Nobody starts at the top; just ask Derek Brener. Years of working his way up the ladder in the L.A. music scene led to mixing world tours for Bruno Mars and, these days, The Weeknd—his regular gig since he mixed the 2015 Coachella headlining show that pushed the artist’s career into overdrive. Success doesn’t come from merely paying your dues, however; it comes from the way you pay your dues. With that in mind, when we asked Brener his advice for people breaking into the live sound field, he had five thoughts to share:
• “Get your hands on gear as much as you can and mix as many shows as you can for little or no pay. Book smarts can’t train you to be confident and calm behind a desk.”
• “Just because in this day and age you have everything at your fingertips, that doesn’t mean you have to use everything. Learn what works consistently and stick with it. Develop your formula.”
• “Never burn a bridge, keep studying and be humble. I had a boss say to me once, ‘When you stop asking questions, that’s when I get nervous.’ Have humility; if you don’t, you will be humiliated. Know how to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I need help.’”
• “Be honest. Know how to admit that it is your fault when it is your fault.”
• ”Be flexible and agile as an engineer. Choose what is applicable and what is practical for each gig.”
For more on the audio world of The Weeknd’s world tour, read our tour coverage in our June, 2017 issue.