THIS BUSINESS OF GIGGING FROM, LOAD IN TO LOAD OUT ©by Stuart “Dinky” Dawson. Getting Paid segment by Tony Raine
Load in To Load Out has been designed to introduce you in simple terms to the finer points of "gigging", from booking your first gig, selecting and using equipment to setting up and playing live to getting paid and assuring a return engagement.
It’s basic but essential stuff. By using this book as a guide and applying the principles and knowledge contained in it to any size gig, you and your band can confidently present yourselves in a professional manner, you will benefit from years of touring experience instead of doing it the hard way and, quite possibly, getting ripped off.
Start Me Up
After months of practicing in the garage or basement you now feel you would like to perform in public. Whether you’re a band or a solo artist, the best way to present yourself is to assemble a Press Kit. This consists of a promo photo, bio sheet, demo tape and, if possible, a 10-15 minute video of your talent, (This footage should be an interesting mix of your material.) If you have any flattering press clippings, include them. Yes, cover song material is what sells you to the local watering hole!
This is your introduction- make it snappy, an interesting representation of you and your work. Remember, agents and promoters get hundreds of press kits from hungry bands. In old-fashioned terms, put your best foot forward. Or, if you’ve got it flaunt it.
Put your best tunes on the tape. And don’t even think for one minute that booking agents listen to a whole song on a demo tape or even the whole tape. Nothing personal, they simply don’t have enough time. What they want to know is can you sing or play (what you look like) and do you have any kind of following. Their bottom line is can you bring paying customers into their venues.
Who Gets This Stuff? And How Does It Get There?
As a local artist, find out who the local club, restaurant or bar owner is, and send him a promo kit.
Never show up unannounced, asking them to listen right away, even if you think you are the next Beatles. No one has time, then and there, to immediately accommodate you, and if, the whole band goes with you, you have probably blown your chances. You drop the promo package off and telephone later to see if anyone has heard it.
An important aside-if you want to protect your song or show (i.e. artistic impression), from theft, send yourself a registered mail package that includes your tunes and show. The date postmark is key. Don’t open the package. If you discover someone has taken your idea or song and made money from it, find a lawyer to sort it out.
Do Not Open Your Package
The only real way to copyright your material is to send it to the copyright office (US Copyright Office Library of Congress, WDC 20559-6000) or http://icweb.loc.gov/copyright Form SR. It costs around $20, but you can copyright as many songs or instrumentals as you wish in the same package and it might save you a bundle of woes, not to mention royalties, in the future. The copyright office requires the deposit of a lead sheet and /or a tape. It is preferable to send both if you have them.** Venue manager Tony Raine’s. “Getting Paid.”
So you have the equipment, you are rehearsed and ready, band photos and press packages are sent and you are waiting for the bookings to come in.
When the first call comes:
What do you charge?
How do you make a deal?
How much are you worth at this point?
It’s easy to stumble at his point, you might have been paid $1000 last year for playing your best friends wedding but is that what you are worth in an original rock club on a Tuesday night… afraid not.
When you are starting out the important thing is to at least cover your costs for playing.
What costs? Well, you have to get to the gig, so you‘ll need transportation, you’ll probably need to eat because it’s always a long day getting to the gig, setting up, waiting around, playing, then driving home. You probably need some stage clothes, strings, sticks and all the rest, oh! and probably drinks if you are clubbing.
The type of booking you take or are offered is going to differ from venue to venue but is all based on one common denominator, your ability to entertain and hold a crowd, and in the case of most clubs your ability to supply a crowd.
Yes afraid so, most clubs and venues will offer you a mid week night to try out and to see whether or not you can supply and build a following of some sort. It becomes very important for your band to build a circle of friends who will follow you and make you look good, unless you have a band with six or more members, each with very large families who will trek out in a snowstorm on a Tuesday in January to watch you play the 11:30pm set EEK!
So here are some pointers to building your crowd and negotiating various types of deals, which will help establish your band and hopefully create enough income to keep the band alive.
1. BUILD A FOLLOWING FROM THE GET GO
Sign them up! Create a presence for your band with web site where your friends and supporters can join the all important mailing or better still E-mailing list. The names you add from day one will pay off down the road as some of your gigs become dependent on that important “crowd” you bring with you.
2. KEEP YOUR MAILING LIST CURRENT AND INFORMED
Letting you r friends know well in advance where you’ll be playing and asking them to turn out will help when you need it, particularly on those important high visibility city gigs.
3. DEALING WITH CLUBS FOR “COVER” GIGS
Most suburban clubs are looking for and willing to pay “cover” bands. I know you’ve written and recorded the greatest collection of original songs since Led Zeppelin Three but the reality is on-one knows about them yet and until clubs and followers understand that you can actually play and entertain them with music somewhat familiar to their ears, they may not be willing to hand over their hard earned cash just yet.
So get some cover material that reflects your influences, make sure the club owners understand where you are coming from musically and let them know you can bring a ton of friends to your shows.
When you are selling the band to a club manager, be realistic, let him know you understand you can bring more people on a weekend than on a weekday night, that you understand his club crowd and you think you can win them over and also that you are willing to work to promote the show he books with you.
4. PROMOTING YOUR SHOW
We’ve already mentioned building your mailing list and contacting all your friends and convincing them to come and support you, but what else can you do to “work” the show.
Find yourself a friendly artist who can make posters and fliers, get them into the club ahead of your gig so that other crowds and the clubs customers are aware of your upcoming show.
Contact local newspapers and make sure you are in the free listings section under entertainment, send a press release to the entertainment editors and try for some editorial coverage preceding your show.
Recruit work colleagues, friends and family, anyone who can swell the ranks at your shows.
5. MAKING DEALS
Once you are confident that you can “bring people” to your shows there are several options worth exploring to “making money” form the events.
Before we get to getting paid though it is important to establish the different types of gigs you are going to need to stay afloat and still push ahead in the business.
Let’s say you are a group of competent musicians and know you can play the cover gigs every Friday and Saturday in your home town but aspire to breaking your original music in the types of rooms that only book original bands, or you are friends with a couple of other local bands and want to put together an original show to try your own material on a local crowd.
Each of these options presents a different type of “deal” which ahs to be made.
Your first option is pretty straightforward, usually to play a cover gig the club manager will offer you a flat guaranteed amount of money for the night. Starting out until he sees what you can do, this is usually a couple of hundred dollars for a night. A night typically is from around 9:30 to around 12: 30 or closing time and requires 45 minute sets with 15-minute breaks. If you keep the crowd happy and bring plenty of people the first tow or three times you can renegotiate the deal.
Don’t get too sure of yourself asking for a raise until you explore some options. Club managers love it if you work with them, suggest more advertising would help your crowd, work into promotions with the club, radio advertising etc. Just let them know you are as willing as they are to succeed in their establishment.
While you are building these relationships and trying to get more money, try not to play too many gigs in the same area, keep your draw strong in one room in your local marketplace. If the club doesn’t see you are trying to help and take care of you financially, then all bets are off but the “perceived value” of you r band to the next club will be higher than you would earn if you tried everyone all of the time. So you will collect for your efforts either way.
The cover band scenario does of course offer you the chance to pick up lots of private party work, which is still the only place you can really make money when you are starting out. Don’t dismiss this important part of the market, Saturday afternoon weddings can pay up to $2000 and that helps when you are playing your original music gigs practically for free.
The original club circuit in most cities operates almost on a “pay to play” basis.
Whether or not you get paid is determined by how many people you bring to your gigs.
Clubs will typically package three or four new bands together on a given night and issue different colored tickets to each band. They may give you up to 200 tickets to distribute and the deal would be $1 per ticket, which comes back in at the door. It is then up to you whether or not you try to sell your tickets to your supporters or you give them away in the hopes that you’ll get a strong return at the door. Remember in the long run this may be more important, typically most original music clubs pay little but they do promote well and newspaper listing for your band and these type of booking carry a great deal of credibility in the business. Most of these clubs also look for the number of people you draw to determine whether or not your act might be right as an opening act for a national headline touring act or whether or not to try you with some better established acts on the all important weekend nights.
