So You Hired a Musician, part 1

So you hired a musician…awesome! Let’s make your event the best it can be by taking the following into consideration:

 

Where Am I Going to Put You?

It’s funny to be thought of as a thing; an accessory. But, as a musician, that is often the case in terms of event planning. When you are planning your party, no matter what the occasion, a lot of thought goes into décor, arrangements, table placement, seating, food/beverage location, etc. But where should you place your musician? Here are a few tips to make the music sound better, your musician comfortable, and your guests happier:

 

Enough Space

Even though a musician can squeeze into an area the size of a twin mattress, provide an area double the size- it will make your musician happier and allow the amplification to sound better! It can be very uncomfortable to maintain a very specific position to sing/play an instrument for an extended period of time…not to mention the distraction of avoiding smashing into walls/guests. Also, a singer needs space to maneuver around a microphone. Having a guest bump into the mic stand that slams the mic into the musician’s mouth will cause a bloody lip, laceration, chipped tooth…or some other injury that may decrease the quality of the performance.

 

Looks Can Be Deceiving

It may seem picturesque, but setting up right next to a garden or a wall of windows can be inconvenient for your musician. You’d be amazed at the amount of garden bugs attracted to electronic gear (especially once the sun goes down)! Also, having a holly bush or rose bush inches from your backside all night can be irritating- literally! As for that wall of windows…well, remember the rule of space? Double THAT for window set-ups, as being surrounded by glass creates all kinds of acoustic feedback, squeals, etc. that can be difficult to tame at medium to high volumes, especially at small venues. Fireplaces are often chosen as a picturesque performance spot. That’s fine if it’s an enclosed gas fireplace and the heat is almost entirely being exhausted out of the chimney. If you have a wood burning fireplace with no doors, it is less than ideal to shove a musician next to. The heat can be uncomfortable for the musician and cause tuning problems for instruments. Smoke is harsh on singers.

 

HVAC

Along the same lines as a fireplace set-up…also take into account your air conditioning, heating, or any ventilation units nearby. Being set-up next to any of those devices can create wild temperature differences that interfere with performer comfort, vocal endurance, tuning issues, or equipment interference. Also, plugging amplification into a circuit with an a/c  window unit can cause a breaker to trip! I once played a warehouse that had a huge ventilation system everyone forgot about…until it kicked on halfway through the night and made a disaster out of the catering tables (plates and food went everywhere!)…not to mention the noise completely drowned out the music.

 

Power

Whenever possible, have your power supply near the set-up area and ready to go when the musician arrives- even if that means running an extension cord out of your window, garage, etc. It’s also important to make sure the outlet works (especially those seldom used exterior outlets). Most musicians will have at least one extension cord, but we’re usually expecting to set-up within 50 ft of a power source. Besides, having to hunt down an outlet and an extra cord is the last thing you want to be doing in the final minutes of party prep! There are many battery operated options for musicians, but the sound is inferior to that of plug in devices. Not to mention, there are time limits and volume issues with battery operated amplification.

 

Shade

A typical gig lasts about 3 hours (even a simple wedding ceremony when set-up/breakdown is factored in). A sunburn takes about 15 minutes to occur. And, for whatever reason, most electronic gear is black, so it heats up even more! Tent, ez-up, umbrella, or even a tree, shady side of the house, etc. can all offer some reprieve from roasting your musician. If you anticipate a performance in the sun but cannot provide cover, please communicate that to your musician so appropriate precautions can be taken.

 

Avoid Traffic

You want your musician to be visible at your party, but don’t put him in the way. Put your musician in or near the area where most of the action is taking place, but don’t put him next to food, beverages/bar, bathrooms, entrance/exit, or hallways. Locations like these tend to create bottlenecks that frustrate your guests. Also, having people knock into your musician or his gear or tripping over wires can be hazardous. Bartenders/caterers don’t really want a speaker by their head all night either!

 

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