Concert Production

Disposing of a venue or arena suited for concerts is an obvious prerequisite to being a concert promoter. It can be indoor or outdoor, in your own facilities or at a rented venue, at a pub or a concert hall. The only important thing is that it suits what you want to do. It can often be easier to rent venues per show than to run your own.


However, if you are planning to open your own venue you will need a lot more information than what you will find here. The same goes for organising larger outdoor festivals. Always seek help from seasoned professionals.


This chapter focuses on the technical aspects of a concert production.


The Venue

The layout of a venue should be optimised to give both the audience the best possible experience, as well as good working conditions for the house staff and artists. However, you will often have to find compromises between the two. Here is a list of things to keep in mind while making such an evaluation.


Fire Safety

Number of fire exits, capacity, etc. Se chapter about “Security & Safety”.


Visibility and sound

The entire audience should be able to both see and hear what is happening on stage, to avoid complaints, but also to avoid pressure from the crowd towards the stage.


Crowd management

Consider the layout of the venue to avoid cues and bottleneck areas such as security checkpoints, ticket sales, wardrobes, bars, toilets etc.



A concert venue will quickly heat up, and without appropriate ventilation the quality of the air can quickly deteriorate. Ensure that the venue is well ventilated for a sold out show on a hot summer day.



A concert venue should be as “dry” as possible, meaning it should have the smallest amount of reverberation and reflective surfaces. In some cases, you can mend the acoustics yourself by covering hard surfaces with curtains. If that does not help, contact your local PA company or other industry professionals.


Load in / out

Staircases and narrow hallways are less than ideal for loading gear in and out of a venue, and will demand a lot of extra labour. Ideally, a truck should be able to back up to a stage door so that gear can be loaded directly onto it. If this is not possible, make sure to always book extra stagehands to help loading. Try to have a well-lit parking area for late night load-outs, and reflective vests available if there is traffic nearby.



There should ideally be a lockable storage space next to the stage, for safe storing and easy access to backline, cables, stands, flight cases, etc. There should also be a separate area where the artist can store empty flight cases and equipment that is not being used during the concert. Ensure the appropriate size of the storage area and that it is not impeding any emergency exits or the audience in any way.


Concert PA´s and lights demand a lot of electrical power. It is therefore a prerequisite that the venue has sufficient power supply. Lights will most of the time be the biggest consumer, but amplifiers and backline also draw a substantial amount.




The nature and location of the stage is important for both the experience of the audience and the artist’s working conditions.

  • The stage should be placed so that most of the audience is situated in front it.
  • The number of audience with a clear view of the stage should not deviate too much from the total capacity of the venue.
  • It is not ideal to have the stage in a corner. In addition to issues with enough space on either side, it can often lead to problems with artist’s sound on stage.
  • The stage needs to be big enough for the production at hand. Inform agents about stage sizes in the booking the process to avoid any surprises on show-day.
  • The stage floor should be even and have a non-slippery surface.
  • Ceiling heights are often a challenge. A stage should ideally be a minimum of 50-60 cm high, in order for the back of the audience to see. There should still be a 3 m clearance from the stage floor to the ceiling. If ceiling heights are too low, sound quality may deteriorate.
  • Walls on either side of the stage and at the back of the room should be a dark colour. You can easily fix this by draping with dark fabrics. Make sure these are flame retardant.



All fixtures for light trusses or anything else that should hang from the ceiling has to be certified by an authorised company. The consequences of a truss or lighting fixture falling from the ceiling can be fatal. Do not take this easily. If you do not have a motorised truss system, that can be lowered and raised remotely, you will need to work at heights with ladders. Beware of regulations for working at heights and that you have a sturdy ladder and safety equipment. Everyone rigging on stage below should use helmet.

Technical Equipment

You may have booked the coolest band on earth, but if your technical production does not meet the required standards, both artist and audience will quickly turn against you. Therefore, always use recognised brands for all equipment and only hire competent personnel. Devise a technical specification (tech spec), describing the technical facilities and available equipment, including stage size and venue capacity. The tech spec should follow the offer sent to the agent. Also add it to your website, if you have one. Remember to communicate between booking and production departments in case any equipment is out of order or being repaired, so you can budget for potential rentals.


Technical equipment is expensive to buy, and in some cases it can be worth it to rent equipment per event. This is a financial consideration you have to make. In general renting is best for fewer, larger productions, while buying for multiple smaller productions.