This is a tough circuit but if you do your homework and build the following, this is where you will need to be to establish yourselves an as formidable original act. This is also where record labels and college bookers are looking for new acts.
I personally have come to like the third option for making money for acts when they most need it.
To make this work you have to suppose that any one with a large hall and liquor license is a potential venue. Usually you’ll see these halls the VFW or local hotel function room advertising the hall for rent. You can rent the room and advertise your show locally, charge a cover at the door and pay for the hall and take what’s left for the bands.
Most bands falter here by doing just that, and not involving the venue in the deal.
I try to approach the deal from the point of view that on the day I want to present my show the hall or venue has nothing booked and nothing going on. In fact try to make sure that’s the case before you make the approach.
From that point of view both your band and the venue have an interest in making the show successful, the venue need people for revenue at the bar and rather than guaranteeing rent I prefer to offer the venue a percentage of the cover charge. I do this mainly so the venue has a financial stake in the success of the event and will therefore be more active in promoting the event in a positive way.
CONTRACTS AGENTS AND SUCH
At the point you’ve had enough of the deals we established earlier, and you are still alive and kicking but getting frustrated, it’s time to look at some new options
Assuming you are now working regularly and getting decent money, you have built a good mailing list and have a steady following; it’s time to start looking for a booking agency. An agent will of course want a couple of things, a healthy percentage of your earnings and in most cases an exclusive deal to represent your band in case you take off.
You will know by now how much you earn and from how many gigs. What you need now is someone to find you more better paying and better visibility gigs.
Try to find an established agency who’s booking some of the acts you respect locally and you think are having some success. Find out what kinds of deals they are making and where they are being booked.
If you find an agent to represent you don’t give exclusivity, this early in the game, you can give them exclusivity in a certain territory as you think fit.
Also try not to let the agent into any business you have built yourself, there is no reason the agent needs a percentage of money you are already earning. A good agent will however secure contracts for future bookings and more important secure deposits up front for these gigs. Typically an agent will ask for a 50% deposit then takes their commission (usually 10% of the total) then hold onto the money until the gig has taken place. The band then will collect the other 50% on the night of the show.
Remember there is always another way to look at a deal and if you try to make sure everybody wins, the promoter, the venue, the band and of course the audience, you might just be around the business awhile.
** End Tony Raines “Getting Paid” section.**
Now we get into the production questions
It’s time to pull out your advance sheet; using a separate advance sheet for each gig you will have your questions answered before you arrive. Make sure your advance sheet is tailored to your needs. Try to fill in as much as you can, since each item is important.
Some questions for your advance sheet are:
This may sound stupid, but get the name, address, directions and phone number of the gig. The phone number is important you want a number to contact in the event you’re late (accidents do happen). And don’t forget to write down the phone number of the agent person you are talking with.
Write down the date of the gig. As you get more gigs, you don’t want to confuse your dates.
Who do you contact the night of the show? It may be a house soundman or a house manager or barman.
What time do you load in your equipment?
Where do you park your vehicle?
What time is your set or show?
How long are you expected to perform?
Is there a curfew?
What time do you set up your gear?
Can you expect a sound check? How long?
What time will the venue open for the customers?
Are other bands on the show?
Is there a stage? If this is a restaurant, where do you perform? Will tables be removed so you can set up?
What and where is the electrical power available for your band?
Does the venue provide sound and light systems? If so, do they have a stage monitor system? How many channels are they in the house system and in the monitor system? How many channels are available? How many and what microphones are available? Any effects? Do you provide your own sound engineer? Do they have a monitor engineer? What lights are available? Spotlights? Get the names and phone numbers of the venue’s sound engineer, and light-man. Get the phone and name of the house production coordinator, if they have one.
Most venues for beginning bands will provide an area to play
If they have a sound system, it’s pretty basic, and if they have monitors, they’re usually a fold-back from the house board.
If you bring in a sound system, ask if there’s room in the audience for a mixing console. That is if you have the luxury of having an individual sound engineer. Many bands mix their sound from on stage as the person that does it is usually on of the band. This can work very well in small bars.
If you use props or stage effects, check with the venue to make certain it’s okay to use them. Remember No pyrotechnic stuff in small bars or most clubs in the US.
Is there space for you to store your empty cases during the show? That is if you have cases. You may have to store them in your van or whatever means of transportation they came in.
Is there a dressing room or an area for your band to prepare and change? Don’t be surprised if you’re told “the kitchen.” Many venues expect you to come dressed to play.
How many guests may the band have? Don’t be surprised if the answer is “none.” And don’t push for more than the venue will accommodate. Be professional. If this is a venue that serves alcohol, remember that underage guests should not be invited.
When do you settle up i.e., get paid, ( in some cases you may have to pay-to play.) and with whom? Usually, it’s after you perform, but it could be after the last band performs. Ideally, you’d get paid before or during your performance (at least that’s what you see in the movies), but, realistically speaking, don’t expect that.
One last word of advice always be courteous and polite with everyone connected with the venue. It really will make it easier for your band and often helps getting re-booked.
Snail Mail and on-line Mailing Lists (I Read the News Today, Oh Boy)
A mailing list is a basic guerrilla-marketing tool that’s worth the time and money invested. You want to keep track of your fans. And your fans want to know about you and where they can see you. At a gig, setting up a sign-up sheet that asks for addresses is a good way to start.
If you have access to a computer, keeping a fan database is easy. It also pays to put out a newsletter or a small fanzine that includes an itinerary. If anyone in the band (or a friend of the group) has desktop publishing skills, it won’t take much to put together a newsletter.
Better yet if any of you a really computer literate, setting up a Web Page is the best way to keep in touch with your fans and for all the music business people to check you out. Keep that e-mail coming and expand your fan base. With some techno-skills, you can add audio and video clips to your page. Many innovative bands sell CDs and tapes over the net from their websites.
Equipment - From Amplifiers to Xylophones
As you’re reading this, chances are you are familiar with instruments, that you know a guitar from a snare drum. You probably even know that a Back-Line is the equipment you play through on stage and you might own a piece or two. But read on; the following can help you get the most out of your gear.
RHYTHM SECTION The Foundation of a Band
Drums, Cymbals and Gongs
Recently alleged to be a source of male bonding (no offense to any distaff drummers), acoustic drums have been around for as long as we’ve been on the planet. The only thing that has changed is the construction. Once thin animal skins stretched over wooden shells, they now have plastic heads covering laminated and steamed shells in all kinds of shapes and sizes, all held together by hardware that could sink a battle ship.
Depending on your music, your drum kit can be simple as a kick, snare, and a high hat set up or, a sophisticated assortment contained in a cage holding as many different size drums that will fit. There are few local bands, however, in which the drummer is featured musician (and since traditional drum/percussion paraphernalia can be heavy and take up a lot of space, it’s just as well).
Nowadays electronic drums are quite common, and this invention gives a drummer the chance to blast back at fellow band members with selective amplification. Electronic drums require activation of a digital “brain.” There are two ways to activate the brain that manipulates the drum sound: (1) Using pads that look like practice pad or (2) using small contact microphones that can be attached to your acoustic drums. Both are called triggers they activate the inputs of the brain.
Cymbals and gongs, made from a brass alloy, are rarely given their proper due. They come in different shapes, sizes and sounds. Modern music would not be the same without them. Turkish cymbals are considered by many to be the best.
Bang A Gong Some Useful Tips for setting up a Drum Kit
Lay down an 8’x10' rug. Most people don’t consider this part of a drum Kit, but the rug is used to stop the kick drum from moving. Moreover, you can mark drum, cymbal stands and even the throne placement with tape or a permanent marker (sharpie), ensuring consistency each time you set up.
Use sandbags to help keep the kick drum from moving. Your local civil defense office is a good source. Sandbags are also good for your crash cymbal stands (especially for metal or punk bands with energetic drummers).
Premark the height of the cymbal stands with electrical tape. Some stands today come with locks, but they’re expensive, especially for bands that are just starting to work.
Avoid nailing drums to the stage at all costs. Nailing anything to a floor only aggravates the venue owner or manager; they have to deal with what remains after you’ve gone.
