If you haven’t read the first part of this two-part article, please do so by clicking HERE.

Now it is time to get into what happened the night of the show…both the great and the not-so-great.

I was driving to the venue in Ohio and had just pulled off an exit when it began snowing…HARD. I immediately began worrying about the weather impacting attendance but held out hope knowing that the band had played the venue two times previously and had packed in a large crowd both times.

And then it started snowing even harder. Fortunately I pulled into the venue’s parking lot and saw quite a few vehicles there. It wasn’t as many as I hoped to see but at least it wasn’t a ghost town and we still had about an hour to go before the band would take the stage.

DRESSED FOR SUCCESS

This is something that warrants a bit of discussion. I have a very low tolerance when it comes to how some music artists dress and present themselves during shows. I’ve had to lay into several clients over the years because of the lack of effort put into looking great on stage.

And, yes, it is a discussion I had with Amanda at one point after watching videos of some of their performances before I was brought in to help with their shows. They didn’t look BAD in those previous shows…they simply looked too casual. I always tell artists that there is a visual expectation that most fans carry into a show (whether they are conscious of it or not).

So it goes without saying that I was extremely excited when I walked into the room where the band was preparing and saw everybody was dressed to kill and the ladies’ hair and make-up were totally on point. They looked fantastic, the best I had ever seen from them…and I made it a point to yell as such upon seeing them.

Seriously.

You never know who is watching you perform at any given time and what it might do for you down the road (as you will see was the case for the band at the end of this article).

SHOWTIME

The band took the stage at 9:00 pm and the plan was to do the three-song FB Live broadcast at the tail end of the first set, which was expected to be around 10:00 pm.

The band hired a professional AV company to come in and set up a rear projection video screen on which we could show the FB Live broadcast to the crowd in the venue. That was set up to the side of the stage because the layout of the venue did not allow us to place the screen over the stage (which would have been optimal for what we were doing).

People were continuing to trickle in and the crowd was growing but it still wasn’t where we were all hoping it would be at the start of the first set. Making matters even more difficult was that a lot of the audience members who were there seemed a bit allergic to the dance floor and the area directly in front of the stage. And all of that seemed to be sapping some of the band’s energy as well. I had dinner with Amanda and Michael a week or two after the show and Michael admitted that the unexpectedly lower attendance was deflating when they first walked out on stage.

But they did exactly what they needed to do: they continued to perform with energy…something that would pay off as we got further into the night.

This is when things became interesting.

I was sitting with Alyce (the young lady tasked with operating the camera during the broadcast) and we were keeping an eye on where the band was in the set list. It wasn’t long before I realized we were running behind schedule. Even though the band promoted the FB Live broadcast would start around ten, it looked more like that spot in the set list wouldn’t come up until closer to 10:30.

They realized the time issue as well because there was a sudden jump in the set list and the band skipped several songs to get us closer to where we needed to be prior to the start of the broadcast.

Which created another problem that required quick thinking.

As you will see from the broadcast video below, the FB Live broadcast started with Jones Family Reunion, a song that kicks off with a female audience member being brought up on stage to take part in a fake marriage proposal from Nathan. When the band skipped several songs, they went straight to the song in the set list that was directly before the start of the broadcast. And one of the songs that was skipped was an acoustic piece that allowed Nathan to leave the stage long enough to find an audience member for the proposal at the beginning of Jones Family Reunion.

That is when Alyce said “uh-oh” and asked me what we should do. My response: We grab the first female who walks by our table to ask her to help out.

That is exactly what we did. We had to work quickly because not only did we have to get a fan on board with going up on stage in front of everybody, we needed to hurry and have her sign release forms due to the fact that the images and video of her on stage would be used for the broadcast and various marketing for the band.

So I had to ask the young lady to help out, explain to her what we needed her to do on stage, talk her through everything on the release form, have her sign it, flag down Nathan while he was performing and point to the volunteer so he knew he didn’t have to worry about finding somebody, signal to him that I was taking her back stage, and then rush her to the back stage area all in the time that the band performed that three-and- a-half minute song.

