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When a Music Festival gets an Artists Technical Specifications Wrong.

Andy Robertson

Festival organisers and artists will usually work closely together to ensure that tech riders are accurate, timely and agreed by all parties involved. If there are any issues with delivering the technical specifications requested, it can lead to a multitude of problems for both the artist and the festival organisers.

Music festival organisers will coordinate with the artist and their managers to ensure that all aspects of the booking are agreed as part of the planning process. This can include artist and crew accreditation, fees, contracts, scheduling, set times, meal riders, tech specs, artist bios, accommodation and transport logistics. A breakdown in any of these artist liaison aspects can cause serious problems for organisers and artists however, if tech specs are incorrect, it can even lead to an artist refusing to perform without notice. 

What are Tech Riders. 
When artists submit their detailed technical specifications, it is meant to ensure that their performance sounds and looks exactly as they envisioned. Typically, the tech rider will include the stage layout for drum risers, monitors and instrument placement. Artists usually provide their own instruments, and they will specify the sound system input list requirements to plug these in. Details of backline requirements for amplifiers, speaker configurations and other equipment along with details of what the artist is supplying and what the organisers are providing. Other technical specifications may include plans for lighting and pyrotechnics for example. 

Organisers Obligations. 
The festival organiser will be responsible for delivering all the requirements made by the artist in their tech spec and if this is not possible it is usual for a compromise to be agreed. The organisers may be dealing with hundreds of artists, and it is not possible to meet the exact needs of every artist. In such circumstances artists may choose to bring their own equipment as long as this is compatible with the organiser’s stage set up specifications. Organisers are always under pressure to reduce costs and they may be tempted to select a supplier of backline and other technical equipment who is supplying sub-standard equipment. 

Impact on the Artist. 
Every artist will get the opportunity to conduct sound checks prior to live dates and it is often the first time they can check that what organisers have supplied meet the tech specs requested. If the equipment is of an inferior quality or incorrectly specified it can lead to muffled, distorted or unbalanced sound. Inadequate monitor mixes could make it difficult for the artist to hear themselves properly and can lead to delays in the sound check scheduling. In certain cases, an artist may refuse to perform for the festival and cancel on the spot as they don't want to damage their reputation. 

Impact on the Organisers. 
A disgruntled artist can cause unnecessary headaches for organisers as they try to fix technical problems. The artist may refuse to perform but if they do continue with their set an audience may be critical of organisers and the artist for providing a poor-quality performance. A badly delivered tech rider can lead the artist to refuse future bookings with the organiser involved. If technical issues are identified early in the sound check scheduling the organiser may have the opportunity to source the correct or superior quality equipment but this will incur additional costs and probably cause delays. 

Planning for Success. 
Organisers should ensure that tech riders are received in writing well in advance of any live dates and this is often a dynamic document that both parties tweak when negotiating specific details that can or cannot be delivered. Overall, it is the constant communication and coordination between everyone involved that will ensure a tech rider is delivered to expectations. Receiving the tech rider in good time from the artist or their manager is a key part of the organisers planning process. 

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.  

Image by Counselling via Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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