There may be a certain truth to the assumption that working in the music business is a cool job, but after spending years working at gigs and clubs in a wide variety of capacities, I’ve learnt that some jobs are definitely seen as being cooler than others.
From hard-earned personal experience, I can tell you what are the coolest jobs and the least appreciated jobs at a music venue – and try not to get too bitter that they’re usually the ones I end up with.
So here’s my top ten, starting with the coolest job of the lot:
1. The band (so long as they’re good of course). If you’re strutting around with a guitar, drums or anything else vaguely musical, you’re almost certainly the coolest folks in the venue. You’ll have no problem striking up conversations with attractive and interesting people, with some drinkers keen to learn more about you, your motivations, and your aspirations. And quite possibly what lurks inside your y-fronts/panties/g-string/super-tight pants.
2. The Compere. You’re oiling the wheels of entertainment, so they owe you. Expect people to come up and chat with you – and perhaps even flirt wildly if they liked the jokes or want you to announce something.
3. DJs. With fairly minimal effort, you can become the focus of attention, and if you’ve got the dancefloor jumping, they’ll be loving you. Get the right song on the decks and you can expect random kisses, free drugs and drinks – and there’s always the prospect of being bribed to play certain tunes.
4. Promoter. You’re giving people a great time, so you can usually expect to feel a bit of love, and perhaps foxy advances from artists desperate for a place on the bill.
5. Doorstaff. You have the power to let people in on the guestlist, and if the club’s crap people will invariably start talking to you.
6. Barstaff. You’re serving up the pints so you deserve the respect of the masses. People have to talk to you, so there’s lots of chances to strike up conversations.
7. Bouncer. Wielding enormous power over drunken folks trying to get in, doormen can expect all sorts of amorous advances, but they lose points by being stuck outside in the cold all night while the fun’s going on inside.
8. Table clearer/glass washer. You’re an important cog in the wheel of good times, and after a few beers, people might just appreciate that.
9. Flyer monkeys. You might be out in the street but there’s always a suggestion that you might actually be directly involved in the club and thus be a bit cool. And it’s a great way to meet people if you’re chatty.
10. Cloakroom attendant. It’s a grim life in the cloakroom. You get to see people come in and you get to see people leave. And very little else. The whole world passes you by when you’re stuck in the cloakroom. Sometimes reading a book is as good as it gets.
11. Soundman/roadie. Yep, you really are at the bottom of the pile, registering with the masses as a lowly artisan tasked with fiddling about with sliders in the background – or being shouted at when some drunken buffoon decides that the bass guitar needs to be lifted higher than the entire band and oceans of Phil Spector-like reverb added to the entire mix.
Despite sound engineering being a skilled job, it’s possible that these regular incursions into a world where no-one appreciates their worth is what turns some soundmen/women into grumpy, lost souls, forever more interested in fiddling with compressor thresholds than engaging with the audience.