And then we ran into another hiccup. As the last song before the broadcast was wrapping up, I was standing back stage with the volunteer and Alyce, who was suddenly having a difficult time maintaining a strong Internet signal on the phone that would be used for the FB Live broadcast.

Where the venue was located, 4G access was spotty due to it being in a rural area. The venue did have open wi-fi, which had sufficient strength earlier in the evening, but the signal strength began going up and down as we were getting ready for the show to begin. The phone we were using belonged to Brittany (Amanda’s sister and the band’s keyboard player) so I made the decision to attempt the broadcast using 3G and instructed Alyce to run up on stage to have Brittany make a few adjustments on the phone.

Here is something you need to keep in mind when attempting any FB Live broadcast from a venue. A lot of artists don’t have unlimited data and FB Live broadcasts are demanding since you are live streaming both video and audio. So those artists have a tendency to use the venue’s open wi-fi. In many situations that isn’t a bad approach but you have to take into consideration that a large crowd also attempting to access that open wi-fi at the time you are doing your broadcast can slow down the signal and it could potentially impact the quality of your broadcast. Even worse, you might find yourself being booted from the signal in the middle of it.

The problem can become even more severe if patrons of neighboring businesses are also attempting to access the venue’s wi-fi, something that is quite common. I remember staying in a hotel room in Nashville for CMA Fest and the hotel’s wi-fi signal was horrible on our side of the building so I had to utilize the wi-fi from the Taco Bell location next door for the entirety of my stay. Sometimes you just have to plan for the data usage that comes with a big FB Live broadcast and suck it up.

Back to the show.

Amanda instructed the audience prior to the start of the broadcast while Alyce set up the phone with Brittany and we shuffled the volunteer on stage. As soon as we went live on FB, the folks from the AV company projected the broadcast onto the big screen set up next to the stage and we were good to go.

THE BROADCAST

For as much energy as the band showed despite a lower than expected turnout, the start of the FB Live broadcast was like a switched had been flipped. Their energy instantly went to another level. People in the crowd who had been sitting down looking at their phones began looking up at the stage. They became more vocal over the course of those three songs and they slowly began making their way to the dance floor. Additionally, all of that momentum carried over into the last two hours of the show and totally changed the dynamics of the audience’s engagement with the band.

One of my favorite things about the broadcast came in the form of a comment a fan left on the Facebook Live feed, when she proclaimed the show the best she had ever seen at that venue. People had their phones out taking pics and video of the show and posting them on social media. They were doing exactly what we wanted them to do.

Here is the entire video of the FB Live feed…

In addition to the Facebook Live video, I also shot video of the performance from in front of the stage. I missed the first minute of the first song because I had to escort the volunteer for the proposal from the back stage area and, for some reason, my phone cut off at the tail end of the final song but much of this video will be repurposed for the band to use in a sizzle reel when attempting to get booked for other shows.

For any of you who are interested, the Facebook Live broadcast was captured on Brittany’s
phone, which was an iPhone 6. The video I shot from the front of the stage was done on my
phone, which is a Samsung Galaxy S5.

And for those of you who remember the picture of Amanda on Nathan’s shoulders during
rehearsal (it was included in Part 1 of this case study), here is the same shot during the actual show.

SOME THINGS ABOUT THE SHOW

One of the first things you will probably notice is that we did NOT throw the beer mug through the section of the drum shield in front of Frank’s kit. Michael contacted a company in California that manufactures the stunt glass that we wanted to use but it was going to take too long to ship it to Ohio and still have time for the glass to be cut down to the size we needed. So while we had to shelve that specific moment in the show for the FB Live broadcast, it is something we will look to implement in a show later this year. It is too good of a card to have up our sleeves to go unused.

There are some things I would like to see us do a bit differently next time. For the next
broadcast, I would like to see us utilize a three-axis stabilizer for the phone and camera. If you don’t know what that is, it is a device that holds the phone in a manner that completely
eliminates any bouncing. The user holds onto a handle bar and can move their arm all over the place and device revolves around the phone keeping it in one spot. You can get them on
Amazon with some of the better quality ones costing between $100 and $200. There are some cheaper alternatives but many of them don’t use multiple axis points for keeping the phone
steady. I’ve heard many people say that using them efficiently requires a little bit of practice so don’t chance busting it out of the box ten minutes before a show and trying to use it if that broadcast is an important one.

