Running the Show

by Michelle Buchman (English/Cinema Studies), published August 1st 2011

We’ve all been in the crowd at live shows watching our favorite musicians play. But, when the tables are turned and you become one of the people working a show, it changes the perspective. It’s a lot of work to make even the smallest events happen. Last weekend, my friends and I helped run an event with three bands and three DJs that sold out The Middle East upstairs, a 200 capacity room.  Here are a few things we learned from the experience:


This is easily the most important part of making any event successful. Social media is an easy tool for getting your information out quickly. Facebook? Create an event and invite everyone, even that random person you accepted as your friend but you don’t actually know. Twitter? Tweet the details and link them to a website/fb event for additional info. Tell your followers to retweet so it spreads like wildfire. Tumblr? Post info and let others reblog it, possibly with an animated .gif for attention. The other huge help is FLYERING. Make a snazzy, eye-catching flyer in photoshop and get them printed somewhere cheap like Vistaprint online. We put up postcards and handed them out at college campuses & nightlife events all over Boston. The response from people was really encouraging and friends kept remarking how they frequently saw postcards all over the city for the event. Make sure people have no choice but to notice your flyers.

2)  Expect that nothing will be perfect.

Things happen and nothing will go 100% as smoothly as you want it to. Sometimes equipment breaks, the venue’s wireless network dies or a number of other possibilities occur. What does matter is how you handle problems. Always have a back-up plan so that when the unexpected does happen, you’ve got things under control.

3)  Spread the work out.

No one is capable of doing everything themselves. Someone needs to make sure the bands are all set up with their needs, another person needs to help the DJs, others are taking care of taking photos, etc. The more people helping out, the faster and smoother everything will run.

4)  Have a good attitude.

If a crisis occurs it can be hard to not act frustrated or stressed. Having a positive attitude really does work wonders. The venue appreciates it when the different people they deal with on a daily basis are courteous and willing to listen. Smile, be friendly and listen to others who are trying to help.

5) Remember to have fun.

All the set-up and preparation leads up to the actual show itself. Relax and take some time to actually enjoy the evening. If you create a fun, enjoyable atmosphere then the crowd will sense that and have fun too. Celebrate that you’ve pulled things off well and plan for the next one!

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