There’s no business like show business, but is it right for everyone?
When you were a child dreaming of what you wanted to be when you grew up, what could have been a better dream than show business? The excitement of a production – the lights, camera, action – whether on the stage, or behind the scenes, there is an energy before the curtain goes up, and when it goes down, there are applause. Who couldn’t love being a part of something like that? Sure, there’s the glory side of the live events industry, but it comes along with a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. It takes a special breed of person to succeed in our industry, and while many people might think we are a bit crazy to enter into this challenging field, the results make it all worthwhile.
Let me explain a few of the reasons why I personally love being in show business. First, the live events industry offers so much to do for so many different types of people. It brings people together with a diverse set of skills and personalities, working towards a common purpose to create something amazing. People starting out in this industry can choose to go down a creative path, such as a designer, content creator, producer, scenic builder, or the technical road, pushing the buttons to make everything come to life and run smoothly. There’s also the business side of the industry, such as accounting, marketing, information technology, logistics, purchasing, to name a few. Whether you are the person dreaming it up, hooking it up, or something in between, everyone contributes an important role in the process of being able to create live events.
Second, the live events industry is just plain awesome. When you see an idea that was in someone’s mind transform into a truckload of cases, and in a matter of hours or days built into a huge spectacle that leaves an audience in pure amazement, there’s no arguing there is a sense of awe if you were part of making that happen. People that work in this industry should feel like superheroes every day for the incredible things they are able to create in short time frames. It is not easy, and but if you work in this industry, especially in the trenches on show site, you feed off that adrenaline rush and pressure situation to make it all come together quickly and smoothly, and that feeling of pulling it off gives a huge sense of accomplishment.
Lastly, we get to play with all the cool toys. From the basic tools such as projectors, speakers, and lights, to more complex elements such as video mapping/tracking, holograms, 3D, LED, virtual reality, the technology is endless. In today’s live event era, there are innovative tools coming onto the market faster than ever, and a passion for embracing and learning new technology is critical to succeed in this business. If you are not a person that has loved technology from an early age, this is not the field for you. That would be similar to a librarian that hates books and reading!
Of course, if the live events industry were all glitz, glamour and playing with cool stuff, everyone would be doing it. As I mentioned, it takes a special type of person to wake up and be motivated to keep doing this every day, and the reason is working within the live events industry offers anything but a typical life. It’s extremely fast paced, and you have to be a master of multi-tasking or you will quickly fall behind. The industry runs on a schedule of critical deadlines, and work hours are often long and stressful. These are not banker’s hours. Often times, shows load in and out in the middle of the night, and under specific time constraints. You will work weekends, holidays, when you are feeling sick, and when your kid is playing the lead in the school play. It can be challenging to plan your life around the demands of the industry, whether you are one of the creative planners, technical team, or working in a supporting position. On a positive note, you are always busy and won’t easily get bored, but it takes a great deal of personal sacrifice to work in this industry, and it’s not for everyone.
In addition, the live events industry can be very unforgiving. Expectations are really high when working on a show, and when you fail, people remember. The expression “you get one shot to get it right” on a show may sound harsh, but it’s true. If something goes down in the middle of a live event, there are no do-overs. You can’t take a mulligan if the audio or lights go out or the screens go dark. Plus, there aren’t that many industries where your mistakes are happening with hundreds or thousands of people watching and waiting for a resolution.
The live events industry may be intense and definitely not for everyone, but the best thing about it is the teamwork. People that work in this industry share a passion for what they do, and there’s a comradely that develops when you are working together, under pressure, to create something extraordinary. Sure, it can be stressful, but working hard alongside like-minded people committed to the same goal, there’s a cathartic feeling at the end when you hear those applause.
Text by Les Goldberg from our member company LMG. Les is CEO of LMG Inc., based in Orlando Florida, and an active board member of AV Alliance.