What’s the Idea?
Become a music event organiser by using this comprehensive guide to get you started.
What’s the story
I started working in the music events industry on and off in my early twenties.
I began taking names and emails for a membership list at a Trance music night called Knowwhere.
Then I progressed to running their entire front of house.
Eventually I got enough experience to start organising and running my own events.
I now co-run an events partnership “White Rabbit Events” alongside best friend Tim Kimber.
People should do this because…?
Being a music event organiser is incredibly rewarding as you bring together multiple pieces of a creative jigsaw.
Watching lots of smiling, happy faces dancing and having a good time because of something that you and your team have worked really hard at putting together is a great buzz.
As the music event organiser the possibilities are endless.
You can employ live bands, DJ’s, performances, incorporate costume themes, charitable fundraising…..
Let your imagination run wild!
Finally, the bond that grows between you and your team from putting on an event together is unparalleled.
It definitely makes it all worthwhile.
How do you do it?
Qualifications & skills
Strictly speaking, you don’t necessarily need any official qualifications to become a music event organiser if you get the relevant work experience.
However, it can be useful to get some knowledge behind you.
You can research and see what is available within your budget.
Necessary skills for event management are:
- Excellent organisation abilities
- Strong attention to detail
- Creativity, and also the ability to turn creative ideas into reality.
- Good with numbers, as you’ll need to work out your budgets.
- Skilled at negotiating with multiple levels of people (venue owners, bar managers, security, etc)
Volunteering/Working for other events
It’s really important to volunteer/work in as many different roles within the events industry as possible.
And this will give you the necessary work experience to be a music event organiser.
There are multiple options open to you.
For example: bar staff, stewarding, front of house door staff, runner, stage manager, artist liaison.
Aim to do everything from litter picking to management level.
Decide on the size/type of music event
So now it’s time to for you to be a music event organiser!
But there’s lots of decisions to be made first.
- Is your event going to be small?
- Where are you going to hold it?
- In a local pub/music venue?
- Or perhaps you want to put on a festival with a few thousand attendees.
- Will it be for profit, or for charity?
The answers to these questions will make a big difference to your event planning.
Give yourself plenty of time
A small event can take up to 6 months to plan, Festivals can take potentially 1 – 2 years (size depending).
Don’t leave yourself short on time. It’s better to have more time than not enough.
Work out your budget
This is where you calculate all the expenses you will accumulate for the event (eg venue hire, cost of performers, staff pay, promotional costs, etc).
Make you you don’t miss anything out because meticulous planning at the beginning means less stress at the end.
Don’t go crazy when you first start as a well run small event is much better than a grander scheme that goes wrong.
Time, Place and legalities
As a music event organiser these 3 factors need careful thought and are dependent on what kind of event you’re throwing.
If it’s an outdoor festival, you’ll need to be looking at outdoor spaces and summer dates for the best chance at good weather.
If it’s an event to showcase local talent / raise money for a local charity, you’ll be looking at suitable music venues/pubs near to you.
If you want to throw an all-night party with DJ’s, you’ll need a venue with a late license.
So it’s very important to have a clear idea of exactly what kind of event you want to put on.
Once you have decided you can then do your research into a) suitable venues and b) the legalities involved within that kind of event, as they will likely be slightly different.
For example, there is a lot more to consider when children are allowed onto the premises.
Getting to grips with the legal aspects of each type of event you through is essential.
You don’t want to get into trouble with the law and ruin your reputation as a music event organiser going forward.
When you are a music event organiser, a “backline” is something that you will frequently be asked about by performers, and will have to ask venues about.
This usually consists of a drum kit, 2 x guitar amplifiers, and a bass rig.
Quite often music venues will have one of these already set up, and possibly an in-house sound engineer. But if they don’t, you will be in charge of making sure that these things are provided.
You can either talk to the bands you’ve booked to see what they can help with. Alternatively you may have to hire a PA system, sound engineer and any other essentials.
This is important to take into account when doing your budgeting.
For outdoor events it is wise to hire a sound crew who will provide and set up /take down the whole rig.
Once you have decided on the “ theme” of your event, you should have an idea of what sort of acts you want.
So if it’s live music or DJs, decide on what genre.
Will you want walk around performers, circus acts or actors etc?
As a music event organiser you should have built up a good network of contacts during your time volunteering/studying/working in the events industry. So this is now the time to use it!
Put the feelers out via all your channels, phone, email, social media, and see what comes back.
There are generally two options when it comes to selling tickets: on the night, or leading up to the event.
If you sell tickets on the night, make sure that you have a cash float with enough cash to issue change.
Plan the set times/structure
Creating the right “flow” for your event, no matter what kind, theme or size, is vital.
You want to make sure that you are engaging your audience from the word go so take into account the time and who will be there.
You don’t want to start a day party with banging techno or a trash metal band at 1 pm for example…you need to build up to that.
So, structure your set times in order to build to the right crescendo, and always factor in changeover times for the bands.
If you have multiple rooms/areas, then you will want to have complimentary/contrasting music in those areas.
Ideally you don’t want to have the same music in both areas and music that is entirely out of sync with the other.
A music event organiser is nothing without their team.
So you will need a rock solid crew to get things done, both in the lead-up to and on the night.
Some people like sound, lighting, and technical people will almost certainly require payment.
However you will find that you can get a lot of your stewards, door staff and flyering/postering team onboard for free entry to the event.
Make sure that they are working shifts and not all night if this is the case.
Put the word out to your network and see what comes back!
Promote (flyers/posters/social media/face to face)
Hopefully, among your network, you will have someone who is skilled at designing posters/flyers.
If this person is a professional, you will likely have to budget to pay them, but a well-designed poster is worth paying for, as this is what is going out there to showcase your event.
Once these are printed off, take your flyering/postering team out and about every weekend leading up to the event.
Put posters up in the venue you’re holding the event at, and if the event is not in conflict the them and ask other venues if you can put some up there.
So for example, if you are putting on a festival, ask the local pubs.
Utilise all your social media channels, set up an event page, use the banner version of your event poster on there, and share, share, share!
On the day/night (door/ stage manager/ sound / security/photography / film/extras)
Make sure that you have people you trust on your door staff, as they will be dealing with the front of house, security and ultimately – the money/tickets.
Assign appropriate roles to your other staff; depending on the size of the event.
You’ll likely need a stage manager, artist liaison, and at least one “runner” .
This is a person who literally walks/runs around the event and reports any problems, deals with any issues).
If it’s a large venue, these people will need to be assigned radios, and a radio protocol needs to be put in place.
Have someone organised to film, and another to take photos.
There will be others doing so, but having a professional that you’ve arranged yourself will ensure the best footage of your event.
And finally have fun!
Stuff you may need
Something to capture your thoughts, plans and budgets
- A laptop
- Mobile phone