The Secret Facts: What They Don’t Tell You About In Events Organising

You can read numerous blogs about how to organise the perfect event, and don’t me wrong, they are extremely helpful. But what they fail to tell you about is all the secret little hidden costs and nit bits that will make your good event great. So this blog will point out some things you might not have known but will be extremely useful when planning events, and this will be mainly tailored to music events!

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Admission

If you have spent so much time making sure you have the right venue, stage set up, and bands booked, you might forget to ask someone to cover the door for you. Checking tickets or handling people paying on the door is a full time job, so it might be worth getting a friend in to help! To keep a check on who has paid in, why not have some custom wristbands printed up that will double up as merchandise and advertising. You can get good quality ones from silicone wristbands direct!

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PA and Music Equipment

So this seems like a fairly obvious thing to mention but what some people fail to understand is that there is a lot more to hiring a PA system. It’s not just a pair of speakers you need to consider, so allow us to point out the other things you’ll need.

- A mixing desk – you are going to need something to power your speakers and plug in your…

- Microphones – people will need to be heard, just make sure you get the right microphone for the job.

- Leads – SpeakON’s to connect the speakers and XLRs for microphones; it sounds obvious but an easy thing to forget!

- Power leads – speaks for itself really!

- Monitors - The artists could really do with hearing themselves too!

Companies such as London Disco Hire will assist you in ordering the right equipment for your show!

 

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Planning is crucial

Do your research. If you are planning a rock show make sure your show doesn’t clash with another established recurring event, because, unless you have booked Aerosmith, people are going to be loyal to the regular show. Other things to consider include 5 week months; that last weekend is going to a quiet one for a lot of people, so plan strategically to make it the best for everybody! If you need more help with booking venues check out this article from About.com.

 

Hopefully now you are a little bit wiser in this events organising game from our few little tips, and remember, everything will be alright on the night. Now go and organise some great gigs!

Five Awesome Music Apps

iphoneFor music enthusiasts, your iOS or Android system has become something like the proverbial sweet shop for the sweet lover: there are so many apps out there to bring your passion to your fingertips, it’s hard to know where to start. Whether you’re looking for gigs to attend, venues to play at or tunes to download there’s an app out there to help you do it. Take a look at these five great apps for a start: we guarantee you’ll soon be hooked!

 1. Guitar Tuning

We’ve all been there: sitting in the park on a glorious summer day when someone asks for a sing-a-long. You reach for the guitar only to find that the heat has got to the strings and the guitar is horribly out of tune and you don’t quite want to admit that your ear is not best attuned to hear when it’s perfect. There’s now an app that can help! Get Instinct is a great online tuner that you can download as an app. It comes as part of a whole online guitar tuition programme: take a look at the site and see if it could help you.

2. Global Meets Local

There’s a great new app called UTuneMe that allows you to listen to the best of online radio from around the world – from Urdu music to hip hop, classical to trance – with the added benefit of local advertising. There’s nothing more frustrating than listening to an international radio station, hearing about some awesome gig or event happening at the weekend, only to then remember that you’re listening to a Marseilles station and the gig is not, as it happens, in Preston. No longer! With personalised and localised adverts, you can use the radio as a way of keeping abreast of local events and hearing about special offers that you might like.

 3. Your ‘Muso’ Friend

We all have a friend who is constantly recommending new music and knows all the best gigs and parties to be at but now there are music apps that can perform the same function. You shouldn’t get rid of the friend of course, but with apps like Qusic you can make sure the recommendations are perfectly catered to you individual taste. Qusic will tell you all about iphone2new releases by your favourite artists and recommend new music that you might like based on the preferences you’ve already indicated. You can track all of the artists from your Spotify, iTunes and mp3 library in one go. Simple!

 4. Name That Tune

In the fast-paced world of apps and internet technology, Shazam is something of a stalwart of the scene but just in case you’ve been living under a rock or are new to the iPhone game, it’s worth mentioning again. Play Shazam a sample of a song and it will tell you the name of the song! Incredible. So when you’ve exhausted the memory bank and the shop assistant doesn’t know the name of the track either, use Shazam, and you’ll have an answer in no time.

