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Managing Rapid Artist Changeovers for Music Festival Stages.

Andy Robertson

Larger music festivals with hundreds of artists performing on multiple stages is probably the ultimate challenge for stage managers and technical crews tasked with managing artist changeovers. What factors are involved in getting fast and seamless artist changeovers performed to give a good experience for festival-goers.

It's possible that a music festival stage could schedule up to 20 (or more) artists each day and the logistics associated with making sure performances proceed without a hitch are very challenging. An experienced music festival stage manager along with supporting technicians and engineers are a key part of success.

Obtaining technical specifications and requirements for each booked artist before the event is essential, often referred to as the artist’s ‘Advance’. This crucial document includes everything from stage layout to instrument and backline technical specifications. The advance will also contain key information about scheduled times for sound checks, dressing room bookings and set times. The advance must be submitted by the artist or their management team in time and be accurate as the stage manager will use these to plan every aspect of artist’s changeovers.

Key Staff. 
The stage manager relies on expert technicians and engineers familiar with the backline equipment and each artist’s technical specifications. They coordinate closely with the stage manager and should work as a cohesive team. Using local volunteers or other inexperienced crew and stage hands is often only done for some of the simplest of tasks and can sometimes be a hinderance not a help.

Key Stage Components. 
Building in a series of side stages alongside the main stage enables the use of rolling risers where the next band due can set up whist the previous performance is still underway. During the changeover the rolling riser is simply rolled into place on the stage which saves time lugging equipment and instruments on and off stage and are commonly used for DJ decks and drum kits. There are various options available when considering rolling risers which will depend on the stage size and space available on each side stage. Engineers will be responsible for patch switches where a group of settings are exported out of a software instrument or desktop audio workstation and imported for use by the next artist.

For music festival organisers the artist changeovers will be fast and efficient when an experienced stage management crew is used rather than relying on a single person to manage everything. It’s also worth investing in a high-quality backline which increases the chances that each artist will share the same backline. Aiming for a changeover time between artists of no more than 10 minutes is a reasonable expectation for festival organisers and will be acceptable to paying festival-goers too. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. 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.

Photo by Dayvison de Oliveira Silva via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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