Another slight change I would make when doing something like this again is make sure we hold the camera on each musician for just a bit longer before moving to the next person. Alyce did a fantastic job operating the camera, mostly considering it was her first time doing it and we had limited time to rehearse it.

The engagement between the band and the camera went much better than even I anticipated. It totally changes the dynamic of doing a FB Live broadcast from a live show. Viewers are no
longer observing from a vantage point off to the side. With this approach they feel much more wrapped up and invested in the performance.

While the band struggled to get people out on the dance floor during the early part of their first one-hour set, doing the broadcast from the stage caused a radical shift in the crowd that carried on through the entire show that night. And the band even got caught up in it all, with Michael at one point getting down on his knees and playing guitar while people in the crowd threw popcorn up so he could catch it in his mouth. Below is a pic the band took during a guy/girl sing off…

And when I left the venue not long after the broadcast, I snapped this picture of the crowd
dancing…

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

Remember earlier in this piece when I said you never know who might be watching your show and to what it could lead? Prior to this show, Michael had spent the last two or three years
attempting to get booked for two big shows that he had been targeting. One was at an important venue at Geneva On The Lake (a tourist hot spot on Lake Erie) and the other at a major festival near Mentor, Ohio. He couldn’t even get them to return his calls.

The night we did this show, an individual with ties to both the aforementioned venue and festival was in attendance. He was blown away by what he saw. Within 24 hours of this show taking place, both the venue and the festival had contacted the band. One of them booked them immediately and the other is working with the band to find an agreeable date for them to perform there. Two to three years of frustration trying to get on those people’s radars was erased just like that.

This was within 24 hours of the show!

Now the band is working to take the video we captured from both the broadcast and from what I shot in front of the stage to create a short sizzle reel. That will be used when they attend trade shows attempting to get booked at festivals and college campuses. The video WILL get them a lot of shows. We also plan to add that video to the band’s website and electronic press kit and find ways to use it on social media. Keep in mind that while the audio in the videos isn’t the greatest quality, the live audio will NOT appear in the sizzle reel as it will be replaced with one of their songs playing in the background.

Compared to the number of views many of the band’s previous Facebook Live videos generated, the broadcast of the three-song set had nearly 300% more views! BOOM!

We have several big shows to prepare for that will be coming up over the next few months and we have to keep the live show fresh with new elements. The first big show is scheduled for May and that will be the band’s first experience with including pyrotechnics as part of the show. I’ve also told Amanda to prepare for the intensity of the shows to become far more physically
demanding. We are even making plans for her to perform on top of a large truss 40 feet in the air. We are also working on a bunch of ways to implement video into the show.

All of this came from a simple 12-minute, three song set created specifically for a Facebook Live broadcast. We went outside the box in what we wanted to present, did something a bit different from the normal, planned it out and rehearsed it, and then executed it in spectacular fashion.

The band has even captured the attention of an independent label based in Nashville, one that is made up of an incredible team of people with considerable experience in both the music and radio industries. The label even invited them to do an acoustic showcase during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville (that performance is taking place the same night I am writing this).

For Amanda Jones & The Family Band, 2017 is going to be an extremely pivotal year

Truer words have never been spoken.  That is why I’m using this quote from an interview, I recently watched, as the title of this article.  The quote is from my good friend Nate Compton, front man of ELISIUM, a national touring indie band.  In the interview, which you can watch below, Nate talks about his experience traveling the country playing music and tries to answer a question he is asked a great deal.  How do you know it’s the right time to quit your job and go on tour?  This very question is one that I have wrestled with many times and am wrestling now as I write this post.  

But, who am I?

My name is Greg Barrett.  I play drums for a regional touring act on the verge of going national.  For the past three years my band has been the proverbial weekend road warrior.  I also do session work for a local recording studio from time to time.  I’ve worked my entire life to get to the point where I’m currently at musically, and I honestly believe that I was put on this earth for the purpose of playing music.  It was obvious from the time I was three that I would be following this path and chasing the dream.

