By Susan Heaton-Wright at Viva Live Music
Spring is now upon us and plenty of events are being organised for the summer. If live music is something you’re considering, here are 7 top tips to consider to ensure the venue is suitable and prepared and your musicians are well looked after:
1. Rain. Living in the United Kingdom, we are used to a variety of weather, even in the summer and it is wise and sensible to have a ‘plan B’ in place, in case it suddenly rains. In the case of musicians, there are health and safety issues when they are using electrical equipment and rain. If you insist they play outside, there must be cover of the equipment and instruments to avoid accidents. Also, many stringed instruments (e.g. violins, harps) will be damaged by rain, even a drop. Since these are very valuable, no string player will want to risk their instrument being damaged, so if in any doubt about the weather, provide temporary cover as a precaution. A good music company like Viva Live Music will advise you about this before the event.
2. Sunshine. Of course we want sunshine at your event! However, for some instrumentalists, this is a hazard. String instruments, in particular, could be damaged by direct sunlight and understandably musicians get jumpy if they are asked to play outside in sunshine. Provide a canopy or gazebo for the musicians to be seated under, or shade, then they’ll be happy. For bands, direct sunlight could cause hazard to their equipment, so do discuss this with the band before the event and if necessary provide shade or a gazebo.
3. Temperatures. If it is really hot, your musicians could wilt in heat; make sure you provide them with plenty of water and soft drinks! If it is cold, some musicians will struggle to keep their fingers moving after a period of time and instruments are more difficult to keep in tune. If necessary allow them to wear gloves and warmer clothing and provide a warm place for them to thaw out between their sets!
4. Access to power. Jazz bands, bands, dancers and singers require power. Make sure there is access to power sockets and have a discussion with your entertainment prior to the event and include this in your planning schedule. A good music company like Viva Live Music will highlight this requirement early on in the negotiation. Remember that any power provision must reach health and safety standards.
5. Noise levels. Some venues and localities have noise restrictions; either they are decibel level restrictions or timing restrictions. Some venues have a meter that measures decibel levels. It cuts off the power when music goes over this level. There is a venue in Hertfordshire that allows DJs and discos, but not ANY instrument, including a harp or string quartet, which are definitely quieter! So it is worthwhile checking what restrictions, if any, there are when planning. Ensure you inform the musicians and entertainers before the event to warn them.
6. Acoustics. Sound bounces on walls, but gets lost in a big field unless you have very powerful sound systems to enhance the sound. If you place an acoustic string quartet in the middle of a field, their beautiful sound is likely to be lost. Within a small space, such as a courtyard, any sound, including guests speaking, will be amplified. This is important if there are noise restrictions. An acoustic instrument like an accordion will sound louder than in a larger space. Take advice from your entertainment provider and if necessary place entertainment in a good spot to make the most of their music.
7. Wind. Wind plays havoc on sound! If you have been to an outdoor concert when there is strong wind, it sometimes affects the sound and quality of the music and entertainment. For musicians who have music, they always worry their music will blow away. If you can, put musicians in a sheltered place. They will provide clips for their music, but any shelter helps!
For bands and entertainment requiring sound systems, speak to the sound engineers so they have contingency plans in place to alter speaker locations if necessary.
We hope you have a great time organising your event and will use live music entertainment outside as part of your event! To discuss options for live entertainment, please talk to Viva Live Music.