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ounty Parks C e e k u a w il



permiting •


insur arketing • budgeting ance • band mana gement


CONCERTS IN THE PARKS... ...A MILWAUKEE TRADITION Open air music in Milwaukee County Parks has a long tradition. More than 40,000 people turned out for the inaugural concert at the Washington Park ‘Temple of Music’ in 1938; many of the first Summerfest concerts in the 1960’s were held in county parks, and today, thousands flock to parks across the county to enjoy over 100 free concerts every summer. This guide was created to help organizations like yours continue this great tradition and work in-tune with Milwaukee County Parks to host concerts in the parks.


Postcard of the Blatz Bandshell in Washington Park, also known as the Temple of Music

WHY HOST A CONCERT? Hosting a concert, or concert series, is a rewarding experience that requires a lot of planning and hard work, but if you put in the time to find good musicians, create a realistic budget, and promote your event, it can become an event that can have a positive and lasting impact in your neighborhood. Concerts can also be a great a fundraising opportunity for your organization through sponsorships from local businesses, revenue from vendors or from concessions sales.


CONCERT INSPIRATION Many of the most successful concert series held in Milwaukee County Parks spaces are organized by Friends Groups and Neighborhood Organizations. Here are a few of the most popular series:

Chill on the Hill

Wonderful Wednesdays

Bay View Neighborhood Association Humboldt Park

Friends of Lake Park Lake Park

Each Tuesday evening from June through August, Bay View neighbors gather on the vast hillside above the band shell to enjoy free music performed by local musicians. The popular event was named People’s Choice – Best Venue by the 2013 WAMI Awards.

Wonderful Wednesdays is a series of seven concerts geared for children and their families. The free concerts are held at the Lake Park Summer Stage on Wednesdays in June and July.

Jazz in the Park

River Rhythms

EastTown Association Cathedral Square Park

Westown Association Pere Marquette Park

Every Thursday from May to August, crowds gather for an eclectic lineup of jazz, big band, funk, R & B, reggae, blues and more. The free music starts at 6pm, but stop by early for Jazz in the Park Happy Hour and get great drink specials from 5-6pm!

Westown’s free, outdoor summer concert series in Pere Marquette Park is the premiere place to be on Wednesday nights. Every Wednesday from June to August , River Rhythms will play host to some of the finest local talent.


GETTING STARTED Organizing a concert is a big undertaking, so it helps to find partners to share the workload. Creating a concert committee and defining clear roles for committee members, will greatly help with planning your event. Committee Roles

One-off event or a series?

Once you gather enough people to form an event committee you’ll need to decide who is doing what. Here are a few key roles you’ll need to fill:

A key initial decision will be to determine if you’re going to plan a one-off concert, or aim for a season long series. There are pros and cons to both. While a one-off concert requires less planning and less funding, a series may be more appealing to sponsors and may be easier to market the event to your local neighborhood.

Promoter - this role will lead communications and marketing efforts (including coordinating with the Parks marketing team), manage social media, press releases and advertising. Sponsorship coordinator - this role will be the lead for generating cash or in-kind sponsorships from local businesses or leading crowd-funding efforts to raise funds from individuals.

Pick a Concert Series Name If you’re hosting a concert series (or even a music festival) you’ll need a good name - but be sure to do some Google searches, and maybe even a trademark search, to check your desired name is available.

Event coordinator - this role will be in charge or event logistics, including creating the concert schedule, contacting and booking bands, applying for event permits and organizing site set-up and take-down. Treasurer - this role is in charge of your money. They’ll keep track of money taken in from sponsorships and expenses and be responsible for paying bands and vendors. Organizations like Park People can provide Fiscal Sponsorship if you’re not a 501(c)3.

when you narrow down potential names for your concert series, do a domain name search to see if a memorable URL is available


CHOOSE YOUR VENUE Milwaukee County Parks boasts over 150 parks, many of which could be an ideal location to host a concert. Here are some tips on picking a venue: The first step to hosting a concert is to determine a suitable location. Answering these questions will narrow down the choice venues:

The answers to these questions will help you determine which parks are suitable. Important considerations include:

How many people are you aiming to attract?

Is adequate parking available?

Are you planning a one-off concert or a series?

Is there a suitable space for a stage?

