This paper investigates the key stages and process of the organisation of a live music event, with a particular focus on the importance of strategic and operational planning in order to reach success.
Planning is at the base of Project Management: it is fundamental to the success of an event because it defines the pathways needed to achieve the goals that have been set. In order of this to happen there must be an understanding of internal and external factors that will influence the decisions that will be made. One main objective of planning is foreseeing problems so that it is possible to find solutions ahead of time. Nevertheless, it is important to keep a certain degree of flexibility and constantly monitor. The planning process ends when the event finishes: ““Planning is a process that must continuously occur... until the end of the event. It is crucial to have as a foundation for this ongoing planning a vision, statement or concept that can be... understood “(Bowdin, 2010).
Organizing an event involves a series of elements that are correlated and sequential: first of all an event concept must be decided, meaning the type of event, the duration, the location, the timing and programming. Secondly it is important to engage in a formal analysis of the event's potential in order to decide whether it is worth it to proceed with it. Once this had been decided an organisational structure must be established between a simple functional structure, a programme-based structure and a multi-organisational structure (Bowdin, 2010). The chosen structure will depend on the type of event and its size. Whatever the type of structure, in a live music event there are a series of roles that are usually present for events of all sizes, but the distribution of these roles will vary (some may be done by the same person): roles such as the production manager, artist booker, programmer, promo manager, build and decor, logistics manager and safety manager will be present since the planning of the event, while others such as venue manager, promo manager and stage manager are more related to the actual implementation.
In order to obtain a successful event, the project plan must present two different stages: strategic and operation planning.
According to Bowdin (20xx), strategic planning is a process that consists in “identifying where an organisation is, decide where it should be positioned in the market place in order to maximise its chances of progressing its mission and creating strategies and tactics to achieve that position”.
The main step is “identifying the purpose or vision/mission that an event organisation is seeking to fulfil or process (…) and undertaking actions to achieve that (…)”. Vision and mission can be different, with the first describing what the event wants to become/achieve in the longer term and the latter describing in general the task that the event organisation has set for itself (p. 201-202).
Once the purpose has been established, it is used to set goals, objectives and strategies. One of the most important step of managing and event is setting its goals which are, according to Bowdin (2010), “broad statements that seek to provide direction to those engaged in the organisation of the event”, while objectives “are used to quantify progress towards an event's goals and set performance benchmarks”, meaning they are used to assess if the different aspects of planning have succeeded or not. The establishment of objectives can be set by following the criteria summed in the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, agreeable, realistic, time-specific).
The next step in the strategic planning is the assessment that the organisation must do of its internal and external environment using SWOT analysis. The external factors that impact on the event's success are fundamental in establishing the target audience, the activities and opportunities such as sponsorship and promotion. The last step is deciding the STRATEGY ???? HOW YOU DO IT?
Once this has been done, it is necessary to develop operational plans to implement it: this is the operational planning part of the event. It regards how the vision will be delivered. Some of the areas to which operational planning applies are budgeting, marketing, staging, security and risk management, programming, staffing and many more.
As it has been stated strategic and operational planning are the two main stages necessary to plan an event, but it is particularly important to explain how they relate to each other. One cannot exist without the other, and they must be done in the correct order. Some aspects of planning are only present in strategic planning, while other such as budget expand on both of them, being strategic when working out the costs and the brea-keven, but operational when deciding how to concretely spend it.
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