2017 BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MAKERS OF PSNEUROPE VOLUME 12
Live and kicking: PSNEurope’s annual guide to the live biz returns!
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Welcome to PSNLive is brought to you by the makers of PSNEurope
Views from the top
P16 360 sound An expert’s guide to immersive audio
P04 The FOH engineer
P06 The monitors engineer P07 The sound designer P08 The noise expert
Extreme measures Inside the world’s most extreme gigs
The stage manager P11 The PR expert P12 The production manager P13 The booking agent P14
Head of music
Security The key issues facing live security
as there ever been a more exciting time for live music? Arguably not, I would suggest. At least that’s the conclusion I’ve arrived at after assembling this year’s PSNLive guide. Of course, as seems to be the case year after year, the familiar festival run of outdoor rock’n’roll gatherings, from Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds, to the relocated Bestival and Isle of Wight, appears to be in excellent shape. Avert your gaze ever so slightly to the left and you’ll see we’ve packed in a raft of live experts to testify to that in our ‘Views from the top’ Q&A series. However, away from that well-established circuit, there is much to be excited about and plenty of opportunities to be exploited. One of the most vibrant areas of the market - as it has been for the past few years - is immersive audio. With technology in this sector continuing to evolve at pace, there’s no predicting exactly where it’s headed next, although some of its finest exponents have given it their best shot over on P16, as they offer their take on what the future holds. We’ve also taken a deep dive into the world of extreme gigs, as artists and brands continue to find new and ever more terrifying ways to perform live. Plus, to ensure all corners of the live market are sufficiently represented, we’ve recruited AIF (Association of Independent Festivals) chief Paul Reed to check the pulse of the indie festivals sector. The summer season may be over, but the outlook for live looks brighter than ever.
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Production Executive Jason Dowie email@example.com
Staff writer Tara Lepore firstname.lastname@example.org
Group Commercial Manager, Music Ryan O’Donnell email@example.com
Content Director James McKeown firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Account Manager Rian Zoll-Khan email@example.com
Head of Design Jat Garcha firstname.lastname@example.org
Sales Executive Mark Walsh email@example.com
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Views from the top
The FOH engineer “If you do not love this job, you simply couldn’t do it...” Who are you and what do you do? My name is Ben Hammond and I’m a freelance FOH engineer currently touring with AFI and Don Broco.
budget is being spread so thinly, everything is an argument to get what you need.
What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face? Where do you do it? Globally. This year so far there has been three US tours, two Japanese tours, three Australian tours, Europe, a couple of UK runs, I can’t remember where else….
Why do you do it? For the love of it. I couldn’t do it if not. The months away from home, missing your friends and family, never being there for events and friends’ weddings, birthdays etc… If you didn’t love this job, you simply couldn’t do it. If I was gonna just give in and take a job I didn’t like, I may as well take a 9-5, as then at least I can be home and have a social life! Touring as heavily as I do just wouldn’t work if the show didn’t mean anything.
What is your greatest achievement to date? Actually, I have to say it was only the other week. We headlined Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver with AFI, and even though I’ve done much bigger shows, this one just felt amazing. Everyone in the band and crew was so excited, and the show delivered. One of those rare nights where everything was perfect.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? Budgets. The music industry is still in the middle of a huge about-turn. Since music has essentially become a worthless commodity at the hands of illegal downloading, an entire industry has had to carry on existing but entirely reinvent their revenue streams. Touring now has to feed so many more mouths than it did before. This means the
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I’m never happy. I’m always far too worried about what’s next, who’s got what gig, why hasn’t the phone rung with a new offer in a while (even though I don’t need one, it’s nice to know people are still thinking of you). The job insecurity and financial insecurity is a huge issue. Last year I was booked for two years with one band, who halfway through a tour, not even a year in, fired the singer and cancelled the entire cycle. Management paid us a week’s wages. After that my next chunk of work got pulled due to visa complications, and someone, somewhere in the chain had put the wrong info into the petition. That made me doubt properly for the first time whether this career could enable me to provide and sustain the right life for my family. However, the phone rung with a much better paid offer and then the pressure subsides again. Someone very dear to me once told me: “No matter how long you do this, you never stop getting stressed about where the next tour is going from, you just learn to hide it better.”
What makes life hard for a FOH engineer? Nothing actually. I could moan about noise limits, bad systems, bad rooms, bad bands, but the reality of it is all these obstacles make us better. I want to work out ways round all these and still retain the consistency of my gig. If I was headlining stadiums everyday with unlimited budget and gear, I would get bored.
What would make life easier? The right monitor guy at the other end of the multicore. Someone who works with you to overcome issues, and reach the best possible outcome. I would take the right guy
on the other end of the comms over any piece of gear.
What’s changed since you started your career? It’s much busier - whether this is a good thing or not I’m trying to decide. There is a lot of young crew coming up who are more than happy to work for cheap/free, and a worrying amount of management companies seem to be into this idea. Saving money seems to be outweighing quality, and there are a few people aware of this and exist by undercutting. A friend of mine was recently given the boot from an arena-level act, for a guy who came in at a third of his wage. It’s impossible to drop to that, and you would hope the band and management would realise that the financial saving is reflected very obviously in their live show. To anyone starting out in this industry, have some pride. Don’t be the guy who is there because they are cheap. Work hard and get hired for your quality; with that comes longevity.
How do you keep abreast of technical developments? Audio is my hobby, and when I get home from tour I spend my time in my studio in York, so I’m surrounded by gear all the time. I read a lot of magazines, do all the training I can, and love a good geeky conversation with other engineers at any available opportunity. It’s great to chat to other guys and find out what they are using and why. I recently started working with AFI, and not wanting to screw the band’s IEMs up as we were going straight into show one, I stuck with the band’s old FOH guy’s mic package, and fell in love with a bunch of mics that I would never have specced if it was up to me.
What does the future hold for new engineers? It’s far more accessible then before; it’s certainly easier to pick up a gig now as every upcoming band is buying IEM rigs and X32s and need a guy to run it. The FOH guy’s job, certainly at entry-level, is now very much FOH/mons. Local venues are really important; get behind the desk there and mix as many different bands as you can. Someone will realise you made a huge difference to their live show and ask you to come out with them. n
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Views from the top
The monitors engineer “Bands have become accustomed to getting a very close replication of their albums in the live space now...” Who are you and what do you do?
touring is usually the biggest challenge I face.
My name is Jared Daly and I am a touring sound/ monitors engineer.
How much has the live scene changed during your career?
What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face?
Bands have become accustomed to getting a very close replication of their albums in the live space now. A lot of the time I will use virtual playbacks to allow band members to hear what they are playing and concentrate on any changes to interludes/set lists and tuning of their instruments in pre-production. Also, the technology within the mixing consoles that are now available being able to bring over different elements from the albums is excellent. And it is really fun to incorporate that into the shows.
Where do you do it? Wherever the job needs me to go! Over the last three years I’ve been lucky enough to spend time touring across America, Canada, South America, Asia, but mostly in the UK and Europe.
Why do you do it? I love the challenge of having to re-create/mix shows in different venues/situations every-day. I have always loved seeing music in a live setting with the main focus on the audio side of things. So, it was natural to want to pursue a career in the industry.
What is your greatest achievement to date? Being a part of a show for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I was mixing monitors for Bring Me The Horizon alongside a full orchestra, while being recorded live for DVD.
What’s the biggest challenge you face? Trying to keep up with all of the different technologies that are at our disposal now. Half of the time I am running more Cat5 connections than XLRs at shows these days. There is always a new piece of gear that can either help improve the show’s audio quality or speed up the set up/pack down time. Trying to learn and implement these new technologies on the fly while
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Never enough time in the day and trying to balance between getting the show ready to go, with experimenting with different ways of mixing. Always with the intent of trying to streamline my workflow to get the mix where I need it to be faster.
What makes life hard for a monitors engineer? I think just the amount of work and mixing that needs doing all at once. Managing multiple mixes and keeping an eye out for any issues that could come up, or if a player is struggling with anything they are hearing, and always having a backup for every point that could fail, whether it be multiple spare microphones, spare matrixes so that you can move mixes on the fly to different frequencies, and just being across everything that’s happening on the stage.
What makes your job easier? Good preparation always makes the day easier; being able to run virtual soundchecks is definitely one of the biggest assets to my preparation now. Also, being able to walk around the stages while cueing the individual artists’ mixes to get a true representation of what the mix sounds like, with things like side-fills and other elements, can really help the process before the band or the artist is ready to begin their soundcheck.
How do you keep abreast of technical developments? Lots of YouTube videos and the reading of press releases. And just trying to get some hands-on time with any new piece of gear.