Your engineers will always want the best possible equipment available, but the board and management has to consider the financial aspects. If you find that buying equipment is the most reasonable, research the market thoroughly. Confer with professionals, as the market is full of similar products, but some are more prevalent in artist’s technical riders than others. Also keep in mind that bought equipment will require maintenance.


If you are basing your productions on rented equipment, ask local suppliers for offers. Remember that customer service, punctuality and reliability often is worth the higher price. If you are putting on a larger production you can submit a call for tenders and have suppliers bit for your contract. I any case, make sure suppliers are not negotiating tech specs directly with the artist, as they would be inclined to add more to the delivery than you would find necessary. 


PA System

PA System, short for “Public Address System” is the audio equipment that amplifies and broadcasts the combined audio signal through loudspeakers to an audience. The necessary size of your PA is generally defined by the size of the venue or arena, and what type or music is going to be performed. Your PA should cover most of the audience area. You can use smaller loudspeakers as “frontfills”, to cover the area at the very front of the crowd where the sound might lack in quality. If there is balcony at the venue, you might want to consider adding extra fills both on the balcony and under it.


As long as your PA is of a respected brand, well maintained and adapted to the size and layout of your venue, you will have no problem with most artist’s riders.

In some cases, artists bring their own PA. This is common with larger touring productions. Make sure you have enough power to supply an external system, that weight restrictions on your trusses and ceiling fixations are not exceed and that you have enough qualified stagehands to hang a complete PA and lights system.

You will always find that you have to rent some equipment. Use common sense. Delivering every single detail of an excessive rider is rarely necessary and does not add to a sense of professionalism on your part.



The last thing you want is to have a great concert ruined by poor sound. If you are buying, invest in a recognised brand and an experience sound engineer that can cater to touring engineers with his services, or deliver great sounding concerts him/herself.


FOH mixer

Check artist riders for what brands are preferred among touring engineers for Front of House mixers, and how many channels it will need to have. From the FOH-position, the engineer mixes and controls the sound coming through the PA. Dependant on the size of the venue as well as the artist, a FOH engineer might also be controlling the artist’s monitors on stage. With the digitalisation of sound equipment, it has become easier than ever for a small venue to fit a console with plenty of digital channel strips, but beware on spending all of your money on equipment far beyond your needs.




Monitors, also called ‘wedges’ due to their shape, are loudspeakers place on stage in order for the artist to hear themselves and the musicians in the band. The monitor signal can be adjusted to deliver exactly what the musicians want to hear. If you have a bigger venue you can consider having a separate monitor mixing console, placed on one of the side stages for better communications with the artists. The number of monitors required by the artist is almost always described in their technical rider, sent to you in advance.


These days in-ear monitoring has become more and more common. This is usually a wireless, but can also be wired, system that sends a monitor mix directly to a musician’s earpieces instead of a speakers on stage. Artists usually bring their own earpieces as they are often fitted to their ears, and most of the time they also bring the wireless system themselves. Pay however close attention to this when reading the technical rider.


Some artists want to have some additional stage monitoring delivered from sidefills, which are loudspeakers placed on either side of stage playing inwards. A drumfill is an oversized monitor for the drummer, that can deliver higher leveles and lower frequencies better than smaller wedges. Remember to always have an extra monitor for the monitor engineer, if you have a separate monitor mixer. Artists do not always specify this in riders.



You should have a standard microphone kit with stands and clips, suited for the type of artists that will be playing at the venue. Start with a traditional rock kit for drums, bass- and gitar amplifiers and vocals. Expand with specific microphones for brass and woodwinds if you will be playing jazz, or string microphones for folk and classical music. Having a separate wireless microphone kit can be useful, but most times you will be able to negotiate this point in riders. Or you can rent from time to time.


Other gear

Have plenty of DI-boxes, jack- and XLR-cables, power extensions, gaffa tape and other things you can run out of. A DI-box (Direct Input box) is a box used to connect an audio source to a mixer without using a microphone. Commonly used for bass guitars, electrical pianos and synths).

A standard DJ-kit is also useful.


