How to Be a Sound Guy (Without Electrocuting Anyone)

So you wanna be a sound guy? Get paid to go to all those shows? Control how everyone in the room hears the band? Sounds pretty sweet, huh? Bay Area native Nick Malgieri has been doing sound since he was 15 -- for clubs, festivals, conferences, and, oh, yes, churches. He works as a crew chief for events and concerts for McCune Audio, and can often be found behind the desk at Thee Parkside. For those of you interested in doing a profession that involves something called "gig butt," here's how to be a sound guy (without electrocuting anyone).

desk and stage.jpg

Do Not Injure Yourself or Your Audience
"Other than falling off a 40-foot speaker tower or being electrocuted by a 400-amp power service, this is a pretty safe job. But -- maybe you never thought about this before -- you know the 8,000-pound speaker cluster hung above your head at the arena concert? I put that up there at 6 a.m. when I was hungover, after four hours of sleep. Alarmed? Well, if you truly want to never feel safe at a concert ever again just go to Google Images and search "Justin Timberlake truss failure" or "Elton John stage collapse." I'm just kidding ... kinda."
Be Prepared for Bands to Lie to You
"Okay, guitarists, listen up. When I ask you to turn your amp down, don't pretend to turn the knob and then ask me if it's better. It's not better. It's not different at all. I can tell. I listen to things for a living. Not that anything will ever be worse than the time one of the guys from Slipknot peed on my gear during the show."

Learn to Love Bad Bands
"There are so many godawful bands out there. How could I do this job if I couldn't stand bad bands? I couldn't. I mean, seriously -- how many bands have you heard? And how many of them were great? Not many. You have to look at it this way: Working with a bad band is still a lot better than listening to the CEO of Cisco present quarterly earnings reports to stockholders. Just do the job, do it well, then get paid. Easy."

Understand That Sound Groupies Are Different from Band Groupies

"Hell yeah, sound guys get groupies -- dorky dudes that follow us around and ask questions about the electronics. It's nice that they care, but not exactly what I'm looking for when I've got a buzz on at the rock show."

Location Info



Thee Parkside

1600 17th St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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Can anybody tell me a rough day rate or typical pay for a live sound engineer at a club or other venue in the SF Bay Area? I am an audio engineer living in Reno and once worked for a well known club for $125 a show, which was pretty low pay considering all the hours I worked each week. I am planning on moving to the bay area and finding a sound gig, but I have heard from people on the road that the going pay rate for live sound engineers in the bay is rather low. Maybe bc the area is saturated with so many engineers and someone took a gig for really cheap and set a precedent? Any info or input would be greatly appreciated.


That guys a tool

Gabriel Armstrong
Gabriel Armstrong

also sound "guy"??? how sexist.  You should talk to Dana J at city collage, s she can wash ur mouth out with soap.

Gabriel Armstrong
Gabriel Armstrong

As a sound "person", I can tell you this....If you detach ur brain, have enough drinks, you will enjoy concerts you arn't working.  Also, sound guys do get band groupies, just less than the band.  Sometimes I tell em I'm in the band, seems to help move the night along.


gig butt is also know as "swamp ass"

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