How do you assess the prospects for new engineers coming into the live sector? With the way that budgets are being put together now with tours, a lot of money is being put into making shows bigger and more production-heavy. With that being said, being able to assist in multiple areas of live production is a real asset, I think. Not to suggest taking on multiple jobs at once, but having a sound knowledge of how other production elements work and how they are run can be very valuable when it comes to being able to fit in with different crews on different types of shows. n
Views from the top
The sound designer “We have to be very careful not to allow our art to ever be perceived as simply a service...”
Who are you and what do you do? My name is Bobby Aitken and I am a sound designer.
Where do you do it? I am best known for my work in theatre and opera, but more recently I have become interested in a broader spectrum of live events via my new company with Scott Willsallen – Remarkable Projects.
Why do you do it? I enjoy the mad amalgam of physics and performers.
What is your greatest achievement to date? I think I would probably have to say designing the sound for the London 2012 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.
What is the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? I was speaking about this with Christian Heil a couple of months ago. He remarked that until fairly recently, any review of an amplified concert or a piece of theatre would comment on the ‘sound’ of
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the performance. Nowadays, critics seldom mention sound - particularly good sound. I think this is due, in part, to the incredible success of technological innovation in our sector. Advanced control systems and online loudspeaker coverage tools have made achieving a good, workman-like sound the norm. Nowadays, shows generally sound fine. However, I sometimes feel that while we’ve been congratulating ourselves on our ability to provide even coverage and high coherence, we may have taken our eye off the ball. Recently the lighting, video and set designers have made huge creative leaps forward with stunning, imaginative looks that make audiences gasp and critics take notice. So, in answer to the question, I think our biggest challenge is to reassert our creative identity. We have to be very careful not to allow our art to ever be perceived as simply a service.
What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face? Only 24 hours in a day.
What makes life hard for a sound designer? As always, budgets.
What makes (would make) life easier? More time.
How much has the live scene changed during your career to date? I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, so the changes are huge. The industry has expanded dramatically.
How do you assess the prospects for new sound designers looking to embark upon a career in the live music sector? I think the prospects for young sound designers in the theatre are excellent. I am frequently really pleasantly surprised and impressed when I work with young sound designers. Not only do they have all of the necessary computer chops, which of course I would expect, but they often show a surprising level of maturity with their design choices. n
Views from the top
The noise expert “Sometimes conditions just don’t make sense and are plainly unenforceable” Who are you and what do you do? My name is Richard Vivian and I am an acoustic consultant specialising in the assessment and control of music and entertainment noise. I am the founder of Big Sky Acoustics Ltd, an acoustics consultancy specialising in music and entertainment noise control.
Where do you do it? A great deal of my work is in London, although I do work across the country, and occasionally overseas. My clients list includes many hundreds of nightclubs, live music venues, bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels and festival operators.
Why do you do it? I’ve always worked in the professional audio industry and really enjoy it. I don’t think I would know how to do anything else.
What is your greatest achievement to date? When I do something and a client realises the value of what I do, then that is an achievement because most people think they can get through life without the services of an acoustic consultant, and of course many can. But when a publican is saved from a crippling fine for breach of a noise abatement notice because the local council have got their measurements muddled, and it is my expert evidence that has made the difference, then that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I would always say my greatest achievement is the last case I helped win because every victory can go on to make a huge difference to my client, their employees and their customers.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? I need to work closely with local government officers: environmental health officers, planning officers and licensing officers. But budget cuts, early retirement of skilled staff and lack of investment in training mean that sometimes decisions are made by inexperienced officers who do not properly engage with my client, or me as their noise expert. When that leads to refusals for developments, enforcement action, or prosecution the stakes are high. Livelihoods are at risk due to commercial constraints on an otherwise viable business, there could be loss of jobs and if there is a prosecution there could even be a criminal record.
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What is the biggest challenge you face? Poor sound measurement practices are a problem. One particular issue is the assessment of noise nuisance from music only being carried out using A-weighted measurements [A-weighted sound measurements are filtered and effectively exclude bass frequencies]. It is a legacy dating back to sound meters that couldn’t measure bass, as well as incorrectly applied standards for things such as plant noise or traffic noise, which are not relevant to modern PA systems with significant low frequency content. There is simply no point in turning the whole PA down to comply with an arbitrary A-weighted limit level when the problem that is affecting the neighbours is bass and that could be easily resolved with with a bit of narrow bandwidth EQ on the subs.
What makes life hard for a noise expert? Bad legislation and peculiar planning or licensing conditions. Sometimes conditions just don’t make sense and are plainly unenforceable. There are many that exist that are not relevant or helpful, however mounting a legal challenge is costly and so sometimes we end up having to work with them even though they are nonsense.
What makes (would make) life easier? It would be handy if I could be in two places at once as often I would like to be at the source of the noise and the receptor position of the complaint at the same time. There are some measurement instruments that help a little in this respect now.
How much has the industry changed during your career to date? Sound systems have not got louder in the mid-band but there is now more low-end. They have also become more complex and tend to cover wider areas by default. Coverage patterns from line arrays outdoors can be unpredictable under changing weather conditions whereas point source boxes had a greater degree of predictability.
How do you keep abreast of technical developments? I’m always interested in tech developments so I read them in the press and speak with manufacturers at trade shows. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I did not keep up to date with new technology.
How do you assess the prospects for new noise experts coming into the live sector? It is a great industry, but my advice to people coming into it would be to get some all round experience before specialising. If you can show empathy with those around you, and if that comes from an understanding of their role, then you have a greater chance of working together to achieve a common goal. We all want the same thing: for the club to stay open, the festival to come back next year or the pub to be able to put on a live band without upsetting the neighbours. If we can achieve that then we help to secure the future of our industry. n
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Views from the top
The stage manager “You can never count on the tour 100% happening until you are on the road…” Who are you and what do you do? My name is Owen Drew and I’m a backline tech and stage manager for touring bands.
Where do you do it? My job takes me all over the globe and onto a very large variety of stages, from 200-cap clubs right up to 50,000-cap stadiums or huge festival main stages.
Why do you do it? When I played in bands I was always the organised one and that’s something I have transferred over to this job. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing a project through from start to finish, be it a show, or servicing a guitar or drum kit to make it sound as great as possible. It is a great feeling to know you were part of the team responsible for a show - 90% of which the general public never know about, only ever seeing that hour of live music.
What is your greatest achievement to date? That’s a very hard question. I think the best answer I can give is being involved with a band called Wolf Alice for the past three years. It started before their first album came out and ended headlining a sold out Brixton Academy show. It’s all about to start again with the second album so I’m sure my answer will change after next year.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? I’d say I’m in a far better position than some but job security is a big one. You can never count on the tour 100% happening until you are on the road.
What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face? Apart from the aches and pains of touring life, I’d say this question links back to the above, in that there is no real job security and you can have months without work until you land another job. If you are providing for a family it can make it very tough.
What makes life hard for someone in your role? You can’t be a lone wolf in the touring world. If you don’t get on with your tour party, life can be very hard in such close quarters and, honestly, you probably won’t keep your job long.
difficult days but if everyone does their job that helps. Also good tech support from the gear companies you use - that makes a huge difference when things start to break, although you hope they don’t in the first place.
How much has the live scene changed during your career to date? Currently I feel that most bands careers are relying on the the live music scene and in that regard work is very much more abundant - but the down side is budgets have become tighter than ever. This has definitely caused issues and I know friends who have burnt out due to having to juggle too heavy a load.
What would make life easier? It’s always the little things. There will always be
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How do you keep abreast of technical
developments in the biz? I’m a bit of a gear geek so I like to read a lot of magazines and online sites about new gear coming out.
How do you assess the prospects for new stage managers coming into the live sector? It has definitely changed. Whereas you used to just go out on the road with a mate’s band and learn the ropes, these days there are a lot of young people coming out on the road with qualifications in stage management or live music production who are mixing it up with the old guard. Ultimately you need experience and as it stands the live industry is healthy - albeit more competitive than ever. n
Views from the top
The PR expert “The changing media landscape means PRs need to evolve and deliver campaigns that speak to multiple audiences in different ways”
Who are you and what do you do? Kate Etteridge, head of music and entertainment at DawBell, where I oversee all of our departments (press, digital, socials and brands) and provide senior counsel to key projects, such as the BRIT Awards, The O2 10th Birthday, the Hyundai Mercury Prize and the Isle of Wight Festival.
as part of a PR strategy - such as news stories in the tabloid press, or a big broadsheet feature - but a younger audience will be consuming their news through social media and online. Therefore, it is increasingly crucial that we, as a press agency, can offer services that cover traditional outlets in the press, but also look to reach younger audiences digitally and via social media.
Where do you do it? I’m based in the UK.
Why do you do it? My career background is in music and live events PR – there’s nothing quite like being part of a team operating a successful large-scale event or tour that has reached thousands - or even millions - of people.
What is your greatest achievement to date? Getting to do what I love at one of the industry’s most respected and exciting PR agencies!
