As a former touring musician, I am intimately familiar with the anxiety and disappointment that comes with being rushed onto a stage, only to cringe at the sounds we made and/or the poor stage presence created by our immediate surroundings. As a relatively small band in the underground extreme metal scene, we were consistently told “it happens to all of us” by our peers. Of course, they were correct. When a band travels with nothing but their own instruments and the ability to play them, they are left at the mercy (or lack thereof) of the resident sound engineer and stage crew of each individual venue. We were occasionally pit against venue staff who either lacked proper equipment, lacked the skill to best utilize the equipment to mesh their venue’s setup with the nuances of our instruments, or even lacked the interest to do their own job.
We rehearsed our songs hundreds of times in order to become musically tight and put on the most interesting show possible, but all the practice in the world won’t help if you sound like a dying garbage truck due to the shortcomings of a venue’s equipment and staff. For a band in our position, simply playing the music we wanted to play was our only real goal. Sure, our shows suffered a few negative reviews due to no fault of our own, which was discouraging to put it mildly, but that is the unfortunate reality of most touring musicians.
But what happens when big-name performers run into a similar issue? What happens when a crowd of 200,000 or more pays a hefty sum for entry and are expecting an electrifying performance?
A competent production team is integral for reputation and commercial success
Big-name performers simply cannot afford the type of mishap listed above. A public appearance that is received negatively receives exponentially more media and general public attention than one that went according to plan. Incidences of famous performers falling victim to these mistakes are plentiful, and so impactful to their careers that the importance of hiring a competent, reliable, and reputable concert production company cannot be denied.
Early this year, Mariah Carey fell victim to a production team mistake at her Times Square New Year’s performance that led to the exposure of the fact that she was lip syncing her songs. To this day she is being maligned by media critics and her fans in relation to that performance. The amount of damage done to her long career cannot yet be calculated. For Taiwanese pop artist Jay Chow, a performance at the National Stadium was said to be so “disastrous” in sound quality that the attendees petitioned for a refund. In a number of cases, production team blunders have even put an end to prosperous careers (See Ashlee Simpson, Milli Vanilli).
Finding the best production team for you
Often times, performance artists leave it up to their own managers to take care of the technical aspects of their career. Ultimately, though, the final say is up to them. More than enough horror stories are out there to motivate the performers themselves to take matters into their own hands. There are many professional companies to choose from, so of course, research is in order. It is of paramount importance that a reputable company with positive testimonials and press presence is chosen. A good example of such a company is Onstage Systems. They have a consistently professional track record of over 30 years with all types of events such as concerts, sporting events, public speaking events, special holiday celebrations, and more. They are highly committed to safety, optimal proficiency, and they have greening incentives to minimize the impact on the environment.
But Onstage Systems is just one of many production companies. Whichever one a performer decides to go with, it must be clear that they are at least as dedicated to the performer’s reputation as the performer themself.