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Case Study: Detailing The Preparation Process Leading Up To A Show

The key steps along the way that can add up to a great show for the artist and audience alike

Over the years I’ve written several articles on specific elements of getting ready for a show, but I never wrote about the entire procedure from the booking call to the event itself. Here in “case study” form, I’ll break down my process for a specific show I did a short while ago for a legendary singer/songwriter from Slovenia.

This was the second show I had the privilege of working with this artist. We met earlier this year when he commissioned me for a large concert that included guest star bands and musicians, his own band, a symphony orchestra and a 30-piece choir. The case study show, however, was just him and his band joined by two guest stars.

The Call

I received the booking call in May, with the show scheduled for September. The only information I was provided at that time was the date and the location of the event. But it was still early days, so I decided to wait with getting the rest of the information, as I was certain there would be changes that I would have to account for later. I started actively preparing about three weeks before the date of the show.

Gathering Info

My first call was to the artist, who provided information about the band lineup, confirmed the date and location, and supplied the contacts for the venue and the band leader. My second call was to the venue, because we’d be using the house system already installed, along with a list of all the audio gear available for use.

I’d had the good fortune of working this venue previously, so I knew its location, basic dimensions and layout. I also consulted my notes from the previous visit, which didn’t prove all that helpful because we were using a different audio setup this time out. This call also yielded contact information for the staff members in charge of audio, which were noted and saved in my contacts list.

The third call went to the band leader to get the input list and stage monitoring needs. Having worked together previously, I pulled up my existing input list and stage plot documents and adjusted them for this occasion. Then I sent these docs via email to the band leader for confirmation.

Adjusting For Changes

This is a step in the process that varies in size and scope from show to show. There will always be minor to moderate changes with initial plans, so I’m always prepared for that by marking every document with a version number and date of creation. This helps me keep track of the changes and provides a reference when communicating with other project members.

The big change for this particular project: due to booking issues the original band was changed to a different band, so the input list, stage plot, and entire communication effort up to that point had to be thrown away. We agreed that I would be present at the rehearsal three days prior to the show to meet the band, figure out the input list and monitoring demands, and listen to the changed arrangements that would help me mix the show more efficiently.

During that rehearsal I drew up all of the documents with the help of the band’s technicians, and we also figured out what additional gear would be needed, coordinated our timetables for setup, and exchanged contact information. While we were doing all that, I also had my ear glued to the songs, creating simple notes for certain tracks. This was made easier by the fact that I knew most of the songs beforehand and had a reference point for my notes.

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