Day-Of-Show – Staying in Control


Whether you are on a tour or simply doing a single date, the day of the show is filled with last minute details begging for attention. Dealing with the final logistics of each performance date has the potential of creating a day fraught with frustrations or one which runs like clockwork leaving you calm and in control. I opt for the second. In order for you to experience that sense of control, here is a template of suggestions to help you plan your day-of-show and keep on top of the details.

Any show day might include travel if you hadn’t scheduled an overnight drive or arrival the previous night. I will leave travel info and hot tips to another article and simply make one major point here regarding that topic—leave plenty of time. You never know when construction, road hazards, accidents, public transportation delays or weather may cramp your time schedule. Arriving early at the venue or hotel leaves you time to regroup and focus on the show ahead. It also sets a professional tone to your touring persona—one that you want to develop and maintain throughout your career. I will concentrate my information from the point at which you have arrived in town.

Arrival in town:

After you’ve arrived, first check-in to the hotel or housing where arrangements have been made. If you are not staying overnight, then check in with the venue. When checking-in to any hotel, have one main person deal with check-in to speed up the process, especially when a large group is involved. If you previously submitted a rooming list, check-in will surely go more quickly. Before leaving the registration desk, ask about any services your group might need, such as dry-cleaning, local banking, and restaurants, if you had not received that information prior to departure. Before the group separates to individual rooms, arrange a meeting time for departure to the venue.

Once settled in your hotel or other housing, check with any local media if you are expecting to conduct any day-of-show interviews. Make necessary arrangements with appropriate group members to be ready with whatever equipment might be needed to conduct interviews or promotional appearances. Set meeting times for these events.

Contact the venue and the tech crew to inform them of your arrival and re-check load-in time.

If meals are not going to be provided for you by the venue, make meal arrangements prior to leaving your hotel. Sometimes it may be too early to eat prior to sound check. When group members are on their own for meals, prior to getting to the venue, arrange a re-group time for departure to the venue.

At The Venue:

Park in the designated spot if one has been assigned or load-in at the appointed entrance. Check with the tech crew for load-in instructions and make an initial contact with the promoter if they are available.

When you have completed load-in and have time prior to sound-check, check with the box office to get a ticket sales update for advance sales. You may also arrange for your merchandise sales area. Make sure you select a secure area accessible to fans before and after the show as well as during intermission if one is not already established by the venue. This area should also be conducive to signing autographs. Ask to meet the venue representative in charge of merchandise to review your inventory.

When you return for sound check, don’t forget to discuss the lighting and ask for a complete stage setup and focus. So often lighting is forgotten compared to the importance placed on getting a good sound-check. If the venue has a decent lighting system, make use of it. If you don’t already have a simple lighting plot, which may be sent to the technician in advance, you may want to put some attention to this. It can make a huge difference in how the audience perceives you and how they react to your show.

If set-up runs late, make sure doors don’t open until you are satisfied with your sound and light checks.

Distribute copies of your set list to sound and lighting engineer prior to the show. If there is a stage manager and house manager, meet them as soon as they are available and confirm start times, intermission length and the rest of the show’s schedule. Check on all requested stage necessities to be sure they are available and in place. Just prior to the show, do one last line and mic check to avoid on-stage delays when you find something was left unplugged. Don’t leave this task to someone who is unfamiliar with your act. When you are playing on multiple-act events, such as festivals or showcases, don’t allow yourself to be introduced or rushed onstage prior to performing your final line and mic check. Be adamant about this one point. It may save you from embarrassing moments that may cause a stressful beginning to your show.

When a meal is provided for the group between soundcheck and the show, you have a chance to relax. If, however, you have to arrange for your own meals, and prior arrangements have not been made, try to order in and have a runner pick up the meals rather than attempting a sit-down dinner at a nearby restaurant. Make these arrangements upon arrival at the venue with venue staff or internally within your own group. Waiting at restaurants when you are on a tight schedule may be another stress producer.

Get a copy of your guest and comp list to the box office or door person and do one last check on advance ticket sales.

Getting Paid:

Arrange to be paid in a private place away from staff, crew or audience. It is important that no one outside the group or the person making the payment is aware of who is carrying the money.

If your group has the luxury of touring with a road manager or a representative other than a band member, who is in charge of collecting payments, they may choose to settle during intermission. Since settlement may take some time and often can run into the second half of the show, if you or a band member need to settle the show, you may want to wait until the end of the show. Pre-arrange the time to settle with the responsible person at the venue before the show starts.

To avoid any questions, always have a copy of your signed contract and any supporting documents on hand before settlement, such as preliminary budget sheets. Having a pre-concert budget form is particularly important when your fee, is based in part or on the whole, upon a percentage after expenses have been calculated. When you have a copy of the agreed upon budget items, you can reconcile the show’s expenses and compare the final actual expenses to the pre-show estimated expenses. When you are being paid a flat fee, this will not be necessary.

Have information on any deposits made by the venue. If a disagreement should arise and they claim to have made a deposit, but your records don’t show one having been made, ask them to produce a copy of the canceled check. If they cannot, get full payment at settlement. When proof of a deposit is made, you will refund that amount. With online banking, you may be able to simply check your account on the spot to confirm that the deposit was indeed made.

Make sure payments are made according to the specifics of your contract. If a certified bank check was requested, make sure you receive a certified bank check. When you ask for cash, and they give you a check, have them cash the check for you right there.

Settle any merchandise percentages and double check your inventory before packing up.

Place your cash or checks in a safe place until you are able to complete your regular banking routine.

Load-out and Departure:

Once the show is over, you can relax until it is time to pack up, load out and leave. When you load in, you’re likely to make yourself at home in the dressing rooms, (when there are dressing rooms). Now it is time to pick up your stuff and make sure you’ve got all you came with. It may be helpful to assign one person to make the rounds to all the dressing rooms, hospitality rooms, restrooms, backstage and stage areas for a final check for any equipment or personal belongings.

If any taping was done, this would be a good time to get a copy of that tape. Refer to your contract for any taping restrictions so that you leave with the master tape if taping is not permitted.

Finally, make one last contact with the crew and promoter and thank them for all their efforts. If things went well, begin discussions about your next date at the venue. Hopefully, all of your shows will allow you to make a sincere offer of thanks. Even if you have a bad night, leave on a high note so your professionalism shines through whatever troubles you might experience.


And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.

* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.

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