And, just like my buddy Nate was a few short years ago, I’m standing on the edge of the cliff trying to decide whether or not to jump?  Should I quit my job, to do what I love, or continue to work full time.  Should you?  Nate did, and believe me it’s a hard but fulfilling road.  But don’t take my word for it, after reading this article, watch his interview.

First off, let’s cut to the chase and determine if you/your band is ready to take to the roads.  Have you established yourself in your home market?  Are you getting good enough guarantees and positive feedback in your home market to warrant branching out into new radius based test markets?  Assuming you already have merchandise, are you moving it well at your live shows?  Is everyone in your crew on the same page?   Is your branding on point?

Branding?   What’s that?  We’re a band, not a business… WRONG!!!

The list could go on and on and on, but all of them are legitimate questions that need to be addressed.  All good topics to revisit in later articles, especially branding.  We’ll cover the first few for now.

Welcome my friends to indie touring!  

Is everyone in your team on the same page?  They had better be if you’re planning to spend days, weeks, or months at a time in a smelly, cramped, van.  You will all be running on minimal sleep and a diet of who knows where the next meal is coming from.  Hotel rooms will be a rarely afforded luxury, so you’ll be mostly sleeping in the van, and showering at truck stops and gyms.  The gym option is a great choice!   Let’s face it, who couldn’t use some exercise?  Just make sure to join a national chain.   Needless to say, the last thing you want is to be out midway through a tour, 900 miles from home and a member decide the road isn’t for him/her.  Everyone in that van should have the same drive, determination, and work ethic.  Everyone should have a designated job to do and be pulling their weight.  You are about to leave the happy-go-lucky and comfortable world of music as a hobby and enter the realm of full time, always on call, real deal music is my JOB.  Is everyone willing and able to completely uproot from normal life, sell off most everything not needed to be as debt free as possible and not get paid often?  You had best be finding out!  Unless of course you are loaded to the gills and able to just finance or bank roll a tour, a bus, or accommodate your crew every night with lodging, food, and pay.  Or, you already have major label backing and enough leverage in your deal that they provide for all of it.  Even most of the signed bands out there are lucky to be provided with a 15 passenger van and trailer.

Lets focus on your home and radius markets.  

Your home market is your first anchor.  Assuming that you’ve established a healthy following already in your hometown, you should be drawing sizable crowds, getting reasonably good venue guarantees, and be moving merch well.  These two latter points will be key to survival in new markets where you will be working to replicate that hometown market all over again.  This never stops.  Each time you win a large following, that market becomes an anchor.  You should be working to establish these anchors roughly 3 to 5 hours apart for weekend strings and as far out as 9 plus hours for tours.  Guarantees in new test markets will, in all likelihood, be minimal at best if any at all.  There will be a lot of times starting out when fuel and food between stops is a luxury only afforded by your merch sales.  That’s where those anchors come into play.  Routing more than a couple test market stops between your “meat and potato” anchor stops WILL break the budget.  So will running out of merch… DON’T DO THAT!

Survival on tour is all about budgeting and being prepared for whatever gets thrown at you.  You can never count 100% on getting paid your full guarantee or being paid at all for every date booked, even with signed contracts.  This is especially true when you’re working new rooms and contacts.  Any tour that ends up breaking even should be considered a success.  If you do turn a profit after all the expenses, then that’s a huge success!  The real objective is to get your name out there in new markets and build that following.

The whole landscape of the music business is shifting and constantly changing.  A recent topic of debate among many of my peers has been, is touring profitable anymore?  I have many friends on both sides of that fence.  Some who got in the game when venue pay and general attendance were high, which allowed them to generate large enough national followings to still warrant hefty guarantees, are now in the catch 22 of “always on tour”.  They simply can’t afford to not be on tour full time now.  On the other side, with guarantees way lower, it may be more profitable to tap into other revenue streams, than to try to stay out on the road all the time.  The bottom line is, touring is still the most effective means of developing a strong following.  People still love to see a killer live show and actually meet the artists.

