TSE Entertainment was tasked with producing a festival concert for the Parks and Recreation Department of Kerrville, Texas. The event was the First Annual Kerrville River Festival. In addition, this year’s concert was also a celebration of the city’s 130th Anniversary.
This was to be the biggest event yet produced by the Kerrville Parks & Recreation Department and so they sought out an experienced booking and production agency to help them with this effort. The result was a terrific team effort. TSE prefers to be looked upon as part of the client’s team in producing a festival concert. We try as much as possible to integrate functions with their team to achieve the best results for a concert.
Definition: Producing a festival concert versus supplying local production
TSE Entertainment is a full-service entertainment booking and production agency. Many of our events involve booking the talent for events such as county fairs, festivals, corporate events, charity galas and private party. We also are tasked with providing local production, i.e., sound system, lighting and staging for many of the events we book. These are routine tasks for an agency like ours that’s been doing it since 1975.
Producing a Concert is very different than providing local production. Producing a festival concert means handling all aspects of the concert from site issues to load out. Site issues involve how best to configure the event site for audience viewing of performers as well as placing all the amenities and services and vendors around the site to achieve good crowd distribution, access and control.
What Goes in to Producing a Festival Concert? Preparation!
It should be noted that many of the following steps can overlap each other.
- Hiring a Reputable Festival Concert Production Company: Unless you are experienced at producing a festival concert, you should have a partner that is. In this case, the Kerrville Parks and Recreation Department recognized that they never put on such a big concert event and approached TSE to assist them.
- Budget: Because the city wanted the event and everything associated with it to be free to the public, the event had an all-inclusive budget. That meant that all expenses from performance fees to portable toilets had to come out of the same pot of money. Given what we knew about the venue and expected audience, a preliminary performance fee was established for booking the bands needed. TSE’s experience with previous concerts helped with determining a reasonable budget for entertainers.
- Matching Venue to Performers and Audience: Let’s use the Kerrville River Festival as an example of what exactly goes into producing a great concert. The first thing is to make sure the concert venue fits the needs of the anticipated performers and expected audience. This is even more important as festival concerts are typically outdoor events and might take place in a pasture, park or some other location.
For this event, TSE made two site visits to the park where the city wanted to hold the event. The first planning meeting was to visit the site with the client to learn firsthand what their thoughts and plans were for the event. Because another concert was scheduled in the same area a couple of months prior to the River Festival concert, TSE staff also attended this concert to see how the other concert producers dealt with site issues. We took note of any issues and made notes as to how the concert experience might be improved for both artists and the audience.
- Developing a Site Plan: After surveying the site, TSE put together a site plan using photos from our drone and measurements we took as part of the site survey. Using a drone makes the process much easier and the plan much more realistic. Because this is a back end of the park without amenities, the site plan had to account for everything. Except to access to electricity in one area, the venue would be like putting on a concert in a field.
- Booking the Entertainers: The Kerrville River Festival is a non-ticketed event, so TSE used flat guarantees to book the bands; in this case four of them. The Entertainment budget was determined by working backward from the budget for the whole event. Based on our experience a working budget for entertainment was approved by the client
- Branding: For a first of what is meant to be an annual event, establishing a name and brand is important. Things like logo, color scheme, and other branding elements needed to be decided. While this was not TSE’s responsibility under the Agreement, TSE offered its help as a company that works with branding issues.
- Sponsorships: The city wanted to create sponsorship opportunities for businesses and civic organizations. If sponsorships are needed for the event to take place, developing a sponsorship package is critical. Sponsorship development should be done early in the process. TSE offered suggestions for sponsor perks, but the Parks and Recreation Department handled this effort. Given the timelines involved, they did a great job of finding sponsors.
- Promotion: No event is going to draw people without an active promotion campaign. For this event the promotion was a joint effort. Kerrville provided the offline promotional materials and street team and worked with local radio to promote the show. TSE handled social media promotion and radio advertising to promote the event. TSE also worked with the entertainers to use their social media presence to promote their participation in the event.
- Decide What’s Needed: Based on the venue, the projected crowd size and expected entertainment needs, a list of needed services and equipment is created. They are plugged into a budget spreadsheet to track expenses as the event develops.
This is the responsibility of the festival concert producer working with the client to identify local vendors who might participate. In this event TSE helped to also identify food and novelty vendors that could be on site for the event and worked with them on getting the necessary health or fire department permits for the events.
- Checklist: I don’t care how many times you may have produced a show, checklists should be part of your tools. You may have multiple layers of checklists. For example, you might have an “expendables” checklist that is one item in the more comprehensive checklist for the event.
