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The Advancing Function in Music Festival Organisations.

Andy Robertson

Every music festival organiser needs to have an efficient ‘Advancing’ function as it can be critical to the smooth running of the entire event. Large music festival organisations may even have a sizable team dedicated to the advancing logistics and for smaller festivals the function may be performed by a single person.

The advancing function manages all the critical aspects relating to performance artist bookings, scheduling and all associated logistics. The advancing team must coordinate with almost all other internal festival organisation functions as well as external parties. The ‘Artist Advance’ has become an essential part of running any music festival irrespective of size.

What is Advancing?  
Traditionally the artist's advance is a document that confirms very aspect of an artist’s booking and can reference booking fees, contracts and scheduling. It also contains details of any riders and technical specifications for audio, lighting and stage set ups. Backline requirements and electrical supplies along with sound check and dressing room schedules are often included too plus travel and accommodation requirements. The advancing is also an opportunity to manage crew and artist access passes and the issuing of guestlist passes.

Internal Teams. 
The advancing team must coordinate with most departments within a festival organisation including accounting for fulfilment of contracted fees and stage managers and producers for scheduling shows and performance sets. The festival’s marketing team will probably want access to artist bios and pictures to run campaigns promoting confirmed artists for the festival. In completing the advancing data most coordination is likely to be with artist liaison managers to obtain missing information.

External Teams. 
Whilst most advancing functions deal with internal departments, they may have to deal with artists directly or their managers usually to obtain vital missing information. Where a music festival is using external contractors for stage set up and backline equipment along with sound engineers for example the advancing team must accurately brief them to ensure the artist's requirements are fully met.

There still some festival organisers using pen and paper or spreadsheets to manage their advancing but these are time consuming and prone to errors. Fortunately, there are now some sophisticated systems that can automate much of the advancing function. Advancing can now be done in an online environment with all relevant documentation held in one location that is easily accessible by relevant parties. Stage managers and producers can move schedules around and changes easily made online with automated notifications of alternations to any advancing data. Reminders about missing information can generate email requests using automated routines. Key information about technical set ups, sound checks or travel and accommodation can be accessed by selected people that need to obtain confirmation.

For organisers planning their festivals using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics including a comprehensive artist advancing function. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Andy Robertson
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