Don’t let me discourage you, but be aware of what you are about to do.  Making the jump from hobby to career is no smooth path.  It’s a lot of work.  Touring can actually be fun, rewarding, and give you a whole new perspective on life.  It will broaden your horizons, make you laugh, cry, and open your eyes to that big world outside of your box.  Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you left every ounce of yourself that you had to give on that stage night after night.

Is there ever going to be a “right time”?  Probably not…

But, as my friend Wade Sutton from Rocket to the Stars says, “Sometimes you jump. Sometimes you get pushed.  Either way, you’re going to learn to fly.”

Alright, there’s my two cents, now watch Nate’s interview, and go start planning that maiden tour!

Greg Barrett is the drummer for the indie rock band Seasons of Me, session musician for The Sound Asylum Recording & Mastering Studio, and follower/student of trends and marketing strategies in the new music industry.  You can read his bio on his artist page at the Saluda Cymbals web site and check out his band at their official site using the links below.

Greg Barrett at Saluda Cymbals


Let’s talk about the “Music Industry” for a moment.
What IS that?

According to one un-subscriber who told to me: “You don’t know S@!T  about the Music Industry”, I’m not qualified to answer that question.

And the truth is, I don’t.

I don’t care to. I don’t need to. And you don’t either.

What I DO KNOW are: Music and Business. I studied them separately and built a BRAND NEW bridge between them. And that bridge is a LOT easier to cross when you don’t have a herd of greedy trolls weighing you down.

I’ve never worked for a major label, or publisher, or any of the other corporate, conglomerate, or otherwise congealed entities that make up the “Music Industry”.

If I had, I might be just another cog in their machine. Perpetuating the GREAT LIE in music: That YOU need THEM!
They do everything they can to make you believe that in order to achieve success (which I’m sure they would define differently than us Musicpreneurs), you have to spend the the Gross Domestic Product of a small country on building your audience. Or that you need connections ONLY THEY can provide in order to receive opportunities.

Well I’m here today (everyday, in fact), to call B.S. on the music industry’s GREAT LIE.

This LIE causes countless musicians spend crazy amounts of money on all the wrong things, just because they are trying to emulate the antiquated “Label System”.

Well I’ve got news for ya… That system never really worked. DEFINITELY never in a FAIR way.

Musicians gradually lose support from their families and friends as they miss important events and flush unimaginable of sums down the toilet for the slightest chance at “getting discovered” only to find dissapoinment.

Can you blame them? They hate to see you suffer. And so do I.

Now that we have tools like email and social media that help us connect DIRECTLY with our fans and other music professionals, there’s no reason to follow such a treacherous path anymore.

The path to making money is: Growth > Engagement > Monetization. 
You can’t skip any steps. And you MUST do them in THAT order.

Releases (like albums), are for Monetization. If you don’t have anyone to sell it to, it makes NO business sense to spend lot of money recording one REGARDLESS of what the elite, uber-expensive, studios tell you. Their interest is vested in convincing you to spend money.

Releases (like videos and other things that aren’t for sale), are content for Engagement. It makes NO Business sense to spend a lot of money on video production if no one is going to see it REGARDLESS of what the fancy videographer or “music industry insider” tells you. Their interest is vested in convincing you to spend money.

Releases are not very useful for growth.

EVERYDAY I watch in horror as as musicians pour ridiculous amounts of money into trying to force releases to stimulate growth, while COMPLETELY overlooking ACTUAL growth and engagement.

The BEST growth costs time. MUCH more than it costs money.
For example: The exception to the rule about videos that I mentioned above is “Cover Songs”. Since YouTube is a major search engine (2nd only to Google), if you post videos of songs that people are ALREADY LOOKING FOR you’ll get some growth. Well-targeted growth at that!

It doesn’t cost any money to do that. But it does cost more time than many musicians seem to be willing to invest. PROBABLY because the GREAT LIE has convinced them that they must, instead, spend money.

The path I’ve forged to “Success in Music” is simple and MUCH more cost effective than the GREAT LIE would want you to believe. Especially for those of us who have “real life” and “day jobs” to manage along with our musical ambitions.