Some bands, especially metal bands, build complex risers with blocks and holes to make complex set-ups easier. Other bands use drum cages, tubular metal frames to which you attach drums and cymbals. Although they’re more stable than traditional stands, cages can be very difficult to deal with if you are not the only band on the show. They require more time and people for set up and tear down.
Always have spare drumsticks stuck somewhere on the drums. A good trick is to shove spare sticks down the lug nuts of the kick drum. Most of all make your environment comfortable.
To amplify acoustic bass for live performances a combination of bridge pick-up and a microphone positioned near the f hole and strings will give you the fullest sound through a sound system.
The electric bass comes in a standard 4-string configuration, and all kinds of multiple strung bass’s. You have choices of amplification, large speaker enclosures or small ones, large amplifiers or small ones, and all kinds of options in-between. Today, these rigs are built around the genre of music being played. Like 4 X 12” speakers for Heavy Metal to 18” speaker and a 4 X10” cabinet combination for Blues, though Reggae. Whatever equipment you use, placement is key. With all kinds of speaker configurations it is best to check out what is the norm for the music you are playing before you purchase a rig.
Tips, on placement for live shows
Place the bass speaker system next to the drums, since the drummer more often than not, likes to hear, if not feel, the bass. Remember drums and bass are the rhythm section of a band and work together.
If you purchase a bi-amp configuration make sure that the high-end cabinet (2 or more 10” speakers) is plugged into the high output of the amplifier. The same goes for the low-end output in a typically single 18” speaker in a cabinet or a 15” speaker in a cabinet.
The cable from the bass guitar to the amplifier must be SHIELDED. If you are using short cables for the effects, use SHIELDED cables too.
If your bass amp head is separate from the speaker cabinet, you’ll get the best results if the cable from the output of the bass amplifier to the speaker is UNSHIELDED
It helps to color code cables by using colored tape around the cable connectors.
Acoustic guitars can come with pickups built in them or not, regardless the best for live sound is both a pickup and a microphone combination. Just like the acoustic bass.
The electric guitar is now the icon of rock as the modern day instrument of choice. Again you have a choice large or small amplification to amplify your sound.
Tips, on how to place guitar amplifiers
Placement is important to create a balanced sound; loud enough for all to hear but not so loud that it is annoying. This applies to amplification of all instruments.
Some guitarists spend a lot of time setting up complicated effect's pedals with lots of cables, only to find nothing works. They spend even more time re-patching and still it doesn’t work. Try the obvious first: check the AC power-is it turned on? (Some amplifiers have a stand-by switch; check this is in the on position.)
Put the cable that goes from the guitar to the amplifier through and around the strap before plugging into your amp. That way if you accidentally stand on the cable while playing, you will not unplug your instrument. The same applies to all hand held electronic instruments.
Both bass players and guitarists are subject to electric shock. A few guitarists have been electrocuted on stage. Therefore, it is important to be certain that your amplifier’s AC plug is in good working order (plugging and unplugging will wear out the plug or cable end). Keep checking. ALWAYS GROUND YOUR AMPLIFIER. Some older amplifiers have a polarity switch on the back that can get rid of buzz problems. This switch does not totally solve grounding problems.
The most common shocks are from sound system and the guitar combo. Professional, experienced roadies check the ground with a multi-meter by attaching one probe on the shell of the guitar cable and the other probe on the screen of the microphone. If voltage registers, then the roadie will switch the ground around until no voltage exists.
For musicians who sing while playing, the easiest way to check for grounding is to grab your guitar strings and with the BACK OF YOUR HAND, touch the microphone. NEVER GRAB THE MICROPHONE. If the problem still persists, even after you have changed the guitar cables (frequent use often breaks cables on the inside. Even the best made cables fail) there is nothing more you can do, The last resort is to use a foam windscreen on the microphone or, if you don't have one, sing 6” to 8” away from the microphone. This doesn't always work either. You could still end up with small shocks on your lips, especially if you are playing in an old building.
Be wary of worn cables. Do not use them. Be aware that the input jack often loosens twisting the ground until it no longer contacts. Remember what looks good is not always what is good. Sometimes bad cables can screw up your guitar pickups resulting in permanent damage to the high-end section of the pickup.
If you use guitar knobs and switches a lot and they are causing problems, don't try to fix them on your own. You will save time and money by taking your instrument to a professional repair department in a music store. It's worth the extra dollars to keep your instrument in good working order.
Echo, delay, chorus, fuzz, etc. these items are to enhance the player’s musical artistry can be separate items or all built into one unit. Either way it is best to power these effects with AC rather than batteries. And all short-SHIELDED patch cables should be checked for ware each time you use them.
Keyboards can be as simple as a standard piano or as complex as a multi keyboard MIDI set up going into a 40-channel console. The output from the electronic keyboard uses SHIELDED cables, if you are patching through to another keyboard use a MIDI connector cable.
In a simple set up the outputs from the keyboard go straight to an amplifier, either a keyboard amplifier, or a guitar amp. This amp is your stage monitor, and back-line. A small set up is two keyboards and two effects, patched into a Keyboard mixing console (8 inputs, 2 outputs with one output to an amplifier and the other to the house-mixing console. When you use different presets you will find that some are louder than others. With having control in a mixing console it is easier to balance the levels. Placement of keyboards can be anywhere on stage just make sure your amplifier is in line with the bass and guitar amplifiers, another part of what is called the back-line.
Other instruments: Wind, Accordion, and assorted dijis
Harmonica. This instrument in rock’ n' roll is amplified through a guitar amp by using a high impedance microphone, which can be a ribbon or a dynamic mic. Or a Harmonica can be played into a dynamic vocal microphone.
Brass and reed instruments. There are a variety of microphones you can choose for amplification. You can also use pickups that can be patched directly into MIDI units to give you all kind of sound effects.
Accordion. This as always been an acoustic instrument, amplified by using a dynamic or condenser microphone. With a MIDI interface, even rock bands are using this instrument.
Strings. Countless assortments of string instruments are amplified with a bridge, clip on or condenser microphones. (Violin, harp, etc.)
Dijis. There are so many dijis (e.g. glass harmonica’s etc.) and resurrections of ancient instruments as well as new interests in ethnic ones, that we can’t be specific about each one. The best way to amplify these instruments is with condenser microphones.
Marking and Packaging your equipment and road Cases
Marking all of your equipment is necessary because other artists may have equipment similar to yours. To avoid confusion, stencil your equipment (stencils are available at most art stores) use a roller specially made for this purpose or if you don't want to permanently mark your equipment, (you may change bands at some time), tape might be your best choice. Removing a piece of tape is easier than re-painting the equipment.
You should mark your guitar, speaker, and mike cables with colored tape (not all red.) All this is very simple stuff, but most people never think of it until there’s a disagreement over whose equipment it is.
Packaging your equipment can be as simple as the cardboard box it came in or as complex as an ATA Flight case. An economical way to start is to put your cables into a milk crate. (This practice has been done for years and it still works.) Next are the bags you can buy for guitars and drums. Also there are shaped, hard cases that come with your guitar or fiber drum cases.
The ultimate case is an ATA. Flight case. Made from fiber sheets laminated over thin plywood with aluminum edging and metal corners. ATA cases are custom made for your equipment.
Cables Connectors, and adapters
Only a few years ago professional microphone cable connectors were standardized to an XLR connector. This solid connector can take much abuse in the daily arena of sound.
Wiring for most microphones. (Three pin XLR.) XLR male wired to XLR female, pin 1 ground or shield; pin 2 neutral; pin 3 hot. This wiring creates what is called a Balanced Line Cable; you can make this cable as long as you require without any signal loss. Even if you're an energetic singer or performer on stage, you will have no cable noise by using this cable.
XLR to 1/4"(jack plug). This cable is used to connect XLR style microphones to mixing consoles that have 1/4” inputs (i.e. public address systems). It is also used in patching various effects etc. The wiring of this cable is XLR pin 1 ground or shield; pin 2 tied to pin 1, ground or shield; pin 3 hot. Or pin 1 and pin 3 could be tied together and pin 2 could be hot. On the 1/4' end of the connector, the tip is hot; the shaft is ground or shield. This cable should not be long, since length can cause cable noise. On all XLR connectors pin 1 is always ground.
