When it comes to planning and executing a concert, there are many things to take into consideration—the top priority being how guests in attendance feel and the type of experience they have.
“Concerts are about all about providing the best experience possible to the guests,” said Dan Saldarini, president and owner of Pretty Polly Productions, a boutique talent buyer and concert and event production company based in Newtonville, Massachusetts. “We focus on college and university concerts to bring that experience to campuses across the United States.”
During a presentation at Johnson & Wales University’s Providence Campus, Dan and co-worker John Bricker discussed their company and how they go about planning and producing noteworthy concerts at universities. For someone who is interested in a career in concert production, especially at the university level, here are their top eight tips.
- Have an idea in mind.
It is important to book for the greater good. According to Dan and John, everyone will have a different idea of what they would want at a concert — but in order to create the best experience for your audience, you need to know your audience and what a majority of them expect in a concert experience. What genre does the university’s demographic enjoy the most? What time of day will generate the biggest turnout?
- Research thoroughly before choosing a date/venue.
In this step, you have to prepare yourself for some challenges. “It is important to have thick skin in this industry,” Dan advised. “You cannot let one slip up or one challenge get to your head.” You also need to be flexible as school schedules can change,” Dan explained. “One day, you might have discussed April 3 as the official date with the university, and the next day the university hockey team is hosting finals on the same date.” Problems can arise but being flexible is how you can continue to push through the difficulty.
- Discuss budgeting.
Universities oftentimes have limited budgets for extra events such as concerts. It is important to communicate with the university to see how much money they are willing to allocate. Don’t forget that some of the money needs to be used for production and to pay the artist, too! If you need more money to make this concert the best it can be, consider fundraising.
- Choose your artist wisely.
Talk to students on campus to find out what artists are the most popular at your university. Reach out to other clubs and organizations on campus and form relationships with them. Remember to utilize all outlets possible because this concert is for everyone, and everyone deserves to have an amazing, memorable experience.
- Don’t get discouraged with the offer process.
This is the first real step in creating the concert and it can be frustrating at times. This offer is what is sent to the artist or the artist’s agent and should have as much information as possible including date, time, location, pay for the artist, cost of tickets, etc. Once the offer is accepted, you can move on to the contracting phase.
- Take care when crafting the contract.
The contract has many important aspects. The first part of the contract is called The Face of the Contract and should include all general important notes such as date, time, location, and any provisions necessary. Here, you should also include any terms and conditions made out by the university or agency. Second is the rider, which should include all of the information and necessities for the artist, including travel accommodations, desired snacks, and sound and lighting requirements.
- Decide who is producing the event.
Some artists prefer to bring their own production crews with them whereas others will use what the venue offers. It is important to communicate with the agent or artist to see what they would prefer. “The three most important aspects of production are food, power, and labor,” Dan said.
- Prepare for a long day.
The day of the actual event is incredibly exciting but can be nerve-wracking. Make sure your team is aware that the day of the event will require long hours and plenty of patience. “Surprises will happen,” Dan mentioned, “but don’t let them get the best of you, keep focusing on the positives.” Delegation is the key on this day; be willing to hop on any task that might need attention.
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