There are certain expectations for an artist’s sound check that many people are unaware of. Some are in fact contractual obligations, while others are just proper etiquette. It is important that your planning team be aware of how a proper sound check should go. Here are the “unspoken rules” of a sound check:

 

1. Sound checks are important

This should go without saying, but sometimes schedules are tight. Every artist deserves a sound check if at all possible. Even if you have limited time, try to give enough for each artist team to properly sound or line check. They want to sound their best for your audience and deserve time to make sure their equipment and yours is working properly, their various levels sound right in your venue, and more.

 

2. Sound checks should be private

That means as few people as possible should be in the room. Your production team needs to of course be there, and if you are still setting up portions of the room, of course your set up team needs to be there. Otherwise, no one else should be in the room. Your set up crew should be doing their jobs quietly and quickly, leaving the room whenever possible. 

Sound check is time for an artist team to be unrefined and working out the kinks. This is their private time to be focused on improving their sound, their set, and their goals for the performance. This is NOT the time to be entertaining. The artists will likely not be “show-ready,” both in their appearance and performance. If you do not have security onsite yet, make sure doors are locked, random people are not walking through the space, and your workers are working and not watching. No one should be sitting in the audience watching

If you are producing an open, non-gated outdoor event it’s nearly impossible to keep from having a few spectators. Make sure you communicate with the artist team so they know a private sound check won’t be possible. If asked, have your team kindly ask any lingering people to step away so the artists can have a private sound check. 

3. Sound checks should be quiet

You may think that your set up crew dancing to the music and cheering after a rehearsed song is supportive, but it is not the appropriate time for it. Anyone working in the room needs to be as quiet as possible. Remember that the musicians are working, trying to prepare for their performance, and should be free from distractions. 

 

4. Sound checks should not be photographed

DO NOT photograph or video a sound check. Again, this is not the time for artists to be show-ready and it is not the right time for photos. If you need to make a social media post or have a real reason for taking a photo of the stage area during sound check, make sure to get permission from the artist’s tour manager. Sometimes that can even lead to artists wanting to say hi to your social media followers, which is even better than a random photo of sound check!

No need to be heavy-handed or yell at your team. Just make sure to spread the word about what is and is not appropriate. Often volunteers don’t know these unspoken rules, and just need a quick reminder during a pre-event prep meeting. 

 

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]