Five and Five: The Sound Guy

We’ve all been there before. A band gets mad at the sound guy because “he screwed up their sound” or their set was cut short because they took to long setting up but their story was “the sound guy doesnt know what he was doing”. Well I will tell you I have a lot of respect for sound guys and you should too! Sound guys can be the backbone of a show and they see most of what goes on. There are times I bet the sound guys sees more than the promoter does. They interact with the bands on stage and also see how the bands act in the crowd. They can make or break you in terms of how your set goes. Based on how you act or treat others could bring future consequences, both good and bad. So what should bands do? What are some things that sound guys like and what are some things that are disliked? I decided to take these questions to a good friend of mine, Paul Mitro, who just happens to be a sound guy. He put together a list based on his opinion and past experiences.

So without further ado let’s take a look at the five things you should do and five things you shouldn’t do if you’re a local band playing a show. (Although these can apply to all bands I am trying to help out smaller bands as they grow)

Let’s start with the five things that Paul recommends you don’t do.

  • Don’t show up unprepared. Soundcheck isn’t a time to go over parts. It’s for getting the audio right. Get on and get off other bands need to soundcheck as well.
  • Don’t be late for load in. Nothing screams amateur hour more then showing up late. And for goodness sakes if you’re late don’t expect a soundcheck!
  • Don’t be a diva. If something about the show doesn’t go your way don’t whine. Be cool and roll with it. The promoter and the other bands will remember if you took one for the team and didn’t make a big deal about it.
  • Don’t be picky about the sound. Be as minimal as possible with what you need. Take the time to figure out what you actually need to hear to play. Remember the sound guy/gal can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. And for the love of all that sounds good, don’t show up with your own sound guy without first clearing it with the promoter AND the house tech BEFORE THE DAY OF SHOW!
  • If you make a mistake or have a gear failure don’t make a big deal about it or blame the sound guy. It’s not his job to know the the 9 month old battery you’ve been too cheap to replace, finally died.
  • Alright now that we have looked at some things that are not recommended, let’s look at some things that you should do.

  • Do tip your sound guy. Especially if you have a ton of special needs. And even if you don’t it’s just good practice. Chances are you’ll get a little extra love from him/her.
  • Know your gear. Take the time to learn your gear inside and out. When something breaks…and it will, you should be able to troubleshoot it fast and get on with the show. Also new drum heads that are properly tuned and fresh strings the day before (not right before you play or they will stretch out and you will never stay in tune).
  • Be open to sharing gear. It makes the show go faster and honestly your gear probably isn’t better anyways.
  • Have a clear agreement on what is expected from your band and the promoter. No one likes feeling like they are getting ripped off. If you’re still not sure how much you’re getting paid by the day of the show you’re not doing it right. #contractskeepfriends
  • Stay for the entire show. This goes along the lines of being a diva. You’re not special. Hang out on the floor and make some new friends. Green rooms are cool for a quick refresher and getting your heads in the game right before you play but that’s it. You have to get fans somehow so try being outgoing and drop the moody, depressed artist thing that you have going.
  • And here is one more bonus tip that will get you extra points with the sound guy!

  • Make a stage plot and input list. The pros do it and so should you. This helps the sound guy get you up and running faster. Keep in mind that he/she has probably mixed hundreds of bands in the last few months and you can bet they will not remember what you need from the last time you played.
  • So there it is ladies and gentlemen. Five things you should and five things you shouldn’t do from the view of the sound guy. So let’s hear it. Do you agree or disagree with Paul? Do you have more tips you would like to add. Sound off in the comments and let us know your opinion!

    About Our Expert

    Paul Mitro has been producing music and working in the industry for over 10 years. He has produced many albums as co-owner of Old Bear Studio located in Batavia, NY. Paul has had the chance to mix for bands such as Haste the Day, Oh Sleeper, and We Came as Romans as well as work with bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Queens of the Stone Age, and Billy Talent. Paul has been in a number of bands and currently plays guitar for the metal band Tetelestai. Paul resides in Buffalo NY with his wife and soon to be born child! Make sure to check him out at

    One thought on “Five and Five: The Sound Guy”

    1. Interesting article with some great points. In ten years as a pro sound guys and probably 20 as a hobbyist I have never gotten a tip (cash) I have gotten paid for extra hours, free t-shirts and CD’s (most of which I really don’t want, if I want a CD I am happy to support and pay for it.) Diva bands with horrible equipment are the hardest thing to deal with, as a professional I always do my best to make things sound good but if your gear makes mud I can’t make crystals. Stage plots and lists are awesome! DO you actually do sound checks at multi band shows? Usually backline the headliner with a saved set up (digital is awesome used to have to take a pic of the mixer) locals and support get line checks.


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