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? The shift in how people consume their news is one of the biggest challenges. The changing media landscape has meant that we as PRs need to evolve too, and deliver campaigns that often speak to multiple audiences in different ways. There is still a place for traditional print coverage
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What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face? Strictly from a PR point of view, I’d have to say it’s limited access to artists when promoting a live show. There is never a guarantee that headliners or show performers will be available for press and it means as a PR agency we have to approach our campaigns with a more creative and innovative strategy to drive the coverage and conversation. For example, when the Isle of Wight Festival coincided with the 45th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s legendary performance at the original festival, we proposed a world record attempt at the festival for ‘the most people wearing Jimi Hendrix masks’. The masks were sold at the festival site with all proceeds going to the WellChild charity. As well as raising money for charity, this idea resulted in widespread news coverage across the festival weekend in publications such as the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, The Sun, Daily Star, NME.com, Radio 1, Heart and Reuters.
What makes life hard for a live music events PR professional? Unreliable Wi-Fi on site!!
What makes (or would make) life easier? Having a good team. To execute a successful PR campaign it’s important to be constantly coming up with new ideas and angles, and keeping on top of trends. Having a creative PR team is vital, as well as working with promoters and managers who understand your needs.
How much has the live scene changed during your career to date? There are so many more festivals in the UK than when I started my career, and despite the recent news of cancellations and poorly organised events, we have an extremely robust summer festival circuit, run by passionate and creative promoters. The fact that live shows and festivals now have the potential to become global events due to social media streaming is also very exciting.
How do you assess the prospects for new PR pros coming into the live music sector? It’s an incredible industry to be part of. Those wishing to work in the live music sector should be prepared to get stuck in, work long hours/weekends, and challenge themselves to think creatively about their events. n
Views from the top
The production manager
“The saturation of festivals within the UK has thinned the numbers on most festivals, heavily impacting the budget for production…” Who are you and what do you do?
heavily impacting the budget for production.
Time…there is never ever enough time in the day.
promoters took over. This added a new pressure of profit margins for those at the top and the live scene became more of a business rather than a way to promote new records.
Why do you do it?
What makes life hard for a production manager?
How do you keep abreast of technical developments in the live sector?
Mainly because of the camaraderie with everyone. Secondly the pressure and hard work that is involved.
Lack of communication - and that includes myself at times too.
Mainly word of mouth through my suppliers.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
What makes your life easier?
I’d probably say my career highlight so far was working as a production manager at Leeds Festival when I was just 25.
Having a great team by your side (you know who you guys are!)
John Saxby, production manager and stage manager.
What is the biggest problem you face? Where do you do it? Wherever it is required.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? The saturation of festivals within the UK. This has thinned the numbers on most festivals as a whole,
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How much has the live scene changed during your career to date? Hugely. Back when I started it was before downloaded music and the record labels were pumping the money into the live scene. This soon disappeared and the
How do you assess the prospects for new production managers coming into the sector? I constantly have interns working alongside me and this gives me a great indication of who wants to really work in the industry. For example, those willing to put in the hours at a festival are far more likely to succeed than those who say “I only have to work the hours that my college has set”. As we all know, the job’s done when those truck doors are closed - and not before. n
Views from the top
The booking agent “Artists need live agents more so than ever as live has become such an important part of their careers” helped our job a great deal, both internally within UTA in terms of how we share information and collaborate with our colleagues globally, but also externally in terms of the services that we’re able to offer our clients: better information, clearer reporting, faster transactions etc... What would make life easier? Faster travel!
How much has the live scene changed during your career to date? The live scene has gone through major changes since I started in 2004. Live music surpassed record sales in 2013 and the trend has kept going since then. A number of well-known independent music agencies have made strategic alliances with or been acquired by full service agencies. Live Nation, the world’s largest promoter, has seen many years of strong consecutive growth. Artists are now touring as their primary source of income and are using concerts to engage and connect with fans. Technology has meant that fans are more closely connected than ever to their favourite artists and increasingly keen to experience them live.
How do you keep abreast of technical developments in the live sector?
Who are you and what do you do? Jules de Lattre. I’m a live booking agent.
Where do you do it? I work for United Talent Agency in London, which is a leading global talent agency.
Why do you do it? I love music. And have done so since a very early age. When graduating from Edinburgh University I looked for opportunities in the music sector. Having played in bands in an earlier life, the live sector was appealing to me. I could also feel that the recorded sector was about to go through some significant changes with the explosion of online piracy (Napster and Kazoo at the time). A friend had just started his own agency and in January 2004 - with no experience whatsoever - I decided to team up with him.
What is your greatest achievement to date? There are many to mention but one that is particularly close to my heart was driving the live campaign for Christine and the Queens internationally last year and seeing a real outsider, a non-conformist, and a true artist become the most successful newcomer in the UK in 2016.
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What is the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? Artists need live agents more so than ever as live has become such an important part of their careers. Having that knowledge, experience and expertise is invaluable to most music artists with serious careers ahead of them. As a result we feel that our position and what we bring to the table is invaluable and not easily challenged. Every business faces potential challenges and ours revolve mostly around competition in the UK market and global touring deals.
What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face? As a service provider there is always more you can do for a client but we only have 24 hours in a day...
What makes life hard for someone in your role? Long working hours and a hectic travel schedule are challenges, especially with a young family. The key here is being organised and time-efficient.
What makes (would make) life easier? Keeping a decent work/life balance is absolutely key. Technology and ability to stay connected at all times has
Even though agents are not directly involved in the production or technical side of things, it is very important for us to understand all facets of a show production. We have to stay on top of digital and technological advances and will do so at industry events/conferences and by reading the relevant specialised press. Agents work closely with all other components of an artist’s team and will stay informed through discussions with managers, artists, tour and production managers, promoters. UTA’s digital department is a leader in the business and we are constantly discussing digital innovations and developments with our digital agents.
How do you assess the prospects for young booking agents starting out in the industry? The boom in the live sector has created a lot of opportunities for young, aspiring and passionate agents. The influx of agents has also made the business more competitive, which means that prospective agents should cut their teeth as early as possible. There is no graduate training programme. They should look for internships or assisting roles at established agencies to learn from the best. And be patient. It takes time to build up experience, a network of relevant promoters and the trust of demanding music clients. n
Views from the top
Head of music
“The live sector is still a really flourishing industry which we should be proud of - new festivals, collaborations and innovation are happening all the time…”
Who are you and what do you do? I’m Jane Beese and I’m the head of music at the Roundhouse in London.
monopolies of festival and venue ownership; the consistent and ongoing reduction of arts and culture out of the school curriculum; and cuts to arts funding.
Where do you do it?
What is ‘the’ perennial problem you face?
Centre of the universe - Camden, North London.
Time and money.
How do you keep abreast of technical developments in the live sector?
Why do you do it? Because it gives me great pleasure. Most of the time.
What makes life hard for someone in your role?
What is your greatest achievement to date?
The corporatisation of the music industry and the lack of support for younger talent.
Well, we’re fairly fortunate in that the artists coming through the Roundhouse are always introducing us to new tech and, of course, we have an amazing production and technical team here who are always ahead of the curve.
Working with a series of incredible artists on Meltdown Festival – Yoko Ono, David Byrne, James Lavelle and Ray Davies being the most memorable for me. And watching Little Simz headline the Roundhouse during Rising Festival 2017.
What is the biggest challenge facing you in the industry? The depletion of nurturing infrastructures for emerging artists; the fact that no-one understands the concept of paying for music anymore; the
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Having said that, the live sector is still a really flourishing industry which we should be proud of. New festivals, collaborations and innovation are happening all the time.
What makes (would make) life easier? More time and more money.
How do you assess the prospects for young people coming into the live sector?
How much has the live scene changed during your career to date?
I think the next generation just have to wear multiple hats; the old traditional structures don’t exist anymore and you need to be an expert in multiple areas of the industry. But I truly believe that when push comes to shove, it’s all about relationships and networks and contacts. And passion. n
Enormously. Venues have changed and many have been lost, tour support for artists is an urban myth, communications have changed. The drip feed of information on emails rather than one solid conversation ending in a contract drives me mad.