How many artists will you have performing?

Does the local municipality have noise ordinances?

What day of the week will your concert be held on?

What amenities are available, e.g. bandshells, restrooms, paved paths.

Check the calendar at countyparks. com and previous year’s calendar to see if your planned events will clash with existing events nearby 6 IN-TUNE GUIDE

SET YOUR BUDGET Concerts held in parks are typically free to the public to attend - so you’ll need funding to cover your concert costs. You’ll probably need to set a budget for all of the items below. Typically $2,000-5,000 per concert is a good ballpark figure to budget for.

Musician Fees

Venue Rental Fees

Amenity Rental Fees (port-a-johns, stage, tent, etc)

Sound Technician Fees

Marketing & Promotion



APPLY FOR PERMITS Before you start booking bands you’ll need to apply for a Special Event Permit from Milwaukee County Parks. Here’s how to apply: 1. Fill out the Special Event Permit Application Form Complete the online application form, available at

2. Pay Permit Fees The Special Event Coordinator will review your application, and if approved, you will receive an email with fees and requirements that need to be met in-order to obtain your Special Event Permit. All special event permit fees include sales tax (5.6%). If you are a tax-exempt organization, a copy of your Certificate of Tax Exemption issued by the Department of Revenue from the State of Wisconsin needs to be submitted.

3. Plan the Site Once your Special Event Application is approved, contact the Parks Deputy Regional Manager (the contact information will be on your permit paperwork) to work out any details. Your Regional Manager can help determine a suitable areas for stage set-up and determine what equipment you’ll need to rent. Download a park map from and mark the areas for event set-up on the map.

As well as paying the permit fee, you’ll also need proof of insurance and a noise variance permit if applicable.

Certificate of Insurance: You’ll also need a “Certificate of Insurance” in the amount of $1,000,000 worth of general liability coverage, that names Milwaukee County Parks as an additional insured for the date(s) of your event including set-up and tear-down date(s). Noise Variance Permit: The City of Milwaukee is the only municipality that requires a Noise Variance Permit. To apply for your Noise Variance Permit please call (414) 286-3280 or visit


Partnering with insured organizations as co-presenters can meet the insurance requirement

SELLING FOOD & DRINK Selling concessions, including alcohol, can help raise revenue to cover the cost of hosting a concert series. Here are some tips on organizing vendors:

1. Special Event Permit Application: If you wish to sell food and/or drink at your event be sure to complete the relevant sections on the Special Event Application Permit.

2. Set a Vendor Fee: Milwaukee County Parks will require a fee for each vendor that attends. Payments are collected by your organization and will be due a week before each event. The fees due to Milwaukee County Parks will be included in your permit paperwork - and you are free to add your own vendor fee as a way of raising additional revenue. Alternatively you can agree to receive a percentage of sales from each vendor.

3. Vendors Must Meet Permit Requirements: Vendors must comply with the requirements the city or municipality licensing division & health department and must have all proper licensing available for inspection on all concert dates.

Selling Alcohol In order to sell alcohol at concerts you or your vendors will also need the relevant alcohol permit and insurance. Liquor Liability Insurance: If serving or selling alcohol at a public event, you are required to obtain a “Liquor Liability Insurance� in the amount of $1,000,000 worth of coverage that names Milwaukee County Parks as an additional insured for the date(s) of your event. City Municipal Liquor License: If serving or selling alcohol at a public event, you must obtain a city municipal liquor license. For the City of Milwaukee, please call 414-286-2238 or visit htm to obtain your license. Submit copy to the Special Events office once you receive your copy.

As the Special Event Permit holder, you will be responsible for the pickup, collection and removal of all garbage and litter from the permitted site and surrounding areas. Permit holder will be invoiced for any additional cleanup.


BOOKING THE GIG Once your permits are approved and dates are set, it’s time to start booking bands, sound engineers and equipment rentals! Booking Bands

Contact Your Stage Company (if needed)

When you get in touch with your chosen musicians or entertainers be sure to:

Parks with an existing stage include Humboldt, Washington, Lake, Moody, Johnsons and Wehr Nature Center. Other locations may require a temporary stage.