 5. Sounds Like…

One Step further than Shazam is an app called Who Sampled. It’s a stroke of genius. They have a massive catalogue of songs stored alongside the songs that they sample. If you love Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk discover its’ roots in Cola Bottle baby by Edwin Birdsong. The ap lets you get closer to the music and discover more about it. For DJs and those interested in modern sampling, it’s an invaluable resource and a great deal of fun to use.

 

Whether you’re interested in singing folk songs to your mates in the park or digging deeper into the latest Kanye West tune, there is an app out there to help you do it. As we get more and more comfortable using our androids and iOS systems, it seems clear that apps are only going to get better and better. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears pinned for the next big thing, there is a company out there to help you do it!

The Spin Cycle of a CD

Do you remember your first record? Not necessarily your first musical love, but the first hard copy that you owned. It’s a great conversation starter asking someone what their first CD is because no one ever forgets; they treasure it, and probably still own it somewhere. Mine was the 2001 Gorillaz album. I listened to that thing over and over; it certainly helps knowing all the words to Clint Eastwood at a party, it makes you look like a G. After rooting through old boxes of my old stuff, I found my Gorillaz album, battered and scratched, but very much still there, and it felt good to hold it again.

When the download age swept the world, the general idea was that CDs would become obsolete, just like cassettes before them, and vinyls before that. Cassettes, not so much, but vinyl and CD seem to have survived the digital apocalypse as they are still decorating the shelves of every HMV (under new management it seems) and That’s Entertainment. One of the core reasons for this is that we still, and hopefully always will, enjoy the feeling of having/holding a CD or vinyl case.

So what about the actual process of CD manufacture and distribution? Allow me to further your appreciation of CDs and make that package even more special when it arrives.

1. The Band? The Band?! The Band!

 

The band writes a song. I don’t know how many of you reading this will have been in bands or written songs with a band, but you should be aware of how difficult this first stage is. When you say you love a band, it’s because you love their lyrics, sound, the performers themselves, their image, and the kind of people their music attracts. It’s not an easy process uniting people under one tune, and it’s easy to forget about artists sitting down and actually co-ordinating something. These tips from Wikihow might give you a clearer idea of how artists go about writing their songs, but as for actually organizing a song into existence, it’s gruelling.

 

2. The Recording Studio

When you think of a recording artist, do you picture someone standing in front of the mic in a beautifully equipped studio, headphones on one side, coffee in the other, and a swarm of agents and producers checking dials and meters? It might be like that in the movies, but so far in my life the only experience of recording studios I’ve had consisted of a dark room in a dodgy warehouse, one guy behind a desk and not so much as a teaspoon to stir the powdered milk in my tea. This article from Jamcast outlines how it really goes down in a recording studio: it’s knackering. You do the same songs over and over until they’re perfect, or you’ll waste your money. I never used to feel sorry for recording artists until I spent just two days in a studio, kipping on the couch, and some artists go for weeks!

If the studio is decent, the mixing process will take about a week for 8-12 tracks. If they’re really good they’ll take a bit more time to get the job done properly, it’s a long process if done right. Alternatively, you can set up your own recording studio at home if you have that kind of investment available. Gear4Music are a great supplier, I’ve bought plenty of amps, pedals, guitars and mics from them in the past, and if you’d prefer the comfort of your own home then this option might be more your style.

3. How Many More Times?

 

Now we get to the exciting part: CD replication. There are a number of companies that offer duplication services, but you don’t want that. CD duplication is as good as burning your file onto a CD which equals one copy, and takes ages. Replication involves ‘glass mastering’ your file to superb visual/sound quality, and then making as many as you could want. Companies like Liquid Bubble are especially good for this stage as their prices are fair and their services quick, which is especially good for new artists with not much in the bank. Check out the link if you don’t know how glass mastering works, it’s a pretty impressive process!

 

4. Pack Up and Get Out There

Led Zeppelin I is still my all time favourite album cover, and I know there are millions of others, but I love it. The iconic photograph of the Hindenburg aflame in black and white is so striking and moving that it intensifies the meaning behind the music. Design and packaging are often vastly overlooked by artists who just want to have their face looking pretty all the time. Sometimes you need something grotesque or haunting to make a lasting impression. Poorly planned (or maybe not at all) art work can kill the full effect of the music and cause problems with band members, as seen in this special scene in Spinal Tap.

