So you have been given the job of organising a live music event and now have the job of finding a production company to provide the PA? Maybe it’s for a fundraiser, or a cultural event, or a concert so you might have a variety of performers both experienced and amateur, paid and voluntary! There will be lots of things to organise with the PA being one of them. Before you get to the technical stuff like speakers and microphones, here are 5 basic but very important things to consider and check out before engaging them:
· Do they have public liability insurance? Even with the best of PA set ups, there is always the chance of an accident. PA systems for live music events use heavy speakers – sometimes they are suspended, or more often stacked or on stands with many audio and power leads. Regardless of how meticulous the set up is, there is always the chance of an accident. The gold standard in Australia for public liability cover is generally $20m and if your PA hire company is doing the delivery and set up for you, it is essential to check that they have public liability insurance and that it is current. They should state this on their website or booking information, but if you are unsure, always ask. If you are planning an event in an area that is under the control of a local or state government, you may not be able to proceed unless the PA hire company provides a copy of the certificate of currency for their insurance.
· Are all their electrical leads tested and tagged? Electrical power is dangerous, particularly if your event is being held outside. A faulty lead can create major power problems for your entire event. At best it can create and send hums and buzzes through the speakers spoiling the sound and annoying your performers and patrons; at worst it can blow fuses and cut the power completely shutting down all of the equipment that is connected to the same circuit, neither of which should ever happen. If your sound hire company cares about their equipment and their customers, they will have all of their power leads and boards regularly tested and tagged. Look for the test and tag labels on their equipment but if you are unsure, ask them. Again, many venues will not allow equipment to be set up and connected if the power leads are not tested and tagged.
· Are their sound technicians qualified? Do they either have formal live sound engineering qualifications or extensive years of experience in live sound production? Whilst there is no requirement for live sound technicians to be licenced, it is a highly technical field and requires knowledge, skill and experience to be able to produce a quality sound for your patrons and performers. Frequently, they will be asked to adjust things on the run to the performer’s requirements, or work with unusual instruments or set ups at very short or no notice so a sound technical knowledge, the ability to make quick technical decisions along with a ‘can do’ attitude is essential. You want someone who enjoys the challenge of the unpredictable nature of engineering live sound! It is generally the music that people will come for, so it is wise not to trust the sound to either unqualified or inexperienced sound operators. If your event is outdoors, this is even more important. There are many more considerations for producing a quality sound in an outdoor setting .. but that’s a topic for another blog 😊
· Do they use sound workplace health and safety practices? The safety of the performers, your patrons and other organisers is paramount. Ask your sound production company how they go about ensuring that the ‘workplace’ is safe during and after the gear is set up. Hopefully, they will have photos on their website showing examples of their set ups, they may have a safety policy or it may be included in their Terms and Conditions. Either way, you need to be comfortable that they have sound safety practices and can supply safety equipment where necessary to minimise or eliminate hazards. Whilst it’s not possible to cater for every possibility, and the general public can be very unpredictable especially at live music events, it is critical that your sound hire company make every effort to maintain a safe workplace onsite.
· Do they have prior experience with similar sized events and are there client testimonials available? Whilst everyone needs to start somewhere, you want to be sure that the company you hire has a good track record of providing sound production for live music events in the past. After all, the music is everything at these events! There may be food and other stalls and activities available at the event, but in the end it is the music that people come to hear and will make your event go off big time! Look for the testimonials on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and their Google Reviews, and if you are still not sure, ask for previous clients that they have worked for that you may contact for a reference. An experienced sound production company will know how to smoothly and professionally make your event a roaring success and so make you the hero of the day!
Check 1-2 PA Hire & Production have extensive experience with live music events having provided the complete audio production, lighting and staging for outdoor events, live shows and multicultural festivals. Contact Mike, Brett or Rhys on 33252433 or 0417638155 for a no obligation friendly chat and we will be more than happy to help you with your event.