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nmessick

Going Public This Year. Need Advice

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We've a business that has done LOR based shows for the last 5-6 years. Usually around 400-500 strings. We're known in the area for doing light shows. However they have always been drive by stuff (we're located right on the side of an interstate and you can see us for about 1/4 mile in each direction.  This last winter we pitched the idea to one of our vendors of doing a display set to music and they are helping to fund the cost this year. I'm flying blind on this one and was wondering if you guys could give some advice. 

 

Whats a good date to start? I am thinking of doing a "friends \ employees \ family \ media" night Nov 30, then starting nightly shows from the 6th forward. 

 

Given our traffic flow, this is going to be a drive up, park and watch show. We'll have volunteers doing traffic control. Their inventive will be that we'll take charity donations that they can designate. I'm worried about wed\thurs nights being slow. Is this a valid concern? I don't want my volunteers to waste their time.

 

How late in the evening should we plan to run?

 

I have a good layout for traffic flow, but can probably only pass about 90 cars\hour. 

 

How hard do I need to push to get the word out? I kinda expect that we'll run a few hundred people though and word will spread really quickly. 

 

I've never sequenced more than a minute or two of music. How much time can it take to sequence 160 channels?

 

 

Thanks guys. We're really diving into this head first. I just want to be as prepared as possible. 

Edited by nmessick

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Well there are so many parts and questions within this post; I'll just touch on one or two.  First let me clarify that I've never done a public show.

 

First thing I'd think about is liability and insurance.  Research who carries public event insurance and what that'll cost.

 

Second, you asked "Whats a good date to start?".  Today for a 2014 display.  Seriously, depending on how much time, resources, helping hands, you have available will determine how much time you'll need. 

 

Good luck!

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We've a business that has done LOR based shows for the last 5-6 years. Usually around 400-500 strings. We're known in the area for doing light shows. However they have always been drive by stuff (we're located right on the side of an interstate and you can see us for about 1/4 mile in each direction.  This last winter we pitched the idea to one of our vendors of doing a display set to music and they are helping to fund the cost this year. I'm flying blind on this one and was wondering if you guys could give some advice. 

 

Whats a good date to start? I am thinking of doing a "friends \ employees \ family \ media" night Nov 30, then starting nightly shows from the 6th forward. 

 

Given our traffic flow, this is going to be a drive up, park and watch show. We'll have volunteers doing traffic control. Their inventive will be that we'll take charity donations that they can designate. I'm worried about wed\thurs nights being slow. Is this a valid concern? I don't want my volunteers to waste their time.

 

How late in the evening should we plan to run?

 

I have a good layout for traffic flow, but can probably only pass about 90 cars\hour. 

 

How hard do I need to push to get the word out? I kinda expect that we'll run a few hundred people though and word will spread really quickly. 

 

I've never sequenced more than a minute or two of music. How much time can it take to sequence 160 channels?

 

 

Thanks guys. We're really diving into this head first. I just want to be as prepared as possible. 

 

 

You have a lot to do if you are doing it this year, just keep in mind traffic builds each year, i.e. you can push, flyers, get local business to put them up, leave cards with website and maybe local map on back for them to hand out, contact local town halls for who to talk to about possible issues.

 

If you are trying to get up and running, then purchase some pre-made sequences from Light-o-Rama or wow lights, etc..

 

As to nights and traffic, I have found over the past few years that in general Mon-Tuesday tend to be very slow, Wednesday varies, Thurs-Sat traffic builds.

 

In the case of my display, the busiest day is always December 23rd.

 

Now you say you are going to collect money - you need to check for permits and insurance as Buckeyelights mentions - you incur liability the second you do that, and you MUST talk to the local police and most likely provide a traffic plan and engage some officers for traffic to do what you plan.

 

DONT WAIT on contacting the town and police to find out what you must have to do this, big waste of time to setup to be told to shutdown.

 

Final one, time to start - since you don't have any idea of traffic or how many people will come out, you have a wide range of start - stop.  My 2 cents on this and what I do on my display, is I have an hour of music and info go out BEFORE the show starts, and I run that a few days before the show will run, (this means get your frequency sign setup first) that way anyone coming by who happens to discover you can find out when the show starts and when it runs to both dates and times.

