More Than the Numbers: An Audiophile’s Journey

AV Tech Story Ryan
AV Tech Ryan Keyes Shares His Story

Between advancing technology and the increasing level of professionalism in events, a career in corporate AV becomes more and more desirable. That’s why we’re sharing stories from our staff; we sat down with AV tech Ryan Keyes to discuss his career journey and why he sees corporate AV as a wonderful career for anyone with an interest in sound and a commitment to good communication. 

Why did you consider an audiovisual career? 

“I have been with Live Oak for a year and a half and started coming out of the pandemic, which was an interesting time, with everything transitioning from fully virtual to hybrid,” Ryan shares. “Now we’re doing a lot more in-person stuff, but before that, I was mainly doing sound stuff. I was a sound engineer and got my bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico… I studied music primarily with an emphasis in recording arts, which is where I got all of my sound knowledge. So initially I thought I was going to be doing more recording stuff, which I do in my own time. I don’t think I ever would have thought I would get into corporate AV, but here I am, and it’s been fun. It’s certainly a ride!”

What has surprised you about a career in corporate AV? 

“I found that time flies when you’re working an event, because there’s always something to do. There’s never a whole lot of downtime. For the most part, I find that, especially working big events, time just flies like a long shift!” Ryan says. 

Ryan also says he’s been able to discover more of the area because of this career. “I also love that we go out and work in a bunch of different other venues that I’ve been able to, like, explore the city, essentially… there are some restaurants and little tucked away venues and stuff that I didn’t even know existed before but have discovered or rediscovered for events.” 

“One of the things I have learned is to always bring extra tables, even if you don’t think you’re going to need them!” Ryan also shares that the free coffee at many events is a great perk. 

What skills transfer from other career ventures in a career in corporate AV?

“I’ve worked in studios with audio sound studios with decent hardware before, so I already had the experience using digital mixers and stuff. We don’t have that many events that call for something like that, but when we do, it is nice that like, okay, I’ve used this type of equipment before. I didn’t really have to learn any of that on the spot. Unlike with most of my video knowledge, I did not know how to focus the projector when I first started here,” Ryan laughs. “It was easier than I thought, though!” 

Ryan also shares that being a people person and having good communication skills is what he attributes “a good half of being an AV tech.” Ryan says communicating in a calm and collected manner is of the utmost importance in this field. 

What are pros and cons of the AV industry versus others? 

“In my retail sales job, one of the things I just never could get used to, was everything we did was just all about numbers,” Ryan says. “You know, you had quotas. You had to and they were always raising the quotas because somehow you always had to be getting better, you know… so it’s been nice to be out of the retail environment and in a more just like quiet, focused environment. Jennifer and Dave are really just wanting you to do what you need to do to make the client happy. There’s a lot of trust here.” 

What do you appreciate about working with Live Oak AV? 

“Live Oak AV gives us fully employer-paid health insurance. That’s not insignificant! I’ve found that most other companies in the space do not,” Ryan says. “In my book, being more people and client-focused matters.” 

Ryan said that in one instance, he was thanked for cleaning up tape and other things from an event before leaving and the client told him he was the first person who had ever picked up after they’d been engaged for a job. “To me, that just seems basic. It’s just like basic courtesy. But at Live Oak AV, we do care, and that courtesy is appreciated.” 

What would you love to see in the future of AV? 

“I really see the future of AV as enabling things like having multiple simultaneous locations or jumping around the country, but they’re presenting from one location or they’re even switching around. Especially for larger companies, it should probably actually save some money because instead of doing a bunch of individual events at separate times they can have one central location and then satellite locations and it’s just all simultaneous. I imagine it would be cheaper!” 

“On the flip side of that is what I’ve been noticing is that nonprofit fundraisers are kind of doing the opposite… They’re going back to strictly live, in-person. The general consensus has been that they raise more money when there’s people in the room that are giving versus when they’re at home. But it’s interesting to see how that will play out, because I definitely think we’ll see an explosion of hybrid events as time goes on.” 

Stay connected with Ryan and the rest of the Live Oak AV team on LinkedIn

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