Preparing for Live Music Events

Before you start, it is good practice to carry out a Risk Assessment (especially in any event where a lot of people will be gathering in one place) and if you are planning to undertake any or all of the physical work in in the production (installation of staging or equipment, for example) you should also consider writing a Method Statement (see Safety).

If you do this at the beginning, it will help you to think about what is involved (not just from a safety angle), and inform your subsequent planning.

You will also need to think about what equipment will be required, and how it will get to where it is needed (here, safety, personnel and time-management are all involved). A reasonably well-equipped touring sound system (for example, our own Full Concert Systems) can generally cater for many combinations of performers and equipment without much prior information. However, whatever part of the production you are concerned with, you should NEVER assume something vital for the performance will be provided by somebody else. If the show cannot go on without it - from jack-to-jack leads to 100 kVA generators - you should either bring one, or make sure someone else is SPECIFICALLY contracted to bring one. If you don't, sooner or later you will find that the thing most venues provide doesn't happen to be at this one. Do not turn up in a field expecting mains power with the right kind of outlet sockets to be waiting for you.

Even if you know what you need and have it with you, the whole show will proceed more smoothly from the arrival of the sound and lighting crew to their departure (the sound & lighting crews are usually first to arrive and last to leave) if, with as much notice as possible, all members of the production team have as many as possible of the following:

Technical Specifications

What equipment the band(s) will be bringing with them, and, if there is any, WHAT EQUIPMENT THEY WILL REQUIRE AND ARE NOT BRINGING. If they need a grand piano, or a particular kind of pickup that was specially designed for their 200-year-old Moldavian zither do not assume anyone will be able to find one in Penny-Hassett at 6:30 on a Friday evening. The fact that one was provided when they played in the Borsetshire Pavilion last year makes no difference.

Channel List

A list showing the band's usual allocations of instrument and vocal mixer channels, and preferred microphone or input method.

Stage Plan

Where everything and everyone will be when they get on stage.

Set lists, with any relevant notes (e.g. long reverb on John's vocal on song 3), are also useful.

In our office, in a busy venue's technical department, or in the production office at larger productions, there can often be tech specs and other related documents for more than one band - or the same band at more than one venue - on the same desk at the same time. It is a good idea to put the name of the band or performer, the venue, the show date (and if possible, a contact name and number) on every piece of paper or electronic document or message you send anyone. If you send your tech specs as an email attachment, use a filename that will aid unique identification of it (don't just call it ‘techspecs.doc’).

If you are providing your own equipment, MAKE A LIST, and use it to check you have everything you need when you set out. Bring the list with you, and use it when you leave the venue to check you have everything you came with. We have lost count of the times musicians have turned up without mains leads, jack-to-jack leads, power supplies, or some other vital thing (including backline amplifiers, and even instruments). We have also lost count of the times someone has left their in-ear monitors, extension lead, foot pedal (and even, on more than one occasion, their guitar) behind when they left the venue. It also helps if you CARRY SPARES: if one fails (or if you forgot to bring one), then you always have another.

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