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â€˜The inevitable futu
Life of Galileo at the Young Vic. Photo credit: Leon Puplett Projections by 59 Productions
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uture of live sound’: Inside the world of 360 audio
In recent years, strides in 360 audio have began to gather pace, with numerous pro audio companies placing it square and centre of their business focus. Daniel Gumble spoke to some of the sector’s foremost exponents to check its pulse…
mmersive audio, 360 audio, 3D sound, call it what you will, is becoming an ever more lucrative corner of the live market. As demand for immersive sound within live applications grows – let’s call it 3D audio for the sake of this study – so too does the focus of some of the market’s leading brands as they look to increase their capabilities in what many people would view as the future of sound reinforcement. As with every area of the industry, technological innovation continues to maintain a status of perpetual evolution, and with immersive audio events popping up in venues ranging from small theatres to stadiums, a nimble approach and a sustained focus on market development is the order of the day. For Ralf Zuleeg, head of education and application support at d&b audiotechnik, there is no bigger growth area in the market. And with its Soundscape
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system, he believes it is ideally placed to blaze a trail. “[360 audio] is the inevitable future of live sound,” he tells Pro Sound News Europe. “It is the logical consequence of a source-oriented sound reinforcement system, taken to its optimum performance. d&b has always looked for improved approaches for sound system solutions, from Delta Stereophonie, via so-called Wave Field Synthesis, to Ambisonics. What we wanted was to have a real, 360-degree sound system, which worked with our familiar workflow and existing loudspeaker systems. Now I’m pleased to be able to say that we’re there. We call it the d&b Soundscape. “The d&b Soundscape is the acoustic environment in context, as perceived, experienced and understood in a time and place. It defines acoustic environments in which people ‘feel’ performances or presentations, real or abstract. It introduces another dimension to
the d&b system approach, aligning the aural and visual perception. This can be done in a realistic manner – for example, locating the sound of a guitar on a stage – or in an entirely imaginative, creative manner – for example, swirling sound effects around an audience.” Another key player making moves in the market is Sennheiser, which has made its presence felt over the past year in both the live and installed sound sectors. “Sennheiser actually made 3D audio a strategic key topic and created the AMBEO programme and trademark in 2016,” says Dr. Véronique Larcher, director of AMBEO Immersive Audio, Sennheiser, about the company’s commitment to the sector. “That gives you an indication of the huge potential we see in these immersive technologies. 3D audio opens up great possibilities and offers a totally new and emotionally engaging sound experience for listeners.”
Bjorn Van Münster, Director, Astro Spatial Audio
This is especially true for the live events space with its high demand for powerful, emotional sound, and its inherent challenges to create the perfect listening environment for large crowds. Sennheiser provided such an environment for star DJ Robin Schulz in 2016, when he premiered a song in a nightclub using an immersive 9.1 set-up. A current installation example is The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It hosts
a dedicated performance area, where a 17-channel AMBEO mix of Comfortably Numb is played back by 25 loudspeakers, totally enveloping visitors and recreating the original live experience of the Live 8 concert.” Likewise, loudspeaker giant L-Acoustics has demonstrated its commitment to the cause with the opening of an R&D facility dedicated to immersive technologies. Dominic Purvis, director of marketing and corporate development for L-Group, the parent company of L-Acoustics, explains: “There is a very strong focus on [360 audio] at L-Acoustics; indeed, we have created a new R&D facility in London for our L-ISA immersive sound programme. We have also run a number of successful events with artists from both classical and contemporary music.” He continues: “L-Acoustics has a long history of challenging and improving on the way that the professional audio world goes about its business, and this is no different. Our R&D teams have been working on L-ISA for several years now, which is why we already have a full ecosystem in place for immersive, hyperrealistic sound. As the industry moves towards multichannel audio, we are in a great position to take advantage of that shift.”
What’s next? In many ways, staying ahead of the curve is the key for those looking to prosper in the immersive world. Whether its ensuring that they are constantly at the cutting edge of technological breakthroughs and/or
being nimble enough to keep pace with the sector’s innovations. For Bjorn Van Münster, managing director of Astro Spatial Audio – manufacturer of the SARA II rendering engine that creates scalable, object-based 3D audio productions – keeping an ear close to the ground is fundamental to the brand’s success. “We always listen carefully to the market and we’re currently working towards further integration of OSC as well as ongoing improvements in the GUI,” he tells us. “One advantage we’ve become aware of is that because we are brand agnostic, a lot of manufacturers want to work with us. That gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk about their individual needs and requirements, and to work on ensuring our system addresses the whole of the market.” Van Munster’s sentiments are echoed by Out Board director and co-owner Dave Haydon, who explains that flexibility and versatility are crucial to the firm’s place in the market. “Out Board and our TiMax products have been working in various types of spatial and immersive live events for a couple of decades.,” he comments. “We actually invented years ago the now much-vaunted ‘object-based’ programming and management of multi-source, multi-speaker live spatial audio, and have constantly evolved our approach, also diversifying its application to new sectors such as corporate and experience markets. “Dante lets people plug multiple channels straight
Live events must create the perfect listening environment for large crowds
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‘Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting artists, sound designers and production designers on board’: d&b audiotechnik’s Ralf Zuleeg
into our spatial matrix and get audio back out to multi-channel speaker systems with ease, and MIDI, timecode or XML allow any form of performance or show control software to interact with us. “So this opens up endless creative potential, as long as the artist engagement and tour production spirits are willing.” According to d&b’s Zuleeg, with the rise in companies ramping up their efforts in 360 audio, there is now ample opportunity for the industry to move forward and push sound reinforcement further. “The time is right for this technology,” he says. “We are not the only ones going in this direction; other major sound system companies are also making progress with similar concepts. If we’re all moving the idea forward together, there is a very good chance that this will replace outdated concepts of sound reinforcement. We see a bright future.” While there is huge potential for immersive audio technologies to really come into their own in the longterm, L-Acoustics’ Purvis anticipates a significant shift in the sands for the short-term. “We expect that by the end of this year, a number of big name tours will announce that they are using one form or another of immersive audio to bring greater clarity, immersion and natural sound to their performances,” he states. “We are confident that there will be a migration towards multi-channel audio over the coming three years or so, after which it will become the standard for larger and more sophisticated events.”
Challenges Like any burgeoning sector, where big opportunities lie, so too do challenges. Whether it’s mastering new technology, understanding its trajectory or predicting the direction in which it is headed.
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“As with any major change of this type, it’s a combination of providing the right technical solutions as well as convincing the various people involved at the different parts of the decision-making process,” Purvis elaborates. “We’ve had tremendously positive feedback from the people who have visited our research facilities and/or seen our multichannel installations in action, so now the challenge is to convert that enthusiasm into action. “L-Acoustics has a long history of challenging and improving on the way that the professional audio world goes about its business, and this is no different. Our R&D teams have been working on L-ISA for several years now, which is why we already have a full ecosystem in place for immersive, hyperrealistic sound. As the industry moves towards multichannel audio, we are in a great position to take advantage of that shift.” For Zuleeg, the biggest difficulty facing the business is imposed by physics and education as to utilising the technology to its maximum potential: “360-degree systems work up to a certain size,” he points out. “Our enemy is the speed of sound and its travel times: 30m distance is equal to 90ms, 60m to 180ms - at which point any beat is going bust! Productions must be arranged to suit the size of the system. Especially where musicians are moving around, that needs to be given some thought and handled correctly. “Another challenge is the need to deploy the extra speakers in a venue. Usually venues are not designed to support large numbers of speakers around the audience area. On the tour with Kraftwerk, we came across all sorts of venues, and it was certainly real creative work to get that all in and tuned in time! As much as this enhances the experience, it requires a commitment to proper solutions from all parties
involved in the gig – the artist, the venue, the sound designer – and the accountant. It can be done – we have proved it! “Perhaps the biggest challenge is one of education, not just in system design and handling the technology, but in getting the artists, sound designers, engineers and production designers on board. “It might be necessary to readjust the picture in our heads of what we want and need to achieve, to use this to its full extent.” Other concerns include budgets and logistics, particularly when it comes to large-scale events. “Musical timing, production budgets and logistics are all challenges” adds Haydon. “We have looked at designs and quotes for some of the biggest arena and stadium acts, but plans have usually stalled due to production costs for extra speaker channels, rigging and time. “Occasionally the sheer scale of a venue and nature of the musical content also precludes an effective outcome. Although it can work well for music beds and delay effects in a Pink Floyd mix, there’s not much in a typical four-on-the-floor heavy rock mix that you can distribute or pan around Hyde Park without it sounding like a clattering train wreck.”
The future Despite the presence of any potential bumps in the road ahead, the outlook for 360 audio is without doubt a prosperous one. As immersive technology continues to evolve, live events demanding its benefits will become more and more sophisticated in their knowledge of how best to incorporate its benefits. “We believe that immersive live entertainment will continue to rise in popularity and importance, and we feel that momentum growing already,” says Van Münster. “But like any developing technology, people are now starting to recognise what works and what doesn’t. The more traditional solutions that require very rigid loudspeaker set-ups and which limit the user’s choices in terms of loudspeakers and other technology, they are not really designed with the live and touring sector in mind. “They require large investment, lots of additional work and much larger overheads. That’s why our object based, scalable approach is already proving popular from Europe to Asia and the United States – we don’t make demands of our customers, we work with you to make your show a truly spectacular, immersive event.” Zulgee concludes: “Performers want to create a unique and memorable experience for their fans to engage them and inspire social media buzz during and after the show. Whether in the venue or with remote streaming, 360 audio provides additional dimensions that artists and producers can play with in order to create new forms of interaction and emotional connection.” n
It’s been another great year for the live sector, with music events drawing in record audience numbers across Europe. Here’s a collection of photos we’ve been double-tapping on Instagram over the summer... Follow us at @psneurope
@clairglobal The show was conceived in one day, logistics were completed in five and two dozen artists poured their hearts out on stage to support One Love Manchester. We are honoured to have been part of this monumental event.
