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Author Topic: How are you preparing for the future (of live sound) during this time?  (Read 2371 times)

Mark Scrivener

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Given there are zero to very few gigs now (and for the foreseeable future), I'd love to hear what people are doing during this time to prepare for a return to "normal" (what ever that might be). I'll share some of the things I've been doing:

1. I purchased a 20'x20' outdoor canopy. My thinking is small/private/outdoor/backyard/limited gatherings will be the first "events" to return, and shade structures will be critical to making these "events" work. 20'x20' is big enough to cover a small stage.

2. I am building a modular/portable stage - 16' x 12', consisting of 4'x4' torsion boxes that link together with alignment pins and roto locks (aka coffin locks). Modules are built, just need to sand and paint. Looking very nice and it is extremely stiff. Modules are only 2.5" thick - so easy for one person to move. For elevation it will go on cinder blocks, 5 gal buckets, or what ever depending on the surface below and the required height. Again, small outdoor events, and possibly small side stages if we ever get festivals again....

3. I've invested in video gear - mainly for teaching my guitar students, but also for live streaming events (once we have them again). Cameras, video switchers, encoders, etc.

4. I've been re-evaluating my sound equipment - how things are racked, what cables/snakes/drops I have, and trying to optimize everything for quicker/easier setup and strike.

And finally, I plan to update my online presence and advertising to insure I'm in a position to get the clients I want when the time is right.

So what are others doing? How do we make the best use of this time?

Caleb Dueck

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Given there are zero to very few gigs now (and for the foreseeable future), I'd love to hear what people are doing during this time to prepare for a return to "normal" (what ever that might be). I'll share some of the things I've been doing:

1. I purchased a 20'x20' outdoor canopy. My thinking is small/private/outdoor/backyard/limited gatherings will be the first "events" to return, and shade structures will be critical to making these "events" work. 20'x20' is big enough to cover a small stage.

2. I am building a modular/portable stage - 16' x 12', consisting of 4'x4' torsion boxes that link together with alignment pins and roto locks (aka coffin locks). Modules are built, just need to sand and paint. Looking very nice and it is extremely stiff. Modules are only 2.5" thick - so easy for one person to move. For elevation it will go on cinder blocks, 5 gal buckets, or what ever depending on the surface below and the required height. Again, small outdoor events, and possibly small side stages if we ever get festivals again....

3. I've invested in video gear - mainly for teaching my guitar students, but also for live streaming events (once we have them again). Cameras, video switchers, encoders, etc.

4. I've been re-evaluating my sound equipment - how things are racked, what cables/snakes/drops I have, and trying to optimize everything for quicker/easier setup and strike.

And finally, I plan to update my online presence and advertising to insure I'm in a position to get the clients I want when the time is right.

So what are others doing? How do we make the best use of this time?

The last two points look great.  The first two - how have/will you address the liability aspect? 
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Mark Scrivener

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The last two points look great.  The first two - how have/will you address the liability aspect?

The canopy and stage (at least initially) I see as rental items for people having private events - I'm not hosting the event, nor even participating. If they want to rent a canopy and stage, I'll deliver, set up, and pick it up when it's over. Once we start having real events (that are both allowed and people feel safe attending) then I can use them for my own events or stay as a sound provider, band member, etc. Bottom line, I don't see corona virus liability concerns in those cases. The liabilities that do exist are covered under my existing business insurance....

-canopy blowing over or collapsing (commercial canopy, anchored with 8 stakes, each 3' long and 1" in diameter, secured with commercial webbing...basically industry best practices for large tents and canopies at big events)

-stage failure or someone falling off stage - I will only set up the stage on a low riser (like cinder blocks) and require client to sign a liability release regarding tripping and falling off stage, etc. Stage is rock solid, you could park cars on this thing, so falling off is my only concern.

Obviously there is always liability risk with any operation (drunk knocks over SoS, trips over cable, etc), so we do what we can to minimize the risk and carry insurance.

Keith Broughton

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Given there are zero to very few gigs now (and for the foreseeable future), I'd love to hear what people are doing during this time to prepare for a return to "normal" (what ever that might be).
Semi retirement for me. 8)
I don't run a production company and only own personal computers and tools so I will take gigs that may come up but am not looking to make a "full time" income.
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Kevin Maxwell

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If a canopy is meant for shade consider what happens when the sun is getting lower in the sky. One regular outdoor concert series that we had been doing for years (till this year) the sun when going down was shining in from the stage right side of the show mobile. For the FOH tent I picked up a shade cloth with grommets. And this would be rigged to my left so as the sun would normally be shining in to from my left I still had shade without losing my ability to see to my left. And I was still able to have visibility of the screen and LEDs on the digital console. I suggested to the Parks and Rec department that was putting on these concerts that we get one of the shade cloths of an appropriate size to hang on the stage right side to keep the performers from melting in the sun. They didnít go for it but if we ever do those shows again I am going to bring up the issues that a few musicians had in the sun last year, almost needing to be transported to the hospital.
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Jerome Malsack

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maintenance,  cable checks,  painting chipped speaker cabinets,  vehicle, trailers maintenance.   Lighting updates and reprogramming light show. 

