Putting on a Show!

Working Backstage

Want to know what it’s like to work back stage at a concert or comedy show? 

I had a great show this past Friday.  I can not say enough good things about the performance Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias gave and how amazing he and his team were to work with!  Below is a general description of what the process of putting on a show like this entails and includes some pictures from the show this past weekend.

4-5 months before the big day you begin your process with research, who would be popular, who can you afford, what is right for you?  After you have done all of your research put out survey it’s time to make up a budget.  How much is your artist going to cost you?  How much is your agent, venue, rider shopping, sound and lights, promotion all going to cost you?  Once you’ve figured out your costs it’s time to figure out your income!

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It’s important to sell your tickets at the right price. To do that you must do some research and see how much the artist is selling for in similar markets. If you’re located in a city see how much tickets have gone for in similar cities or if you’re in a rural area check out rural area price markets. Don’t forget when picking your costs that everyone will have those added ticketmaster fees added on so try to be kind!

Once you’ve determined you’re income and figured out your budget and you’ve made sure you can pull off the show without losing your shirt it’s time to put in an offer for the artist! After you’ve put out an offer, the artist has accepted the offer, you’ve created all of your marketing materials and come up with your marketing plan and of course you’ve gone through the excruciating contract negotiation phase you must then sell all of your tickets! Good luck!  I was lucky enough with this last show to sell out my venue!!!! Very exciting but that doesn’t happen all of the time!  Keep selling those tickets right through the opening act!

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You’ve been working with your venue, your technicians, your artist and it is all coming together so 1-2 weeks before the show it’s time to advance it and make sure everyone is on the same page.  Sometime if you are working with a middle agent they will do this part for you.  But if you’re not you’ve got to advance the show yourself all of the details for your show are all handled in the advance process.  A band, artist or comedians spokesperson will speak with the promotor and venue to determine and iron out all of the details such as: load in times, set times, reservations, day of show schedule, meal and rider changes, tech changes, and any other changes that may have occurred since the signing on the contract. If the artist is out on tour this is usually handled by a tour manager if not then it is normally handled by the artists manager however if the artist is small I have advanced with them directly.

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Now it is time to shop!  Time to buy everything on that rider make sure you have it all ready to go for the show.  If it’s a big rider I like to do the shopping a day before the show to make sure if I have to run around to a bunch of different shops I can get it all done before I need to be in the venue.  If it is a smaller rider and I don’t need to be in the venue until later in the day I will go shopping day of.   A normal rider will have a collection of food, drinks, towels etc.  But often you find objects like undershirts, batteries, condoms, alcohol, socks and many more items you can feel free to cross right off that contract!

When setting the contract you’ve established if you are providing transportation for the artist.  Either paying for it outright with a buy out or providing it with runners and a vehicle.  I normally pay for their transportation outright in their all inclusive contract (this pays for their transportation to and from the hotel and airport).  But I do provide “runners” the day of the show.  Runners are volunteers who take rented vehicles and do any errands the artists needs the day of.  If the artist is coming in on a bus that might mean running the bus driver to and from a hotel or running and taking the artist to target to buy a new t-shirt, liquor store for beer, or to take them to a laundry mat (those have been requests I’ve received).  I have even once been asked where to find pot… I didn’t help them but they managed to get some any way from another act performing at that show!  While you are out shopping make sure you get snacks for all of your volunteers aka runners for the day to have waiting for them backstage while they are sitting around waiting for their next task.

10378126_1009850935698589_8398741054722557151_nNow it’s the day of the show the artist is in town and ready to go you are sitting back stage with your volunteers and it’s time to set up the dressing room. You’ve brought over the clothing racks, the steamers, the iron and ironing board, the room has the correct amount of couches asked for by the artist (I did actually have an artist specify the amount of couches he wanted in his dressing room), and all of the food is set out.  If you are doing catering for the artist that has arrived and is in another area and ready to go!

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 9.27.39 AMSound check is going on and most likely your artist sent his manager to deal with that and they still aren’t in the venue.  You’re getting close to the time the doors are starting to open and your artist still hasn’t arrived yet!  You may start to panic a little bit but just know that happens all the time. Just get an ETA from their manager on site and remember if they don’t perform you don’t have to give them their check and they want that check!


"Creative Services"It’s finally go time!  The artist is in the building and you might have your stomach in knots because you have to get up on that stage and announce the show!  The show has begun everything is going well and you get a chance to sit back and relax a little bit.The management might still be asking for runners to run some errands while the artist is on stage but for the most part things are calm.  After the show has ended it’s time for the meet and greet.

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Some artists are great and will hang out in the room with your VIP’s and the crew that worked hard to put on the show, while others will make you gather in the hallway will only take one big group picture, refuse to sign any poster and be on their way out the door as soon as they’ve brought enough girls back stage to party with for a while… Yeah that happens.  Finally you can say the venue has a curfew and kick them out so you can clean their dressing room up and FINALLY go home for a night of well deserved rest!  Don’t forget to congratulate yourself on a job well done!

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