Determine if the band will provide their own sound services (If not, see step #2 below)

Before setting up your stage be sure to:

Fill-out a Contract for Services Agreement between your group and the band contact - a sample contract is on the next page.

Schedule the delivery and notify the Deputy Regional Manager at Milwaukee County Parks (check your special event permit for the correct contact)

Get a W-9 filled out properly by the band with a valid Social Security # or EIN#

Schedule the pick-up within 24 hours of the event.

Determine if the band will be paid in-person on the night of the event by your group or if a check will be mailed within the week of the performance.

Hiring A Sound Technician Most concerts will require amplified sound (unless its a small, acoustic gig). When you find an available contractor be sure to: • •

Fill-out a Contract for Services Agreement between your group and the sound technician Get a W-9 filled out properly by the sound technician with a valid Social Security # or EIN#


SAMPLE BAND CONTRACT This agreement for services at the (EVENT NAME) is made between the undersigned artist or group and (GROUP NAME), this day , of ,. SECTION I: BASIC INFORMATION Artist or Group Name: Group Size: Style of Music: Street Address: City: State: Zip: Phone: Cell Phone: (day of show contact) E-Mail: All agreements must have a valid W9, SS # or EIN #. Please include with this agreement to ensure timely payment. SECTION II: ARRANGEMENTS Date of Performance: Time of Performance: Start time: End time: Location of Performance: Address: Site #: City: Time needed for performers to set-up the day of is minutes prior to start time. Sound Requirements: You will supply sound Event organizer will supply sound Other set-up/sound requirements: Payment of Performance: Artist or Group Fee: Check payable to: All agreements must have Attached W9, SS # or EIN #: Band Name must have EIN #. Individual check request must have SS #. SECTION III: PROMOTIONS Description of Artist or Group: Short promotional description to be used as needed. Taping of Performance: (GROUP NAME) may be filming/photographing artists for future promotional use. To be used however it deems to be advantageous to (GROUP NAME). Online Promotion: (GROUP NAME) may promote concert, artist or group on websites and social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Shared promotion is appreciated. SECTION IV: MISCELLANEOUS Rain, Wind or any other Inclement Weather. (GROUP NAME) agrees to pay the full amount contracted to the band in the event the concert is canceled because of weather. If for whatever reason the concert series is canceled due to any unforeseen circumstance, agreements will be void if notified in writing within a two week period of your performance. The following signatures acknowledge that both parties understand and have agreed upon all of the conditions contained in the Contract for Services agreement. Authorized Signature of Artist/Group or Agent Date


PARKS MARKETING SUPPORT The Parks marketing team can help promote your concert through shared marketing services. Once you have your dates and bands booked, contact the marketing team. Parks Marketing Support

Park Banners

The parks marketing team provide a standard package of support, worth $5000, for summer entertainment in the parks at no additional cost to event organizers.

If you wish to install stand-alone banners in any parks to promote your concert, first contact Milwaukee County Parks. Installation requires Diggers Hotline and Parks Trades to be called five weeks before installation.

The Marketing Support Package includes: • • • • •

Inclusion on the parks online events calendar Inclusion in summer entertainment press releases Listing on a printed brochure (30,000 printed and distributed to facilities across Milwaukee County) Event listing on Parks Facebook page (10,000+ followers) Inclusion on summer event emails (75,000 subscribers)

Proud Supporter Logo As permit fees from special events go back to supporting parks, we provide a ‘proud supporter’ icon to use on your print and digital marketing.


If banners are approved, your group will be responsible to install banners onto frames, maintain banners, and remove after event ends

PROMOTING YOUR EVENT You obviously want the biggest turnout possible, so give yourself the best shot at making that happen by creating a wide range of marketing pieces.

Event Website Set up a simple website that can promote your schedule, post updates and images and collect emails. We recommend a service like that has prebuilt templates to use.

Social media Facebook, Youtube and Instagram are great tools for promoting your events and paid advertisements are an affordable way of reaching your target audience.

Online Event Calendars Many local websites have event calendars that can help raise awareness of your concerts at little to no cost. Sites we recommend submitting your event listings include: • • • • • •

Facebook Events Eventbrite On Milwaukee Shepherd Express Milwaukee Magazine Nextdoor

Email marketing Start collecting emails of anyone who’s interested in your concerts. An email marketing service like Mailchimp provides tools to collect emails on your website, social media and on a tablet too.