 

You can create your own or contact The Demented Elf - http://www.thedementedelf.com/ he is a professional announcer that creates contact and voice overs and is very resonable on prices, some of his work can be heard on my website www.crazytechchristmas.com on the 2012 video, he recorded some stuff I wrote, page one, Yoda, Reason for Lights, and he does all my info ones as well.

 

Then I start my show day after Thanksgiving, it runs from 4:30 PM to 10 PM Sunday-Thursday and 4:30 PM to 11 PM Friday-Saturday, I do this for a few reasons, first one being I catch the people coming home from work who want to stop by early, second, since traffic is lighter before 5 PM I can catch/fix anything that maybe an issue from the prior night.

 

Now I mentioned a freqency sign, I consider this a MUST have, and it should be lighted - I used a small sign with a spotlight on it and it turned out to be hard to see at certain angles, then I had one that said Tune To 88.7 - and some people assume AM not FM - go figure, so my current one says Tune To 88.7 FM.

 

There are websites that can tell you the open frequeny in your air that you can use.

 

Hope this helps you get started - and make sure you check out Light-o-Rama help area to watch some setup videos as well..

 

Final note: Shows take time to build traffic, my first year with "no push" I had about 30 to 50 people I did not know find me, year 2 with some push I had 900, year 3 with more push I had 2,500.

 

Now keep in mind I am on a side street and I don't push hard, don't want so many people to come by that I have to shutdown - in your case go to local papers, tv, etc.. and make a hard push - search for info on press releases and best way to approach them - bottom line, if this year is NOT that big, don't lose hope, set your expectations for a launch year on the low end, it will only get bigger each year.

 

Good Luck

Edited by Crazy Tech

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I've been doing this stuff for a long time, privately and to some extent publicly, at least for the last three years. I think you may be taking on too much this late for a successful, profitable outcome. Generally we start selling ideas and determining site and layout no later than Feb. - March. Venues are hesitant to commit that early but the groundwork needs to be laid early as most commercial shows are on by no later than the third week of November. That means  allocating additional amperage as needed,  set up, testing, trouble shooting and dress rehearsals weeks earlier. The first year is the make or break year. It has to be right, not rushed or thrown up. Good critiques mean repeat sales and that will be the difference between success for years to come or a one time display. I'm not trying to rain on your parade, I'm just giving you my two..  Heck, In dealing with larger venues their budgets and contracts negotiated in  early summer 2013 are for the Christmas 2014 season.

However you decide to go, Good luck, and if I can be of help with questions feel free to fire them my way. That is what PC is all about.

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To add to the party... As a musician I have to add:

Don't forget the issues of being a public show: copyright and performance licenses.  There are performance fees which go to the musicians, composers and publishers of the music that you use.  A household using the music has always been classified as a private listening audience, however the second you do anything at a business or a public park then it becomes a commercial venture.  Wow Lights has sequences that have a commercial license with it but you must contact them direct for prices...

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Yea. I should quality what I ment by 'public'. I am not charging a fee. What's changing for me is that this has been a visible show for years without a drive up and watch the show sequence. This year we're going to sequence to music. I am aware I am getting in over my head. I have most of my planning done and am taking baby steps now. I won't be doing this alone. I'll have 4-6 people helping.

 

Any idea how many hours per minute of audio I should plan for sequencing?

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Yea. I should quality what I ment by 'public'. I am not charging a fee. What's changing for me is that this has been a visible show for years without a drive up and watch the show sequence. This year we're going to sequence to music. I am aware I am getting in over my head. I have most of my planning done and am taking baby steps now. I won't be doing this alone. I'll have 4-6 people helping.

 

Any idea how many hours per minute of audio I should plan for sequencing?

 

Another good question, and it depends upon a few things - 1. length of song, 2. How much detail you are adding, 3. How fast you figure out what you want to do and can sequence it.

 

I have done short songs using just the beat to setup some parts of a sequence in a half-hour, and finished it withint two hours, then again I have one song that I put over 70 hours into it for 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

 

And of course experience with doing it makes it faster - you really need to start doing it to get an idea of how long it will take you!

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