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Roles within live sound

Supasek Kim Sanmano

on 30 September 2014

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overall control
Health & Safety
Consultation &
Production Planning
Technical Understanding
of a show, performance, event or installation
budget, timing, personnel, equipment rental and structural decisions
is required to ensure that the health & safety policy of the company they’re working for is adhered to e.g. staff are trained for the jobs they carry out and that safe working practices followed.
most important and influential
member of the production team
aware of every development in the production process
keeping tabs on its cost, schedule and viability
THEY work in one of two ways:
either as a regular employee of an organisation
whose job it is to oversee specific projects
or, more commonly as a freelancer who is employed on a short term contract to co-ordinate particular events or performances such as a tour or festival.
When working like this they must make sure they possess adequate Public Liability/ Employers/Professional Indemnity Insurance for the work they intend to carry out.
Usually a Production Manager will be appointed early in the development of a project
often work with a client in developing key design and event concepts
the Production Manager will have excellent written and verbal communication skills
A thorough understanding of the journey from concept to presentation is vital
At this stage the client will be looking for:
· Realistic scheduling - how long will each stage of the process take
· Outline budgeting, or an idea of what is possible within the budget offered · What number and type of staff will be required to undertake the work
· The venue or performance structure required to stage the event
· Any legal or regulatory obligations that need to be addressed
· An estimate of the type of hardware required for the event
During the planning stage the Production Manager will investigate and make basic decisions on:
The production schedule
Begin the process of drawing up a technical specification for the production
who will do what and when
this should be as detailed as possible, and should include an idea of the weight and volume of equipment used as this will have serious implications for transport logistics.
Budget allocation:

Venue booking

In the instance of touring shows major transport logistics should be addressed

Appointment of key personnel

Conducting planning meetings
how much will be available to spend on the various areas of the production
rehearsal and performance venues should be booked
How much equipment needs to travel, how many people, how long will it take to get there, and to clear customs. Is it more efficient to calculate on the basis of weight or volume? Is there time to send stuff via sea, or does it have to fly?
the Production Manager is in a unique position to oversee the health and safety provision for all people working on the event and for audiences
In order to fulfil this key role adequately they must:
Understand the safety policy statement of the company by whom they are employed, or for whom they are working.
Have thorough grasp of H and S issues affecting the performance industry and the given production in particular.
Identify any specific hazards and outline ways to minimise Risk.
Be familiar with legislation such as HSW Act Familiar with advisory documents such as the Event Safety Guide or "Pop Code" and industry ACOP’s
Have in place a system for H&S management
Have an understanding of how to draw up practical, relevant and realistic Risk Assessments
Draw up Risk Assessments for all jobs & operations to be undertaken that present a significant risk to personnel or equipment.
Ensure documentation is kept.
Ensure that all staff are informed of H and S issues that may affect them
Ensure that staff are adequately trained for the work they undertake.
Ensure staff are aware of their legal obligations.
Ensure sub-contractors are competent and have necessary insurance, documentation etc. to carry out the job.
Ensure adequate provision is made for H&S inspection.
Establish a system for monitoring H&S.
Institute an awareness of H&S issues among staff & encourage a safety culture within production team.
it is important that the Production Manager keeps tabs on who is employed and under what conditions
They must ensure that contracts issued:
Are legal & binding and are signed.
That they are issued to all people working on the production.
That they accurately reflect the work to be undertaken and are free from ambiguity.
Remember a verbal contract may also be binding.
That contracts do not exceed allocated budgets.
Do not bind either party to an agreement they are unable to keep.
Work hours, times, dates and places are clearly specified.
That the tax and NI position is clearly defined.
Times and methods of payment are agreed.
The Production Manager is responsible for appointing
sub contractors to undertake specific areas of work
contractors may have a short and transient role, such as a catering contractor, or they may be a core part of the project development such as a stage design company
In either instance the Production Manager is responsible for ensuring:

The suitability for any contractor for the operation to be performed.
That the contractor is actually contracted to carry out a particular service.
The precise time, date and place of deliver of equipment or services is clearly identified.
Contractors with more than five employees should have a written health & safety policy statement.
Ensure that all staff provided are adequately trained for the jobs they undertake.
The Production Manager is responsible for the most part for the hiring and firing of people working on the production
This may vary from key personnel to casual workers, but in every instance the Production Manager should be aware of the legal responsibilities they have with regard to staff
Clear communication between a variety of staff, sub-contractors, local authorities, statutory bodies, clients & artists is vital to any successful production
A great deal of information will flow through the Production Manager, so it is important a system exists for speeding it up
Make sure you have contact numbers, addresses etc. for all production staff, crew, contractors and so on. Log the information in a central register or book. Don’t rely on a million Post-Its on the walls of the office.
Make sure sufficient money has been allocated from the budget to meet the communication needs of the production.
Set up a Production Office so that information is collected and disseminated from a central point. Make sure everyone knows how to contact that office.
Ensure that people working on the event know what they are supposed to do, when, where and how much they can spend getting it done.
Try to standardise as much as possible. Use a similar format for budgets or schedule updates, and try to use the same software as others to facilitate file transfer.
Where possible use an assistant or secretary to answer phone calls and mail - it’s easy to get bogged down in conversations that should have been fielded by other staff or that are simply a waste of time.
Use a variety of methods to communicate complex information, flow charts, diagrams & annotations can a lot easier to understand that plain text. Always remember to use an indication of scale on plots, plans and drawings.
Always keep back ups of material held on computer hard drives.
Try to maintain open communication with key staff so important information is relayed quickly.Establish a system of regular production meetings to monitor progress and pass on new information, tasks or deadlines.Learn to delegate. The Production Managers’ role is to oversee work rather than to undertake it all.
The Production Manager is responsible for drawing up the overall production schedule, and for ensuring that personnel and sub-contractors abide by it. The production schedule is a crucial management tool that requires considerable thought.
The Production Manager is responsible for overseeing total expenditure on a production
This involves agreeing the budget available with the producer or agent
This division should then be written up and will form the basis of expenditure targets for the various departments
Production File
legal information and forms, including Insurance Certificates, Policy Statements, Risk Assessments, fireproofing certificates, public entertainment license documents
More general but important documentation such as budgets, contracts, tender bids schedules etc. are commercially sensitive and should be kept securely
A petty cash book should be kept, and money only paid out when receipts are presented with the relevant budget indicated
A daily log of income and expenditure should be kept once the production is running, or the show is out on tour
A final set of accounts should be presented along with a brief analysis of the production and how it progressed
Although the key figure in the production process the Production Manager is not a law unto themselves
They are accountable to:
The production company or promoter who has put up the finance
The artist for whom they are working.
The Production Director whose artistic vision is being realised.Most importantly the Production Manager is accountable in Law for the actions of their staff and subcontractors. Sloppy work on the part of a crew member could lead to an accident, but the Production Manager might find themselves in court for not training personnel, or informing them of correct procedure.
The Production Manager should be thoroughly familiar with all technical aspects of production
They should understand the terminology and the processes involved, although not necessarily every minute of every operation
The Stage
Calling Cues
& Safety
Flow of
responsible for overseeing any activity that takes place on, adjacent to, or behind the stage or performance area
This involves the construction of stage elements, (risers etc.), the positioning of equipment, stairways access points and the flow of people and materials on and off the stage
The Stage Manager is responsible for issues of Health and Safety in the immediate environs of the stage and backstage area
During rehearsal and performance the Stage Manager ensures the smooth running of the show and that equipment, props and people are in the right place at the right time
In complex shows the Stage Manager may “call” the show by means of a show book containing cues & movements