Stage lights contribute to the overall atmosphere of a concerts and can help underline the dynamics of the music with visual effects. Artists use lights very differently. Some will make due with static working lights, while others use more lights and lighting effects than sound equipment. All demands for the light production will be specified in the technical rider. Read it closely and get in touch with the artist’s technical representative if you are uncertain about what you can deliver, and if you have to rent extra lights and add costs to the show budget. If you have agreed to a substantial lighting production, you have to deliver it as well.


What kind of lights?

When acquiring lighting equipment, you should keep in mind that not all stage lights are suitable for concerts. Your lighting engineer won’t enthuse over most theatre lights, as many of their mixing consoles do not have flash buttons which is not well suited for concert use.


The artist’s need for lights will vary with the size of the venue. Most dimmers have 6 channels that can each power 2 lamps, which gives you a standard rig of 12 lamps. This will suffice for the smaller stages.


Producers are releasing more and more lights with lower power consumption and heat production than traditional lighting fixtures. This will help you both save money and the environment, as well as giving the artists a more comfortable temperature on stage.

Moving lights, effects lights and bigger LCD- and LED-screens are also becoming more and more common. These are usually very expensive pieces of equipment that are complicated to operate. Think carefully before considering buying any such equipment. Bands and artists that demand advanced lighting will usually have very specific requirements. Renting will probably let you cater more flexibly to these.


Light placements

Having two light trusses, one at the back of the stage and one at front of house, will usually suffice for a small stage. To add to this, you can have one at either side the stage as well. Larger venues should add more trusses. Confer with professionals before starting up, to ensure you get the best placement for your intended use.



Hanging of lights is subject to strict regulations that must be followed. You have to invest in approved mounting fixtures. Most lamps will have clamps for hanging on trusses and metal pipes, as well as a safety cable that should always be hooked.

Most lamps produce a lot of heat and must be hanged a safe distance from any flammable material. The combination of a lamp with dusty, stage curtains that are not impregnated could be a big fire hazard. Lights also draw a lot of power, so make sure to have the appropriate cables to handle the load. They can actually catch fire before popping a fuse.


As with all hanging equipment, what is most important is that they are mounted securely so they do not fall in someone’s head.



A backdrop is a banner designed by the artists that hangs at the back of the stage. You should have a designated pipe for hanging backdrops, independent of the lighting rig.


Lighting engineer

Being able to produce good concert lights is an art that requires musicality, understanding of the genre and an aesthetic sense. Lights are visual aids to enhance an artist’s artistic expression. Still, there are many bands and artists that can’t afford traveling with their own lighting engineer. A house lighting engineer will probably be doing more concert lights than the sound engineer will do sound.


Audio visual engineering

Many artists use video or images on screens in combination with their music (AV). The lighting engineer will be running this most of the time, as it is part of the overall visual element of the performance. However, AV-engineering is a profession in its own, and you must not take for granted that all lighting engineers are comfortable with all aspects of it.


Backline is a term to refer to the equipment being used by the musicians on stage, most of the time with the exception of their instruments. However, pianos, drum kits as well as amplifiers are commonly referred to as backline. Some touring productions bring their own backline, but other times a promoter has to supply it. The type of backline is specified in the technical rider. Pay close attention to this, as many musicians are very particular about what backline they use. As different equipment can be a big part of an artist’s sound, consider if you want to negotiate the equipment or not. Try to deliver as specified within reason.


If your local supplier does not have what the artist is asking for, always check with the artist what alternatives can be used before your rent something else.  If you find yourself renting backline for every show, you should consider buying your own. Use previous riders to see what gear is most commonly asked for.



Stage Plot

A stage plot is drawing of how the musicians are placed on stage relative to each other, where amplifiers are placed, where power outlets are needed and where they want risers placed.






Input list

As part of the technical rider you should also find an input list. A stage plot will often coincide with it and give you some visual information. On the example above you will see the lead singer’s microphone is on channel 23, while he has two monitor wedges on channel 2. All microphones for the drum kit are on channels 1-13, etc. The input list will give you a good overview of how many microphones, stands and DI-boxes are needed. As well as what the artists are bringing themselves, and what you need to provide.



Many bands ask for ‘drum risers’, which a ‘mini stage’ built with stage elements to elevate the drummer as he/she is usually sitting down. Desired height of the riser will vary, but consider ceiling heights if riders ask for 80 cm riser legs. Drum risers should have a drum carpet on it, keeping the drums from sliding.