- Get Vendor Quotes and settle on vendors: Lots of emails and phone calls are required to get quotes on staging, sound, lights, fencing, tents, RV for Green Room, generators, portable toilets, trash services, etc. All this is on top of advancing the show for hospitality and technical needs of the bands performing. It’s up to the concert producer to make decisions with the client to bring the budget into line, if necessary.
- Create Timeline for Event: A comprehensive timeline of all the activities involved with the event is an essential piece of producing a festival concert. Everyone involved should have a copy of the timeline, so they know exactly what occurs when. The overall timeline deals with all the activities running up to the event and is in terms of weeks or event months. The second timeline is the “run-of-show” timeline. It deals in the days leading up to the concert event. It includes all of the activities needed to make the concert happen from security meetings, stage arrival, road closures, load in, sound check, performance times, load out, etc. In this case the “Run-of-Show” timeline ran from Thursday to Monday with the concert taking place on Saturday.
What Goes in to Producing a Festival Concert? People!
The key to producing a successful festival or concert is having the right team of people. The Kerrville Parks and Recreation Department people were a pleasure to work with for the River Festival. TSE worked closely with them as one team to pull off this event.
TSE established four teams with an overall show manager to produce this festival concert. Below are the overall duties for each team assigned to work the Kerrville River Festival
Overall Concert Producer
Arrive on site Thursday morning for stage placement, meetings and last minute details that may need addressing.
- Create Promotion Plan and budget for out of town promotion
- Select appropriate promotions channels
- Oversee advertising spend
- Make changes as needed
- Work with Bands to obtain promotion materials
- Create promotional materials as needed
- Work with Kerrville Parks and Rec department on promotion-related issues
- Carry out promotion plan.
Arrive on Friday morning. Work with Kerrville Parks & Recreation Department on the following:
- Oversee site set up working with KP&R
- Assist vendors as needed, including Beer tent set up.
- RV pickup and set up, including generator provided by sponsor
- Assure that rigid fencing is in place with the ability to let RV and band vehicles access secure site.
- Set up Children’s play area soft fencing
- Set up VIP viewing soft fencing
- Assist KP&R Dept with table and chairs set up.
- Assure that Beer tent is set up where needed
- Put up TSE-provided 10 X 10 tents (4 total) for the following:
- Monitor Mix
- FOH with one or two side panels
- Merchandise sales (2, side by side with one side panel for each
- Install/assist KR&R with logo banners on rigid fencing and other areas
- Install banner on Merchandise tents
- Assure that Porto potties are distributed according to site plan.
- Assure trash bins are distributed around venue
- Work with volunteers to pick up lumber needed to cross drainage ditch to stage
- Install 2 X 8 and plywood over drainage ditch.
- Act to provide additional security for items on site.
- Oversee food/novelty vendor placement with those without generators being nearest to stage (see site plot)
- Set out cardboard trash bins around site.
- Assist vendors with any issues they might have
- Assist KR&R with signs and caution tape installation and monitor that shade canopies are behind indicated site line.
- Create “No Shade Canopies Beyond This point line with grass paint.
- Be available to assist with items that might arise.
- Assist bands and stage team for load in and load out as necessary
- Assist with stage access security
- Take down and pack pop up tents.
- Assist with taking down banners/signage.
- Return generator
- Return RV trailer
- Oversee site clean up
Arrive Saturday morning at 9:00:
- Local Hospitality for bands and VIP/Sponsors
- Provide Green Room catering needs for bands
- Provide local transportation for band members and crew for hotel and meal runs
- Act as band liaison for all activities except performance-related issues.
- Be responsible for Sponsorship/VIP area and refreshments (if provided)
- Coordinate Meet and Greet for VIP/Sponsors with headliner
- Pack up extra food and drinks and assure Green Room RV is ready to move.
Concert Stage Team:
Arrive Saturday morning at 9:00
- Oversee backstage area
- Make sure artist adhere to schedule for
- Load In
- Sound/line check
- Perform according to scheduled time
- Load out
- Work with sound and light vendors to make sure artists technical/production needs are met
- Stage set up to stage plot
- Input list
- Oversee sound check and monitor mix is right
- Help bands take down and set up for next set.
- Get introductions from bands and work with Emcee to make sure he has info needed from bands
- See that bands perform according to schedule
- Provide any announcements that need to be made to Emcee
- Act to provide stage security
- Assist as stagehands for band load-in, change over and load out.
Concert Production: Bob
Will arrive Thursday for stage placement and do markings for rigid fencing, children’s area and beer tent setup.
As you can easily see, producing a festival concert takes both a lot of preparation and a great team of people. The Kerrville River Festival went off without a hitch because the Kerrville Parks & Recreation Department and TSE Entertainment had both done the preparation needed and had great people involved with it. I couldn’t end this post without a big thank you and shout out to all the people involved in it.