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Live End (Part 1)

Do It Yourself with National Music Day

National Music Day represents a golden opportunity for every musician and band in the land. If you've ever bemoaned the difficulty of finding suitable live gigs in your locale, NMD will give you plenty of motivation, and many of the tools, to do it yourself.

So what exactly is this new annual beanfeast called National Music Day? Well, for starters, it isn't a day at all but actually 36 hours spread across June 27 and 28. (Last year's NMD, the first, was held on just one day but the organisers realised that a weekend would give everyone more flexibility.)

The concept of NMD was originated by Mick Jagger [the Rolling Stone, for our younger hip readers] and ex-Arts Minister Tim Renton, and then enthusiastically championed by top promoter Harvey Goldsmith. Harvey now chairs the organisers' committee and is a director of this non-profit-making body. NMD also embraces a charitable trust which dispenses profits to suitable musical causes. Organisation is aided by grants from the National Heritage Ministry and the Arts Council; the Musicians' Union has also kindly made a £10,000 donation.

And so we come to the heart of the matter: NMD has two raisons d'etre. One, to encourage active musical participation throughout Britain; and two, to raise funds to help that goal in the longer term.

The role of NMD's umbrella organisation is to provide the vital (and otherwise hideously expensive) 'oxygen of publicity'. By embracing thousands of local events all over the country on one weekend, the NMD office is able to publicise the 'day' itself, and listings of individual events, in national newspapers — and with support on the day from national TV and radio networks too. An Events Guide will be distributed through newsagents with complete event listings.

All you have to do, if you'd like to join in the fun, is find a venue, assemble a bill, decide who you want to raise money for and go for it!

A small festival in a provincial town, for example, featuring local bands, jugglers, theatre and dance troupes could surprisingly easily raise a few grand to help local schools buy new instruments, or kit out the village hall with a decent PA... it's your choice.

The big difference over 'going it alone' is that with the NMD organisation behind you, you gain the twin benefits of (a) credibility with the all-important local authorities and residents, and (b) oodles of free national publicity and 'shell' posters, plus cheap NMD merchandise for re-sale.

You'll need to supplement the national listings with local press coverage of your event — by ringing your local papers and radio stations in advance — and you may want to add items like banners and programmes. But with a few keen helpers and some spare time, you'll find it's hard work but immensely rewarding to see your own live event come together in conjunction with thousands of others on a (hopefully sunny) June weekend.

In this feature, the first in a two-part series, Sound On Sound, in conjunction with the NMD office's promotional expertise, outlines the most important steps you'll need to consider in setting up and promoting your own show.

Remember: an 'event' can be any size, shape or content to come under the NMD banner. Amateur or pro, commercial or not, anything goes and only your imagination sets the limit.

Finally, one important number you'll need right now. To register your event for national NMD listing, call (Contact Details) and ask for a registration form.


The major costs of staging and promoting the average event — as follows...

Rent or percentage
Performing Rights Society fee
Staff / Security

Stage (cost of building — where required)
Stage extension / PA wings
Artist Rider (Technical requirements)

Poster printing
Poster siting
Local advertising
Notional Advertising

Fees or Percentage of take
Supporting cast
Dressing room rider

Advertising artwork
Promoter's staff
Administration expenses
Accountant's fee
Backstage Passes


PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE: As a promoter, if any aspect of your organisation results in injury, loss or damage to members of the public you may be sued. Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is therefore regarded by professionals as an essential extra expense, whether you're hiring a village hall or the Reading Festival site. Martin Goebbels of specialist rock'n'roll insurance brokers Robertson Taylor ((Contact Details)) says different insurance brokers handle different types of event — you'll find names and numbers in one of the trade directories ("Kemps Yearbook" [available from SOS Bookshop - see page 146], "The White Book", "Music Week Directory": try your local public library) or ask your Town Hall for advice. Premiums can be high for small shows (Martin suggests £150 to cover 2,000 people). The venue may have its own PU cover, but check whether it will cover your organisation too, and if so make sure it's stipulated in your hire contract.

ASSUME THE WORST: About the weather, that is. For an outdoor event you can't insure against rain keeping punters away — but you can provide beer tents, proper stage roofing and so on to keep the show going.

READ THE RIDERS: If you manage to entice a star to appear at your event and you're presented with a contract, read the fine print, in particular the 'riders' — extra clauses with demands for things like dressing rooms, crates of champagne and dancing girls (which your budget may not quite cover!)

ABOUT THE STARS: Remember, you usually get nothing for nothing, and if you expect everyone to contribute their time free, their level of commitment is low — so you will be lucky to get support from major stars unless you can attract them in some other way. However, if you make sure they at least get their expenses paid, you'll get a better response. This means making sure your budget is precise (see 'Budget' sidebar)!

THAT'S IT... With a few like-minded people around you, you can really do it. So get on the National Music Day bandwagon and keep your music live! Don't miss next month's SOS for NMD Part 2.