Guitar cable or 1/4" to 1/4”(jack plug) this cable is used for guitars, bass, keyboards, and all kinds of patch-ins. The tip is hot, the sleeve is ground or shield (this cable must be a shielded cable) this cable is best under 25' long as it will pick up noise. It is called a high impedance cable. 1/4" to 1/4" can also come in balanced line. In a balanced line cable, the connector has another part called a ring. It is wired with tip hot ring neutral and the sleeve ground or shield.
Speaker cable or 1/4" to 1/4"(jack plug) do not confuse with a guitar cable, although it does have the same connectors. Tip is hot. Sleeve is ground. This cable is not shielded and is used from amplifier to speaker cabinet. Mark all cables, since some speaker cables look exactly like a guitar cable.
Midi or din cable Used for attaching two keyboards or key modules together, which then ‘talk’ to one another. Most cables use molded plugs. Five pin connectors are what is used. The first throw away cable they are not worth fixing. Just get new ones.
RCA or Phono cable. These are for home stereo systems, not for Rock 'n' Roll, but so-called ‘semi-pro’ equipment uses these connectors. Try not to move these too much, since even gold plated connectors are fragile. The tip is hot and the shell is ground or shield. This cable must always be shielded.
Banana connector, This connector is used in speaker outputs, usually from sound system power amps; the cable used is straight and unshielded. The ground has a little plastic bump on the male so that you can plug it in the proper way and the female (usually attached to the chaise of the amp) can come color-coded: black for ground and red for hot.
Multipin cables. These are for professional applications and are just beginning to be standardized. Multipins are used for microphone and effect's inputs and outputs to a mixing console.
Adapters. You should keep in your toolbox a 1/4" female-female, XLR female-female, male-male incase you need to make a cable longer. Also two ¼” to XLR females and males for, use at a mixing console. These adapters are the most common used and just a sample of the many adapters available.
This section is devoted to safety. Without electricity you don't play, unless you are acoustic. Even then you have to have some kind of light on you and sound system to amplify you.
(1) It's best to have in your setup, your own plug up boxes, and (usually a six-input with a fuse and an on/off switch, grounded.) Use heavy-duty AC cables for extensions. NO ZIP CORD'S! You must GROUND EVERYTHING.
(2) Try not to put all amplifiers on the same circuit. It is best to split up your stage. Also, make sure you know the location of the Breaker box and what breaker your equipment is on.
(3) Plug into a circuit separate from the ice machines and lights, if possible. (Club-gigs)
(4) It is wise to have in your toolbox an AC ground lift. To lift the ground in certain circumstances (e.g. hums between amplifiers and effects, or amplifiers and the sound system.)
(5) Large tours use a complete Mains power distribution that comes from a buildings main AC panel, and is usually provided by the sound company.
Historically, Rock ’n’ Roll used two full-range Public Address cabinets and a two-microphone input-powered head all of it fit in a van.
Today you can still get this public address sound system or more sophisticated systems that cost millions and need semi trucks to transport it.
In this book we will look at garage to club size equipment. We’ll start at the end point the speaker cabinets that produce the sound for your audience.
Even-though you start with a small system, it’s best to think of the future and begin with equipment you can add too. Start by looking at the kind of music you are playing (you wouldn't want to get a big monster sound system if you are a folk singer).
Whatever music you perform, always amplify your vocals first. You need a cabinet that is what is called ‘full range’ that is, a bass speaker and a high-end speaker that has a crossover built into the cabinet. Now the question is what size cabinet? There are quite a few choices and lots of styles.
You’re a solo artist. The basic set-up is combination of a 12" speaker with a 1" high-end horn. Two small cabinets is more than enough for you. If you're in a band, you are better off with a 15" speaker with a 1" high-end horn. Soloist or band, you should consider getting two cabinets place one on each side of you. Why? The audience will have no obstruction while watching your show. A cabinet, (like a speech podium) covers up your body.
Why two cabinets? It is not to provide stereo sound. It’s so that you can cover both sides of the room. You also fill out the center by the way you aim the cabinets.
All speakers have what is called an ohm rating, that is, what the coil or windings on the coil are rated at (8 ohm, 16-ohm etc.) This rating is also present on the output of the amplifier, so you have to match the two together to get the most out of both units (8 ohm cabinet to 8 ohm amplifier). Most amplifiers are made with multiple ohm outputs, which make it a little easier to add more cabinets. When you do add to many cabinets your ohms will drop so low the amp will give in or as any pro knows, “choke to death.”
Heavy-duty tripod stand to raise the cabinets is a big plus. This height lets the sound waves reach more of your audience.
Placement of the cabinets
First thing to do is check out the sound of the room, by clapping your hands, or giving a yell. This determines the density or echo of the room. Do this from the stage, and the back of the room. Using your ear gives you a feel for the room. When you are use to this procedure mixing sound in the room becomes easier.
You’ll get the most out of your cabinets if you put them on either side of the stage, two feet in front of the lip. Placement in front of the artist or act on stage will give you the optimum volume before feedback.
Adding to this system is simple. Just add two more cabinets and amplifiers of the same kind, and so on and so on.
If you want more bass, then get a ‘sub woofer’. Although it comes in all sizes and kinds, this cabinet has no high end built into it. It’s best to stick with the same brand and series that you already use. Look for 15" or 18" cabinets that will have a crossover built into them.
In this passive crossover system, first plug up to the bass cabinets, and then continue to the midrange and high-end cabinets, going from speaker output in the bass cabinet to the speaker inputs of the midrange/high-end cabinets. The same amplifier powers all cabinets. If you have purchased a self-powered system you will now be sending signal to the cabinets via microphone cables (shielded cables). Powered speakers are becoming more popular for bar and club sounds, due to less set up and take down time. Which is a big thing if you are working your day job early morning.
What about the stage? For monitors, try to use the same brand of cabinets as your house system to get a complementary match. Whether you use a 10", 12", or 15’ speaker, all cabinets also should have a 1" or 2" high-end horn in them. The shape of the cabinets are different, usually a slanted box that faces up at the artist, in place of a flat rectangular box for the front of house sound system.
Monitor placement is simple. Unlike a house system that enables the audience to hear the entire band, a monitor system lets you hear parts of the band, vocals or instruments and that helps you perform better. Position the monitors in front of you on stage. The trick is to get the most volume and quality out of them without feedback. (To shape your sound with equalization to eliminate feedback, refer to Sound System set up).
When choosing an amplifier, you should consider the speaker cabinets you have, say the 15" with a 1" high-end horn (8 ohm's). Now, you notice another rating: Watts (100 watt 200 watt and so on.) A watt is the amount of power the amplifier puts out. Say this cabinet you have is rated at 300 watt's; you get the amplifier that is rated the same.
Most amplifiers have two channels of power. This will power both of your cabinets and quite possibly another set of cabinets since 300 watts per channel is a good amount of power.
Some equipment has the amplifier built into the mixing console. This is known as a powered mixer. Usually restricted to 200 watt's of power, or less, these powered mixers have limited microphone inputs (usually 6 to 8). Ideal for a folk or jazz set ups, large systems require amplifiers that are independent from mixers.
For the cabinets and amplifiers described above, and for most bands, a 16-channel mixer is more than likely your best bet, because it provides flexibility and good models are affordable. The 16 channels refer to the number of inputs.
With the system we have got started here, it is best to go right to a 16-channel console. That is to say a mixer with 16 channels of inputs (it can be 16 microphones or 16 instruments: keyboards, electric drums etc.)
Two styles of mixers are used today: the “table” or “rack” mount. The table speaks for itself it sits on a flat surface. The rack mount is made to fit into a 19" rack case. With this unit you can put all your modular equipment in one case (i.e. mixer, amp, effect, etc.)
With a table mixer it is usually placed in the audience, so you must determine the best placement. A table mixer requires a sound person to operate it, and, you need to purchase a multi-core, commonly called a snake. The "snake" is a multiple-wire one-piece cable that has been manufactured into balanced-line, individual cables, with either XLR connectors on one end or a Multipin connector. Both start as an input box to an output end. You can purchase all kinds of configurations or make up one yourself.
