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Responsible Concert Planning

Suggestions and a Check List

by Ron Pesha, Professor Emeritus, WGFR, Adirondack Community College,Queensbury, NY

Determine Your Target Audience.

    As in all broadcasting, advertising, communications, decide whom you will target. Attempts to appeal to everyone will fail. WGFR found, through experience, that high schoolers formed the largest potential audiences in our market. The target audience will determine the type of music and, hence, the band(s).

Choose the Date(s)

    Your target audience will determine available dates. We found it necessary to check all the area high schools for conflicts such as dances, ballgames, etc.

Choose bands with local following.

    High school bands, at least for opening sets, were usually rather bad. But they had their followings, they promoted themselves (enhancing ticket sales), and they appreciated the exposure and played cheap. This kept overhead low.

Keep Your Overhead Low.

    If your hall seats 500 and your tickets are $5 and you spend $1250 for amonster light show, half your gross is gone. You can raise your tickets to$10, but when we tried that we decimated attendance. High schoolers in ourmarket can afford $5, but not $10.

      Secure written, signed agreements with each band, specifying

        A. Date of performance(s).
        B. Amount of and payee name on check.
        C. The time when check shall be delivered to payee (normally at conclusionof show).
        D. Clear statement that the specified amount covers everything and thatthere will be no additional charges whatsoever.
        E. Statement agreeing to all details of any promotion and advertising, suchas in print and electronic media, direct mail, posters, handbills, etc.,including number of plays, insertions, etc., and the dates thereof, withspecification of content and what is and is not acceptable. For example,printed advertising plans may specify names to be included, sequence of names, size of type, etc.
        F. Statement detailing type of quantity of food and beverages to beprovided to the performers and assistants.
        G. Acknowledgment of understanding that state law prohibits alcoholic beverages on campus.
        H. Statement of all arrangements for the concert are near-complete before afirm "go-head" is set. For example, if one band signs a contract, it does not become effective until all bands and light/sound service have signed by a date specified.
        I. The time of arrival preceding the concert, the time the premises will be vacated, and a statement that said premises will be left in the condition found.
        J. Length of set, approximate starting time, and sequence of bandsand/or other acts, agreeable to all parties.
        K. A statement that light and sound services retained will be acceptable.
        L. Specify a minimum number of backstage passes to control securityproblems.Secure written, signed agreements for lights and sound, specifying

        A. Points A through I above.
        B. A detailed description of all hardware to be provided
        C. The person or persons to operate said hardware named, with their total fees clearly stated. Arrange for lights and sound early, and as soon as bands are selected schedule a joint meeting. Sound and light people thus will know exactly what facilities each band requires.Securing of Theatre
        A. Determine available dates, and the advance date when final determination will be made.
        B. Plan risers, electricity, backstage storage and other facilities.
        C. Determine if any existing stage facilities will be used, such as lights,rear booth, etc.
        D. Determine if theatre personnel will be required. If so, whom, and at what cost, if any.
        E. Get a name and telephone number of supervisory personnel who you mayneed to contact before or during the show in case of problems. Secure written, signed agreements for security service. If the venue (on campus or private) requires private security, arrange the contract specifying number of personnel, the exact hours, and their duties.In our case, students ran routine security so that we needed to hire but a single guard, reducing overhead costs. The guard was available for major problems (such as contacting local police when high schoolers were found drinking in a car in the parking lot). The student crew guarded doors,inspected carry-in bags, and periodically checked restrooms.

        Preparation of signage
        A. Signs prohibiting alcoholic beverages, the use of tobacco, and where necessary requesting examination of carry-in bags.
        B. Signs acknowledging and thanking all donors, especially commercial donors.
        C. If necessary, “No Reentry” signs.
        D. Signs indicating admission charge, and costs of food, beverages,t-shirts, recordings, etc.

        Student Production and Security Assistance
        A. Sufficient numbers of participating students listed well in advance andby name, with telephone number, assigned to ticket sales, concession sales,security (door, in-house, backstage, parking lot, smoking area, etc.),pre-concert setup and post-con cert teardown and cleanup including house,foyer, stage, parking lot. This listing should be posted at appropriatelocations indicating clearly who does what.
        B. Reliable student(s) with reliable transportation to pick up hot concession during the event.Rented and Borrowed Equipment.Examples: If commercial beverage dispensing equipment is leased, what time will it be delivered and picked up and where can it be stored in a secure manner. If it will be delivered, say, at 10 AM on the day of the concert,the vendor should know exactly where to go, and the name and location ofthe receiving person who has repsonsibility...and a key. If you borrow anything, it must be returned clean and in a timely manner. One year we borrowed a popcorn machine from the cafeteria on Friday afternoon. Due backon Monday morning, the advisor received an angry call on Wednesday asking about it. The student delegated to return it had not done so. The machine was quickly located, locked in the proper storage room, but not cleaned.CashCash boxes for admissions, concessions, etc., with ample petty cash, and one individual responsible for each.

        Purchase Orders ready in advance for
        A. All bands.
        B. All light and sound services.
        C. Beverage service.
        D. Security service.
        E. Any and all paid advertising.
        F. Petty cash.
        G. Janitorial services.
        H. All other expenses.

        Advertising and Promotion
        A. Preparation and scheduling of any print media advertising.
        B. Preparation and scheduling of any electronic media advertising.
        C. Preparation of legally-acceptable promotions for use on the college noncommercial radio and/or television station.
        D. Preparation of posters and handbills.
        E. Delegating students to distribute posters and handbills in anappropriate non-littering manner to music stores, schools, etc. Be sure permission is obtained, especially at the all-important high schools. With appropriate permission it may be possible to place bills under windshield wipers of high school and/or college students. Point out the purpose of the concert (charity, safe drug-free entertainment, etc.). Some students tend to become over enthusiastic about their ability to distribute promotional material, giving up after one or two refusals from store proprietors and discarding their materials. Delegate only reliable individuals.Remember that there is no such thing as over-promotion.

        More About Bands
        Students purporting to represent WGFR have, in past years, promised or implied participation in rock concerts to bands without the knowledge of student and faculty management and/or the advisor. Because these bands have been displeased by being led on, means should be in place for avoiding this potential problem. Don’t disclose when or by whom the selection of bands will be made. Once,when an open vote was scheduled, band personal showed up like lobbyists.
        After the Show
        Keep the school happy. We all joined in cleanup of backstage, hall, foyer,even the parking lot. School janitorial staff reported back to administration that only routine service was necessary. This made the college very happy. Thank everyone. You want to mount a bigger show next time! Address envelopes in advance so you can send thank yous to the performers, the donors of concessions, the school maintenance and security and janitorial staff, the commercial media who helped promote your show, everyone.