 

I have more respect for artists who make an effort with their CD covers and package designs, even if I don’t particularly enjoy their music: it’s a strange one. I particularly admire companies like Key Production who create bespoke packaging and give CDs a kind of sex appeal. I’d declare this as one of the more crucial stages of coming to love a CD: the point where you don’t like it out of your sight.

5. Hit the Shelves

Distribution is a whole new kettle of fish that involves marketing ploys, targeting audiences, press releases, online advertising and on and on… are you beginning to get the picture? These 10 tips from Vestman Mastering provides a detailed insight of the process of marketing a CD, though of course not every artist has to go through this rigorous routine, and there are other methods of making an impression. If you want a cool example of a product that isn’t exactly “lasting” (you’ll see what I mean), but makes a great impression, check out this blog post from Think Tank Media.

In the end you have this shiny little disk in a fragile case, but to the artist it’s like having your heart on show. Yes digital media is easier, quicker and cheaper (most of the time), but I find my appreciation of the music is lessened unless I can feel the labour in the case. If I can’t stare at the album cover and intently read through the booklet while I’m listening, it just becomes about the song when making music is so much more than that.

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Essentials for Organising a Live Music Event

If you are in a band, or perhaps have a charity that you want to raise money you could organise a live music event. It would excellent way to gain recognition for your band and/or raise money for a worthy cause. A live music event could definitely attract public attention as outdoor music events and festivals are now a part of the staple part of the UK summer. An article on the BBC suggests there are now 450 festivals in the UK and ‘more people are going to them than ever before’. There are of course lots of things to take into account when organising a live music event and hopefully the following list will help you get started.

Where? Obviously you can’t have an event without somewhere to hold it, so this should be the first thing you sort out. If it going to be an event for the local area then get in touch with the local council and see if you could use the local sports field. Or if your town has a lot sports fixtures ask a farmer or local land owner if you can borrow there field for a few days. Make sure it is accessible though as it won’t be very successful if no one can get there.

When? Choose a time when you know that people are going to be off, so a weekend would be ideal. Also make sure to make elements of the event, at least during the day a bit more family friendly and then you will get parents bringing their kids along. Try months like May or June as it will be warmer but everyone won’t have disappeared off on their holidays abroad at that point.

Health and Safety is essential, if its not going to be safe then you aren’t going to get clearance from the local authorities to set up your event. Check out this guide from the Health and Safety Executive to make sure you follow all the rules and regulations. Also make sure you get in touch with St John’s Ambulance service so that there are some people with first aid at your event.

Toilets are very important when hosting an outdoor music event. Though there may be some adventurous people out there who don’t mind doing their business in a bush, the vast majority will want toilet facilities nearby. There are many companies that specialise in portable toilets for hire, however the one that stands out from the crowd comes in the form of Wernick Event Hire who can be found by following the link. They are extremely adept at ensuring that you and visitors won’t be caught short in a field.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to organising a successful and profitable live music event.

Integrating Your Audio Visual Equipment

My wife has gradually learned to accommodate (tolerate) my slightly geeky fascination with gadgetry and audio visual equipment. To be fair to her she does have to put up with quite a bit of my ‘fiddling’ around with settings on the TV. I try to pick my moment wisely before adjusting the setup. However, when I think the TV is just on for background noise and decide to have a play, I’m usually met with a cry of ‘Hey! I was watching that’.

Maybe it is just a male thing, but after investing a fair bit of money in our AV gear, I want to make sure we’re getting the optimum experience from it.

Getting it all to Work Together

My latest experimentation is based around getting all of my AV gear working together. This is not as simple as I’d like. I have bought my equipment over a number of years and there’s only the PS3 and the TV are made by the same manufacturer. They work really well together. If I turn the TV off after my gaming session, it powers down the PS3. Similarly if I turn on the PS3, it will turn on the TV, or change the TV over to the PS3 input if the TV is already on. I like that!! More please.

I’ve looked around at ways to get all the items working well together. Here’s some of my best finds.