The other way of operating the mixer is by having it on stage at the side of the person who is most in need of changing the sound for the show. This can be any member of the band who knows how to mix. I have seen keyboard players, drummers, and bass players take on this extra work. Once the console is set you shouldn’t have to touch anything during your performance.
On a modular system you will need an outboard rack with processing equipment. It may contain the following; Graphic equalizers that shape the sound and Compressors/limiters, which squash the over all sound, (mainly to protect speakers from heavy peaks which can blow the speakers.)
An active Crossover that split the highs and lows then sends the high to the high-end amplifier and the low to the low end amps, which in turn feeds the high-end speakers and low-end speakers. Effects include echo, reverb, flanging, doubling, harmonizing. These effects and many more makes you sound like anything from a chipmunk to a demon, all with the turn of a switch or a knob. Then there are noise gates that turn microphones on and off automatically.
All of the effects units can be insert in and out of what is called in-line patchable points on your mixing console.
We are now down to the originating sound. That is, choosing the correct microphone for the job at hand.
We will start with Vocals: Use low impedance, dynamic microphone that is very rugged. You can go to a condenser microphone for a higher quality sound (at a bigger price). But live performances need the warmth of a dynamic microphone.
What is a dynamic microphone? Simply, it is like a miniature loudspeaker. You sing into a mini- speaker and the sound comes out of a big one. Simple, eh!
What is a condenser microphone? This technology gets more complicated. There is a gold plated, plastic diaphragm and gold plated back plate serrated so air passes through it. When you put voltage through it, it vibrates as you sing into it, thus re-creating your voice in a clear sound. You need to put voltage into this microphone to make it operate (from 9v to 48v) which is on most mixing consoles and is called phantom power.
How does voltage get to the microphone? The ground or shield of the microphone cable carries 48v phantom power. Condenser microphones are very easily broken; and moisture affects them a lot.
What is a ribbon microphone? This is similar to a dynamic microphone except that the element is suspended between two very powerful magnets in a corrugated ribbon form, which makes them very fragile. These are not made much these days, but they are really great for all kinds of use. Too bad they’re so fragile for live work.
There are so many more types of microphones (lavaliere, piezoelectric, contact. shotgun etc.) All have their particular jobs to do but not at this level of our system.
Just the two types of microphones dynamic and condenser cover vocals. (The ribbon is too fragile.) On the guitar amplifier, drums and brass we use dynamic microphones. Drum cymbals, acoustic guitar, and other acoustic instruments we use condenser microphones Easy, right!
What is a direct box? This is simply a box that you plug your bass or keyboard etc. into and out of. You can plug one side into an amplifier or directly into the mixing console, since the box contains a transformer that makes the outputs high and low impedance.
Some direct boxes are "active". That means it takes voltage to make them work. They also have padding, and reverse switches (to be switched or not to be switched, that is the question). You can play with these switches and hear what happens! Remember; make sure you turn of the volume on the mixing console before playing with these switches.
Line transformers (same as a passive direct box except the in and out are one-to-one. It looks like an adapter 1/4" to XLR but it has a transformer inside).
This is a very important item Straight or boom stands, Round or tripod base, If you were a lead singer you would want a straight stand. If you are a keyboard player you would want a boom stand, microphone clips, which come with the microphone, are the ones to use. Replace broken clips with the original style. Stands come in all different sizes too. It’s your choice for the job at hand.
Transport and Roadies (band and crew)
Packaging and traveling efficiently, gas costs, personnel, all should be addressed before gigging. Roadies break down into workers and hangers on (i.e. who helps with a drum stand or who drinks coffee) if you have a roadie; it is essential he/she is aware of what their responsibilities are. Usually two roadies are more than enough for local bands. Jobs would include: loading the transport, driving, setting up the gear (sometimes members of the band help do this), fetches the tea water and even collecting band members personal hygiene items.) The roadie must be aware of responsibilities.
Timing is most important! You must be organized. YOU MUST NOT BE LATE. It is better to be early than late. Send ahead anyone who can get to the gig early. The gear should be at the gig ready to be unloaded earlier than the advanced time.
You must make sure that you have packed all of the system into your transportation vehicle, including spare cables and adapters.
It's always a good idea to have a spare amp head, spare snare, extra guitar, and bass strings and drumsticks. Do not forget the tools, screwdrivers, (regular and Philips,) and a small one for microphone connectors and for guitar strings. Needle nose pliers, wire cutters, solder and a hot iron, (electronic kind). Don’t forget duct tape. Audio adapters and ac ground lifts put in your toolbox.
At the gig, check out room, stage, electricity location, and load-in access. Park in designated areas. Ask where to park for load-in/load-out, also where to put the vehicles while playing the show. 99% of the access to loading is in fire lane or handicap parking. You should have done this when advancing the show, but now you are physically taking care of this.
Make sure you introduce yourself to whoever is in charge as soon as you walk into the building. That way no one has to run around wondering if the band's representative has arrived. If the club rep is busy, just tell him/her you will wait for them. Then get out of their way. The rep will remember your courtesy later. The main thing is to act professional all the time. Do not push. Same thing if there is a sound engineer or crew (most of the time, the stage manager is also the sound and light man.) So, always act PROFESSIONAL.
Ask about restrictions on where you can set up your sound system, if you are using it, (you wouldn't want to set up in an emergency access lane). You may be carrying a pre-programmed effects rack, or the sound engineer you have hired for that night has his rack. If you are using the club sound system this is the time to make sure you can plug your effects into it. Check to see if you have to supplement the house sound system for your show (this only applies if you have got to headline status, and even then this may not be applicable.
Typical stage set up for guitar groups
This standard stage plot will give you an idea on how the average sound person looks at things. Your plot can be more precise. It is always a good policy to have lots of copies of your stage plot so you can just hand the sound person your requirements, when you are working in a club that has a sound system and engineer.
As you can see by the stage set up, left is left and right is right, but Stage left is the left-hand side of the stage as you look out into the crowd. Stage right is the right hand side of the stage as you look out into the crowd this can get confusing even for the pros. The only difference on this stage set up for the keyboard players out there is choose the side of the stage that is best suited for playing and balancing the stage. In this plot, stage right is best. Note: Most often in a club situation you will only get one input for keyboards so it's best for you to have your own keyboard console, if you have many keys.
Setting up the back line
Set up your back line the same way you set it up for rehearsals. Use common sense and try not to take up too much of the audience area. This usually upsets the club owner, especially at a bar (even some solo artists have set-up problems.) Always ask before you extend the stage into the audience area. If you are working with another group, it is always good policy to try to work together with them, especially in small venues. Sometimes you can set up your gear with theirs. This formats works. Usually the only instrument that moves is the drum set, and sometimes even this may be left on-stage--and only the snare and cymbals are moved.
How to set up and use the sound system
Front of house speakers. Placement, of the two house cabs is important. Standing at the center of the back wall, visualize two beams of light coming from your cabs, and ending, up with no obstructions, at your eyes. You must be able to see the speaker, not just the horn. If your cabs are on poles, this is easy to adjust. If you have sub woofers, place the mid and high cab above the woofers. The woofers don't have to be pointed as much as the mid, high cabs since bass travels through the floor. To get the most out of your woofers place them on the floor. You must also try to keep all of the sound system in front of your center stage position by at least two feet, provided that people on the sides can see you. These are known as sight lines.
Amplifiers. Position them behind the speaker cabs. If you only have one rack of amplifiers then either side is OK. On larger systems you would put them behind both sides. The idea is to use the shortest amount of speaker cable to reduce power loss. If you have one rack with one amp and all your outboard equipment in it and the location is out in the audience then make sure you have the best cables you can get, with no extensions, if possible. Never put the speaker outputs from the amplifier down the multi-core. The multi-core is used to send signals and information back and forth to the stage not power amplifier output.
The electricity for the amplifiers should be split into two 20-amp circuits, if possible, and not on the same circuit with any lighting equipment. This applies to most bars, clubs usually have an AC distribution setup for the stage.
Mixing console: if you are setting up in the audience in a bar or club then you are going to run into house rules. This is one item that you should have discussed when advancing the show. (Even this advance maybe for naught as you will always want a better location than you get.) Even experienced roadies have to compromise. The gig will also, up to a point, do the same. Don't let anything stop you from advancing the show.
