Entertainment productions and events are powered by details. Master the details and you are the master of successful event planning. This article will present three different vehicles to organize and collate your details and in turn hopefully raise the level of mastery in your event management.
1. The Database
Back in the good old days, the Rolodex was the status quo for information management. It gave you rotary access to index cards containing names, addresses, and pertinent demographic information for your contacts. With the advent of personal computers, the amount of demographic information you can collect and organize is unlimited. Modern applications allow the user to search by any field within the database or even within a specified range of information. In most database applications you can even create multiple layouts to suit a specific need. For instance, one layout might be for contacts by city while another layout might be collated by club manager names. A database gives you instant access to the info you need. We even have a layout for the set list that is associated with the specific event.
One of my personal favorites in database programs is Filemaker Pro. This Mac-based program is extremely powerful and versatile. Not only can you create an infinite number of layouts within a database, it even gives you options within fields to create scripts to calculate, link to email, link to URLs and even store jpegs or audio. In the PC world, Microsoft Excel is a very powerful spreadsheet program that can serve as a database. Even your smart phone integrated with your gmail account is a fairly powerful database to keep track of contact information.
2. The Time Line
I introduced this format in the two part series titled Book ‘Em Dano that discussed the merits of being your own effective booking agent. The time line is a powerful graphic display of gig details. Look at it as a chronological to-do list. However, I’ve found that the best way to create a dedicated timeline for a gig is to create a separate calendar within your calendar program for that event. In most calendar applications, you can select or deselect which calendars you want to display. When there are deadlines that are associated with that specific event, I create alarms that generate texts or emails with the task list that is due on that day. When you highlight that specific event timeline, you can also print a week-by-week calendar with the tasks or deadlines. Once the gig is completed, you can either delete that calendar or even archive for future reference in the case of a rebooking. Most calendar programs integrate into your contact list as well as mapping programs to track locations and routing. Using a calendar in this manner can really help you keep all of the bases covered in preparation.
3. The Day Sheet
All of the planning, preparation and gnashing of teeth is complete – now it’s the day of the gig. The day sheet is the ultimate key to getting everyone on the literal same page. It contains all pertinent information from times, schedules, addresses, contacts, percentages, entrances and anything else under the sun that you need to know on the day of the gig. It is essential that everyone involved in the event has the same day sheet. We create a day sheet that is forwarded to every member of the band by email in pdf format as well as being placed in a community dropbox folder that we can access on our smart phones. There are printed versions on the bus and even in the dressing room. Gone are the days when you had notes under your hotel room door or thick tour books you were always trying not to leave in a hotel room. Incidentally, our day sheets are also generated from our master database – it’s just one more specific layout.
It’s often the case that creative types are the worst in dealing with details. Yet if you don’t master them, they will master you. Take charge of your details and as always, tour wisely my friends.
Chris Marion is an American musician best know as a member of Little River Band and for his contribution the gospel and country music industries. Although graduating college with a B.A. in Psychology, he is a classically trained pianist and has worked in the music industry professionally for over 35 years. As a resident of Nashville, he is involved in the recording industry working in the genres of Gospel, Country and Rock. Since 2004, he has toured globally with the classic rock act Little River Band as a keyboardist and vocalist.
For more useless trivia and minutiae, you can visit his personal website at http://www.chrismarionmusic.com.