This year I was privileged to experience the No Greater Love music festival in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in a unique way. I was the backstage manager, which meant that I spent my day pointing people backstage in the right direction and attempted to answer their questions.
The festival consisted of headliners Michael W Smith and Switchfoot. Fantastic. There were many new acts for me to experience for the first time, local artists to showcase regional talent to Calgary, and a host of random artists that made the whole experience diverse.
With so many thoughts about the music festival going through my head, I just wanted to focus on a few observations I had during my time working backstage.
1. Gear Efficiency
If you were an opener, everyone loved you when you knew how to get your pedal boards, amps, monitors, cymbals, keyboards, computers, and wireless packs together. If you were slow in the process or continuously requested revisions to stage plots, set lengths, or gear, it was hard to work with you. I’ve always made it a priority to have simple stage layouts during my shows, and it made me value that even more.
2. Business Professionalism
The bright light behind the rock star has faded. Everyone can see through the persona directly to the person in this digital age. Be a business professional. The stage, the studio, the merchandising, the records; they can all be tools for an image, but they can also be a tool to show character. Strong business acumen and practices are encouraging managers, agents, producers, labels, and promoter to book artists. We are now in the age of business artists.
Audiences are getting smarter. Artists are judged as much for their skill as they are for their character. If you don’t believe me, read a gossip column or tabloid. If artists don’t decide who they want to be as people, audiences won’t decide who those people want to be as artists. Clothing, banter, friendships, personal management, speech, diction, eye contact, posture, gestures; pick anything. An audience member could make or break their decision about following an artists career in a split second with the wrong impression.
I’ve been inspired, and I will continue to pursue these qualities in my music career. Thanks to the No Greater Love festival for letting me participate.