Outboard racks you position on either side of the mixing console. This is so that you can operate all of your equipment while hearing what you are doing. Some people put this rack on the floor. That’s OK if you’re on a platform and can hear.
Stage Microphone setup. Assuming you have all your back line in place, then position, the microphone stands you have picked out for the show. Select the appropriate microphone for the job.
Place your monitors were you could see them while you are singing without any obstructions (this is tough with keyboards and drums in many gigs).
Microphone list, and channel assignments. Using your stage plot fill in your Microphone list
Now start plugging up into your snake box. On a sixteen channel mixing console many people start with drums first, channel 1-6 say, then bass, guitars, keyboards, etc. 7-10 and vocals 11-14, the last two channels used for effects returns, (reverb, echo.) Even though most mixing consoles have effect send returns. It is always best to return on a channel, as you can use the EQ to refine the sound.
Mixing console and sound. After plugging your microphones into the channels of the console, plug the output of the console, into the Graphic Equalizer (this unit comes in 32 band 15-band products.) Thirty-two knobs or fader's, (small ones,) or 15 knobs or fader's as this is used to shape the sound (i.e., bring down 160 frequency on the unit to adjust the bass rumble you are experiencing).
Output signal comes from the Equalizer out to the Compressor /limiter input. (This unit stops peeks of sound from getting to the speakers, and that helps to let your speakers work on another day.)
Signal path continues to the Crossover, which splits your signal into Bass, Mid, High, frequency. You go out of the crossover into the input of your bass amp, mid amp and high-end amp.
Now if you don't have an electronic crossover, plug directly into your amplifier. If you have no outboard equipment, plug your output of your console directly into the amplifier.
After turning your equipment on, plug a microphone directly into a channel of the console. Make sure the channel EQ is set on zero and all knobs are zero. Start talking into the microphone at the same time as you turn up your input attenuator (usually the first knob you find at the top of your console) Picture your voice going down the microphone cable into the input of your console.
Turn up the input knob until the red LED light on most consoles, just flashes a little, making sure it is not on constantly. Your voice goes through the channel Equalizer, to the channel fader, which you now bring up just past the half waypoint on your console.
The voice goes to whatever sub-master assignment you have selected. Most boards have sub-masters; so you can assign all the drums on to sub 1 sub 2 guitars, bass, sub 3 keyboards, and sub 4 vocals.
You see once you have set the console it is easier to mix four subs than sixteen channels.) Bring up the sub half way, to the same point as your channel fader.
The sub then goes to your master output. Depending on what console you have you should see either Light Emitting Diode’s (LED’s) jumping up and down as you talk, or a meter going back and forth. In either case, don't put the voice into the red. The peaks of your voice adjust to peak below the red.
When it comes to adjusting the channel Equalizer remember this adds volume and after you have adjusted every channel on your console you will find this adds lots more volume. Here is where you use your ear as that is mixing!
The console outputs goes to the outboard equalizer, which you set flat at this time.
The signal continues into the compressor, which you set to ‘bypass’ from there the signal goes right into the amplifier and on to the system we built, which only has two cabinets for the house sound. Slowly turn up the amplifier volume. It’s best to turn the amplifier all the way up as its one less control to deal with; you should then be blasting out of your speakers. If not, follow the same routine backwards. If you have too much volume just bring the master fader down completely then bring it slowly back to just below where it was.
On to tuning the room, which is getting rid of unwanted sounds and enhancing the ones you want.
Keep talking into the microphone while bringing the channel fader up slowly until you start hearing the high or low end ring or "feedback" (caused by a loop of sound going from your microphone through the system, out the speakers and then back through the microphone.)
To stop feedback turn down the microphone on the mixer then bring it up slowly,
If you have an outboard Equalizer (like we have in this system.) start adjusting it before you adjust the channel Equalization. Keep altering this as you turn up the channel volume a bit at a time. You will find you will cut down some of the frequencies more than boosting any.
You must keep the channel Equalizer to flat when adjusting the outboard graphic. When you have adjusted this to the loudest volume you can get without feedback, your next move is back shaping the sound with the channel Equalizer, until you can get most of the bad sound out of the system and the microphone being used. Somewhere there is a compromise (volume Vs quality).
Turn on the center stage microphone till it feeds-back. This time you just need to fine-tune the outboard EQ then the channel EQ.
You need someone to talk into the center microphone as you adjust it Have them walk around the stage with the microphone, till you stabilize the feedback. With all these changes to stop the feedback you might have lost the quality of the voice, so you are gong have to compromise.
This is the time you bring back a little of the cut on the graphic.
When you have accomplished that, play a favorite CD or tape. Bring this up slowly through the console. You may then have to adjust the graphic EQ again, then go back to the voice microphone to see how this is. You are looking for a full sounding you that is load yet clean with no feedback. Now the house is tuned to your voice.
Now’s the time to, adjust the compressor for the peaks. Take the compressor out of by-pass. Not only will you hear the compressed sound; you can see it by the L.e.d. Or meter on the compressor.
Adjust the ratio while talking into the microphone, set the ratio to give you a soft limit rather than a fast hard sound. You can set the ratio too much your voice will be squashed and gone.
Use your ears all way through your system set up; if you sound smooth you have got the most out of the system. Again check the center vocal Microphone.
For a stereo set up you have two sets of Equalizers, two sets of compressors and two sets of crossovers. Now you use the same procedure as the mono system, (both sides equally balanced to start).
If you are in a room that is an odd shape you can now adjust each side to compensate. If you have the system in stereo, all you need to do is take the pan pot that is on your channel and pan it left to tune that area, then right to tune that area, when you bring it back to the center position check the sound again.
Systems in Mono turn off one side of the amplifier; tune your voice to the side that is working. Turn up the other side of the amp, and fine-tune the voice. Usually you will have to turn some low end down to when you have both sides of your system working.
There is some expensive room tuning equipment you can buy, which still has to be fine-tuned to the human ear. At this stage you would not need this gear.
In-line noise gates, compressors etc. These are items that you put into your outboard rack and use with drums, bass, vocals etc. On each channel of our console not only do we have the microphone or line inputs but a separate in and out where you can insert, say, a noise gate. This machine has the ability to stop any signal leaking into the Microphone until the drummer hits his tom, (if you have his tom patched on that channel.) You can adjust the signal coming into the noise gate so all noise is "gated". We don't need this for our system at this point.
Now you've completed the first procedure. (Yahoo!)
Monitors. With the system we have built we purchased four monitors and one out-board graphic equalizer for use with the monitors.
We put one monitor in front of the lead singer, one in front of the keyboard player, the bass player and the guitar player share one, and the last monitor is at the side of the drummer.
Turn off the housemaster on your console. Talk into the microphone. Go to the knob that says Monitor (that is if you have plugged the monitor output from you mixing console into your monitor equalizer and continuing on to a separate monitor amplifier) and turn it up to past half. Then follow the line of monitor knobs across all the channels till you see the master volume for the monitor out. Turn this up slowly so you can hear the sound coming from the monitors, by-pass the out-board EQ, (don’t forget to turn off the main sound). Your partner is your ear when adjusting the sound from front of house location. Having tweaked the monitors, check out the center vocal microphone yourself, for your own reference.
Go back to the console and have your partner go through the microphones to check that you have them all and direct inputs working.
Now is the time to start a sound check with your partner. There are many ways to do this. With this system it is best to start with the vocal microphones in the house system since altering the channel Equalizer, can quite possibly alter the monitor Equalizer, since this console has what is called a post-monitor send.
You have finished the vocal in the house. Turn off the house. Bring up the monitors. You will find that the monitors will start to feedback, so adjust the monitor EQ in the outboard rack, just a little and also adjust the level on the channels. When you have stabilized this, move on to the drums. Adjust the house first, and then the monitors, turning off the house to do the monitors check all instruments the same way. After this procedure it is time for the group to do a sound check.
If you are in a club and you are using the house sound system, tell the sound engineer what kind of music you play (i.e. pop, metal, etc.) Let him know which guitar is the lead and who is the main star of the band (Phil Collins is the star and also the drummer.) Do this if you don’t have your own sound engineer.
