Whether you’re a festival organizer or simply cobbling together a basement show at the last minute (but please don’t) there are certain practices when working with mid-level or less well known acts that will help build goodwill and make sure the performance goes off smoothly.
“Just checking in…”
While getting a band or artist to communicate with you is admittedly a two-way street, the more you can do to check in with an artist before they arrive at your venue, the better prepared you’ll be. Whether they’re running late and won’t have time for a proper soundcheck, or have last-minute greenroom needs not specified in their rider, having an open channel of communication will help prevent nasty surprises.
“So we’re on the same page”
Admittedly not everyone needs to know the artist’s stage plot or where they should park the van, but putting on a show is a group effort, and whether it’s just a handful of volunteers or a large festival staff, keeping your team looped in at all times can go a long way in preventing miscommunication and mistakes.
“So when do we get paid?”
Even if none of you are in it for the money, clearly establishing when, how, and what amount an artist will get paid from the outset is key to preventing tension between an artist and venue. Any artist who’s been hacking out a career for themselves on the road may (with good cause) be suspicious. Even if payment for the performance is clearly specified in the contract, ambiguity around details like how much of a merch cut the venue gets can get thorny quickly if not clearly delineated from the beginning.
“Rules are rules”
While a band or artist may have certain expectations regarding what they can do before, after, and during a show, it’s important that they be made aware of any venue-specific rules or restrictions that might apply. While it’s good to be accommodating and flexible, running into legal trouble because a show got too out of hand or an artist committed some act of colossal idiocy does no one any favors.
“Just wanted to say thanks!”
It should go without saying, but going the extra mile to be gracious and polite can make all the difference in making your experience with a band or artist a pleasant one for both parties. Working a venue and touring are typically both stressful jobs, and with tensions often high and tempers often short, it can be easy for things to get heated. Still, in an industry that’s all about networking, word gets around fast if someone throws a temper tantrum, and being on your best behavior, even if an artist is acting like an entitled diva, can pay big dividends in the long run.