@dpamicrophonesfrance We are at Download Fest and it’s hot and sunny!
@capital_sound #sw4festival kicks off the bank holiday weekend #capitalsound @southwestfour
@funktiononeofficial Vero by Funktion-One at Ultra Miami. Photo copyright Johannes Kraemer #vero #funktionone #loudspeakers #verticalarray
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@allenandheath dLive on monitors for @warpaintwarpaintofficial @glastofest Monitor Engineer: Maxine Gilmore
@lathebestsound Great sound for the celebration of the Independence Day at the City of Doral Florida @lathebestsound #l-acoustics
Instagram @psneurope 20/09/2017 17:03
The world of independent music festivals is as vibrant as ever. Here, Paul Reed, general manager of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), takes the pulse of this burgeoning sector and offers his take on where it’s headed… Truck Photo credit: Ross Silcocks
rying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window,” according to American business author and consultant Peter Drucker. Fortunately, it’s a drive that I’m willing to take, though I’m not going to cover technology as it moves so fast that it will probably render my predictions to be the equivalent of a Gameboy Colour in a year’s time. Despite this, I do have a couple of quick observations on that front: I don’t think that VR and AR will affect the live industry as much as some are predicting; they will be simply be supplementary elements to large-scale festivals and concerts. Also, something is going to have to happen to crack open the cashless/mobile payment market in the UK, which has
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predominantly being impervious to change thus far. Now, with that out of the way, I’d like to talk about three key trends in relation to the future of festivals…
More consolidation in the marketplace involving major players Let’s address the largest elephant in the room first: AIF recently published some research illustrating that global entertainment behemoth Live Nation now operates or owns a controlling share of almost 25% of festivals in the UK with more than 5,000 capacity. That’s one single US headquartered transnational company marching towards a monopolistic position, with vertical integration across ticketing, secondary ticketing, concert promotion, venue operation and artist management.
“The demand for a carefully curated festival experience putting music first and foremost isn’t going anywhere” Paul reed As the company increases its festival network and tentacles across all areas of the business, it creates an environment in which it is easier to acquire independent festivals, or worse, put them out of business. It will also be interesting to see the next moves of AEG Presents and Global, who currently own 8% of the UK festival market. Perhaps I would say this, but like a lot of other sectors the innovation and experimentation takes place in the independent sector, with only the strongest ideas and formats likely to survive. Which brings us to the next point: it is all about the experience.
The growth of experiential event formats Something is happening in the market. Based on an AIF audience survey from 2016, 54% of those asked ‘When buying a ticket for a festival, what is the single most important factor when deciding which one to attend?’ replied that it was the ‘The general
atmosphere and overall vibe, character and quality of the event’ and 7.7% replied ‘headline acts’ out of over 4,000 respondents. 51% said they chose a festival over a holiday. It feels like we’re at a pivotal point. Boomtown Fair sells out at 60,000 capacity, featuring an incredible level of production and attention to detail, interaction with live actors and literally hundreds of micro venues to explore. With areas divided into specific ‘districts’ like the Wild West and Chinatown, it is like the South East corner of Glastonbury stretched across an entire festival, with each ‘Chapter’ forming part of an overarching narrative. It is quite simply mind blowing and, if approached a certain way, is less a music festival than a new form of interactive fiction wrapped around an almighty party in which the musical line-up is secondary. The pioneering Secret Garden Party sadly called it a day this year, inferring that it felt a lot of imitators had followed in their wake and there was no further space to innovate in the festival format. But I still feel that there are stones to be unturned – the frontier is forever shifting, and although it is far from the death cry of the traditional music festival, it is about finding your niche. End of the Road is a great example of this – for a certain type of music fan, it is the gatekeeper, with a carefully curated festival experience putting music
first and foremost. The demand for such festivals isn’t going anywhere. If promoters want to simply put a few bands on in a field, then good luck to you in standing out in the crowd. Unless you don’t put them on in a field at all…
The rise and rise of city based festivals Multi-venue, city-based festivals are springing up everywhere, with at least one in every city or town. It makes perfect sense as, let’s be clear, putting on a greenfield festival carries a near absurd level of financial risk due to the cost of festival infrastructure. You are basically building a small town. More promoters are choosing to transform their own town, with brilliant events like Handmade in Leicester, Sŵn Festival in Cardiff and Twisterella in Middleborough leading the way. Tellingly, even the majors are doing this now, with TRNSMT taking the place of T in the Park this year. Promoters can pack a load of talent into the line-up, market it as a festival and create a festival feel, with multi-arts elements and good street food, mixing up permanent and temporary venues and catering to a non-camping crowd. I feel that generally there is much to be hopeful about for the future of the independent sector and festivals in general. But as David Bowie once said, “tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming”. n Blissfields Photo credit: Robert Stainforth
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Crank it up
Tara Lepore takes a look at some of the the best loudspeakers on the market…
eliability and durability are paramount when considering speakers for a live environment. The need for rider-friendly, scalable systems that evenly deliver audio to thousands of people is a basic requirement – but
Alcons Audio – LR28 Alcons’ LR28 three-way line-source sound system is designed to combine the highest sound quality possible, with high SPL capabilities and throw. It offers a fully predictable linear response behaviour, with perfect intelligibility and identical tonal balance at any SPL. By implementing Alcons’ pro-ribbon technology for mid and high frequencies, a superfast impulse response is achieved, with up to 90% less distortion under the lowest power-compression. The all-natural cylindrical wavefront of the multiple-patented, purpose-designed RBN1402rsr pro-ribbon transducer, enables a precise pattern control, without any distortion-inducing horn constructions. The 80-degree horizontal dispersion is maintained down to 190Hz, and the HF peak power handling of 3,000W and RMS-to-peak ratio of 1:15 caters for an enhanced intelligibility and throw with a dynamic headroom reserve.
if not met – can be the ultimate dealbreaker for the whole gig. Of course, loudspeakers have to look good, too. So, we asked some of the top manufacturers to put forward their best products. This is what they came back with…
Both the 4x 6.5” MF section and LF section of 2x custom 14” are thermally optimised for reduced powercompression and prolonged system output. The accompanying Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controller offers LR28-specific optimal drive processing and control. The rigging system enables angle-setting on the cabinets without lifting the array. The unique, patentpending flying system facilitates three different ways of array assembling, caterpillar and pre-rig-style, with compressed and non-compressed suspension.
“By implementing Alcons’ pro-ribbon technology for mid and high frequencies, a superfast impulse response is achieved” Alcons Audio
Alcons’ LR28 uses the company’s pro-ribbon technology
Funktion-One – Evo 7 Touring Funktion-One recently expanded the Evolution Touring Series with the addition of the Evolution 7TH and the Evo 7TL-215. Evo loudspeakers are built to deliver high-output, efficiency and control, producing clarity and openess of sound for immersive listening experiences. The Evolution 7TH is the mid-high section of the Evo 7T. It features 10” mid-range and a 1.4" compression driver for high frequencies. It is significantly smaller than the Evo 7T, making it flexible and adaptable to a number of configurations. The Evo 7TH has an inverted waveguide, meaning the high frequencies and mids mirror perfectly with those of an Evo 7T flown underneath. This enables
The Evo 7 can deliver even coverage to up to 10,000 people
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mutual self-reinforcement for increased reach and audience capacity. Evolution 7TL-215 features two Evo 7T horn-loaded 15" drivers. It provides mid-bass reinforcement for flown and ground-stacked Evo configurations. Funktion-One’s Evolution Touring range now features the Evo7T, 7TH and 7TL-215, models which all share the same footprint and integrated flying system for fast, accurate and effective rigging or ground-stack deployment. The increase in scalability that comes with the addition of the Evo 7TH and 7TL-215 means that Evo configurations can comfortably deliver precise and even coverage to audiences of up to 10,000 people.
“The increase in scalability means that Evo configurations can deliver even coverage to up to 10,000 people” Funktion-One
ShowMatch™ DeltaQ™ loudspeakers provide better coverage for outstanding vocal clarity. ©2017 Bose Corporation.