The last thing to do before sound check is to select your best song and play it. (Stick to this tune every sound check you do.) Usually you will be comfortable with this repeated song, and you will work faster as you are use to how the song sounds.
Sound check. Start with the drummer first. Have him play the kick drum first. Adjust the channel Equalizer to make it sound good in the house system. Next step turn off the house, and turn up the monitor-send on that channel until the drummer says enough. Don't altar the monitor out-boards Equalizer at this time. Continue with the snare then the high-hat, first tom, second tom, floor tom, etc. After you have all these microphones working, individually, bring them up again into a mix that sounds good for the house and monitors.
Next is the bass, guitar, keyboards etc. Now you have all the instruments mixed into your sound system. Turn the house system master off. Listen to the band play through their amplifiers. Determine whether anyone is too loud. Have a good working relationship with the band on this point, as egos will be involved, and you will find that it is hard to turn the drummer down, even if you have no microphones on the drums. When you are satisfied the instruments sound good in the room stop the band. Start working on the vocals. These are usually the only items you send to the monitors on a small stage.
When you and the band are satisfied with the vocals in the monitors and house system have the band play and sing a song. Now listen to the over all sound in the room. It is good policy if you are mixing sound to have a band member come out into the room to hear if the band is happy with the sound. This is where you can fine-tune the band to what the band wants. Working in a club with a house soundman, you should talk with the house soundman if he minds a band member having a listen to the rest of the band, prior to you doing a sound check.
Depending on your style of music, it's best to place the microphone about 3" from you. NEVER CUP THE MIKE IN YOUR HANDS. NEVER POINT MIKES INTO MONITORS. Having said that alternative/metal bands, Hip Hop and Rap do tend to bend these points and "eat" the microphone, and also do nasty things to monitors. That’s a style and an effect part of their live show not part of quality vocal amplification.
The first procedure for the vocal sounds is the house, then monitors. If the group sings harmony, then have them sing Acapulco, asking each one if they can hear themselves, OK. Have the band play again then bring up the instruments in the house and also the monitors were requested.
The next procedure, turn off the house system and listen to what the band and monitors are doing in the room. Slowly bring in the house to fill out what is missing in the room, as the bands amplification and drums would drown out the vocals. Yes, most of the time in a small room you would be amplifying the vocals more than instruments.
You use the same procedure when you add more equipment to this system. The sound not only gets louder but fuller in dynamic range (you will feel it more through your body but the quality improves to your ear as well).
A hollow sound caused by a combination of monitors and house (shelving) usually occurs around 400 cycles and sounds awful on live recordings and lives broadcasts. To, eliminate shelving drop 400 cycles and a little and turn down the volume on the monitors. Loud monitors are not just used by rock and rollers, Engelbert Humperdinck monitors are louder than most rock bands house systems, and his is what is called middle of the road music.
On stage monitor console
Procedure changes only when you get an on stage monitor mixing console and a microphone splitter box, this is a box that splits your microphone inputs into two one going to the house, one to the monitor console.
Start by working on the monitors first. The reason for this is that now you are getting into multiple mixers (each band member has their own mix in their own monitor), which changes the sound coming off the stage.
Most of the time the stage sound doesn't have a controlled mix and the house has to compensate for this. Some instruments are louder in the house mix. If you record the house mix most of the time the vocal and drums would be louder.
This mix is called Public Address, and this is what the sound system was originally developed for. If you want a music reproduction system, which, when you record sounds like a record, you will need a monster system in a big room and you don't care what's going on stage as it is not affecting your house mix.
When the stage sound is controlled, then the house will sound like a giant high-fi the key in all of this is not just the equipment but the team working together, (both sound engineers, and the band).
One last note regarding the monitors; there are plenty of earpieces headsets etc. The use of these systems is increasing, but after spending lots of money on these systems you will find a combination of these units and floor monitors is the ultimate way to go.
Sound check all done. It is time to mark the soundboard. NEVER MARK DIRECTLY ONTO THE SOUND CONSOLE. Always use a worksheet.
This is very important, especially when you use other people's systems. If the sound system engineer cannot provide you with a sheet, make one of your own. Some people speak in to a tape recorder to mark the console. Most bands use masking tape to mark the individual channel inputs on the console. Masking tape can be removed easily after your performance with no harm to the equipment. Some people use masking tape for Equalizer settings too.
Wax pencil does not make it.
Tape all cables, at least if you are the only band playing. If you are not, then wait until just before you're scheduled to play. Use Duct tape (also known as Gaffes tape, Silver tape.)
Do not forget to pick it up after the show; this is a big thing in the club scene, especially when marking drum rugs. If you ever go to a club, look at the house drum rug and even the stage. Look and you shall find duct tape!
This is also the time to pack away ATA cases, if you have them, as room is always a precious commodity in a club/bar. You may find yourself having to put your cases back into your vehicle.
Lighting, What to get and how to use it
Right after sound check, determine which lights your band will use. Ask if you can adjust them. (If you’re a support band, the headliner may not let you change certain lights, but it never hurts to ask. In small bars, only track lights may be available. More than often the lights are set in bars and what you get is a flood of light, not always bright but more than often the only light in the gig, except for the bar.
The idea of lights is not just to be seen on stage, but also to paint a picture and set the mood for the songs the musicians are playing on stage. A “visual postcard” is what you are after with using stage lights.
This is done by shining light on the whole stage from either above, from the side or up from the floor. There are lots of different lights for different applications, just like Microphones with sound. We will look into one style called a Par-can. This is a glorified coffee can that has lamps that look like round car headlights. The cans come in different sizes. The lamps come not only in different sizes but also in different watts and styles (medium flood, narrow spot etc.)
Let’s start with 8 cans using Par 56 500w, Lamps medium flood. We attach 4 of these to a four foot anodized aluminum alloy tubing cross bar, drilled for fixture mounting, so you now have a bar that has 4 cans attached to it.
Now we get 2 lightweight tripod lighting truss stands, ideal for clubs and small gigs. Put these truss rods on the stands and position the stands right behind the sound system on either side of the stage.
Face the lamps toward the act on stage. Position them up so you can focus them onto the stage, flooding it with light. This simple positioning is ideal for side lighting, in which you not only light up the act but paint pictures via the use of colored gels, that you can put in gel frames that attach to the par cans.
You can also hang these 2 truss rod set-ups above the act like theater lights, and adjust these to look like the sun or moon in different colors shining on your head. You can also put your stands behind the act shining the light on the back of your act’s head or even use the back lighting for special effects, or you could put the 2 truss rods under the drum riser shining up to the ceiling, giving a fan like effect.
This is creativity. You can probably come up with many more ideas with what makes the band look dramatic.
One last idea, you can take individual cans and mount them on a microphone stand base and then place the cans around the stage for many more effects.
One thing you will have to watch with any of this lighting is how close you are physically to any of the band members or equipment. You don’t want to end up burning the act, or equipment, or the gig.
There are only two ways of wiring these light bars:
(1) Wiring each lamp with a cable that comes from the dimmer pack (this is the unit that dims each light controlled by a lighting console)
(2) If the dimmer pack is attached to the truss (this has only one power cable and a control cable to the truss), you should use heavy-duty wire for the main power. Be very carefully with the orange cables that are in the hardware stores. If you use these make sure you get the heavy-duty kind.
Remember to plug the main source of the ac power to your dimmers into a separate 20-amp plug, away from the sound system power. Make sure that you have access to the breaker panel and you know the circuit you are on. Lots of times you don't have a choice and the ac power you have is not enough. Then you must compromise to make the show happen.
There are two kinds of Lighting Boards, manual and programmable. Programmable boards have lots of features i.e. programmable cross fade, sub masters, foot switches, bump buttons etc. All this comes later when you have mastered a simple manual 8 channel duel cross fade, 2-scene, master blackout and bump button board. With this unit you can set your four lights left side and four right side. This small system comes two 4 channel dimmer packs that we have attached to each of the truss rods. Plugging one lamp in each dimmer. The top set of 8 fades is set with what is called a "scene" and the bottom set of fades is set with another "scene". You can change the mood on stage by moving two fades or you can flash the lights on or off with the bump buttons.
