In this hilarious but oh-so-true public service announcement, Audio-Technica urges all live performers to get their own microphone. Check out the video below:
Comedy aside, the rockstars of A-T re-illustrate what should already be common practice. If you are a live performer, there are many reasons why you should be investing in your own mic. Here’s a few:
You do everything you can to create a "sound" that stands out from other artists, so choose a mic that brings out the best of it. Finding the right microphone can be a life-long journey, but understanding the science behind the sound, such has how well a mic handles higher or lower registers, or how much audible stress it can take before it loses fidelity, can dramatically aid the search. Some models work better with male voices, while others are superior at capturing the female range instead. Artists can look for a wide collection of aesthetic qualities, even if it’s meant for a destructive effect (i.e. A mic more susceptible to distortion can create a grunge-ier feel).
Nothing is worse than having to rely on house equipment, which is bound to have all sorts of problems from years of torture. Assuming the venue’s sound engineer is competent, and his mixing and delivery equipment are just as intact, expecting consistent performance starts with using the same capturing hardware from show to show. Developing a relationship with your own equipment early on will eliminate one less variable of performing live. Budget permitting, if you find a model you like, always try to purchase a backup. High quality stage microphones can withstand heavy beatings and some may even last your entire career, but while doing a flip on stage, your mic flies out of your hands and disappears into a nearby swimming pool (yes, I’ve see this happen), it’s always nice to have that piece of mind.
Audio-Technica’s depiction is spot-on. Not only do you have to gamble with how your performance is delivered, but you now have to question where the mic has been. A few years ago, as a stage tech intern at a local LA venue, I have witnessed far worse "uses" of our house mics than the examples in A-T’s video. On two occasions we had to fine these bands for rendering our gear useless after violating them. To put it lightly – if you bring your own mic to the show, you can stick it in or around any orifice you like. Swing it like a lasso over your head, throw it against your rhythm guitarist, or vomit into it – it’s yours and yours alone. There are some venues that do not provide any microphones or in-ear monitors to performers for this reason.
So avoid previous stage talent who literally "spit into the microphone", and grab your own already.