This is a guest post by Mike Large from Copperworks, which offers consulting on project development and support in the non-profit, public and small business sectors. He is the former Director of Outreach Services of Music and Film in Motion (MFM), operated Large Management and Artist Development, a music management company working with artists in the North, and has also held position of Professor for The Business of Music class at Cambrian College since 2010.
If you are a musician and you don’t know what ‘advancing your show’ means you should take a moment to read this. If you are a musician who knows what ‘advancing your show’ means you should read this also because it may be time for a recap.
‘Advancing your show’ simply means to confirm all of the details in ‘advance’ of your show or performance with the venue contact and production contact. When it comes to the venue contact you need to get answers to the following questions:
- What is the load in and Sound Check time?
- What time is the band’s set? How long is the set?
- Is there a house PA?
- Who is promoting the show, you or the promoter?
If it’s the promoter who is promoting the show then you should be asking:
- Do I need to send you my band’s logo and/or artwork?
- How many posters, flyers and handbills are being made and where are they being posted/distributed? In the venue only? In the neighbourhood? Throughout the City?
- How will entry fees be managed? Ticket sales? Pay at the door?
- If presale tickets are available online can we get the link so we can share it through our social media?
- Does the venue send out press releases about the show to local media? If yes do you mind letting us know where you sent the press releases so we can follow up for potential interviews etc.?
- Does the venue have built in accommodations? If not what is the name of the nearest hotel and will the venue cover the hotel stay?
- Will the rider requests be honoured? If yes are there any limitations that we should be aware of?
When it comes to the Production Contact you need to clarify your tech needs and confirm them with the assistance of a couple of useful tools to add clarification. The tools you need are a Stage Plot and an Input List. A stage plot is a picture of the band/artist’s orientation on stage. Included on this stage plot is gear information, AC requirements (that means power) as well as non tech needs such as ‘armless chair with back’ or ‘stool’ etc. This is a quick list of what should be included on the stage plot:
- The name of the artist that the stage plot belongs too as well as contact information.
- A visual representation of where the artists/musicians/side players are positioned on stage along with the orientation of their gear.
- Many stage managers like to have the names of the artists listed on the stage plot as well. The reason for this is to make the barking of instructions easier to manage on stage. This is crucial for festival stages when limited time is available for change overs and sound checks.
- What gear you will be providing or what your backline gear preferences would be. (Keep in mind that your specific gear requests will very rarely be accommodated to the letter when it comes to conferences and festival provided backline)
- How many mics, DIs, monitors, and cables you’ll need the venue to provide and where they are needed.
- Will you be providing any gear? If so what? Any unusual instruments that need specific production or mic’ing needs?
- Will Keyboards or Bass need DI or will they have amps that need to be mic’ed?
Now this is important! When you design and save this document to your computer be sure to title the document NAME OF ARTIST – STAGE PLOT. You would be surprised how many stage plots get sent with JPG numbers or no title at all. Some come with the title “stage plot” but when the production coordinator saves this to his/her files they need to rename it and include the artist’s name. It doesn’t sound like a lot but in a festival or conference environment when there are multiple performers this gets very time consuming and leaves room for error.
The input list is simply a chart or list of all inputs including drum mics, DIs (Direct Inputs), amp mics, vocal mics and who and what instrument they are assigned to. Please, this is important, there is no need to explain in this chart why you made a particular mic choice but if you do have an odd mic set up for a special instrument etc. then some detail to explain the reason behind it could go a long way to causing little to no confusion for the tech team. Keep in mind that this document should also include the name of the artist and contact information on the document itself and it should be saved as ARTIST NAME – INPUT LIST so that it won’t need any edits when being saved by the production coordinator.
One final note, in a festival and conference setting the production manager will request this information during a specific time period. Be sure to get this information submitted at that time because they need to clarify, and at times, try to accommodate special requests or specific needs. If this calls for increased demand on specific budgets etc. time needs to be available to come up with the items and/or to work out a solution with the artist.
Making changes within two weeks of the performance is sometimes a necessity but in the festival and conference scenario when the production team is dealing with so many artists you should avoid it. It’s difficult to capture all of these changes without some of the information getting lost in the shuffle when the production team is dealing with so many other details. Try your best to send the stage plot and input list that you plan on using for your performance the first time around. It really does make it easier on everyone.
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