A band stage plot – also referred to as a stage plan or band stage diagram – is a simple overview of a band’s stage set up that is sent to a venue, festival or promoter in advance of a gig in order to provide the technicians working there some advance notice of the equipment provided. In some cases the stage plot diagram is accompanied by an input list, which is a more detailed list of all the different inputs and connections a band has.
In this article, we’ll cover off what is a stage plot, why they are useful and how to make a stage plot for a band.
What Is A Stage Plot?
For those of your wondering “what does a stage plot look like”? Above is a stage plot example. In a nutshell, a stage plot diagram is designed to be a tool that a sound engineer, venue or promoter can use to understand the technical set up of a band. This can be sent in advance so that the venue can be ready and make sure they have the correct equipment to allow the band to deliver a complete performance.
As an up-and-coming band you play a huge range of gigs – in quick succession you might find yourself supporting a larger artist at a larger venue, headlining our own show at a smaller venue and playing festivals pretty regularly. When you’re headlining your own show, you have the benefit of arriving at the venue with lots of time to soundcheck and all of the little nuances of your set up can be accommodated – which is very useful if you have a non-standard stage set up. Whilst you do get a soundcheck supporting a larger artist, it’s pretty quick and getting your sound perfect is certainly not the priority. And at a festival, you’re lucky to have even a line check and a lot of the time you are using some shared equipment (normally Drum shells at guitar/bass cabinets at the least) – the changeovers are rushed and if you take too much time to set everything up, you end up losing precious stage minutes. In all of these instances, the stage technicians are generally not familiar with you until you arrive at the venue – they don’t know your sound or show and so they are to a large degree working on the fly.
By sending a stage plot in advance, you provide the sound techs with an idea of the equipment you’ll be using and what you’ll need from them in order to get you stage ready quickly and efficiently.
What Is An Input List?
An input list is a document that often accompanies a stage plot. It is a list of all of the equipment and the connections needed for that equipment so that the engineers at a live event can make sure they have the correct number of DI boxes and channels available on the PA to make sure that everything is covered.
Here is an example of an Input list that relates to the Stage Plot above:
|Electric Guitar||Power at front of stage for pedal board. 1 x Guitar Cab, 1 x Bass Cab.||Electric guitar signal split into 2 channels – one for normal guitar, and one via an octave pedal and EQ Filter for bass.|
|Banjo/Pedal Steel/Electric Guitar||Single XLR DI into PA from Kemper Amp Profiler Unit. Power for Kemper Unit.
Power at front of stage for Pedal Board.
|Musician will switch between instruments and profiles on the unit so 1 DI will cover everything.
Please note, Kemper has no built in speaker output so all monitoring to come through PA foldbacks/Monitor Mix
|Synth Bass||Jack DI at front of stage.
2 x Power outlet at front of stage for Synth and Pedals
What Is Included In A Basic Stage Plot?
Stage Plots are supposed to be easy reference guides, so it’s always a good idea to keep them nice and concise – you don’t want to include details like your bio or any information that isn’t relevant to your performance.
The key details are what equipment you have and what equipment you’ll need (whether that’s a microphone for a Guitar Amp or a DI box for a synthesiser), including where you want your microphones and monitors and the performance position of your band members.
How To Make A Stage Plot For A Band
Some bands like to create bespoke plots using tools like Photoshop or Powerpoint which can be a really good option. There is also some really great stage plot design software online that give really cool professional results.
One of the best is Boss Tweed Backline which is an awesome little web-based stage plot app that allows you to very easily create a stage plot design and input list including pro-looking icons.
There’s also stage plot app for iOS called Stage Plot Maker so you can create the perfect stage plot on your iPhone or iPad.
Tecrider is another great tool, especially if you pay the additional charges to unlock some of the extra features.
Now You Know Everything About A Stage Plot!
As you can see, the information contained within a stage plot is pretty straightforward. Really, the purpose is to make the Sound Tech’s job as easy as possible and to make sure that everything works as it is supposed to when the band turns up ready to rock ‘n’ roll and there are no compromises that have to be made because the correct tech isn’t there.
A couple of things to note – remember, this is your first impression not only to the venue or festival, but also to the people who are going to be directly responsible for how you sound on the night. Keep the info concise and relevant, make the Stage Plot and Input List look clean and professional (don’t hand draw it!) and don’t fill it up with useless information – the tech’s don’t need to see photos of the band or their gear and they don’t need links to your Facebook or your Instagram – it should just be the relevant information for them to provide you with the best sound, so you can provide the audience with your best show.
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