This topic is controversial. “Good” is a relative term depending on who you ask. That being said, there is a general set of qualities required in order for people to see your value. My old friend/colleague, drummer turned tech, and now a current account manager at a local production company hit me with the elaborate and subjective question, “What Makes A Good Tech?”
He asked, is it:
- Schooling or Education?
- Practical Experience?
- Physical Condition?
As always here at the Backstage Culture, we’re gonna tackle these topics individually. But before we do, I need to tell you that the answer is “All of the Above”. If it’s broken up into the 5 categories mentioned above, you need to have a certain percentage of each. Although, It’s not equally important that you have a good attitude, or are reliable and went to school. Nor is it equally important that you have the practical experience and are in decent physical shape.
So let’s get into these topics and find out which ones weigh the most and why.
Schooling or Education
As I mentioned in the “Does your Resume Matter?” article, going to school doesn’t mean shit. Although, I’m not saying to “don’t do it”. I went to school for Audio. I learned a ton of stuff including the foundation for everything audio-related that I know. I’m glad I went. But it’s not graduating that led to my success. The common misconception is that anybody can get a degree in any subject if they study hard enough, but that doesn’t mean you’ll work, never mind become a “good” tech. You don’t have to be book-smart to be an industry titan. It’s what you do with your schooling that matters.
Education provides the most benefit by showing that you’re able to finish what you’ve started, that you’re willing to pay money to invest in your future and that you likely have at least a basic understanding of how things work.
Although it’s important, it doesn’t weigh much in comparison to practical experience.
You can be the nicest, most educated, and strongest person in the world, but you won’t be able to land a gig (or keep one if you somehow get one) if you don’t have practical experience. To add more perspective, you can be the crustiest piece of shit alive, and still be an awesome tech. Let’s keep it to ourselves, but I know you thought of someone immediately after reading that. The response is always “Yea, But they’re a great tech”.
Technical ability or practical experience is the number 1 characteristic that defines you as a “good tech”.
That doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the gig though.
If you have a bad attitude, nobody is going to want you around. It’s simple. You’ll still work. You’ll still be considered “good” or even “great”, but you’re gonna have to make up for your poor attitude somewhere else. This black cloud will follow you everywhere. Word travels fast and lasts forever.
Having a good attitude doesn’t mean you need to be smiley and nice to everyone. Having a good attitude can also mean you just don’t have a bad attitude. If you’re not unnecessarily complaining all the time and show general gratitude, that’s a great start. The bar is set pretty low, to be honest.
Something to note… attitude is generally the difference between a “Good Tech” and a “Great Tech”.
Almost as important as having practical experience, a “Good Tech” has to be reliable. They need to be trusted to show up, be ready, and perform under any circumstances. If you’re always 5-10 mins late, everyone hates you for it. Get it together. If you’re not helping load a 35-piece fly pack at the airport cuz you’re still drunk from the night before, everyone else will hate you for it. Lastly, if you’re always having to borrow stuff from other people to do your job, people will always remember you for it.
Show up on time and prepared. Always.
This one is a little touchy as well. Depending on the size of the team, or the job you do, this will change how this category is valued. If you’re the “1-tech”, chances are you’ll need to shlump around heavy gear and/or merch boxes. If you’re a white glove FOH mixer on a stadium tour, you’re not expected to be as involved when the techs are flying the PA and doing the heavy lifting.
People get injured on the road all the time. I’d say the most common one is people throwing out their backs. When this happens, hopefully, you can either add additional stagehands or your team likes you enough to cover for you. Lift with your legs people, dayum.
If I were to break the importance of these into a percentage (which never actually happens. This is rock n roll, carny math, not moneyball), for an average tech on a club-sized tour crew, I’d weigh the mythical percentages at:
– Schooling at 2.5%
– Practical Experience at 40%
– Attitude at 30%
– Reliability at 22.5%
– Physical Condition at 5%.
You’ll notice that some far outweigh others, and that individual attributes are generally not strong enough on their own to be considered a “Good Tech”
When you’re about to be hired for a gig, the last thing someone says before they decide on you is this. “Has the experience (technically qualified), Great attitude, And reliable”
As always, hit me with any questions [email protected]