– Production Live! 2018
Steve Macfadyen, Les Banks, Mary Conde, James Rasmussen, Misty Roberts, Jerome Crooks
The secret to having a smooth show day and making your venue a favorite stop on the tour routing is simple – as has been said at many panels at Pollstar Live! over the years, it’s all about communication.
Mary Conde, SVP at Another Planet Entertainment – which operates and promotes concerts at Bay Area venues including Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley, San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and The Independent – said that when it comes to making the venue welcoming for the artist, knowing what the tour expects is key. She added, “Once we get that we can work on plans for catering and parking, etc. Having that in advance is a critical component.”
Moderator Steve Macfadyen, president of Tried and True Event Productions, pointed out that from the venue’s perspective, the promoter is in the middle and the building executives are at the mercy of the information given by a third party.
“It just so happens as we’re looking at each other we have a promoter sitting in between us,” James Rasmussen, Sr. Director Arena Programming for Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, quipped about Conde, laughing.
“The promoter is playing operator,” Rasmussen said. “As a venue you just have to have that open communication, going back and forth. … It’s just getting on the phone and talking about it. If you need immediate results and to add that personal touch the phone is better than email.”
Touring production assistant Misty Roberts – who has worked with Metallica, Enrique Iglesias, Jonas Brothers and Gun N’ Roses – is also a fan of chatting on the phone.
“The communication aspect of actually getting on the phone is very, very important,” she said. “All the emails in the world, back and forth and you’re still going to miss something. As James said, the tone is very important. Inevitably there’s going to be something that pops up in the day and you’re going to need someone’s help. If you cultivate a relationship, they’re more willing to help you.”
Waterproof Pictures – Misty Roberts
Waterproof Pictures – Misty Roberts
Speaking of simple advice – venues need to be sure to communicate with tour managers to give them the heads-up about potential challenges to load-in, such as construction in the area. Although it seems like a no-brainer, veteran tour manager Jerome Crooks (who is currently managing tours for Nine Inch Nails, Tool and LCD Soundsystem) ran into a two-hour delay to load-in when a venue that shall not be named forgot to mention that a marathon was going through the area. Suffice it to say, he hasn’t forgot that day.
On the other hand, Crooks hasn’t forgotten the venues that have won him over, such as the Golden 1 Center. He mentioned he talked with Rasmussen on the phone in advance, which made the day of show go a lot easier. The venue’s speedy internet and massive TVs didn’t hurt either.
Crooks also gave a shout out to Conde for providing special food to accommodate his Paleo diet.
“If you’ve ever done shows with Mary, it’s a really simple day. I send an email, ask a couple of questions and she comes right back to me immediately. I’m very fortunate to have a relationship with Mary.”
McFadyen added that when talking about the guest experience, it’s not just the fans but the artists and the crew.
“The guest experience is so critical to not only making the day great but hopefully leading to more business,” Rasmussen said. “You have to have those small touches to show that you care, that it’s not just another show.”
As for the rider, you can’t always take it at face value. As Ryman Auditorium Production Manager Les Banks said, if he went strictly by the rider, he’d have to rent $10,000 worth of gear, which the artist already has. Because the rider is always evolving it’s important to get on the phone and find out what’s important.
“I don’t view the rider as the bible,” Conde said. “I think it’s a good place to start, every venue is a little different but I don’t think that the rider that comes out for an arena is going to apply for an amphitheater or smaller venue.”
Finally, an audience member asked the best way to find out what artists are saying about the experience at your building. “Ask them!” Macfadyen said. “Send an email and thank them for playing your venue, ask them if there’s something else you can do or if they have any feedback. Most people are willing to share whether it’s good or bad.”