Often when we think of audio production, we think about all the preparation, the setups, teardowns, and the actual mixing of the event.
There is as much about the people aspect of audio production that us highly technical introverts should look toward as partners in our overall production.
Have you stopped to think about all the people along the way, though, that we interact with? Those may include stagehands, musicians, pastors, facilities workers, rental employees, and more.
The truth is there is more to audio production than just pushing buttons. There is as much about the people aspect of audio production that us highly technical introverts should look toward as partners in our overall production.
Partner with those on stage
The most obvious group of people in audio production that you would be interacting with are the musicians and singers on stage. If there is one group that is key to have good relationships with, it is this group. When anything disrupts this relationship balance, the entire event is at risk of being soured by cold attitudes.
Strive to make this relationship a true partnership.
It is always my hope that no matter what is going on, I am willing to help and dialogue with them regarding their needs. In return, you will find that they are also willing to go the extra mile, which will help you as well.
Make every effort to be available and greet every person who comes on stage. Even if you are on your hands and knees taping cables down, shout out a big hello to those who walk on stage. I have found that while talking to many musicians on stage, that I’ve become more familiar with their musical backgrounds and gear that they bring in. From there, you have opened the door to more dialogue. Then as that dialogue expands between each of you, those musicians are going to start coming to you for ideas, feedback, suggestions, and support.
Because of these relations, I have also become more familiar with their personal lives. Many musicians who I now count as friends, I also go for a run or to the gym with, and likewise they encourage me in some aspects of my personal life.
And it all started, because of these on-stage conversations.
Partnering with the most unlikely
In my career, I have often found the most important relationships have come from those who are off-stage, who have nothing to do with production or music.
Think about it, as you are busy setting up gear for events, or even programming your weekends at an installed location, look around you, who do you see?
Your greatest relationship for your production just might be those that work for your facilities team.
As I sit here right now writing this article, I am surrounded by an amazing group of ladies cleaning the seats. When I walk in, I chat with them, sometimes take lunch with them, and I’ve even prayed with them at staff prayer meetings.
As a result, they look at me as someone who partners with them and shares the same space. We also look out for each other, as they let me know when they have seen something odd, or when I need an extra towel to wipe a computer screen. I’ve even helped them when they just needed another set of hands to pick something heavy up.
My other most unlikely relationship has always been with those that work security. Much like facilities, as you foster that relationship, you will begin to look out for each other.
Both these teams are also great to collaborate with on overall safety and security. These topics can include emergency actions, use of lifts, opening and closing of buildings, slip and trip hazards, and so much more.
Look to making those around you succeed
Audio production can cover a massive amount of crew, gear, and then to add on top of it all, those interactions and relationships we have already mentioned. As you continue to foster all those relationships, always look to see that everyone around you is set up for success.
Setting up people for success may make you think you need to gear prep, get those inputs lists made, program consoles out ahead of time and more. It is!
The part where we set people up for success, though, means you are going to extra mile to brief people on the little things. Remember that conversation you had with your bass player, his gear, and learned some fun things about him? Make sure your monitor engineer knows about it, and it will open the door for him to relate faster with that musician.
Do this even with your volunteers, who may be mixing audio. Have you talked to them about the worship leaders’ love for harmonies, vocal blends, and more?
Encourage your engineers to strike up vocal blend conversations prior to rehearsal. Not only will your engineer learn mix preferences, they immediately have also begun to establish rapport with the singers on stage.
Celebrate the failures
This might be one of the most unlikely things you would think of. But there is a good chance something will always go wrong in varying degrees of failure. It could be a bad cable, direct box, a major piece of gear, and even an entire console.
Regardless of what happened, remember one thing, you got through it!
Too often blame of a person or gear is the topic of conversation. Do your best to steer away from that negativity. It’s bad enough a failure happened, even if it’s just a cable.
Often techs take these small things very personally and feel blame has been placed on them.
Always strive to celebrate the person who solved the problem. It doesn’t matter if it was a stagehand who ran out on stage to replace a cable, change a battery out in the wireless mic, or had to load a backup console up in a truck to run it to a venue.
Make sure each and every person who is hustling to solve any size of a problem is thanked. Even more so, make sure the entire team has heard you celebrating that person.
After all is said and done, debrief the issue, specifically ask the person who had to run out and fix the problem about their suggestions for overcoming future failures or faster replacement options and processes. By doing so, you not only take the feeling of failure and blame away from your teams, but you turn it into them knowing they are valued heroes and people who can be trusted with specific solutions.
As I wrap this up, I can’t say enough how important relationships are key to what we do. Audio production often is just looked at from the technical and audible perspectives.
It is so much more than that.
Production is family to me and is often the place where I have my most meaningful relationships. Look around you and see to whom you can also begin to increase your family with.