Using my Tablet / Phone as a Remote Control

I found that most TV manufacturers now have apps that you can freely download to your iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet. Some use the Infra Red ports built into the devices. Some control the TV via the home Wi-Fi network. Obviously your TV needs to be one of the SMART TVs that connect to the home network for this to work.

I’m waiting expectantly for news that my SKY box will work in this manner soon. The SKY box is wired into the home network so this kind of functionality should be possible. It will probably need them to update the software on the SKY box.

Universal Remote Controls

These have come a long way from the basic multi-device remotes that were available a few years back. The older types worked very much by trial and error. They came with a sheet of paper with thousands of manufacturer and model codes on them. You needed to programme the remote with your fingers crossed – the results were not always predictable or desirable.

Newer multi-device remotes will learn from your existing device remote. Put them in learning mode, line it up with the existing remote and press the function key you want and that’s pretty much it. They also have nice features like LCD touch screens so you can stay in control when you darken the room to watch a movie.

HDMI Connected Equipment

A little mentioned advantage of HDMI wires is that you can operate connected equipment via one remote control. This depends on the quality of the remote controllers you have and if the manufacturer has included the necessary play/pause buttons etc. If you’re thinking of upgrading your connections to HDMI from SCART, you can find a good choice of cables at http://www.cablesuk.co.uk/

Starting From Scratch

If you are in the fortunate position to be starting from scratch with your audio visual set up you have the best opportunity to get everything working together. I recommend choosing a brand of TV as the starting point for your set up. Once you are settled on a brand, shop around online for the best TV deals such as those offered by Discount AV and then buy the same brand of DVD / Blu Ray player to get the best possible compatibility.

Improving Marital Harmony

The option of starting with a whole new set up will probably give most men a buzz of excitement. However it is not likely to go down with your wife / partner. If you are going to suggest this course of action your only hope of selling it is to stress how little you will have to fiddle with it once it is all installed. Failing that, choose one of the cheaper or even free alternatives from above. One last piece of advice – choose your moment to experiment wisely. If you want to find out more about remotely controlling all your home electronics then you might find this geek squad article useful.

"Rote Bar" im Volkstheater

Get Creative with Performance Spaces:

When it comes to music and theatre performances sometimes you have to think outside the box in order to engage new audiences and create excitement around what you are doing. To stay current within the music and theatre world it is important to engage and interact with a wide range of audiences.

Alternative venues work well especially for those who come from a small music scene, which probably doesnt warrant a full-time music club or venue. Alternative venues work well for these groups as they can find a venue which suits their auidence numbers and one which suits their often limited financial budget.

Getting creative with your performance space is easy, there are so many venues which are perfect for concerts and music perfomances. DIY venues such as your local movie theatre, art gallery, museum, restaurant or bar, book shop, the opportunties for transforming a venue into a event space for one magical night are endless.

Other alternative venue which have been proved to work well as performance spaces for music and theatre artists are school halls, libraries and senior communities. These are often welcoming of afforable ways of entertaining and engaging auidences and getting people into their venues. Within the music and theatre scenes people will get tired and bored with the same old stuff. Hearing original music for them is refreshing, although you do have to engage and interact with them, alternative venues are the perfect way to do this.

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Hi Fi Equipment

Hi Fi Equipment has undergone massive transformations in the last few decades. From large transistor radio sets in the early 1920s to hundreds of gigabytes of digital music stored and replayed by a pocket-sized MP3 player through an aesthetically pleasing speaker dock in the 21st century, developments in technology have been extensive.

The first hi fi equipment to be installed in domestic properties in the late 19th century was the phonograph, better known now as a record player. The rapid rise in popularity of phonograph technology demonstrates the need for entertainment in the home. The phonograph or gramophone was followed by the wireless (short for wireless telegraph) which progressed, with the introduction of transistors, to the highly portable transistor radio and, more recently, DAB – digital audio broadcasting radio.

The addition of cassette technology which was combined in a home entertainment system with a record player, radio, amplifier and speakers heralded the first use of the term ‘hi fi equipment’, where ‘hi fi’ is short for high fidelity. High fidelity means a faithful representation of the original sound and the phrase was used as music technology improved and distortion was reduced. Connoisseurs of music may prefer to purchase separate elements of hi fi equipment to create the optimum quality of sound for their favoured music genre and the space.

