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Road Warrior: A Sound Investment

As the careers of our bands progress, we often find ourselves with a bit more income, and as many thoughts as to what to do with it as we have bandmembers. These various notions can range from in-ear monitors to a wet bar in the van. Since the knucklehead who suggested the wet bar probably won’t last long enough to see the next bump-up, perhaps your attentions would be best focused on suggestions from planet earth. A major consideration for any up-grade must be that it benefit most, if not all, of the band. Ergo, a roomier vehicle, with bunks and a DVD player with cordless headphones would be a “yes,” whereas a new bedroom added on to the lead singer’s house would be a definite “no.”

In my experience, one of the wisest investments a band could make is in what many of us call the “Fifth Beatle,” or sound tech. If you choose the right person for the gig, they soon become every bit as important as anyone on stage. Consider this scenario: You’ve gone into debt to buy a top-shelf kit; you expend great amounts of time and energy keeping it sounding as good as is humanly possible, and you regularly outlay money for new heads to ensure this; you shell out (no pun intended … I know, none taken) mad cash on a custom-made snare, and finally, you handpick your cymbals for harmonic compatibility. After going to such lengths, you sure as hell don’t want your instruments coming through sounding like crap, or worse, not coming through at all. Now, assuming your bandmates are as conscientious as you regarding gear, you multiply the preceding equation by however many of you there are, and you have a virtually unassailable argument for a sound person.

Remember: At each and every venue you enter, you’re at the mercy of a sound tech with unknown qualifications, and nothing, aside from their personal sense of professionalism, invested in your sound. Assuming, that is, that the venue has a sound tech. You’ve spent years cultivating and perfecting your sound. Knowing that it’s only going to be as good as your mix, can you think of a better destination for your newly enriched income than someone who can consistently make you sound like you? If that’s not enough, how’s this? The wet bar won’t help with the load-out.

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