With DeltaQ technology, new ShowMatch array loudspeakers more precisely
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direct sound to the audience in both installed and portable applications. Each array module offers field-changeable waveguides that can vary coverage and even create asymmetrical patterns. The result is unmatched sound quality and vocal clarity for every seat in the house. Learn more at SHOWMATCH.BOSE.COM
NEXT-GENERATION ARRAY TECHNOLOGY
K-array – Firenze KH8 The Firenze-KH8 is the next generation of touring audio systems. Slim and compact, the self-powered and weather-resistant speakers provide a peak output of 145 dB SPL and are fully controlled by eight onboard DSPs for hyper-detailed beam steering and maximum operational flexibility. Able to be flown in under 10 minutes, the KH8 is a lightweight solution which saves space along with transportation costs. Perhaps the biggest benefit of its Slim Array Technology is that it is designed to improve upon traditional loudspeakers by producing an optimised better sound. The compact design allows sound to exit instantaneously without resonance, generating a generous amount of sound pressure in the low and low-mid range, which results in a better impulse response and maximum clarity and definition. After various optimisations of the acoustic loading, the resulting directivity of the KH8 does not produce a dispersion in the form of a figure 8, but a hypercardioid figure which maintains the desired directivity with minimal back emission.
The compact design of the KHA allows sound to exit without resonance
The KH8 also boasts Electronic Beam Steering that allows the user to direct the sound beam to concentrate the audio in a targeted area or provide continuous, even coverage. Results are maximised with the ability to precisely and independently control each element of the KH8 array.
“Electronic Beam Steering allows the user to direct the sound beam to concentrate the audio in a targeted area” K-array
L-Acoustics – Syva Syva is a co-linear system suited to medium throw applications. It is designed for professional sound reinforcement and high-end residential applications requiring high fidelity and SPL with minimum impact. Syva features six 5” MF speakers, providing usable bandwidth to 87 Hz and three 1.75” HF diaphragm compression drivers, loaded by DOSC waveguides in a J-shaped progressive curvature. This transducer arrangement produces an H/V 140° x 26° (+5/-21°) directivity pattern, optimised for ultra-wide horizontal coverage with extended throw capability. Its companion Syva Low enclosure features two K2 12” drivers designed to provide low frequency contour and extended bandwidth down to 40 Hz. Syva Sub features one high-excursion 12” driver equipped with a KS28 woofer motor to further extend the bandwidth of the system in the sub frequency domain down to 27 Hz. Syva can be wall- or pole-mounted, as well as flown, or used alone with its baseplate. Alternatively, Syva can be rapidly mounted on top of Syva Low or Syva Sub using the AutoConnect plugand-play audio and physical link.
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“syva is designed for professional sound reinforcement and high-end residentiaL applications requiring high fidelity and spl with mininum impact” l-acoustics
Syva can be wall- or pole-mounted, or used alone with its baseplate
Martin Audio – MLA MLA is engineered to deliver unsurpassed sound coverage consistency across the audience with unprecedented control for hard cut off areas and suppression of unwanted noise pollution. Award-winning and patent protected, MLA represents a step change in approach to acoustic control for touring, festivals and installations of all sizes. The system has toured with several top artists such as Steely Dan and The Killers, and at festivals such as BST Hyde Park and Glastonbury. The user specifies exactly what SPL and frequency response is required at various points throughout the venue and intelligent software automatically determines the array configuration and controls each of the individual acoustic cells in the array to produce that result. With every cell under computer control, ‘hard avoid’ areas such as reflective surfaces or beyond the venue perimeter can be programmed in, and vertical audio coverage can also be fine-tuned electronically. MLA also aims to banish trial-and-error set-up forever – employing a precise science that it claims guarantees greater control, consistency, and unparalleled acoustic sonic quality.
The MLA system was used on a recent Steely Dan tour
“The MLA system has toured with several top artists, such as Steely Dan and The Killers, and at festivals such as BST Hyde Park and Glastonbury” Martin Audio
Meyer Sound – LINA The newest and smallest member of Meyer Sound’s Leo Family, Lina exhibits the same inherent linearity, low distortion and power-to-size ratio as its larger siblings: Leo, Lyon and Leopard. Lina is suited to applications where uncompromising performance must be combined with flexibility, portability, discreet appearance and minimal flying weight. Lina is a two-way, self-powered system with dual 6.5" low frequency cone drivers and a single 3" high-
frequency compression driver. The exterior footprint of Lina matches that of its predecessor, the Mina line array loudspeaker, allowing Mina owners to use the same rigging and mounting hardware. On the inside, Lina has been completely re-engineered with a more efficient class D amplifier, an upgraded power supply for greater peak output as well as a new magnet structure for the HF driver, the same as first applied in Leopard. Onboard signal processing has been upgraded, while
low-frequency distortion has been reduced with new cabinet baffling to optimise performance. The innovative low-frequency driver configuration – common to all Leo Family loudspeakers – produces output rivalling conventional systems with larger LF drivers. Lina’s internal signal processing incorporates Native Mode for ‘out of the box’ setup of common array configurations with minimal application of external processing.
“Lina is the ideal choice whenever uncompromising performance must be combined with flexibility, portability, discreet appearance and minimal flying weight” Meyer Sound
Lina has been completely re-engineered with a more efficient class D amplifier
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Nexo – Geo M10 Nexo’s mid-sized Geo M10 package is the latest addition to the GEO Series of line array speakers. The high-output sound reinforcement system has been designed with long-throw theatre and live applications in mind. With its characteristic ingenuity and innovative approach, Nexo has chosen a single 10” driver design, delivering an unprecedented LF response for this class of array. This two-way passive module will deliver a frequency response of 59Hz20kHz with nominal peak SPL of 131dB. There are two versions of the M10 cabinet, offering 12.5° and 25° of vertical dispersion. Both have 80°/120° horizontal dispersion which can be configured manually, without tools, by removing the magnetic grille and adjusting Nexo’s innovative flange fixing system. The M10 system allows maximum flexibility in use. From groundstacking (with or without the MSUB15 partner sub
bass cabinet) through to 12-box arrays (weighing only 275kg) the same hardware can be used for multiple applications. The new sub can be flown with or alongside the main cabinet. With the addition of the optional extension bar, the system can achieve a +/- 12 degree angle on either of two available bumpers. The internal three-point rigging system now features automatic locking and no loose parts.
The M10’s three-point rigging system features automatic locking
“With its characteristic ingenuity and innovative approach, Nexo has chosen a single 10” driver design, delivering an unprecedented LF response for this class of array” Nexo
RCF – HDL30-A Joining RCF’s big-selling HDL D Line series, the HDL30-A is a compact bi-amped two-way active touring system designed for medium to large events, both indoors and outdoors. It features an impressive SPL, thanks to the built-in 2200W, twoway class-D amplifiers and a high power DSP, with the company’s proprietary Firphase filters included. Thanks to the RCF RDNet Networked Monitoring and Control, the system engineer is able to carry out a large number of functions, including fully monitoring the system; reading tilt angles of individual modules; testing individual components; grouping modules together; adjusting gain and delay; and saving and recalling system presets. The new system features state of the art RCF transducers with neodymium magnets. Two 10” woofers and an impressive 4” titanium compression driver on a symmetrical design provide constant horizontal coverage, while the time coherent waveguide is the result of three years of research and design. The HDL30-A also boasts a robust enclosure in composite polypropylene with a revolutionary new rigging concept, while its low weight makes for easy handling and flying. With its compact form factor, it is already proving
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attractive to rental companies, while the system comes with its own dolly which can transport four enclosures, and can also be weather-protected.
“thanks to networked monitoring and control, the system engineer is able to carry out a large number of functions, including testing individual components and recalling system presets” RCF
The HDL30-A is designed for indoor and outdoor events
Superior Sound Quality Precise, transparent, accurate and present sound. Even dynamics across the frequency spectrum. Rich, warm, intelligible vocals
Unprecedented dynamic headroom allowing vocals plenty of space in the mix, high SPL without duress, minimum enclosure count. A 12-enclosure ﬂown array is powered by only two Lab.gruppen PLM 20K44 ampliﬁers
Meticulously crafted proprietary waveguides and driver technology produces naturally even frequency response, eliminating the need for onboard system EQ, resulting in uncompromised system dynamics, headroom and phase coherency
Lambda Flying System
Quick and easy deployment. Rotational axis exactly between enclosures ensures excellent coherency between adjacent components. Allows for adjustment under load and facilitates easy placement of enclosures on transport dolly
Free-ﬂowing user experience. Easily built virtual venues and arrays. Array optimisation in 3D real time workspace. Live load information allows for safe rigging. Automatic equipment listing
Geometric Energy Summation Precise natural tailoring of sound density and coverage pattern. Delay positions and array ‘shading’ not required. Sound focused on the audience, reducing oﬀsite environmental impact High intensity Increased coverage
Extreme measures: Modestep (pictured) will perform 2,000m above sea level
Extreme Gigs - this time it’s bigger and scarier How much further can live music recording and production go? How about playing suspended in mid-air? Or getting 1,000 musos to play at the same time? Or just a few in a hot air balloon? Kevin Hilton takes a deep breath and goes back to the edge...
