Got into a proper tiz the other day, wondering what the hell I’m actually going to do with myself after I leave uni. Lucky as I am, I’ve already got steady-ish work in a number of places, but when I have no loan to depend on and, eventually, a family to feed (don’t worry, I didn’t think that deep), I’ll have to think a little wiser about my decisions. As I’ve experienced already, live work can slowly eat away at your home and social life.
I’ll warn you this is a random post, but I vividly remember back in school when we were like 10 or something (Primary 6?), we were made to plan out our life goals and possible career paths. Since I was typically football-mad around that age, mine was focused on being a professional footballer (HAHAHA).
For a bit of fun, here’s roughly what I said –
Age 11 – 18: Work hard within my town’s youth football club, training every week and playing matches and tournaments every Sunday. Actually gain an education as a backup plan.
Age 19 – 35: Be a professional footballer earning a six-figure salary (?!), enjoy a fulfilling career gaining a credible reputation on and off the field.
Age 35 – 55: Retire as a footballer, become a football manager and coach.
Age 55 – 65: Become a presenter/’pundit’/commentator/general Yoda of the game because I’ll have, by then, become a national figure and enjoyed a broad, successful career.
How naïve and innocent. And hilarious.
But come think of it, that was an important lesson learned – we must continually set goals (no matter how crazy they sound) and always look to the future.
Here’s what I’m getting at –
Age 11 – 17: Get an education at secondary school, enough for university. Follow interests in music – excel in class subjects, learn instruments, do grade exams, play in school bands, found own bands, gig lots. Realise career as a musician isn’t as sustainable as first dreamt – Wait, who’s that guy behind that big confusing thing with all the buttons and lights? That is cool. Those mics look really nice. All this gear is making me a little horny. Holy shit! The sound of those subwoofers playing my favourite drum and bass record is awesome! Can I follow you around and learn what you do ’cause I want to do it too?! [You get the idea…]
Age 18 – 21: Go to uni, gain a degree in specific interests i.e. music industry. Get more experience within live sound engineering and event technicalities. Find work in small venue – realise the ins and outs of freelancing. Work work work. Study study study.
Age 22 – ??: Work as a professional live sound engineer. Tour the world and sail the seven seas enjoying a fruitful career, mixing for the stars, rock ‘n’ roll man. Keep interests in studio engineering as will need those skills throughout and in possibly later life.
That awkward age where people get married and start families c. Age 30: Depending on my situation by this point, and given my girlfriend hasn’t dumped me because I’m always working late/elsewhere, I may have to rework my plan more efficiently/on the fly.
Age ?? – 55: Keep recording project studio in the back burner (if they still exist in the late 2030s) begin to trade in studio engineering. More sociable hours and less physically grinding.
Rethink the whole live touring thing. Should probably have a family or whatever by this point. Revert back to venue work, maybe start my own sound company/work for one, carrying out more background/consultancy/teaching roles. Become a head tech within a concert venue. How many live guys can still lift amp racks past the age of 60?
Age 55 – : Definitely wind down with any live work. Become an educator at an institution and play out the rest of working life with the reward of a guaranteed salary…
Obviously I got a little ahead of myself there, and maybe it’s a little personal, but you can see what I’m trying to do. It’s not impossible to achieve all of the above, and it’s always good to set high standards. It’s a matter of observing other people in this trade that I’m close to, and seeing how they fair.
In later years, I can see my responsibilities at home flying out the window if I’m not careful. Will need to balance my work out so that I can be flexible when need be. For example, if I have a kid, I’m able put touring on hold, and work with a local sound hire company. When they grow up, go back to touring/etc. until I become too old and then become a tutor or whatever. I dunno m8.