hiring them to put together lighting rigs for their venues.

    You can always start small as a barbacker or bartender. Promotion can pay better than DJing, but it's a MUCH different gig and really hard to pull off right, especially in a city like this.

    It might be a good idea to get working for promoters, taking up various positions they need filled as a graphic designer, or a street teamer, or a cold caller, or anything really, to get your name in as a connection and a reliability. One of my good friends did that for years in Manhattan before he got thrown into DJing by the promoters. But that was a different time.
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    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
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    Alright good advice. Yeah I know what you meant about the sound engineering business, there are may trained professionals and also a lot of people with no training at all, and they do fine. As for lighting, I actually do know the answers to those questions and can program DMX lights just fine, I just don't know where I would start there. Don' clubs have in house lighting people, at least to run them?

    Anyway bartending seems like it could be interesting and the quickest way in. I would rather get paid better but if it is enough, stable and I can meet a lot of people it may be worth a shot.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
    I thinking working as a Sound Engineer would be a good option, I hear most people have little to no training to get into the field.
    Whoever told you that is living in a world of fantasy.

    With no training or years of experience you could work as an assistant. That is making cofee, moving cables, etc. And with luck getting paid, because there are tons of people out there wanting to do that for free.

    Sure you could get some audio jobs in post production with no training and good rhetoric... but people get training and still need years of experience before they really know what they're doing.

    Plus you need gear, and place to put it and work with it.

    If you want to dj, then dj. Buy some gear, record some sessions, and then move in the city you are living until you are famous enough to move to other cities, other countries...

    You could also be a promoter and a dj. Most of djs I know have done this at some point, me included. But being a promoter is facing one problem after another. Money, drinks, posters, flyers, renting gear, finding a place, dealing with some drunk jerk, inviting lots of people to your party, replacing a monitor that blew off in the midst of a dj set... it's really a lot of energy and headaches.

    If you want to get into the live sound business first you need to spend time in another company carrying heavy boxes and throwing meters and meters of cables. Then you could start buying some gear, renting it, then buying some more, etc. It's a long way unless you are rich and can buy the gear and the expertise.

    The lighting business it's pretty much the same. You need experience and gear.

    And in any business the most important things are: contacts, contacts, and contacts.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by pier View Post
    If you want to get into the live sound business first you need to spend time in another company carrying heavy boxes and throwing meters and meters of cables. Then you could start buying some gear, renting it, then buying some more, etc. It's a long way unless you are rich and can buy the gear and the expertise.

    The lighting business it's pretty much the same. You need experience and gear.


    To be fair, I think the OP means more engineering for venues that have a house system already installed, so just setting up backline, plugging in mics and running the board, than actually renting and having his own system. But yeah its still a steep learning curve and unless its something you really wanna do then you'd be much better just putting the time into DJ practice and production.

    k

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    I think bartending would be the best club-scene gig other than DJ. You get to meet /everyone,/ and as the dispenser of drinks, everyone likes you.

    Sound engineer sounds like it'd be an awesome gig, but you need a loooot of training and gear for that.
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  8. #8
    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segfault View Post
    I think bartending would be the best club-scene gig other than DJ. You get to meet /everyone,/ and as the dispenser of drinks, everyone likes you.

    Sound engineer sounds like it'd be an awesome gig, but you need a loooot of training and gear for that.
    yeah bartending sounds like an easy and good option. And yes, I was referring to just setting up audio in a club and running their system and sound board, not having my own company renting out equipment and doing concerts... Same with lighting, just running the venue's system. It really doesn't take that much training.... there are 2 week courses that teach you almost everything you need to know and most people don't even have that much training. Learning on the job is probably more effective.

  9. #9
    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
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    Also on bartending- I know how to make a lot of drinks but have no actual training, what's the best way to learn what you need to know to bartend well?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
    It really doesn't take that much training.... there are 2 week courses that teach you almost everything you need to know and most people don't even have that much training. Learning on the job is probably more effective.
    LOL, I teach sound engineering at a music school, and can cut it down even more than that. I can teach someone how to work a mixing desk and what all the equipment does in a week.

    And the mixes that everyone of them make are pants!

    Just same as I can show someone how to work a turntable, CD player and set of decks in an afternoon there's not that many controls. But does that make them a DJ? will their mixes, song selection, reading of the crowd and atmosphere be any good?

    there's far more to it than just learning what the buttons do.

    k

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