n today’s challenge-based world people take things to extremes and then actively look to go beyond them. Which is why that eccentric and sometimes downright dangerous sub-genre of the live sound production business, the Extreme Gig, continues to grow and develop. As last year’s PSNLive discovered, the boundaries have been pushed and records set for the deepest, highest, fastest and coldest musical performances and recordings. There is always further to go and drinks company Jägermeister continues to push what musicians, technicians and equipment can endure. Its Ice Cold Gigs series holds the World Record for the coldest music performance - ex-Busted member Charlie Simpson in Sibera during 2012 - but this year’s trip to the edge promises to add an even more dramatic and potentially stomach churning twist when electronic dubstep and rock duo Modestep perform at the compulsory low temperatures suspended between two mountain peaks in New Zealand. This latest adventure is being co-ordinated by Tom McShane, operations director of expeditions and events company Secret Compass. McShane helped organise previous Ice Cold Gigs and says the 2017 challenge came about after discovering a company in the city of Moab, Utah that produces Space Nets
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for base jumpers. “Once we saw these nets we immediately thought they would be perfect for a suspended gig,” McShane explains. Having found the ‘stage’, McShane says the next priority was the location. As well as the necessary frostiness, this needed to be a “visually impressive mountain gap” with rock that could accommodate the bolting anchors to support the Space Net. “The gap couldn’t be too wide as we would need to be able to get the PA cables and instruments on to the net,” McShane says. “And we would also need a safe area nearby for the audience to stand.” This led to Cecil Peak near the town of Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. The aim is for Modestep to perform at approximately 2,000 metres above sea level over a sheer drop of several hundred feet. All the equipment has to be brought in by helicopter; the drums and keyboards will be bolted to clear Plexiglass sheets that will be slung under the aircraft and lowered on to the net. “We’ll then have a full safety team carefully winch out the backline to the net and tie it in a way that makes it possible to play on,” McShane comments. “Because of natural sag when you put a weight on the net, the instruments will be at an angle that will add an extra element of difficulty for Modestep when
they’re performing.” Modestep comprises vocalist, keyboard player and producer Josh Friend and drummer-percussionist Pat Lundy. Friend is known for his running-aboutthe-stage performances, with much throwing around of an Audio-Technica AE6100 mic. The band’s sound
technician, AJ Sutherland, says the precarious nature of the Space Net will not only constrain Friend’s exuberance but also make life hard for Lundy: “It will be difficult to set up a drum kit without dropping anything into the abyss, and even more difficult for Pat to play when everything he’s trying to hit keeps on moving.” Sutherland explains that Modestep tour with a self-contained show rack and a laptop for all MIDI, playback and in-ear monitor (IEM) mixing. This runs through Ableton and RME TotalMix programmes, with the hub also supplying analogue splits for the FOH console. The rack and computer are usually on stage during the band’s shows but as the stage in this case will be a big hammock in mid-air, Sutherland says as little gear as possible will be on the net. “We’ll use a Kenton LNDR line driver to transmit the MIDI signals to FOH over CAT5 and an analogue multicore for the mics and drum triggers,” he explains. The PA for the gig will be two Electro-Voice ZX5 loudspeakers powered by a QSC PLD 4.3 amplifier. The front of house desk is to be a Midas M32, which will produce three stereo sends for the Sennheiser G3 IEM system. In addition to the A-T mic there will be four Sennheiser 604s on the snare drum and toms and three SM81s for the hi-hat and under-mic-ing other cymbals, plus two Radial Pro DI units. “We plan to make multitrack recordings of each take via the USB interface on the M32,” says Sutherland. “The unique challenges presented by the cold, high, wobbly environment will certainly make it a demanding gig, but one that none of us will ever forget.” The location of Modestep’s gig is extreme, and while they will have a support team both technically and logistically, there are only two musicians to focus on. Conversely, Rockin1000 have been performing in good weather in the picturesque countryside of Italy.
UP, UP AND AWAY The hot air balloon has an old-world, idyllic image but it has made its mark in extreme ventures and world records. Two music milestones were set in 2006 when local Bath band The Girls performed the highest concert and highest recording in a hot air balloon. The Girls featured musician, engineer and studio owner Steven ‘Evansson’ Evans, who explains that the idea for the feat began as the basis for a feature in a music technology magazine. “Then we had the thought to find out if there was a world record,” he says. The record bid was organised in conjunction with contacts at Virgin Hot Air Balloons. The basket, holding the band, the pilot, observers and the one-person audience - “It counted as a gig
Which is not much of a challenge. But there are 1,000 players involved, which creates different problems and is no less extreme. Now billed as the ‘biggest rock band on earth’, Rockin1000 originally came together as a way of getting the attention of Foo Fighters so the US rockers would come to play in the northern Italian city of Cesena. Local musicians were joined by players from Canada, Mexico, England, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Germany, as well as elsewhere in Italy, to perform the Foo Fighters’ song Learn To Fly in July 2015. The ploy worked - Dave Grohl and his men staged a three-hour concert in Cesena that November - but the initially ad hoc group has become an ongoing project. In 2016 Rockin1000 performed a full concert at Cesena’s Manuzzi Stadium, which was recorded for release on CD and vinyl. This July a summer camp was held in the Alpine resort of Courmayeur, at the foot of Mont Blanc, creating what was described as a
Ice cool: Queenstown, New Zealand set the scene for this year’s Ice Cold Gig
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because we sold a ticket,” Evans says - was set up with Marshall amplifiers and a pair of ribbon microphones cable-tied to its edges. “The band was mostly acoustic but we did have Andrew ‘Mushroom’ Vowles from Massive Attack doing some scratching on a small turntable,” Evans adds. “We did have amplification but everyone could hear the whole band anyway.” The performance was recorded on Logic though a MOTU Ultralite interface running over bus power from a laptop. “It was ridiculous but it did work,” concludes Evans. “We were very high so the great thing was looking down on other aircraft. It was quite a surreal experience.” Perhaps not surprisingly, the records still stand.
huge rock village where music met nature. The immediate thought about 1,000 musicians gathered together is how to control the sound and performance so it’s not just a big mess. Cisko of Rockin1000’s sound department explains that the important aspect is microphone placement: “You have to consider the range and action of each single mic and consequently how these all are positioned in a precisely defined block and are equal to each other.” Another key aspect, Cisko adds, is preparation by the musicians. “We have to provide them with arrangements and material to study,” he says. “We also monitor all the music preparatory stages in the months before each event. Then, during rehearsal and sound checking of individual pieces before a concert, we only have to adjust the volume of individual parts so everything is not at the same volume.” Digico mixing consoles are used for concerts, typically two systems, which Cisko says have proved versatile for the layout of the live shows. Instrumentalists monitor on headphones, while singers wear IEMs, which Cisko observes is more for aesthetic reasons than anything else. “In any case it is essential for everyone to listen carefully to the parts in their headphones or monitors so they know when and how to play the song.” Rockin1000 is planning more events for the future. As well as the summer camp, the organisers want to play in locations around the world, recruiting musicians as they go. “It’s not easy,” Cisko says of making the concerts work, “but it’s a really great pleasure to have 1,000 musicians play together.” While Rockin1000 has ambitions, it seems content to grow almost organically. Those behind the Ice Cold Gigs know there could be a limit to how much further they can go but are keen to try to top the Space Net concert if they can. So Extreme Gigs III could be coming sometime in the future... n
Belgium’s Boiler Room required subwoofers that would deliver the ‘best possible sound’ for Pukklepop ‘without noise overload’, due to its residential location
Flying subwoofers at Pukkelpop The 32nd edition of the annual Pukkelpop festival (Aug 16-19) marked the world premiere of a never-beforeseen flown range of Adamson E-2019 cabinets, notes Marc Maes…
or the audio reinforcement of the Boiler Room stage at this year’s Pukkelpop festival in Belgium, sound designer and engineer Patrick ‘Duim’ Demoustier lined up 120 metres of subwoofer enclosures, flown on the ceiling of the 13,000-capacity dance tent. “The Boiler Room is gaining importance in terms of public attendance, with dance music attracting a substantial and growing segment of the 100.000 strong Pukkelpop crowd – in addition, the stage’s schedule runs until 04.00 am, resulting in possible noise hindrance for the neighbourhood,” says Demoustier. “The challenge was double: deliver the best possible sound within the boundaries of the (semi-covered) Boiler Room without causing noise overload.” The nearest residential area being about 100m away from the Boiler stage, Demoustier decided not to use the classical cardioid sub configuration. “The only way to tackle this was by creating a line of subwoofer cabinets whose length would then cancel noise hindrance – it’s not rocket science but merely a matter of physics,” Demoustier explains.
