HomeWorld NewsHow Music Technology Enhances Concert Audio Experiences – Northeastern University
How Music Technology Enhances Concert Audio Experiences – Northeastern University
August 28, 2023
Last year, Shania Twain announced a new album and a subsequent tour, her first in nearly five years. Cue the delight from country pop fans.
But when you’re shelling out money to see a show this highly anticipated — whether it be the Queen of Country Pop or Taylor Swift — you want to make sure you can hear the music, even if you’re in the nosebleed seats.
That’s where audio techs like Liam Martley come in. The Northeastern University senior spent his spring and summer working on tours like Twain’s, setting up speakers in venues so everyone could enjoy the performances (and get their money’s worth from it).
Martley came to Northeastern with the idea of pursuing cybersecurity, but two years in made the pivot to music technology.
Growing up in Stonington, Connecticut, Martley sang in his school choir. In his spare time, he makes background tracks for friends that he describes as “melodic trap jazzish dance-ish type stuff.” He plays piano and some guitar. He had a music minor.
So switching to a music technology major made sense.
“It worked nicely for me,” he said. “I’ve always been super passionate about (music). But I didn’t want to go into music just straight up. … I wanted to make sure that I would have some sort of stable career going forward.”
Martley’s STEM background and music studies fit nicely with a co-op he began this year with Eighth Day Sound System Inc., an Ohio-based company that provides audio equipment, as well as the crew to work it, for live events.
During the first few weeks, Martley underwent a training program where interns are taught about the speakers and how to install them, preparing them to become audio technicians right off the bat.
From there, they hit the road — literally. Within weeks of completing his training, Martley was asked to work Re:SET Festival, a traveling outdoor concert series that launched this year. To prepare for the tour, Eighth Day Sound sent Martley to Madison, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota, to get his feet wet working shows for Twain, helping hook and hanging speakers in each venue. Then for the entire month of June, he was on the road for Re:SET.
Martley visited six cities over the course of his co-op, including Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City and Columbus. In Texas, he battled 105-degree heat and sets cut short due to lightning and in Los Angeles, he got to try In-N-Out Burger for the first time. His favorite stop was New York, not just for the fact that his mom visited and he was able to stay in a four-star hotel, but because he got the chance to work in the notable Forest Hills Stadium.
The learning curve was steep and the environment often high pressure, but as crucial as the technical skills are, Martley said the most important thing is being able to work collaboratively and in tense situations, something he received from Northeastern.
“In terms of the mindset you need to have to be successful in this industry, you have to know how to work with people and be a leader,” Martley said. “You don’t need to have any of the technical knowledge or experience to do this job. By far, the most important things are your people skills.”
Martley said he enjoyed the work so much that he hopes to return to the company after graduating next year.
“It was incredible just getting to be a part of something like that,” he said. “It was a huge learning experience for me in terms of having real responsibility. I had a lot of learning to do at first. … But it was a really great experience. I felt so lucky to be basically in the front row for these massive concerts every night.”