If several musicians are placed further back on stage, more risers for a keyboard player or horn section can be advised. If a rider asks for several risers at different heights and sizes, make sure to check where the band comes for and if measurements are given in the imperial or metric system.

If several bands are playing the same stage, you can consider adding riser legs with wheels for quicker changeovers.

Production Phase

The practical and financial facilitation for the best possible working conditions and execution of a concert. Having a good flow of information and a well-coordinated operation is key to good logistical work.

Artist offer is confirmed - what now?

  • What clauses are agreed upon in the contract?
  • What details need to be discussed?
  • What are the limitations of the production budget?


The production phase

  • Collect information
  • Deliver information
  • Co-ordinate
  • Analyse
  • Execute
  • Evaluate


These phases will overlap each other, but these are the main elements.


Collect information

  • Hospitality and technical riders
  • Press kits that you can deliver to your marketing department





Deliver information

  • Forward venue tech specs, suggested show-day itinerary with information about when doors usually open, if there are any restrictions to when the band can sound check, etc.
  • Other specifics about your venue, such as distances to parking lots, absence of showers, staircases, etc.
  • Inform what staff will be working at the show.



  • Compare artist riders with your own tech specs - are there any deviances?
  • It is important to read riders carefully in order to spot any details that would require negotiating before signing the contract.
  • If you do not have the adequate competence to understand all details of a technical rider, confer with your house engineer and link them up with the artist’s production manager or touring engineer to ensure all details are dealt with.
  • Adapt itineraries closer to show-day, taking in consideration when the artists arrive and depart.
  • Rent equipment and book personnel.
  • Read more about hospitality riders in the Artist Management and Booking section.
  • Collect names for hotel bookings
  • Deliver information about parking and hotels.
  • Guest lists (these are usually not complete until show-day)



Perform a (simple) risk assessment one or two weeks prior to show-day to get an image of what kind of night you can expect. Some key criteria that should be included are: ticket sales, weekday or weekend, artist demographic and audience demographic. Based on these, assess what behaviours to expect from the audience and what measures to implement. Your booking department will have information about what kind of artist has been booked, and together with the artist’s tour manager you will get an impression of possible occurrences at previous shows. These kinds of details might also be included in riders. Head of security will be interested in such information.



  • Be prepared and on-site well ahead of time. Carry copies of all relevant documents.
  • Ensure that all artist areas are clean prior to artist arriving.
  • Prepare backstage and wardrobes with food and drinks according to riders. Have towels, keys, WIFI passwords etc. ready.
  • Have engineers and necessary staff on-site in time before load-in. Have them prepare everything they can before the artist arrives, including risers, monitors, microphones etc.
  • Make sure the house engineer gets the artist’s riders in advance, together with a thorough brief about what gear and staff the artist is bringing, and what is expected of you to deliver.
  • Have all stagehands ready at load-in.
  • Double-check that all delivered equipment is correct and in working condition.
  • Greet the artist and crew at get-in. Give them a tour.
  • Have safety in mind throughout the day. Keep wardrobes locked if necessary.
  • Be present.
  • Be sober.
  • Keep track of the itinerary with the artist’s crew.
  • Prepare to open doors. The venue staff should have a routine for this.
  • Has the artist been handed water and towels for the stage?
  • Ensure that fire extinguishers are in place and emergency exits clear of obstacles.
  • Atmosphere (furniture, music, dimmed lights)
  • Make sure all personnel and their necessary equipment is in place.
  • Guest lists, photo passes at the front door.
  • Never open doors without the artist’s approval.
  • Keep track of time with the artist, so that the show does not start late.


Some promoters have concerts before a club night in the same venue. If the dance floor is in front of the stage, as they often are, loading equipment of stage can be hard to do. In these cases you should try to keep flight cases on the side of stage instead of underneath. Make sure that no flight case is blocking emergency exits.



Very important, but easy to forget. Consider what went well and what needs improving next time.



An itinerary contains all events of relevance to the artist or working staff on show-day in a chronological order.


The scope of an itinerary will depend of the size of the event, but it should contain information about everything that is going to happen, when it will happen and who is responsible for each aspect.


Regardless of size, number of departments or division of the itinerary, the communication, co-operation and coordination both internally and externally, during and prior of the event is key to its successful execution. The more details you can add to an itinerary, the better.


Add names and contact details to key personnel, and deliver itineraries well in advance to all involved parties.