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Career Advice Getting started as a roadie? (FAQ follow-up)

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by ThisIsMyUserName, May 16, 2018.

  1. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Hey everyone!

    So, it appears the link in the FAQ regarding becoming a roadie is broken, so I thought I'd start a thread to consult you all. The only direction left in the FAQ is "Quit school now and get a job coiling cable for a touring company. These companies like to train their own people and promote from within".
    Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure where to begin with this. Any suggestions where I should be looking for jobs?

    I'm also curious about the career trajectory of roadie work, since my ultimate interest is probably front-of-house sound engineering. I'd say my interests are actually pretty broad—I'd be happy to do stagehand-type duties, for instance (and I know that's probably where I'll start, if I can be so lucky). But I believe FOH engineering is probably the best fit in terms of my overall strengths, interests and (eventually) desired income. That said, is there anything I should do or keep in mind to increase my chances of eventually landing in a FOH engineer position?

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    If your plan is to just get a gig and work your way up, I'd start searching offstagejobs.com and see what you can find. Do you already know how to over-under a cable?
     
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  3. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Hey, thanks! At this point, I know nothing. I did a few days of overhire work with a local IATSE, but it was more or less a fluke thing (I called on a whim and they happened to have extra need for a large local event tear-down). That was pretty much a one-time thing. I saw a couple cruise ship jobs that didn't seem to require any real experience—can these also be a good foot-in-the-door?
     
  4. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    I guess I should also note that I'm more than willing to get relevant education, if that'd be advisable.
     
  5. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    They sure can, but often they won't want to take you on with no previous experience. That being said, it's your responsibility to put yourself out there, tell them what you do and do not know, and be ready to work and learn. It's their responsibility to say no thanks if they are not willing to train you.

    Personally, if you were in my area I can think of several production companies that would take a hard worker with no experience and train them to run their gear. You care to be any more specific than U.S.A. on location so we can throw out some company names that might train the right candidate?

    Also, at the VERY least, learn how to coil a cable. You can learn online easily enough. If your willing to go back to school, that's a whole different topic, but if you want to end up as a FOH engineer, definitely recommended.
     
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  6. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Awesome, thanks again!

    I didn't list the specific location only because I've been looking into relocating (I've got a few friends in L.A., though none really in the industry) in the near future. That said, I'm also very much open to other locations if it'd mean a solid gig along the lines of what you're describing. I'd greatly appreciate any company suggestions you may have! I'm currently in the Greater Detroit area, but I don't care to stay here.

    I'll be sure to practice coiling per that video. :mrgreen:
     
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  7. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Well pick a spot and start making phone calls. Google searches for AV companies. You want to work work move to a Right to Work state. You can get overhire IATSE work without a card. You will be a loader pusher for a while which you won’t learn much. If you want to tell us what you feel more comfortable with lights ,sound ,video ,rigging ,scenic , and or production be easier to recommend places as well.

    Also depends on what sector or entertainment you want to focus on. Theatre, R&R, DJing , Coporate , and or Festivals.

    Listen, learn and network. This is a business of who you know not how much you know. Even when it comes down to the top production jobs. Yes that piece of paper helps but you won’t walk out the door with that 60k debt rolling into a 60k job.

    Edit....

    Soooo.... I missed the part in your post about audio focus. You have a big hill to climb to make it to FOH position. All the guys I have worked with here in AZ have atleast 15-20 years on me. That includes the A2s as well.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  8. cbrandt

    cbrandt Well-Known Member

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    In Detroit, your best bet for touring audio with people who know what they are doing is Thunder Audio.

    Plenty of other reputable audio companies in town, don't get me wrong. Thunder just has a pretty heavy focus on touring, or touring style production.
     
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  9. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @ThisIsMyUserName Quite seriously, learn how to coil cables 'over under': Learn how to do it quickly, neatly and second nature WITHOUT having to look at your hands. Learn how to do it in your hands while standing and learn how to do it with big cables (like 4/0 feeder and larger while leaving it lying on the floor rather than having to support all of the weight. Learn how to lay appropriate lengths of tie-line on the floor and 'over under' or 'figure-eight' large gauge cables on top of the tie lines rather than having to take the time to lift the cables and push tie lines under them once you've got them ready to securely tie them. Unless you're specifically instructed to do so, NEVER coil cables and fling them in a cable trunk WITHOUT securely tying them and making it obvious which end to begin uncoiling them from.
    SERIOUSLY: Learn how to coil cables to the satisfaction of whomever you're working for; quickly, neatly and securely coiling cables is definitely a marketable skill.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  10. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Thanks a lot! I figured a FOH engineer was probably a pretty coveted position, but it helps to have an actual number to put to that. This is why I asked about the career trajectory; just wondering exactly what lies ahead if that's the goal. I definitely have other interests as well, but I'm more of a music guy than anything else, and the actual job of the FOH engineer seems to be a good fit. I do well when I'm responsible for a particular outcome at a high level, and when I have a good bit of autonomy in making that happen. I really like to "zone in" -- to "tinker" and "perfect" until I get it just right, and this is where a lot of my strengths fall. I'm not sure if there's other things I should be considering that require this kind of skillset. It'd certainly be nice if there was less than 15-20 years ahead of me, even though I would probably enjoy most of the work up to that point on some level.
     
  11. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Okay awesome!! Noted. :legalstuff:
     
  12. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Sweet! Thanks a lot!!
     
  13. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    I’ll follow up with even the guys they hire to setup stuff in my world are few far and between our age. Maybe that’s just the Phoenix workforce.

    I guess I will add learn the common Audio consoles, not sure what those are I’m a lighting guy lol. However currently sitting next to me is a CL5 and it looks like a space ship to me.
     
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  14. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    Hahaha, dually noted!
     
  15. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Amiers The first command to learn with a CL5 is how to successfully jump to hyperspace. Step 2 is learning how to successfully jump back. (This of course is AFTER you've learned to over and under cables and securely tie them.) @TimMc can likely help you with jumping to hyperspace then @BCAP can help you with successfully jumping back. Next you'll be ready to meet Gerry when he's mixing monitors next to a howitzer being fired at regular intervals.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
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  16. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  17. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Thats good to know, I'll be moving to the Ann Arbor/Detroit area at the end of the summer and will be looking for work. So far it looks like there's not a lot going on in the AA/Yspi area.
     
  18. BCAP

    BCAP Member

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    The best FOH engineers I knew were musicians themselves, sometimes formally trained and had not only good ears for audio, they had good ears for music!
     
  19. ThisIsMyUserName

    ThisIsMyUserName Member

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    FWIW, Ann Arbor has its own IATSE, but I got the impression that it's a pretty small crowd. Wish I could help more!
    That's awesome! I am a musician myself. :)
     
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  20. cbrandt

    cbrandt Well-Known Member

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    395 (Ann Arbor IA) is pretty small, but they have a great relationship with 38 (Detroit IA). There is a lot of crosswork between the two. There is a lot more opportunity in the greater Detroit area than in Ann Arbor, but there's also still a lot of cool stuff going on there.

    The nice part is that they are very close, and it is an easy drive.
     
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