What’s Next After Life On The Road?
Years ago, I worked for a large sound company. On one particular tour, I was the youngest crewmember by several years. One day the lighting director came up to me and said something like, “Look around at the crew. Many of them are stuck on the road. You need to get off the road as soon as possible.” Not a chance, I thought. I was touring, working with amazing bands and great engineers. From my perspective, I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
I know sound engineers that have been on the road for 20 to 30 years. They love it. They work with talented people and popular bands. For them, working with a crew, building a show every day is a great feeling of accomplishment. For some of these friends, mixing audio is their life, which I understand. It’s a rush mixing a band in front of 18,000 people; there is nothing like it—an excitement that very few people would want to give up. However, these engineers are freelancers, so they are forever chasing the next gig. It can be exhausting.
I loved touring with bands. Shortly after my daughter was born, I left the road. For years, every spring I would get the itch to return to the road. It took me a while to find my footing back home. I missed working as part of a crew. I missed working with incredible musicians. I missed the excitement of a live show. But all good things must come to pass.
So, can you leave a great gig and find a job just as satisfying? Is it possible to turn your back on a lifestyle that is both exciting and lucrative enough to support a family? Is it possible to walk away and be happy with a new life off the road?
Or consider these questions: How long can we, as engineers stay on the road? Is 50 too old? Are there younger engineers willing to work for less money driving seasoned engineers into retirement? Is the love of a gig enough to keep us on the road?
These questions point to one central question we each need to answer for ourselves: What’s next?
Our situations are all different. All good things eventually come to an end, but the end depends on how we decide to exit.