Once you have mastered this system you can add to it and put in a 6 truss 24-lamp system, with specials for each member of the band.
When you arrive at this level, you might have to get into an ac power distribution system that you will have to have an electrician tie into the main house power system.
Moving on to other lights: you can choose from a wide variety lecos, gobos, spots, etc. All do special things to paint pictures for all art forms, not just music.
Props and Theatrics
Props such as ramps, backdrops, and video are usually accepted in clubs, provided you can remove these items quickly during set changes (working with other groups).
Groups such as Gwar live off the props especially fake blood, but they carry their own throw away rug, cover the monitors with plastic and clean up after their performance. Also they are usually headlining the show.
Remember always get permission before using any props or special effects.
Make sure you discuss this with the person in charge and not at the last minute. Certain special effects may not be allowed (i.e. fog machines, strobe lights and pyrotechnics even confetti bombs), because of local regulations or because the headline band doesn't want you to have a spectacular show. NEVER USE A FOG MACHINE WITHOUT PERMISSION. PYROTECHNICS ARE USUALLY NOT ALLOWED WITHOUT SPECIAL LICENSE.
Termination effects, (Lasers) also require a special license, so use all effects with permission, and caution. Until the laws change you will not be able to get inside the ultimate laser effect, which is a three-dimensional field of light.
Sixty’s light shows were painted on a film or movie screen, and either projected from the front or rear. The laser and the computer have modernized this form of art, so it let's you, the artist, create an interactive art form with your audience.
This art form has not only been done with lasers but by the use of a giant ball that the audience tosses over their heads. In doing so a series of contacts radio transmitted from the ball, sends a signal to a midi unit attached to a keyboard program that triggers programmed music where the act on stage reacts, instant and total audience participation. Totally interactive!
Planning your performance and attitude
Best done during rehearsals. Select the best songs for the gig. If your band is not the headliner, consider the length of time you have been allotted, and the kind of music the headliner plays. The important thing is to make the best of your time use it effectively. Make sure that everyone knows the set list and everyone has a written copy.
Be considerate of the club and other bands when it comes to the length of your set. If you are a support or opening act, stick to the time you have, even if the crowd is going nuts. Unless the club manager let's you continue, respect your time limit.
Remember clubs have closing times, other groups may have to play, and concerts must end by a certain time or incur union charges (concert shows only). If the crowd cheers you, just tell them "come back and see us next show" or " tell the house manager you want us to play hear again!"
GET OFF ON TIME!!
Getting along with the club or venue
Always be Polite! A little courtesy can go along way. Never try to get underage girlfriends into the club, unless you have cleared this in advance with the club. Don't even show up with them. You will disappoint them and yourselves, since no respectable club will let them in unless it is all-ages show. Never try to sneak in guests. Most clubs have a policy for guests of band members so always ask. In general, don't do anything to put the clubs license in jeopardy if you want to return to play another time.
Time to perform. ALWAYS BE POLITE. Be pleasant to all club employees, even if you have had a hard time by club workers.
At this stage you might get soft drinks, possibly draft beer. If you have created a following you might end up with a Deli tray.
Drinking alcohol before a performance. If you are of legal age, most clubs will serve or sell you whatever you want to drink. NEVER BRING ANY ALCOHOL INTO THE CLUB! This is unprofessional.
Dressing room decorum, if you get a dressing room, you may be sharing it with other groups, so the best thing is not to take up too much space or time. This means no guests in the dressing room. Get in and out quickly. DON'T TRASH THE ROOM.
Solo acts; you too don't trash the dressing room.
All this should be common sense but you will be amazed what happens.
Tearing down and load out
After the show break down your equipment as soon as possible. In fact, ask if you can break down and pack your equipment while the other groups are playing (assuming you are playing a club.) If this is the case, it's best to take the gear off stage before changing your clothes (assuming you did make a clothes change, even if it was a different pair of jeans.)
If possible load straight out. It may be a scene where you pack up while the band plays then load out during the next break. You must discuss with the club representative. If you have to move your vehicles to load out then move them as soon as you have finished. DON'T LEAVE THE TRUCK OR ANY OTHER VEHICLE IN THE WAY.
This is a necessity. Make sure you have all the gear and clothes you brought to the gig. I have seen all kinds of instruments left behind at gigs. Even Libeace once left his prop jewelry in his dressing room and, remembering at 3 am called the owner of the venue to get it. Yet he had 5 more shows in the same venue.
Don't hang out after the show unless you're invited. This is a must as most trouble occurs when a band member starts drinking at the bar and gets rowdy. This is not always the case, but more often than not, this is how trouble starts. Leave the building and go somewhere else to drink.
The Groupie thing. Be very careful. If you bring your friends, tell them before they come that you have to play music. So warn them you can't be with them all the time. Do your best not to chase the boss's girl. This can be trouble if she looks too good to be true. Don't Even Look. I saw one owner get so mad at a drummer looking at his girl that he put the kick drum over the drummer's head and put him in the hospital. This happens no matter what the gender.
Your cars and van are loaded the gig went fine except. Of the 247 people you told the booker that your band could bring even on a freezing Wednesday night in February, only 18 of them showed up and 6 were on the guest list. The band played their hearts out and the payout is all of $ 50 plus $ 1 per ticket and you owe the guy who rented you the extra sound gear! $75 Oh my! This is the reality of early day clubbing so be prepared for scenarios like this.
One note on this as it has been pay to play situation for a long time in rock "n" roll land. At the end of 1994 top shelf groups are investing in venues that are not only a showcase for the groups but a place were the group can get a live video and audio of their performance, at no cost to the playing group.
Dealing with the management
It's very important that you deal with a person who really has some say in whether or not your band will get another chance in the room. If you followed the load in points you will know who this person is and hopefully he’s not feeling too bad that they did minimal business on your band.
You are probably about to deal with someone who has heard every excuse you can dream up for your band doing no business, at least 20 times a week, every week for his/her entire career in the club business. How do you handle this moment of truth? Stay calm and be polite.
If going to drink after the gig before settling, keep it to a minimum. Nobody who works all night likes to deal with a drunken slob full of excuses. He hears customers all night.
Make sure you have the advance sheet with booking details with you. Ask politely if it is time to settle. Always try to conduct the payout in the office. It's not a good policy to let bartenders and help know how much you make (especially if it's not much). You never know who might require a wedding band for big $$$.
Ask the manager how you did for tickets at the door. Make a note of the number in your book so you can refer to it when you try to re-book. Make sure you have either a tax ID number or social security number ready and be prepared to sign for your money. No matter what you have heard all clubs keep accurate books on payouts. Count your money in the presence of the manager before you sign for it.
Don't bother this person with how well you can do next time or ask for another date, he/she wants to go home and chances he/she doesn't even like the music. You might try to fish for a response you can use when talking to the booker, "What did you think of this band?” is nice and easy.
Check in at bars where neither you nor any of your band members have outstanding bar tabs. Again try to get some feedback from the staff. If you had sound problems or the house person went out of their way to help you, tipping is not a city in China. Same thing goes for the bar staff. Next time through you will get more help and increase your friends and possibly fans with simple courtesy.
Know when the party’s over
Finally after 2 years of lousy no money nights you hit the big time a $350 guarantee, your own dressing room. One hundred of your friends came to see you, everyone bought the band drinks, you just came off and it's closing time. Most club people aren't party poopers but the bar staff and bouncers; cashiers and hostesses have had just as long a day as you. Remember to take care of business and split as soon as you can.
Being and acting in a professional way in the business is far more impressive at this stage than any on stage theatrics. The people you deal with at this level do this every day for a living and always remember the pros on the way up the ladder.
Quotes to live by
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.
YOU MEET THE SAME PEOPLE GOING UP YOU MEET COMING DOWN.
YOU CATCH MORE WITH HONEY THAN YOU DO WITH VINEGAR.
IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THEY LOVE YOU OR HATE YOU AS LONG AS THEY SPELL YOUR NAME RIGHT.
ALL PRESS IS GOOD PRESS.
You are now ready to start the next phase. “THIS BUSINESS OF TOURING DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL.”