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Bob Log III at The Vanguard, Newtown.


How to be a performer that venues will want back

You'll Discover:

  • Building a productive rapport with sound engineer, venue staff and other performers.
  • Creating a tech rider to reduce equipment issues.
  • Load in and load out etiquette.
  • Getting a great soundcheck or line check.
  • Soundcheck do’s and don’ts.

Whether you’re an emerging musician, a seasoned one, or a promoter on-site coordinating a stage lineup, this guide will help you to get the best out of your soundcheck and in turn, put on a stellar live performance!


Create and send tech rider in advance

Before the event, you need to correspond (usually by email) with the venue engineer/stage manager to work out details of the upcoming gig. Your tech rider should contain all of the details that the sound engineer will need to know before the show, right down to the technical details, and will ideally include backline, stage plot, input list and other technical requirements. 

Your tech rider should:

  • Be simple, clear and professional.

  • Show what you will provide, versus what you need the venue to provide.

  • Be Up to date (re-check/edit before each show).

A simple emailed version of your tech rider might look like this:

The band has five members:

Lead vocalist (also acoustic guitar on some songs)

Bass Guitarist (also backing vocals)

Lead Guitarist

Keyboardist (also backing vocals)


Band Will Provide:

1x guitar

1x bass amp 

Snare drum and Cymbals

Can Venue please provide:

1x Drum Kit (minus snare and cymbals)

3x vocal microphones

3x tall boom mics for vocalists

DI unit for keyboards - and enable keyboard to be heard through stage monitors

DI unit for acoustic guitar - and enable keyboard to be heard through stage monitors

Mics and suitable stands to mic up drums and amps.

If your sound engineer gets a tech rider like the ones above she/he will know that there are 3 vocalists, a drum kit to be miked up, two amplifiers which also need to be miked up, and keyboard and acoustic guitar to be Directly Injected (DI’ed) into the mixer and stage monitor.

Here’s a more complex example, courtesy of Astralsound:

A table that outlines tech requirements for a band.

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At the venue

When you arrive, introduce yourselves to the sound engineer and follow their instructions on where to store gear, and when and how to set up on stage. Setting gear up onstage for seamless changeover is important. For further info on how to plan for and practice this, read our toolkit guide Why practicing changeovers is crucial.

If other acts are performing ensure you’re respectful. Give the previous act time to clear the stage: do not jump onstage as soon as they’ve finished playing.

Even if you’ve provided a tech rider or stage plot, do not assume the engineer would have memorised it. That’s fair enough as they may deal with many acts every week. So follow the engineers instructions, politely remind them of what tech gear you need, and ask if you can set up according to your stage plot. Be flexible enough to adjust your stage setup to suit the engineers needs or advice.

If there are any changes to the tech rider (e.g. you need an extra mic and or stand) let the sound engineer know while you’re loading your gear onstage so that she/he can accommodate changes.

Note: Your worksheet details the load (or bump) in times for artists.

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Line Check and Soundcheck

Follow the engineers instructions, let them lead the process. Ensure that band mates are quiet, considerate and ready to take instructions from the engineer.

Line Check

Now that you are set up onstage each band member will be asked to play their instrument (or gear components) one by one, depending on the channels assigned by the sound engineer on the mixing desk. This is called a line check. Line checks are an opportunity to check that all signals from all instruments are getting to the mixing desk. You’ll need to be quiet when its not your turn so that the sound engineer can get a correct reading of what’s happening onstage. 

Don’t jam during the line check. Instead, listen to the sound engineer and wait for instructions.

When it’s your turn to line check play as your will perform: same volume. 

Setting your volume 

The sound engineer will now set the gain structure of each instrument or while the band is playing together (depending on how much time you have to soundcheck).

Setting monitor volumes

Stage monitors (or foldback wedges) ensure that each band member can hear what their band-mates are playing and therefore perform seamlessly together. They are also useful for individual musicians who need to hear themselves (and usually run the risk of being drowned out by the volume of onstage amplifiers, drums and so on). 

The sound engineer will ask you for instruction on the volume you need instruments set in your foldback, for each band member. You can guide the sound engineer by speaking (e.g. “Can I have more vocals in my foldback”) or with hand signals (hand up or down for louder, quieter and pointing to each band member to identify instrument). 

Note: avoid saying just give me everything - its there to highlight what you need to perform, not a full mix.

Note: if you are using in-ear monitors you need to set the volume for these yourself.

If the engineer offers a full Soundcheck

Most of the time you won’t get a full soundcheck. But if the engineer approves or asks you to do a full soundcheck, the band will all need to play together. The songs you play should be ones that you are performing in your set. 

  1. Prior to performing, your act should establish which section of the performance is best to soundcheck with (e.g. maybe a chorus from a song that allows you test everything). 

  1. Play at the full volume / intensity that you intend to perform at. DO NOT stop playing until the engineer instructs you to.

  1. If you have equipment changeovers (e.g. an acoustic guitar only used for a song or two, drum machines etc), play a part of that song as well to soundcheck.

  1. Check your monitors - play with vocals (including backing vocals).  If you have singers, play part of a song that includes vocals for all singers so the stage monitors can be tested.

During soundcheck the sound engineer will tweak your sound and if needed, turn the volume down a bit (depending on how it sounds in the room). If this means you can no longer hear anything properly let them know. At this point the sound engineer might walk around the room to check how things sound in different parts of it. 

Keep your cool

Communicate with engineers and other acts with respect. Listen and follow instructions. Avoid shouting out from stage to the engineer - better to speak politely in mic or jump off stage and go to the engineer to chat. Don’t forget that you can also use hand signals to adjust.

Load Out

Clear the stage of your equipment as soon as you’ve finished performing. Ask the sound engineer where they want their gear stored or if your gear should be loaded out of the venue right after performance.

If you are approved to load out of the venue, make sure that you do so in a way that won’t interrupt another act onstage.

It might sound obvious, but you definitely should not:

  • Be onstage fussing with your gear or on the side of stage where the audience can see you.
  • Carry your gear between audience and stage (i.e. across the dance floor).

Stay and support other acts

Stay for the other acts and encourage your fans to do the same. When announcing the last song onstage or leaving stage, encourage the audience to stick around for the next act (use their name)!

Watch the other acts, get up front or fill the dance floor / front of stage area to encourage other patrons (and your fans) to do the same. Clap and cheer for the other acts and don’t talk over the acts with your mates. 

Being respectful will build a good rapport and create atmosphere on the night, while letting you to enjoy live music with your mates!

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