February 3, 2020
CONSISTENCY AND STREAMLINING THE SHOW
PM's know that some tours aren't able to carry wedges with them, and as rooms change so does the monitor type. It's much easier to coordinate, whether carry or rent locally, a rack of IEM transmitters/receivers and if needed a specific console than it is to lug around a ton of wedges and amplifiers.
The stage looks so much cleaner and neater without wedges placed throughout the stage plot. The fans want to see the artists and their gear and wedges can obstruct a lot of their views. Getting rid of the wedges, in an esthetic way will open up site lines and get rid of large cable runs on deck — which will make the stage look a lot cleaner overall.
COMMUNICATION AND PROFESSIONALISM ON STAGE
It looks very unprofessional when an artist is trying to get a MON engineer's attention or talking over the mic to their FOH engineer or other crew. I like to place several discreet talkback mics on the stage routed to the IEM mixes only and not only have the band on IEMs but also key crew members. Nobody is waving their hands at the MON engineer to get attention, just step on a button and talk into that mic and they are in touch. The LD or FOH engineer are not getting spoken to over the microphones so the crowd can hear. Maybe the band changes the setlist, they can then tell the LD directly so they don't miss the intro to the newly placed song. The band can ask the TM, SM or tech to assist them on stage or even give them a refill. In the same respect, a crew member can grab their mic off stage and speak to the band... let them know they have 10 mins left, assure a member that they are working to fix a problem, or intro a guest artist.
Especially in smaller rooms, the definition and clarity of a FOH mix is directly affected by the volume of the stage. You don't want to have to mix too loud to get over a noisy stage.
If your artist likes to record FOH feeds, a lot of stage volume can force a FOH engineer to either turn certain items down or off completely. Maybe the room sounded incredible but that feed will sound dull and lacking.
IEMs allow a structured and isolated mix to be placed at a safe volume for the artist only adding longevity to their hearing and therefor their career overall.
This article was written by Beau Willaims Jr. — Production Manager for the Grammy Nominated band Lettuce. Beau runs and schedules tours and he's worked on both sides of the console. When he's not advancing tours, he's mixing Front of House so he intimately understands how in-ears help tours from every aspect. Beau has been instrumental in helping numerous artists transition to in-ear monitors.