The Stage Manager generally has one or more assistants and deputies, who are under their direction. They might be responsible for procuring equipment & refreshments and so will undertake an element of production accounting. They will generally report to the Production Manager
responsible for the overall layout and physical preparation of the stage and all its settings
In practice this will mean working with lighting, sound and staging companies as well as artists to create the desired performance environment
The Stage Manager must ensure the backstage is kept orderly, that fire exits are not blocked and there is room to move freely.
Backstage is a holding area for artists and crew who have to enter or leave stage. Entrances & exits should be clearly marked, and specific areas designated for performers waiting to go on.
Fire exits should be kept clear and signs should not be obscured.
Fire control points should be readily accessible.
Access to the backstage are should be regulated in the same manner as the stage itself - only authorised persons should be given access
The Stage Manager will be accountable to the Production Manager who will set overall schedules and budgets. The Stage & Production Managers should meet on a daily basis to discuss progress of the event.
as things get closer to performance the Stage Manager will begin to take a more active role in timekeeping and scheduling
The Stage Manager will set access times to the stage and regulate the personnel or contractors working on it.
Potentially dangerous situations where incompatible work is being carried out by different contractors will be avoided by scheduling access times
During rehearsals the Stage Manager will keep notes of running times, order changes, backline requirements an so on.
Cue points for reveals, motors, trucks and so on will be recorded and timed.
Ensure that performance activity on stage complies with agreed start and finish times.
Ensure bands understand how much time they are allowed.
good stage management revolves around effective communication
The Stage Manager must hold regular meetings with key production staff . They must ensure that changes in ideas, schedules and budgets are communicated to the appropriate people. Meeting must be chaired, and should be kept as short as is necessary to convey the information required. Long rambling meetings that degenerate into general discussions are of little use.
A good Stage Manager is adept at communicating in writing, verbally or by means of scale plans and drawings.
The Stage Manager must take day to day responsibility for health & safety matters relating to the stage and people working on it
Ensuring compliance with safety regulations can be a very difficult task
need to use diplomacy and good communication skills
The kind of things they should check for are:
all rigging points
all lamps and any other equipment that may require it is fitted with safety chains
Designate a crew member to keep the area (including below stage) free of combustible materials
Keep the stage in a generally tidy condition
Other than essential crew and performance drinks all other drinks and liquids are banned from directly on stage
Stage Managers must be aware of the conditions of the Entertainment License and curfew times
The front of stage pit will probably exceed the Noise at Work second Action Level, in which case hearing protection must be provided and MUST be worn
Ensure that everyone working on stage uses the appropriate PPE, steel toe boots, gloves, hardhats, ear protection etc. Enforce compliance
Ensure that everyone working on stage uses the appropriate PPE, steel toe boots, gloves, hardhats, ear protection etc. Enforce compliance
The Stage Manager should put in place a system for ensuring the smooth flow of materials and people on and off the stage
During events like festivals a huge amount of equipment must be moved safely on and offstage
Establish an On/Off system if possible so all equipment and people enter on one side and exit the other. Access ramps should be clearly marked.
Ensure an adequate system exists for calling artists from dressing rooms and for cueing them onto stage.
Work out a backline stage plot for each band well in advance and ensure the equipment required for that set is readily available. Ensure crew members have a printed sheet to help with positioning.
Ensure there is adequate storage space backstage.
Make sure that crew who are carrying out manual handling operations such as shifting backline are trained in proper techniques and use the correct PPE such as boots, gloves and (if required) high vis jackets or tabards when working near other vehicles or plant . Appoint someone to act as team leader in the advent of multi- person lifts.
Maintain good communications with sound, lighting and AV operators.
The Stage Manager does not have the same level of financial responsibility as the Production Manager, but they still need to keep accurate records of all expenditure they make
They might also need to make note relating to the show itself; stage plans, channel lists, backline setup
It is vital that such notes are kept safely and are written in such a way as to be intelligible.
performers must be called from dressing rooms, and the movement of reveals, trussing or rolling risers needs to be co-ordinated