Although purists have concerns about the quality and detail of MP3 playback, due to a compressed amount of stored information, MP3 is now the preferred method of storing and listening to music and spoken word. Hi fi equipment can now consist simply of an MP3 player or storage device which can be constantly carried by the user and attached to a dock containing an amplifier and speakers in the home, earphones for music on the move or a car stereo, giving the user the choice of many thousands of songs from a matchbox sized piece of equipment.

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Concert tickets

Concert tickets have controversially become a trading commodity with potentially lucrative profits for sellers and over inflated prices for music fans wishing to experience a live performance. Ticket reselling websites and auction sites are now the first point of call for anyone looking for concert tickets after the first day of release.

To ensure you have the opportunity to buy tickets to see your favourite band play live it is a good idea to sign up to an email newsletter, or to join the band’s Facebook group. Fans connected through newsletter or social networks will often have the chance to purchase concert tickets one day prior to the general public and ticket resellers. Pre-sale tickets may be allocated in limited numbers so it is still necessary to make the purchase as soon as possible after the priority tickets go on sale.

If you are not quick off the mark and find a concert is sold out by the time you want to buy tickets all is not lost, but you are now entering the shady world of the secondary concert tickets market – beware. It is more than likely that you will pay more than the original face value for the tickets, particularly closer to the time of the event. Make sure that the website you are considering purchasing tickets from is genuine; check what others have said about the site by searching. When buying from an auction website check the seller has positive feedback and do not leave your purchase too late to allow reasonable time for postage. Enjoy the show.

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Online Music

Online music has grown in the last ten years to become the biggest media for storing, listening to and purchasing music.  Music can be accessed online in various file formats for download to a pc or laptop.  Files can then be transferred to a variety of MP3 players or simply listened to directly from the computer.

Music downloading can be done in a legitimate way from many websites.  The artist or distribution company uploads the album or songs to a retail site.  Consumers select the music they wish to purchase with the added advantage of being able to select individual songs, rather than purchase a whole album or single with b-sides.  They then proceed through a shopping cart and make payment for the files, in the same way shoppers would purchase goods to be delivered to a home address.  The online retailer takes a proportion of the sale, with another cut going to the record company and, ultimately, to the artist.

Music can also be obtained illegally on the internet.  There are many sites which allow downloads without any payment either in regular files or in bit torrent downloads.  Depending on the file type these can sometimes be detected and traced by internet service providers; in recent months prosecutions of the most prolific illegal downloaders of music have begun.
Online music is most recently available on sites which take advantage of broadband internet connection to stream music directly to the user’s computer while they are online.  This music cannot be transferred to an MP3 player and is not available when the computer is offline.  The most popular music-streaming site free to users and funded by advertisements.  The user can choose to pay a monthly fee at which point the advertisements are removed and music is uninterrupted.

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Concert Venues

Concert venues can vary hugely in size and facilities – even a farmer’s field can become a concert venue during the festival season.  In most large towns several venues can be found.  Smaller concert venues may be bars that have chosen to specialise in live music.  They tend to have a mixture of local and up-and-coming bands and often offer excellent value for money for music-lovers seeking the next big thing.  Here you may also find tribute acts who sing the songs and in the style of a particular band or performer – quality may vary.

Sports centres often have a hall that can be used as a concert venue – these can also vary in quality and facilities.  At best the hall will have been designed for this purpose in mind so there will be good bar and toilet facilities, and the buildings acoustics will enhance the music.  At worst these venues can be an inappropriate size for the audience, swallowing the band and crowd and leaving a lot of empty space which can dampen the atmosphere; acoustics can be unsuitable for music which may mean the building absorbs, rather than reflects the sound.  It is worth trying these sports venues as tickets tend to be reasonably priced.

Purpose built music venues tend to host better known bands and performers.  They have the infrastructure to cope with large numbers of concert-goers and ensure their safety before, during and after a concert.  Those attending will usually have a clear view of the stage – although at standing concerts the vertically challenged will sometimes have difficulty.  The venue will have its own high quality amplification and the capacity to employ equipment shipped in by the performer, stage lighting will further enhance the concert and the sound, acoustics and visual spectacle combine to make a memorable experience.