Your Local High School Just Might Be The Future Of The Arts

We enjoy working with our local schools and are particularly proud to be involved with the arts curriculum at Northwood High School, the school my children attended.  They are finishing up a series of special events this month and we applaud them for their hard work.

Periodically, I have pointed out the phenomenon I call the “graying” of the concert production industry.  Lots of hands-on techs who got their start in sound and lighting began their careers in the 1970’s and ’80’s and are now looking at retirement or career changes.  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of kids ready to take their places.

If you read the trade journals that cover the concert production industry,  you know that a very high percentage of the articles feature technicians in their 50’s or even 60’s.

My work at Northwood High confirms this trend.  Northwood has a newly renovated auditorium with state of the art sound and lighting systems.  Twenty years ago, there would have been students crawling all over each other to get a chance to learn to operate this equipment.

Not today. Northwood has hundreds of kids involved in band, dance and drama but almost no students who want to work backstage or in the production booth.  They simply don’t see it as a college or career track.

 

If you have technical skills and are making a career change, give some thought to sharing all you’ve learned with your local high school arts program.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

 

No Eye Contact Means No Promotion-At Least Around Here

Reading GlassesI get to work with a lot of young people, and it makes my days much more enjoyable.  Between my office andworking as a volunteer at the local high school and as an usher at  my church, I am exposed to lots of great kids.

However, one thing that I have noticed that is a real problem is the difficulty they all seem to have with eye contact.  If  there is any sort of a screen present (computer, tablet, smart phone, laptop, whatever) they almost always prefer to watch the screen rather than to look at me.

While I’m the first to admit that I’m not much to look at, I don’t think that these young people realize the potential cost of failing to look at the person who is speaking to them.  If I have a promotion or pay raise, a better assignment, or a little bit of useful knowledge to pass along,  they are much less likely to get their hands on it if they can’t look me in the eye.

Regardless of how much time they spend in some sort of virtual world, the young person who takes the time to  understand the power of looking at someone when they are speaking to them has a very useful skill and, potentially, a strong competitive advantage.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

In ear monitors-TheTapeworks.comA friend in the pro audio business that I had not heard from in a while called last week.  He wanted to order batteries,  and we spent a few minutes talking about how things were going with his shop.  During  the conversation, he shared something with me that reminded me why I started working as a sound person over 30 years ago.

We were talking about in-ear-monitors, those little ear pieces that you see lots of performers wearing.  They have replaced the bulky and loud floor monitors that have been in use for many years to help musicians hear themselves and each other.  Floor monitors are seen less and less

My friend was ordering batteries for his company’s in ear monitoring systems (iem’s).  I told him that I was surprised that they owned any, since I had been under the impression that most musicians carried their own systems.

He shared with me that  performers still get their own custom molded ear pieces, but that fewer and fewer of them were carrying complete systems.  Instead, they were choosing to have the sound companies provide most of the hardware.

One of the reasons that pro audio has become such a big business is because musicians were simply never very good at dealing with the technical side of the performance.  They have a completely different set of skills.

I migrated from performing to being a sound person because I was the only one in the band who was interested in setting up speaker arrays, wiring stages and driving trucks. Being “first in and last out” is not  high on the list of most performers priorities.

This attitude seemed to have extended itself into the area of  personal in ear monitoring.  My friend shared with me how often musicians were showing up with broken monitoring equipment, mismatched components and systems that they did not understand how to operate.  It finally dawned on him that the only way to solve the problem was to invest on some systems himself and make them available to touring performers.

Problem solved and a new revenue stream created.

As long as concert performers require complicated technical systems to communicate with their audiences, the place of the pro audio company is safe.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

What I Really Learned During 30 Years In The Trenches

ShovelUntil recently, my chosen career was in concert and special event production.  I spent more than 30 years doing sound, lighting, staging and event management.  It was a great run-I got to see the country and make dozens of great friends.  I saw more than my share of great shows along the way.

So, what did I learn that I consider really valuable today?  I can coil cables, level stages, mix sound for live TV and focus lights from the top of a 20 foot ladder.  Those were all hard-won skills that served me well, but they don’t have a lot of value today.

The most valuable skill, by far, was being able to make decisions.   Producing large events and concerts, every day was a string rapid-fire decisions, all focused on the starting time of the show.  There was never a chance to kick around a lot of options or “sleep on it”.  Not enough time

Fortunately, these were not decisions of the life-or-death variety, and if I was able to get two out of every three right, I was usually a hero.  There was never the option of putting off the decision until later.  The show would be today whether I made a decision or not.  Choosing “not to decide” was the same as “choosing to fail“.

The Only Time That Matters Is “Show Time”

I reality, the more decisions I made in a day the more likely I was to get really good results.  Making a couple of decisions before my first cup of coffee always gave me new options that got me closer to an on time show.  That was the goal.

Actually providing good entertainment was the job of the performers and their hands on technicians.  My job was to make enough correct decisions to insure that they got to do their job.

Making lots of decisions can be risky, even painful.  Rarely will it do the sort of damage that is almost guaranteed by making no decision at all.

No Competition In Your Rear View Mirror? That Usually Means Trouble

rear view mirrorAn interview in on of my favorite trade journals talked with someone who had started a very successful manufacturing business.  Most of the interview had good insights about starting and maintaining a business, but I was shocked at the founders answer to this question:

When asked about his competition, his response was that “we take pride in not concerning ourselves with it.  The moment we look back, we are no longer leading.”

If you are not willing to look back to see who might be nipping at your heels, then don’t be surprised when you look forward and see someone who you always thought of  as your trailing competition is now leaving you in the dust.

It’s great to see yourself as the leader, but that isn’t worth much if no one’s following.

TheTapeworks.com
Voice 866-386-8335
Fax 800-327-6651
Email sales@harrisonbros.com

Harrison Bros. Inc.
47 North Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517