In early 2017, through my upcoming “Musicpreneur Apprentice” program, I’ll be able to take you by the hand and lead you down the path to “Success in Music” at a cost to you that will make music industry insiders HATE me.

Who am I kidding, they ALREADY hate me 😉

But in the meantime…

If you’d like to receive DAILY tips, advice, and inspiration from me, all you have to do is click here and subscribe.

Now keep in mind that I do email pretty much every day. So if you’re just gonna unsubscribe later and complain about to many emails, don’t even bother.

I’m only interested in musicians that want to think about their careers every day. And that want to turn building their business into a daily habit.

So if that’s YOU, come on in, and I’ll see ya there!

In this inspiring TEDx Talk, our very own Shannon Curtis talks about what she’s learned through her work as a songwriter and performer about the connections we make with one another. It’s a lesson that began in living rooms and backyards all over the country, and culminated in a viral Facebook video watched by millions around the world.

Finding a comfort zone while speaking to audiences between songs is something that has been problematic for MANY singers and musicians and one of the big reasons many clients have approached me for performance training and production of their live shows.

Unfortunately a lot of artists don’t see how negatively this sort of thing can impact their performances. Nevermind for a moment that not being able to speak well can make a show feel less polished and professional in the eyes of your fans.

It can also result in you making LESS MONEY and getting LESS E-MAIL SIGN-UPS…both of which are the life blood of today’s independent artists.

So I spent a large portion of time over the past year-and-a-half exploring this very issue and looking for ways artists can improve at this extremely important, yet often neglected, skill. Asking questions, experimenting, testing some of the ideas on my own clients.

And it was amazing because it brought to the surface several things that nobody in the music industry was really talking about. That resulted in me putting together a series of three videos exploring speaking skills during live shows. Each video, around 15-minutes in length, tackles key points ranging from the way artists rehearse their shows to the manner in which they structure their sentences when pitching e-mail sign-ups.

The first video was posted nearly a month ago and the responses I received via e-mail and social media were fantastic! One of my favorite comments came from an e-mail subscriber who applied some of the concepts to her own performances and said, “what had seemed awkward and slightly terrifying in the past was actually fun and fluid.”

Set aside 45-minutes of your time and…watch…these…videos. They WILL help you!

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

ABOUT WADE SUTTON

Wade Sutton has dedicated his life to helping artists ditch their day jobs in favor of careers in music.

Serving as a live music producer and performance coach, Wade teaches singers and musicians how to turn their live shows into a kick-ass experience resulting in fans buying more merchandise and increasing e-mail sign-ups.

He also puts to use nearly twenty years of professional journalism experience by creating biographies and electronic press kits for singers and musicians while advising them on matters related to the media, public relations, and obtaining sponsorships.

You can receive a free digital copy of Wade’s book by clicking HERE.

I’m subscribed to Shannon Curtis’s email list.

And last month she shared what I consider to be an absolute perfect example of a fan engagement project.

Shannon invited her subscribers to participate in the first video for her upcoming album.

The premise was very simple: Just record a video of yourself in front of your computer holding up a piece of paper expressing your personal struggles.

The results were AMAZING!

It’s easy enough to put together a video like that. In fact, it can all be done inside YouTube’s own video editor.

The payoffs were:

-A Ton of Views. I can’t say the number because it’s still growing daily!

-Delighted Fans who are now connected to her musical community on a much deeper level. They are now more personally invested in her career, thus more eager to invest financially in her music.

-A Boost of Support for her Crowdfunding project.

-An Interactive Art Project that facilitates ongoing participation from her fans!

If You Consider Yourself A Musicpreneur:

You should definitely take a play from Shannon’s playbook and create an interactive, fan-participation video to dazzle, delight, and engage your fans right now!

And when you do, make sure to share it with the rest of us;)

[Tweet “May we all inspire each other to be the best that we can be!”]

 

Performance video is something that I readily place in the category of Very Good Things™. Why try to describe the experience of your show to someone when you can just show them? In HD. Over the Internet.