a reliable communications system must be in place, and a clear set of cues and stand-by warnings rehearsed with all relevant parties
In theatrical productions a “Book” of all cues and actions is built up by the Stage Manager
It is very common on shows or events where several artists or acts are performing to appoint an Artist Liaison Manager
responsible for
the allocation of suitable properly equipped dressing rooms (including the issue of keys)
artist hospitality “riders” (food, drink, towels, security etc.)
the issue of passes to artists and guests
artist accommodation (hotels etc)
toilets and washing facilities
internal transport and taxi services and back stage parking for artist vehicles
The Artist Liaison Manager should bring the artists Tour Manager or accountant to the Promoter so that settlements and payments can be made at the agreed times
the Tour Manager should always be brought to the Promoter, never the other way around
Before an artist departs the venue the Artist Liaison Manager should collect all keys and check dressing rooms and facilities for loss or damage, any loss or damages discovered must be reported to the Artists Tour Manager or representative and the Promoter/Production Manager before the Artist departs
The Artist Liaison Manager must be able to deal with a wide variety of questions and requests from artists and their representatives, local knowledge of services and facilities can be vital to ensure smooth running.
The Artist Liaison Manager requires excellent communication skills and a full knowledge of the Contingency Plans and Health Safety and Policy for the event, organisation, company or business for which the are engaged.
should have a detailed knowledge of how the press operate, the relevant industry and trade publications and of the press network in general
A band or artist will often appoint a public relations company to help gain the much needed press and publicity required for promotion, be warned, the requirements of a press officer or PR company may often conflict with health and safety issues who is desperate to push a "good story" to promote an artist!
Prior to the event the Press Officer should be able to give vital information to press that can be relayed to the public, this information can assist with vital safety and transport matters.
The Press Officer should be able to give regular accurate statements to the press and deal with requests for photo passes and interviews
if required a Press area or tent should be established where press conferences and statements can be given an act as a general clearing house for press related matters
this area should be suitable equipped to service the requirements of the press (such as fax, phone, internet, safe storage and charging facilities) and provide press hospitality
Under no circumstances should the Press Officer authorise access to the stage or front of stage pit area for members of the Press or photographers
Only after agreement by the artists representative (to be arranged via the Artist Liaison Officer) and Steward Supervisor in charge of the pit area may any access the front of stage pit area for photographers be agreed, this will be limited to the first three numbers of the artists performance
Those entering the pit area must use hearing protection
The Press Officer may have responsibility for charging and collecting "facility fees" to broadcasters, photographers and those recording (by video or other means) the show, event or any aspects of it, this may also include making any necessary royalty payments
This responsibility may be shared or controlled by the event or tour promoter, production manager, book keeper or accountant.
The Press Officer will require excellent communication skills, book keeping skills, a considerable knowledge of all relevant publications, have close contacts within these organisations and publishing houses and a detailed knowledge of the royalty collection services and charges.
Dealing with Artists
The Stage Manager, Artist Liaison Manager and Press Officer will have to deal with artists and performers of all types, and should understand their artistic as well as technical needs
The duties of the Tour Manager are primarily concerned with the transport, accommodation and payment of artists, and liaison with promoters & venues
It is the Tour Manager’s responsibility to ensure the safe and rapid conduct of people and equipment through a tour itinerary, to assist in the planning of that itinerary and to draw up daily schedules for the booking of transport and accommodation
On international tours the Tour Manager will need to undertake passport, visa and Green Card arrangements for all people travelling with the tour, and ensure that equipment as well as people arrive on time and intact
the Tour Manager will assume responsibility for financial matters once on the road
Depending on the size and type of tour it may well be that the Tour Manager takes on a fair amount of the Production Managers’ work.
Generally speaking, the larger the tour the greater the division of labour and the more specific the Tour Manager’s role.
There is no hard and fast rule for this, it will vary with every job.
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