Here is an outline production checklist for a 'village fete' type event (music / entertainments festival)... using mostly volunteer workers! Some of it may well be 'over the top' for a very small pub/club show but at least you can't say we didn't warn you... (Many thanks are due to Chris Cook at the NMD office for his contributions to this Guide.)


Appoint a treasurer (preferably a financially experienced person — friendly accountant etc).

Decide which musical causes you wish to support and contact them for their agreement / help.


Decide on and confirm site.

Ensure all necessary permissions can be obtained from:
— Council Environmental Health Department
— Neighbours
— Police
— PRS.
— Site Owner

Confirm access for participant's vehicles including trucks.

Availability of power supplies to:
Lighting (if needed — remember you'll need to light exits and access roads / paths after dark)
Other equipment

Parking arrangements

Public Liability Insurance (see Sidebar)

Security — if you have a national celebrity or pop star, security and the entry / exit become more important. An entrance can be easily controlled with gates / crash barriers and security — but must be easy to dismantle in an emergency.


Send Press Releases and follow-up contacts to:
— Local papers.
— Local radio.
— Music papers.
— Try TV too!


Programmes (you could offer free advertising space to local suppliers in return for deals on equipment or services you need).

Leaflets / handbills.

Large posters for roadside sites (friendly printer / local college?).

Banner(s) for site.

Position posters around the area.

Signs for car parking.


Decide how and where to sell them.



Remember free tickets (for performers and helpers).

Also consider asking local firms to help sponsor the event in return for publicity.


Responsible for everything to do with setting up the site.

Liaising with:
Equipment suppliers in advance.
Music Production team — performers' requirements.
Any other participants — caterers, police, residents.

Staging, stage roof, rear stage (set-up) area

Car parking

Volunteer Stewards (with identifying badges):
— some for traffic direction and parking.
— some as 'stage hands' to help move equipment, etc.
— some to help prepare the site.


Safety aspects

Fire extinguishers

First Aid facility (contact St Johns Ambulance Brigade).

Water and toilets — and emptying of toilets!

Communications — hire walkie/talkies etc for large events.

Appoint two people to answer queries, solve problems on the day.

Organisers' tent — for info, sales of related items, programmes, etc.


Responsible for booking and organising artists.

This part is up to you — but remember, the idea of any event is to entertain and give value for money. If it's in aid of charity it still needs to attract a crowd.

Says NMD's Chris Cook: "Don'y just rely on the spirit of the charity. A boring or disorganised show brings no credit to you or to the charity it represents."

Get technical details from each artist:
1. What instruments played.
2. How many vocals.
3. How instruments plug into PA systems (DI boxes etc).
4. Stage plan.

(If you're dealing with professionals this info should come with the contract, in the form of a Technical Rider.)

Allocate each act a time slot. (Remember to allow time for changeovers if there's more than one act. For two music groups in a row with their own gear, allow about 20 minute intervals.

Confirm the bookings — make sure each act knows when it's on and what it needs to bring.

Provide two organisers' contact names and daytime/evening phone numbers.

Liaise with:
Equipment suppliers and operators.
Event Production team — to make sure performers' requirements will be met on the day, and that their free tickets are sent to them.
Stage Production team — to make sure equipment suppliers and stage hands know what each act will need on stage.

Produce a 'Set List'. Give copies to sound and lighting engineers and post a copy in backstage office (if there is one!).


Responsible for organising the stage on the day.

Appoint a Stage Manager — responsible for making sure artists stick to the running order!

Create an artists' facilities area (bar / beer tent?) so that you can find them when needed! As with stagehands, these help in running the show to schedule.

Bad weather equipment — if you're in the open air make sure all electrics are fully covered. Ensure any roofing comes forward of the stage, because driving rain can cause a disaster.

Liaise with:
Equipment suppliers in advance.
Music Production team — performers' requirements.

Allocate volunteers for:
Helping hump gear between vehicles and stage.
Helping set up gear on stage, including mics.
Helping sound and light operators set up their gear.


Refreshments — fruit juice and water.

A couple of towels per act (Says Chris: "Make sure you get them back — they seem to disappear faster than volunteers when something heavy needs moving!").

Fire extinguishers

Backstage lighting (if running late).

Set Lists for everyone.

Separate passes for artists and organisers.

Series - "National Music Day"

Read the next part in this series:

Live End (Part 2)
(SOS Jun 93)

All parts in this series:

Part 1 (Viewing) | Part 2

More with this topic

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Previous Article in this issue

Shape Of Things To Come

Next article in this issue

Roland SP700

Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Sound On Sound - May 1993




National Music Day

Part 1 (Viewing) | Part 2

Feature by Mike Lethby

Previous article in this issue:

> Shape Of Things To Come

Next article in this issue:

> Roland SP700

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