Propriety at the FOH

Thoughts about mixing live sound at the FOH (Front of House) position:

In mixing, as in life, as Dylan says, “You gotta serve somebody.”

One must make a decision as to who is to be served.  Should the engineer serve himself?  The engineer can be responsible for the sound design (at facilities with permanent systems, it is possible the engineer is not), but even if the system is not designed by the engineer,  he is still responsible for the sound.  Some engineers can be right pushy when it comes to this, and they have their Ego Projection Blasters set to ‘Kill.’  Some, slightly less despotic engineers will thoughtfully decide that since trust has been placed in them to do the job in the first place,  the only opinion that matters is their own.   This can be the case, but it falls into the minority of situations.

The majority of situations will bring a very complicated concoction of opinions, all of which do matter to a varying degree.  The major ingredients can be, but are not limited to, the audience, the performers, the promoter, the person who writes your check, the check-writer’s boss, the check writer’s mother-in-law, pastors, music directors, musicians amateur and professional.

So, how does one balance all these influences with the desire to bring forth the finest sound experience imaginable?