Seriously, it’s a no-brainer.

The argument for it, I mean.

What IS a “brainer” is the process of actually filming a performance. Especially if you’re trying to do it at a professional level, interfacing video production with the normal production of the show is not necessarily a trivial thing. To be brutally frank, shooting video (really shooting it, I mean) is a disruptive addition to the performance. Even if there’s only one video craftsperson involved, what has suddenly happened is that there is a whole new layer of crew at the show. These people have their own needs for space, power, audio, and lighting, and those needs don’t always line up neatly with everything else.

This is not a bad thing. It does NOT mean that video is evil. It does mean, though, that trying to do a serious job with video at your show requires a lot more than just having a person with a good camera on hand.

Advanced Notice, Advanced Arrival

One thing that really grinds my gears as an audio human is the sudden appearance of a “pro” camera operator with the show only minutes away from downbeat.

What grinds my gears even more is the sudden appearance of video after the show has already started.

It’s not because they have a camera, or are taking up space. That’s just life. What bugs me, though, is that they have a knack for needing things from me, in a hurry, during a “pressure situation.”

“Is there any extra power, dude?”

“Where’s an okay place to put my tripod, dude?”

“Can I get a board-feed, dude? I have adapters for [literally everything except what would actually make it easy].”

What I want to say in reply is, “There was a convenient time for all of this to get sorted out. That time was roughly two hours ago. Other things are currently demanding my attention. Why did nobody tell me you were coming, and why could you not manage to be on time?”

I don’t say that of course, but the desire is very strong.

Anyway.

The point is that knowing about video’s arrival in advance is more than just courtesy – it’s extremely helpful in making it possible for me to be useful to the video crew. If I know that video is coming, and have some general idea of what they need, then I can “do some homework” and be ready to interface smoothly with both them and you. If I don’t know that video humans are on their way, and I have no specific clues about what they might need, then assisting with any issues will very likely require me to interrupt some other production task so that I can “babysit.”

Ask yourself: When the pressure’s on, do you want me to paying full attention to your show and your needs on deck, or do you want me to be splitting my focus between you and an unprepared video dude with non-trivial issues?

Further, the video crew being able to show up with lots of time to spare has a VERY large bearing on how much can be done to accommodate their needs. I have no problem finding extra power, discussing camera placement, changing stage layouts, tweaking light-cue choices, and digging around for appropriate audio I/O…if it’s all being done with lots of time (say, one or two hours) before the doors open. If the show is minutes away from happening – or in the process of actually happening – I’m going to do the minimum possible to get video out of my hair. It’s not that I don’t want to do more, it’s that I CAN’T do more when other things are at the top of the priorities list.

To be blunt, shooting video for later presentation is not on the critical path for making a show happen. If getting video squared away threatens the execution of tasks on the critical path, video is going to get ignored until such time as the critical path is completed.

It’s A Personnel Problem

So, what’s the overarching principle here? In my mind, it’s pretty simple: When finding someone to shoot high-quality video of your show, the key thing to look for is professional people, as opposed to professional gear.

Now, I’m not saying that decent cameras and “pro-level” ancillaries aren’t necessary. They are. But what has to be realized is that the only thing required to get one’s hands on a good video camera is money. There are lots of folks with the money for very nice cameras, but who have no clue about how to be a functional part of the chaotic vortex that is live music. It’s much the same as a high-performance car. There are plenty of people driving around in Lamborghinis who simply could not handle themselves competently in a real race.

If you want to do pro-level video at your show, look for videographers who will do some real homework with you about what you want and need, ask technical questions of you and the venue, and arrive at an appropriately early time in order to get everything sorted out in practice. Sometimes, people like this will have the very latest and greatest gear, and sometimes they won’t.

It doesn’t matter if a person has a cinema-grade 4K camera. Understanding how to function as a professional at a live show is make-or-break factor. Everything else is gravy. If you want to make a killer video of your show, my advice is to find professional attitudes first. You can always fork over some extra cash to have those truly varsity-level-attitude video humans equipped with high-end gear.

But professional poise is not something that I’ve ever seen on a list of rental stock.