Print Promotion Well designed, eye catching posters can be a useful tool - you’ll need to put in some leg work to ask local businesses and venues to display in their stores.

Hire a Graphic Designer Adding a professional touch to your marketing is one of the best investments you can make. Check sites such as Local First Milwaukee for local designers.


FINDING SPONSORS Support from local businesses is a great way to cover the costs of hosting a concert. As the event organizer, you’re free to create the sponsorship systems and packages of your choice and to set rates. Here are a few tips: Evaluate your Assets

Promote, Prospect, Solicit

Sponsors get involved because they endorse the event and want their name/logo associated with it. Determine what you’re able to provide in exchange for the partner’s financial contribution, such as: • name or logo on a stage banner • logo on website or social media posts • table space at the event • name or logo on posters and promotional materials • opportunity to introduce the band • a VIP section After you’ve determined what you could do to promote your sponsors, determine a value for each asset.

Once you have your sponsorship program figured out, promote the program on your website, social media pages, email, with a print document, or anything else you have available.

Create Sponsorship Levels Once you’ve determined the ways you can promote a sponsor and the value of those assets, group them together in several different levels, with a minimum level of basic promotional assets (name on a poster) to a maximum level that includes exclusive rights (partner’s name in the event name or introduction of the band). Have some fun with naming the different levels, too!

Here are some questions to help determine potential sponsors: • Are there any businesses near the event location that might want to promote themselves at the event? • Are there any business owners or industry leaders that are already involved in creating this event? • Do any of the event planners work for a company that might want to sponsor the event? • Who do you and the other event planners know who might want to promote their business in the area? Once you have some answers to these questions, you have a list of prospective sponsors! Call, email, or meet with any of these prospects and request their support.

Cross-Promote & Follow Through An added bonus of having committed partners as event sponsors is that they will want to help promote the event: they succeed when the event succeeds. Help them out by providing them with posters, promotional materials, or sharing social media posts. Make sure you are also following through on what you committed to do with each sponsor. Are the correct names and logos on the promotional materials? If a stage banner was promised, has that been printed with the correct sponsor information? Have the sponsors held up their end of the deal by giving a financial contribution?


EVENT LOGISTICS As you get closer to the day of your event, you’ll work the Milwaukee County Parks Operations Team to coordinate on the logistics of your event. Here are a few tips: Create a Bad Weather Plan

Vendor Contacts

If you think you’ll need to cancel a concert due to weather, determine a cut-of point to make the decision. You’ll need to give potential concert goers, and the band of course, enough notice to cancel their plans.

The local businesses listed below all have experience working on concerts in Milwaukee County Parks

Set-up & Take Down

Production 360 821 E. Holt Ave. Milwaukee, 53207 Contact: Jeff Shaffer, 414-482-1834

On the day of your event Parks Operations staff will provide access to facilities you have rented. As the event organizer you are responsible for set up and take down of equipment during your alloted rental period. The contact number for Parks operations Staff will e provided by the Special Events Office.

In case of Emergencies The parks on-call number is provided on your permit.

Photography and Video Don’t forget to document your event - take plenty of photos and record some video if possible. These assets will help with future marketing and promotion and help you estimate an attendance number.

Sound Technicians

SoundMark 4304 W. Cleveland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53219 Contact: Mark Burmek, 414-617-1350 ALM Fusion LLC 5924 Teakwood Drive, Greendale, WI 53129 Contact: Angelo Morgan, 414.517.1021 Stage rental services include: JK Rentals, Inc. 625 Trading Post Ln (PO Box 467), Kewaskum, WI 53040 Contact: Rich Green, 1-800-558-3687, Area Rental & Sales 16205 W Rogers Dr., New Berlin, WI 53151 (262) 827-1444 Arena Americas 7000 S 10th St., Oak Creek, WI 53154 Dawn Beiley , (414) 831-7000


(414) 257-PARK (7275) | Milwaukee County Parks, 9480 Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226 16 IN-TUNE GUIDE

2018 in-tune guide  

The essential guide to organizing a concert or concert series in a Milwaukee County park

2018 in-tune guide  

The essential guide to organizing a concert or concert series in a Milwaukee County park