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“The problem was we couldn’t place the subs in the centre of the tent, so why wouldn’t we install a truss and fly them? I checked with some of my colleagues and specialists at Adamson and went ahead. And it worked out great! We had a deep disco sound inside the Boiler Room and no noise hindrance outside the tent…The festival organisers received many positive reactions from the neighbourhood.” Before actually going ahead, Demoustier went through some 3D-simulations with Adamson’s Blueprint simulation software package, allowing him to estimate the results of the configuration he had in mind, and to predict the sound reflection and dispersion of the set-up. Demoustier placed 60 Adamson E-219 subwoofer cabinets in the roof of the Boiler Room – another 96 E-12 line source cabinets in clusters 16 x E12 were installed in the 120m long festival disco. “The overall weight of the speaker system, without trussing, extensive show lights or effects, was over 18 tons,” said Demoustier. “We had to put in place special reinforcement supports to strengthen the Boiler Room tent’s structure. In addition, we used a tailor-made truss
construction to install the subs without damaging their front grills.” The system was powered by 65 Lab Gruppen PLM amplifiers with Lake Processing, and was supplied by rental company PRG who also catered for the festival’s main, marquee and dance hall stages. The Boiler Room’s audio set-up was tuned with eight measurement mics and controlled by Smaart v8 audio analysis software. Demoustier used a 10 EaZy sound level measuring system with online monitoring from the main production office. “The sound level remained at a limit of 100dB(A) over 60 minutes, with an average of 98dB(A) over two hours, compelling with the Flemish government’s legislation for amplified music on festivals,” he adds. “I am convinced that we have achieved our goal albeit in an unconventional way - and we will certainly follow the same path for the 2018 edition of Pukklepop,” concludes Demoustier. Artists/DJs performing in the 2017 Pukkelpop Boiler Room included Dave Clarke, Claptone, TLP, TwomanyDJs and Paul Kalkbrenner. n
Live Increased security
Manchester Arena reopened last month after a targeted terrorist attack in May
Security concerns In light of the Bataclan and Manchester Arena attacks, security in and around venues has increased dramatically, with concerns regarding backstage security and movement of touring equipment starting to be raised. Simon Duff considers some issues…
e all know the scenario. It’s load-in time at a gig. Maybe a seaside venue catering for 1,500 eager music fans. Expectations are high. A major artist is on a short tour prior to an arena run. The stage door has one, maybe two staff. The local hired help is on hand for the get-in at relevant access points. Budgets are tight. Load-in starts at around 8am, depending on the overnight journey. As the day progresses, large numbers of people are coming and going on and off site. Many parties are unconnected - lighting, sound, catering, management, promoter, local crew, artists all with very different jobs to do, and as requirements change during the course of set-up, it is not always possible to have a definitive list of credited people allowed on site. Tensions are running high. Both for getin and get-out at any given venue, exits and entrances can so easily become compromised. Given the current terror threat level issued by the UK government that remains at ‘severe’, we are all having to rethink everyday activities and raise our game. The recent terror attacks do follow a shocking pattern, part
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of which is aimed at entertainment. They would appear not at all to be random attacks of senseless violence, but rather attacks designed to appear that way. Julius Grafton is an Australian media technology journalist who has recently been writing on issues regarding entertainment security. In particular, he has raised serious concerns about how touring equipment travels. He argues that transportation might provide loopholes for terrorists. He believes that we may soon be living in a world where security checks on all gear wheeled into a concert will have to be enforced. Grafton believes that failure to introduce some form of screening at concerts would, in the worse case scenario, lead to claims of professional negligence, akin to the current situation around Grenfell Tower, and thus onto claims of involuntary manslaughter. It might be impossible to have a full-style airport security system in place, but changes are likely to have to be made. In the future, it might be that the humble flight case may become the most connected piece of IT kit on the tour. Most venues work in slightly different ways when
it comes to security, with the onus often on what is happening around the front of the venue where the paying public congregate, but with not enough emphasis to the rear, around the crew areas and equipment access points. A new-build arena will have a fortress-like approach to access (although there are exceptions), but in the older venues, such as listed theatre buildings, this is not the case, with access possible on a much wider scale to the rear of the venue. The stage door is an area of particular concern. All this raises the ugly spectre of the possible introduction of ID cards in the UK. It may be that in the future, along with the prized backstage pass laminate and Access All Areas trophy passes, ID cards could prove pivotal in providing promoters with at least some degree of peace of mind as to knowing who is on site that can be verified. It will be a sad day – but food for thought indeed. While audiences in the future will be increasingly screened with a form of hyper-security, it may be that backstage, the same might have to be the case for both staff and equipment. n
Top of the bill
PSNEurope’s Tara Lepore takes a look at some of the priciest festival packages on the market...
orking in the pro audio industry comes with its perks. Bagging a free ticket to the world’s most coveted festivals surely is one of them, and while you’ll probably be working throughout the weekend, the likelihood of getting access to some nice toilets is surely worth it (and something that regular punters can only dream about). The first Glastonbury Festival famously cost just £1 to get in, but now, having climbed up to £237 per person, it’s the second most expensive festival ticket in Europe. Yet, year-on-year, tickets continue to sell out in minutes, leaving a gap in the market for some of the world’s wealthiest people to get their hands on much-coveted tickets for a much-inflated price (without getting their hands dirty). Today’s premium festival options go far beyond spacious yurts and exclusive bars, with packages often throwing in first-class flights and private gigs (a stark difference to the free pint of milk Michael Eavis gave away to the first Glastonbury goers). We’ve taken a look at some of the priciest packages on offer, providing a glimpse into how the other half spend four days in a field in the summer.
an engraved and framed memorial ticket for each guest, made from Icelandic lava rock.
Secret Solstice, Iceland How much? $1 million
If you’ve ever queued for the loos near the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm, you’re perhaps wondering why it makes this list alongside other top-end luxury packages. Well, while general admission tickets are deemed affordable enough to sell out within minutes, there’s a secret campsite in the south east corner of the field that’ll set you back £10,495 for a four-person yurt (before VAT and the actual ticket price). Included in hospitality provider Land ‘n’ Sky’s luxe package, is
In 2016, Reyjavkik’s Secret Solstice festival announced the world’s first million-dollar festival ticket, setting you back, er, $1 million for you and five friends to experience festival luxe at its most expensive. While it was perhaps a PR stunt above anything else (a general ticket cost just £134/$199/€176), the package included a private dolphin watching tour and
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Fyre Festival, Bahamas How much? $0 (full refunds promised) Cast your minds back to April this year, when a muchhyped festival was making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Fyre Festival in the Bahamas promised an event to make you the envy of your entire Instagram feed – but the reality was somewhat different. For just $1,795, organisers were promoting roundtrip flights to the site, all-inclusive food and drink and mass treasure hunts (with prizes worth over $1 million). Festivalgoers were instead ‘welcomed’ to a nearempty site, nowhere to camp, no food or drink, and no music. The festival currently faces multiple lawsuits, with co-founder Billy McFarlane charged with wire fraud (among other things). Headliners Blink-182 pulled out the day before the festival was scheduled to start as the band were “not confident” they would have what they needed to give the “quality of performances they always give” to their fans. Quite.
Glastonbury Festival, UK How much? £10,495+
Egyptian cotton linen on premium double beds, allinclusive Neal’s Yard toiletries and a gourmet restaurant onsite (vegetarian options available).
Coachella, California How much? $7,500+ With a normal ticket setting you back a whopping $399, the VIP Safari package at California’s coolest festival doesn’t seem so bad at $7,500 for the weekend... At the start of festival season, Coachella’s starstudded line-up over two weekends in April is always a high talking point across the world, and, while festival purists might sneer at the lack of mud, ticket prices definitely reflect just how sought after these golden tickets are. VIP Safari guests enjoy fully furnished, airconditioned tipi-style tents, with exclusive VIP areas and private shuttle services to and from your tent. Want to invite another few friends along to reduce the cost? You have the option to add two additional guests for an extra $1,750 – each. Peace and love.
It’s the Ship, Singapore (via Thailand) How much? £2,388+ This round-trip cruise self-professes as ‘Asia’s largest festival at sea’, taking you from Singapore to Phuket in Thailand, and back to Singapore again. The 18-deck cruise liner is one of the world’s largest ships, featuring a waterslide park and zip line that overlook the sea; a bowling alley; 3D movie theatre; mini-golf course; and 35 restaurant and bars. At just £2,388 per person for a Dream Deluxe suite, at least you know for sure that you can leave your wellies at home. n
ED SHEERAN WORLD TOUR 2017 Congratulations to Major Tom on another successful LEO Family Tour We're proud to support you on bringing the highest quality audio to stages around the world.
Photo: Ralph Larmann
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WHEN THE BEST SOUND ISN’T ENOUGH
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