This article on mastering good stage organization was written originally for the blog at Carvin Amps and Audio. I repost it here, and encourage you to check out Carvin’s amazing line of products! Also – notification: I sometimes use affiliate links. Some purchases may earn me a commission! 🙂
Picture this: your lead singer gets excited and decides to do an Irish river dance during your guitar solo. In an ecstatic frenzy, he leaps and careens. The crowd goes berserk. People scream, people dance, your solo turns into an exalted triumph never before seen in your state…
…Then the singer tangles his foot in your cable, lurches forward, unplugs your cabinet with a screech, and bashes his forehead through the kick drum. The room is suddenly silent while you wonder why your strings make no sound. The greatest rock-n-roll moment in your band’s history? Maybe. But the show is also over – bloody and awesome as it may be.
More often, this foot-tangling disaster happens five minutes before go time, in which case you’ve got no show, no sound, and no epic moment.
This is just one reason you may want to take the time to master good stage organization.
Other Reasons To Get It Together
Besides trip hazards, there are some other reasons proper stage organization is smart. First, you’ve got a better shot at great sound if you’re not running audio cables alongside power cables, due to 60hz hum. Second, planning your stage setup well can make it easier to hear yourself and keep your loudness in check. An organized stage also looks better, and after all this is a show. Not only that, a clean stage goes a long way to making performers feel comfortable and confident. Finally, a well-organized stage is a breeze to set up and take down. And that gives you more time to work out your sound!
Keys to Good Stage Organization
It’s not necessarily rocket science getting organized, but here are a few tips to get you started.
- Make a plot – Create a consistent layout on paper, defining where each player will be, where drums, amps and keys will sit, even how cable runs should go. Be sure to allow for performance space, and keep in mind how your members like to perform. Does your singer throw themselves around? Is your bassist prone to jumping into the crowd? In almost every venue, you’ll have to make some tweaks, but at least you’ll have a plan. A proper stage plot will also be necessary to land bigger gigs, so you might as well have one. Here’s a convenient little app to do that.
- Set up gear in order – Establish a consistent order of operations for setup, rather than setting up willy-nilly. The order is up to you, but it’s probably a good idea to setup the biggest elements first. One good setup order might be drums, amps, keys, mic stands, power cables, speaker cables, and mic cables.
- Try Wireless – While wireless systems can come with their own set of obstacles such as interference and reliability issues, there’s no better way to eliminate clutter than to implement wireless solutions like Carvin Audio’s EM900 wireless in-ear monitor system or wireless hand held mics like Carvin’s UX1200MC. Even guitar purists who prefer high quality cables have been known to make the switch to wireless and never look back.
- Flex With The Venue – Sometimes your setup is just too big (or small) for a space. Consider a few alternate drum rigs, cabinets, and even band lineups for various sized rooms. This will not only help you organize your space, but it can work wonders for getting your volume right for the room.
- Use Gaff – Anywhere you need to run a cable across a pathway, be sure to use gaff tape to secure the cable properly. Similarly, you might want to tape down pedal boards or keyboard pedals so they don’t slide around when you step on them – or when the singer’s Irish boogie encroaches on your rig.
- Go Slow – Finally, give yourself time to set up slowly and with purpose. It can often be hard to get into a venue early due to circumstances out of your control, but if possible, get there early and take your time setting up. This way you can follow your plot, run cables strategically, place gear in its right place, and generally keep organized. If you’re in a rush, these things tend to get forgotten.
Stay Organized, Stay Professional
In the end, great stage organization is the key to presenting a professional show, and to being efficient enough to create a professional act (even if you’re an amateur). Organizing your space and your time will have an amazing effect on your look, your sound, your business, and your level of enjoyment.
So, get organized and while you’re at it, let us know your best space-saving stage tips in the comments!