Your Essential Stage Manager Checklist

There are so many different aspects that come together to create a successful music event and stage technicians are a big part of that. Running a stage is no easy job. It gets difficult and frustrating when there are so many things to keep track of. But when you take the time to plan your next steps, things will be much more manageable.

Here are few things that you should keep in mind when planning your next stage.

1. Communicate with the music event planners

One of the first things that you want to do is communicate with the music event planners. The music event planners are in charge of managing every little detail when in comes to planning music events so they’re the first people that you should get in contact with. They’ll tell you all the information that you need in order to run a stage efficiently. Things such as the line-up, particular lighting, and important stage directions should be communicated between stage technicians and music event planners. You should get all the information you need before planning the logistics of the actual physical stage.

It’s also good to understand how many event tickets have been sold to gauge if the stage and the barricading around it is secure enough to capacitate the crowd. Back and forth with event planners helps ensure you are ready to host the crowd and pull off a successful event experience.

2. Assemble your team and essentials

Assembling various teams for different tasks is a great way to attack different aspects about the stage. Like with the actual music event planning, there are different aspects of the stage that different teams should concentrate on. For example, to run a event or festival stage, there are many things to consider like lighting, sound mixing, production, etc. So it makes sense to create different teams for each aspect of the stage. A few important positions to think about are: sound design, sound mixer, production manager, lighting technician, technical director, producer, and operators.

While your team is very important for the smooth running of your stage, it’s equally important to have some essential items with you. Different types of tape – reflective, neon and masking tape come super handy when you have to mark positions onstage for different acts who might not use the same setup. Other essentials that tend to come handy are cutters, scissors, cable ties, flashlights, markets, batteries, and a basic screwdriver kit are some more tools you can add to the list. Maintain a bag backstage that you can access for this any time you may need it.

3. Design a physical stage plan

As a stage technician, you need to concentrate on all the different aspects of the physical stage and a great way to make sure you cover all grounds of the stage is to design a physical stage plan. When you have a physical stage plan to work from, things are more organized and everything is recorded. A stage plan also helps direct other teams to the corrects tasks to be done and it gets things done more efficiently. Things like where different instruments are set up, lighting positions, and the lineup are just the few things that should be noted in a stage plan.

4. Ensure stage technology runs smoothly

Making sure that the stage technology runs smoothly is one of the most important things that you should cover as stage technicians. Things from the sound mixing to the lighting should be double-checked! Technology is one of the biggest parts of a successful stage so make sure that you pay attention to how things are running. Test it out often and keep a record on how things are running. It’s useful to keep a note of everything that you do so you can always reference back to it.

5. Think about what is running backstage

You also want to think about what is going on backstage because if things are not running smoothly backstage, it could definitely affect the actual stage. Keep track about what is happening backstage, how it is set-up, and appoint a team to cover what is going on backstage. The artists will be running around backstage and if the music event or festival has multiple artists performing, it’s important to keep track of what is happening backstage so things don’t get mixed up.

6. Prepare for stage changeovers

Speaking about multiple artists performing, you want to prepare for stage changeovers when you have a lineup. Appoint a team to take care of this and have them concentrate on this specifically. Having a team to take care of changeovers reduces frustration and confusion around the different artists coming in and going out. Think about how to smoothly change instruments, whole layouts of the stage, and different lighting if necessary to accommodate what is going on.

At big events or festivals, different big bill artists will have gear they use exclusively, and for smooth changeovers, these are mounted and set up on different sets of moving risers. Make sure to plot out the movement of these risers according to the show flow at the earliest so you’re prepared for quick and smooth changeovers.

cr. Photo of backstage to show how to run a stage efficiently

7. Pay attention to rehearsals and take notes

Rehearsals are a great way to take a closer look at how things are running on the actual stage. You can pay attention to the sounding, mixing, lighting, and how transitions are done. Take notes on what needs to be fixed and if any last minute changes are ordered. You never know what is needed until you see how the actual stage is running and rehearsals are a great way to see how the stage is running before the actual day of the event.

8. Create a “day-of-the-event” checklist

Checklists will be your best friend. Creating a “day-of-the-event” checklist will ensure nothing goes astray on the actual day of the event. Keeping to task is a great way to reduce confusion and make sure everything is running smoothly and a checklist helps to make sure that happens.

9. Go over the game plan with your teams

Prepare your teams well so all grounds are covered. Schedule for multiple meetings before the day of the event and go over the major game plan with your various teams so they know what is going on. It’s good to consistently inform everyone what is going to happen in detail to ensure that things are going to run smoothly the day of the event.

10. Keep a steady stream of communication

And lastly, always keep a stream of communication going with your teams. Good and strong communication ensures a good work flow and that things will run smoothly the day of the event. Walkie talkies, for example, are great tools to use to make sure that you are able to communicate with your teams on the day of the live event. You are able to keep track of what is going on and quickly communicate issues that are happening.

You could also have a show runner backstage, or yourself as a stage manager, using clear-com systems to coordinate with the main show runner front of house, stationed at the sound console. This will ensure your. show runs without any chaos or confusion.


With these few steps, you will able to pull off a smooth and impressive stage that will create a great music experience for eventgoers. As stage technicians, your job is important and fundamental to the structure of music events and festivals and managing the stage is no easy job. But when you break things down and follow these few steps, you will be off to a strong beginning.

Have you reached this article because you are gathering resources to plan an event? Set up your event ticketing page with Ticket Fairy today.

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