THE ROOT TO SUCCESS IN ORGANISING AN INTIMATE CONCERT.
Hello and welcome to my most fragrant column of the year – coming to you during the time-honored Chelsea Flower Show here in London, England (usually followed by the time-honored summer hosepipe ban, of course). Now we haven't got rare orchids, or some gardening character swanning around in green wellies, but what we do have are a few practical ideas for cultivating your event from ordinary to Extraordinary.
My theme for this blog is gaining maximum satisfaction for a minimum amount of work in a private performance , so stand by for a shedload of information on this private gig and how it ended with me come up smelling of roses 😉 The event was Lord Jason Scott Presents Christopher Cross in conjunction with Smooth Radio UK.
Things to know when organizing a concert :
1. Finding the right artist – this is probably the most important part of this process.
2. Catering to the needs of the artist (before, on the day of and during the concert) the “ rider”.
3. Estimating the size of the audience .
4. Venue, Sound and Light Arrangements.
5. Sponsorship – I find this helps with number. Publicity and with return on investment. Try and remember that sponsorship can “make or break” your event. You can get sponsors to sponsor for goody bags, add to your program/brochure or sponsor food and drink, where most of your revenue will be coming from. Or on the rare occasion such as this sponsor the entire event.
6. Publicity (Designing and printing posters, flyers, ads, banners and choosing the right locations to distribute / place the same and creating web sites) unless you can get a media partner.
7. Ticketing (printing tickets and sale of tickets before the event date, and box office on the day) again I always look at a company to partner with who specializes in this.
8. Making a Brochure/Program (Getting the content ready, and handling the technical aspect of making a brochure)- speak to a brochure making company if you have the budget.
9. Identifying the MC for the concert
10. Stage decorations
11. Ushering people
12. Food Arrangements
13. Sale of Merchandise : Never forget the words of the wise yoghurt from SPACEBALLS “ merchandising, merchandising, merchandising ! Where the real money is made!” Merchandise is yet another great revenue stream. Never underestimate the power it has on your ROI and always display your merchandise well, so as to attract the most amount of attention.
The Venue: Decide on a venue which can accommodate your expected audience. Too big an auditorium might leave empty areas giving an appearance of poor turnout and also make ushering very difficult. Choose the right size and make sure that there will be sufficient technical help from the venue.
Now lets go through my event and see some of the above in action J
The Artist : While it is important to treat the artist with utmost respect and offer him/her the best hospitality and convenience, you should not lose sight of the cause and your budget. Make sure you offer the artist only what you can afford ( what is in the budget) and communicate the same. Try to get a list of what the artist absolutely needs (including, in the green room, this is often called a “rider”) and work at meeting all those needs, else explain to the artist well in advance about any changes. Make sure the artist has enough time to do a sound check before the concert begins. Have one person dedicated to stay with the artist and taking care of all travel arrangements. Most artists have a manager and this is who I find has all the answers and is always my point of call.
The Master of ceremonies : When choosing a MC, make sure it is someone who has done public speaking before and is someone who is flexible to guide the day’s event according to unexpected situations. Let the MC meet with the artist before the concert to make sure that the artist is also comfortable with the proceedings for the day. I find its best to use someone as well known as the artist and someone in the same genre. No point having tom hanks, as famous as he is, introducing 50c.
Details : Date: Friday 13th May 2011 Arrived between 5:30 -6pm Concert started at 6:30 – 9pm Venue : the 6th floor -The Penthouse, London No.1 Leicester Square WC2H7NA
Artist:Christopher Cross : In his career so far, Cross has won five Grammys and an Oscar for song Arthur's Theme, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1981. A huge star in the 80’s, Christopher Cross virtually defined adult contemporary radio with a series of sophisticated ballads including the Number One hit, Sailing.
Venue: The Penthouse I was proud to co-host the Christopher Cross gig on our 6th floor as it was a small and intimate area where I could create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. It was filled with 'Smoothies' ( listeners of Smooth Radio), all of which had entered the online competition in the hope of one of these prized tickets. As ever the 'Smoothies' eagerly chatted amongst themselves like old friends meeting up for a jolly while I took care of the green room and the artists needs. The 8th floor Moet et Chandon suite (the green room) was laid out in fresh fruit, all organic peanut butter sandwiches and an array of sweets ( nothing outlandish, like he would only eat the white M&M’s however) were laid out on the bar and the soft sounds of mating whales from Iceland was played in the background and Christopher Cross and his band discussed the playlist and the tour so far.
MC: Then on the 6th floor came the larger than life Lynn Parsons ( well known radio personality in the UK) who, with an excited smile across her face and a giggle in her voice, made the introductions and invited Christopher Cross to the stage for a Q&A session. I immediately got the call on the radio and ushered him into the VIP elevator with his fantastic manager Anja and 2 beefy security guards. Lucky I have been on this diet otherwise we would never have all fitted in. As I got out and prepared the room for his arrival, the audience of 250 began to clap and cheer. The gig began with a light Q&A and there he was answering questions, like the seasoned pro that he is, and he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand by the end. Chris was relaxed, witty and so funny; it was like being in the pub with a good friend listening to him regaling stories from the past. The time just flew by and then he was joined by his musicians on keyboard and on the sax/clarinet and straight into Hey Kid from the Dr Faith album.
You would think that after 30 years the voice wouldn’t be the same and maybe wouldn’t quite hit the high notes. Well, let me tell you, his voice was like honey; smooth and silky. It never faltered; this was unplugged -no mixes, no machines. It was pure and magical; by the time he got to I’mToo Old For This everyone was hooked, line and sinker and singing along with the chorus. Arthur’s Theme needed no introduction; the audience was right behind him and loving every minute, Open Up My Window, a duet with keyboardist Kiki Ebsen, whose harmonies just melted together with Mr. Cross'. Then it was the classic Sailing; my stomach flipped and felt hugely emotional and looking around the crowd I was not the only one, what a tearjerker, you could see people filling up. I could see Lynn Parsons’ face crumpling and wiping away a tear. That kind of says it all when a performer can affect the audience in such an emotional way; I felt he was singing that song just for me. However, so did everyone else because the audience went crazy after that. Before we knew it, he had performed three more tracks from the new album, including When You Come Home, which felt like he was singing from his heart.
Then he was on his feet, thanking us for coming along, wow it was pure pleasure. Thank you Smooth Radio and Mr. Cross!
We all stood and clapped for him and his amazing musicians and then as a real treat he then whipped us up into a frenzy with Ride Like The Wind. What a way to end a most amazing show, could it get any better than this? Well, yes it could!
Merchandising : Christopher Cross then went upstairs for a short 10minute break and to get his composure then with the words, “ lets get back to the fans” was rushed back down to the 6trh floor to ( sell albums. T-shirts, postcards and hats) sign his merchandise and chatted away to everyone who attended, not once rushing and making everyone feel like he had personally invited them along to this most private gig.
Thank you Christopher Cross and thank you Smooth Radio for choosing me and The Penthouse London.