2020 was a challenging year for event production. Many event production partners had to pivot and change their businesses to survive, and others had to shut their doors. Now, as the live events industry begins to spring back to life, there are many pop-up shops and new, inexperienced production companies flooding the market and making it more challenging to find a qualified vendor. That’s why we put together this article with our decades of live event experience to help you know what to look for in an event production partner for your concert, tour or music festival.
Start With The End In Mind
Before searching for your ideal concert, tour, or event production company, make sure you set the relationship up for success. This preparation includes starting early. Pre-production meetings for your event should begin roughly three months prior to the event’s date. You should also take this time to develop a clear vision for your event. Even a veteran event production company can have difficulty bringing out the potential for an event if your vision isn’t clear. You also need to make a checklist of the needs for your concert, event, or tour production. Items for your checklist include:
- Sound & Lighting
- Crew Size
- Interactive Components
- What equipment is being provided by the venue
- What equipment needs to be rented
- Will the event be broadcast, live-streamed, or need to be professionally recorded?
AV Company vs. Event Production Company: Make Sure You Understand What You Are Looking For
Once you have the idea and the rough needs of your event outlined, you should start looking for an event production company. The first thing to identify in your research is that your prospective partners are professional event production companies. Sometimes an audio-visual company likes to stretch its offerings and moonlight as an event production company. An AV company is competent in running event equipment and can help you set up said equipment for your event, but that is where their expertise ends. They are not an event production company.
An event production company does provide equipment setup and operation, but also much more. A full-service event production company can help you design your event from the ground up. Onstage Systems has helped many clients early in the event process with tasks like venue selection and permitting. Beyond setup, an event production company will help bring your event vision to life. They can help you with the design and coordination of your stage, audio, lighting, and multimedia, turning your event idea into an extraordinary audience experience. That’s in addition to providing the nuts and bolts of offstage event production like crowd control and security. Events are far more than running lights and sound. It’s essential you work with an event production partner that can provide the full scope of services your event needs.
Event Planning, Event Management, and Event Production Companies
You also want to make sure you’re looking for the correct type of event production partner. Though they may sound similar, there are differences between an event planning company, an event management company, and an event production company. An event planning company helps on the front end, assisting clients in finding venues, finalizing event dates, hiring caterers, manage budgets, etc. In contrast, an event management company handles the project management side of event production. These companies help with event registration, managing event staff, and resolving onsite conflicts, to execute your event. An event production company focuses on the live, stage presentation of an event. They often work with the presenters/acts, AV crews, and technology vendors to produce and deliver the amazing live experiences at an event, concert, or tour. Generally, the event production company handles all production aspects of the stage production for the client.
Consider Event Production Companies or AV Companies Outside of Your Search Radius
Online research will skew towards your location. That can keep you from finding great event production companies that are outside your metro area, who would be an excellent fit for your event, and who are willing to travel. For example, Onstage Systems is based in DFW, but we help put on events, concerts, and tours from Nashville to Albuquerque. You could miss out on a great event production company partner by centering your research on your current location.
Establishing a Budget For Your Event
One of the biggest questions for a group planning an event is price. Look for an event production company partner whose pricing seems fair and reasonable for what you ask them to deliver for the event. To determine what is right and fair, consider what all your event entails. An event production company provides labor but also may provide equipment, staging, furniture, crowd control, security, and transportation. In addition to those costs, there are creative design, insurance, permitting, and taxes. An event’s costs can quickly balloon, especially if you begin involving multiple event partners like an event production company, event planner, and event management. The more moving parts in your event production, the more expensive it will become.
Sticker shock can drive some groups to search out budget solutions and low bids. But, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Often a budget price translates to a budget production. The last thing you want for your event is to spend less and feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth. Remember, your event’s success is determined by its impact on the audience and how memorable it is. So spend your money where it will have the most impact, in the event’s production. Engage a full-service event production company early in your event timeline. A good, full-service event production company can help review your budget and suggest ways to use it to provide the best production, “bang for your buck.” They may be able to help you negotiate discounts and uncover additional cost savings to help your event production budget stretch further.
Vetting Event Production Companies
One of the first things you should consider when culling your list of potential partners is event production company specialties. Some event production companies specialize in corporate events like trade shows, conferences, seminars, and product launches. That company is likely not the ideal partner for your summer concert festival. Similarly, you may forego working with an event production company that specializes in broadcast if you’re not planning to broadcast, stream, or record your event. Many 2021 events have transitioned from full virtual to hybrid events, featuring in-person production, crowd control, and live-streaming. So you may be looking for an event production company partner like Onstage Systems that has been doing hybrid events for over a year now, and producing live events for over 40 years.
Experience & Licensing
Once you’ve assembled a shortlist of potential partners, you can start investigating them to find your best partner. One of the best hallmarks to look for is experience. How long have they been in business? Does their track record of work fit the type of event you’re producing? In addition to experience, ask about an event production company’s certifications, licenses, affiliations, and ensure they have general liability coverage and workers compensation coverage.
Delving into an event production company’s social media, website, and old event footage is a great way to get a feel for their event production. You can also learn a lot about the company’s core values, the quality of the people they have on their team, and the quality of service they provide. For example, looking back through our social media, you can learn about some of the challenges we needed to overcome to help produce a 1,000 drone open-air light show in December.
Also, check online for feedback, reviews, and referrals. You should also consider asking vendors, venues, and other event producers if they know or have worked with an event production company. This feedback can help you quickly discover less desirable event production partners.
How do the events your prospects produce look and sound? At the end of the day, this is how event attendees and concert-goers will judge your event. Look for an event production partner that is bringing something unique to the event. Look for photographs and videos of their events across the internet to see if they have a wow factor that can benefit your event.
Event Production Company Questions
Once you’ve winnowed down your potential partners, it’s time for direct questions. These questions are in the final step to help you determine if an event production company is right for you.
- What are your core services?
- What equipment can you provide, and what will you need to rent?
- Are you able to travel?
- Can you source local labor on the road?
- Can you hire/coordinate your own AV labor?
- Can you provide a show flow or cue-to-cue document?
- Can you tell me about the latest event production trends and technology?
- Choosing Your Ideal Event Production Company
Like any good partnership, you have to like and trust the people you work with. In your gut, do you trust an event production company can bring your vision for an event to life? Even after your interviews, if your potential event production partner checks all the boxes but your gut says otherwise, it may be best to trust your gut and keep looking.
Now you are ready to find your ideal event production company for your Spring and Summer event, concert, or tour. In your search, consider Onstage Systems. We have more than 40 years of experience in live events and offer full-service live event production with audio engineers, lighting experts, and technicians ready to bring your vision to life.