 
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Ed Taylor

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perfect, timely post  Mark

There are other guys in my area that have trailer/stage system small rigs, not Stageline stuff...those production houses take it to a next level that is larger than I care to be with my little part time rig.

Bulk of my work is wedding/corp party type stuff so we go with whatever the venue setting has. There are catering/tent companies that provide stage/cover that is not production oriented, and I leave it to that.

but, like you, I have made time to pull all the gear out...paid my day-rate guys a couple days pay to help them a bit, and we basically pulled/checked/relabeled every cable. Did some cable layouts for a couple different setups, to make sure we had everything, and had it organized.
actually powered up everything to make sure all was in working order and did some maintenance as needed.
finally, I made some space in my home office for one of the digital consoles..mainly cause I miss messin with it, but also to keep me fresh on operating it and to test a couple newer speakers/subs to find their sweet spots, etc
my next project is to remount the DMX fixtures..always looking at ways to get lighting up/down more efficiently.
thought I had it figured out last year, but we hit a couple different venues that made us have to pull some stuff apart.
my DMX programming is pretty basic...stage color wash, scene changes, and includes some FX/DJ for dance floor stuff.. I like for the FX (Kintas, etc) to go crazy, or to go to hold blue for example for something slow...when I see DJs that just turn their fx lights on and let them run their factory pattern all night, even when there's a slow dance..it drives me nuts.
I've been using the little wirless dongles for several years now and they work well, so it keeps cable down. It's more about having lamps pre-mounted to T-bars, etc that still provides variety of setup.
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Ed Taylor

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Semi retirement for me. 8)
I don't run a production company and only own personal computers and tools so I will take gigs that may come up but am not looking to make a "full time" income.

agree...I sold my pro-level backline company a couple years back..but I've always had a "day job"..with big corporate, so it's been a real blessing to have steady pay and working from my house this year.
my small private events rig was supposed to be my retirement/extra income thing, so a dozen gigs a year make me happy, let me do some extra things like scuba trips offshore, but not traveling right now anyway.
When this world does start to reopen, i expect it to be small stuff, and I'll look to get some portion of that, but the little bit that is out there right now, I've been pushing to friends who own much larger shops and that's their whole income..so I want them to have work.. i can continue t hybernate my rig
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Tim McCulloch

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I've taken more webinars, online training and certification classes than I ever imagined possible.  When the pandemic lifts I'll be qualified to use equipment I'll probably never actually touch, to do gigs the likes of which I won't be hired for, and have nearly 40 years of experience go down the pan.

I should be looking for bankruptcy lawyers so I don't lose my house.

I'm a bit envious of you small weekend guys and gals.  For probably 50% of folks like me this is likely the end of careers and companies... folks who went all-in and now will be out of biz because of political influence on public health matters and members of the public that fosters such things (and ignore public health instructions).  I had 6 months of savings.  My employer did, too.  That money is almost gone because there are expenses that never stop - insurance, taxes, professional expenses (taxes, legal), utilities... things that don't go away just because gigs did.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Ed Taylor

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Hear ya Tim...and i hate this for you and all my buds out here.

I have almost always kept working at my "day job" in the IT industry..used that paycheck to pay my personal bills and keep that burden off the back of my small biz.
For over 15 years i owned a pro backline shop. Huge privilege of serving so many of my favorite artists and more.
it was backline only , so I worked under most of the big production shops and have come to know so many friends over the years.
their operational costs include payrolls, warehouse, truck leases, on and on.
and like you've said, those expenses didn't just go away when the governors locked us down.

Timing had been in my favor when I sold my backline biz couple years back..who knew.

the small private events biz that I kept out of all of this, was intended to provide some additional cash in my retirement years..noting more...had not planned to make a living from small local audio.

I continue to communicate with event planners, etc throughout this time in hopes that work will turn up.. and as it does, I'll funnel it towards guys like you that make your entire living with the huge investment you've got.. I want to see folks like you survive and succeed...then if there are leftovers when the market returns, I'll be happy to scrape up stuff the big shops don't care to do, things that normally don't fit in their biz model.
I've also had to watch small ops guys try to dump gear on craigslist/ebay/facebookmarket  just to keep the light bill paid....so I know that the industry footprint is going to look quite a bit different when we reopen the world.
I thought having some basic backline and a small PA was a good fallback plan, but right now, it's a no-plan...other than it's all paid for and it doesn't cost me anything to sit in the audio trailer and garage..
if my day job goes away..yeah...bad days cause my fallback plan has no play at this time.

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Re: How are you preparing for the future (of live sound) during this time?
¬ę Reply #9 on: July 29, 2020, 12:26:58 pm ¬Ľ


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