Everyone loves a freebie; whether it's a free McDonald's cheeseburger with a valid student ID (yes students, this is real), a 30 day free trial of Microsoft Office or a 7th mini Jaffa Cake in an advertised pack of 6... it's what dreams are made of.
However, in the world of Live Music & Production freebies are nothing but a pain in the posterior and I am going to explain why i am NOT just being a party pooper!
One of the recurring themes of phone calls I have had with event organisers since joining the SLS squad is the issue of having very little/no budget for any event production, staging, lighting or sound and that they rely on freebies to even get the event together.
Now at first glance this seems fair enough, the money they have to spend is needed elsewhere and for as long as there are people generously offering make-shift services for free then things tick along nicely and the events happen and are even celebrated.
But by doing this the event organisers have failed to address the main issue... lack of funding/budget!
So now sit back, crack open a pack of mini Jaffa Cakes (good luck!) and allow me to offer a different point of view...
CHAPTER 1: MY BRIGHT IDEA
Welcome to my hypothetical wonderland, in which I have decided to organise an event called 'The Beer Olympics'.
The event will be free entry to all and will consist of a number of beer related games such as a Yard of Ale, a Beer Pong competition and 'Name that drink whilst blindfolded'... sounds like fun, right?
I would also want some Live Music for the evening as everyone loves a sing and a dance once they have had a few drinks.
CHAPTER 2: SHOW ME THE MONEY
Based on projected alcohol sales for the event we have an estimated budget of £1500, so now I take a look at my costs:
Music Stage - £1500
WHAT? That's my whole budget gone already! I'm not having this, let's see who we can get to help provide some odds and ends to get around this one for free.
Security - £350
I will likely need 4/5 security personnel on hand throughout the event given it's nature and to assure attendees that their safety is being well protected.
Venue/Site Hire - £500
I have opted for a location that has hosted many events in the past as it has a good track record.
Staff - £200
Volunteers would be welcomed with open arms but to ensure a certain level of quality of service I would still feel more comfortable with a financially incentivised workforce to uphold my events reputation.
Live Music - £450
I manage to rope in 3 local bands for £150 each and a few free beers on top.
Other miscellaneous costs (event decor, seating, promotion & marketing resources) - £300
Ok, we are already over budget by £400 so we need to make some changes in order to make this event happen.
CHAPTER 3: SHOW ME MORE MONEY
In my head I go through a few options:
A) Cut down our security numbers and compromise the safety of our attendees.
B) Cut down the amount of bands we have which could result in people leaving earlier and thus affecting our bar take which is needed to create our budget in the first place.
C) Cut down promotion & marketing costs which will affect the reach of the event to potential attendees.
D) GET SPONSORSHIP!
CHAPTER 4: THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY SPONSORSHIP
So we approach potential sponsors who would benefit from an association with us, I decide that the 'FunkyOrange' Brewery (the event locations local brewery) would be a great fit for the event and would surely benefit from getting involved and sponsoring our event.
They hear out my pitch and start asking questions:
"How many people are you expecting?" Hopefully 300
"Will a licensed Security team be onsite at all times?" Yes (Thank god we didn't cut security numbers!)
"How will you be marketing the event?" Facebook, Twitter, Posters, Flyers & word of mouth
"Do you have a fully licensed and qualified Production company working on your Music & entertainment?" No, we have a guy who is going to put something together for us.
"Right... Have you consulted The Purple Guide for information on how to organise your Music Stage?" Uh...
CHAPTER 5: THE PURPLE WHAT?
For the benefit of the uninitiated; the Purple Guide was written by the Events Industry Forum in consultation with the events industry.
Its aim is to help those event organisers who are duty holders to manage health and safety, particularly at large-scale music and similar events.
Although not a compulsory component in event organising it is widely regarded as a must have by the industry's leaders and most affiliates/sponsors will not entertain any partnerships without the event organisers having a firm grasp of it's contents as it is an assurance of quality & professionalism (why would someone risk their companies reputation on your event?).
(For more information go to www.thepurpleguide.co.uk I urge all event organisers to check it out)
So as my sponsorship pitch falls apart like a Rich Tea biscuit that has taken the plunge one too many times our phone conversation comes to an abrupt halt.
"I'm afraid we wont be interested in sponsoring your event, but we hope it goes well!".
CHAPTER 6: SPECULATE TO ACCUMULATE
I stare at my financial spreadsheet knowing that the event is going to run at a loss of £400 unless I can find a way to create some more revenue.
A sponsor wont touch us unless we are able to provide professionalism across the entire event but the £1500 production costs are just too much... right?
I have brushed myself off and got back on the phone to 'FunkyOrange' Brewery and this time I am ready for them, I supply photographs of the staging that I am looking to source as well as tech specs (technical specifications = what equipment they have).
And what do you know... "That all looks great, we would love to sponsor that!".
A few banners later and 'FunkyOrange' Brewery proudly sponsors the 'Beer Olympics' Music Stage... for £2000!
Our biggest cost has just paid for itself and made us an additional £500 on top... Result!
CHAPTER 7: AN UNLIKELY HERO
Well of course my story was going to end with a professional production company saving the day, it is kind of my job to make that point abundantly clear.
But the reality is that presentation & professionalism are two key components in Live Music & Production and without them you will be hard pressed to wow a single attendee let alone a sponsor!
Moral of the story... Callum likes Jaffa Cakes.
StageLightSound can offer you a professional Live Music & Production service that will not only be superior to it's competitors but can in turn be used to create more income for your event... DO NOT settle for the freebie, Choose StageLightSound!