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Basecamp: Gig Management Software that Rocks!

You landed the gig! In order for your show to be a huge success, there is a lot of work to do be done. Whether you play in a steady band or have a roster of musicians you call upon for different types of shows, the logistics and communication needed to pull it all together can be immense. The band leader in charge of making it all happen has to communicate with the players, the sound/light people, the booking agent, the club manager, the promoter, media contacts, fans, street team, etc.

If you are in charge of organizing your band’s gigs, Basecamp is about to make your job a lot easier. I call it “gig management software” because it works so well in that capacity. But really, Basecamp is a web-based project management application useful for all kinds of projects from shopping lists and vacation planning, to Web development, and the planning of a new business. Personally, I have found Basecamp to be the perfect solution for managing the logistics and communication for my growing list of Debbie and Friends gigs. Basecamp has made my gig management responsibilities so efficient that I wanted to share my experience with other musicians.

Basecamp provides a platform for communication. You can share everything anyone needs to know about an upcoming gig within the program including rehearsals, set up and sound check, directions, parking, load-in, stage plot, set list, dress, promotion, email campaigns, travel arrangements, guest lists, CD and merch sales, and more. Before discovering Basecamp, I used to manage these elements via email and phone. I found myself sending and resending the same information to the various parties involved in the gig right up to the day of the show. It was an unwieldy amount of information that inevitably led to miscommunication and a lot of extra work for everyone involved. As my gig calendar began to grow, and the logistics became more intense, it became clear that I needed a Web-based solution. Basecamp does all that I hoped for and more. Here is a rundown of the basic features:

Basecamp Dashboard

The Dashboard is where you enter upon logging into your Basecamp account. As the site Administrator, you can manage current gigs/projects, archive the old ones for future reference, and add more as your subscription level allows. The interface allows for customizable color schemes and you can brand your account with your logo, as shown below. The Dashboard is also where you can create a new project/gig or toggle from one project/gig to the next.

Figure 1. Basecamp Dashboard

People & Permissions

Password protected and an easy permissions functionality allows you, the site administrator, to specify who can see which project/gig. Here is a screen shot of the band-member lineup for one particular gig in my Basecamp account.

Figure 2. People & Permissions

Sharing Files

For sharing files such as set lists, stage plots, and other-related documents with members of the band, the file attachment functionality in Basecamp is a helpful feature. Below is a screen shot of the Files tab where I posted the stage plot and set list files for the band to download.

Figure 3. File Sharing

Messages

Messages are the lifeline of communication in Basecamp. Here’s an example of a gig-related Message I posted for my band. It shows the lineup for the show, the address of the gig with a link to driving directions, information about what to wear, the load-in time, sound check, start time, and other related information. As soon as I posted this Message, everyone assigned on this project/gig received the information in an email with a link back to the project page in Basecamp. Comments and questions can be posted by anyone in the band. Basecamp saves it all as an accessible reference, keeping the lines of communication flowing.

Figure 4. Basecamp Messages

Overview

The following image shows the “Overview” page for the World Café LIVE! project/gig. At a glance you can see there are Messages, Comments, and Files posted. You can also see who is writing the comments in the right hand column of the Overview tab.

Figure 5. Overview

Basecamp Project/Gig: Step by Step

Now that you know the basic tools and features available in Basecamp, let’s go through the steps in setting up a new project/gig in Basecamp.

  1. Once the date is confirmed and the players are on board, I start a new gig/project in Basecamp. I typically name the project after the venue and location. For example, The World Café LIVE!, Philadelphia.
  2. Then, I assign the players to the project with the email alert function enabled so that they each receive a message every time a message is added, annotated, or changed in any way.
  3. Next, I post a new “Message” with all of the particulars about the show, as shown in Figure 4 above.
  4. Later, I might post another message with potential rehearsal times. We’ll go around a few with messages to determine the best time for everyone. Once confirmed, I enter the rehearsal date in the To-Do calendar function.
  5. And finally, I post various files for the band to download and print as needed: set list, lead sheets for new songs, audio files, stage plot, etc., as shown in Figure 3 above.
  6. The band members post questions, links to press hits they find, ideas, etc. up until the time the gig. See Figure 5 above for an example of this. As band members assigned to the project/gig, we all receive email alerts for these posts, and can go into Basecamp to review everything at any time.
  7. When the gig is over, I usually post a message thanking the band with a link to show pictures on Flicker for them to enjoy.
  8. And finally, several days after the show, I set the project/gig to “archive” so that it’s in my Basecamp account for my own future reference, leaving only current gigs viewable by the members in the band.

There is a lot more to the program including project milestones, assignable to-do list functionality, and more. The best way to see all that Basecamp can do is to view their audio/video tour at http://www.basecamphq.com/tour

While it’s true that you can do the same kind of project management with Wikis, Google Apps shared documents, and other web-based applications, I personally like the turn-key, templated approach in Basecamp. And, my band members are very happy with the adoption of this program. It truly makes gig management, communication, and planning much easier for everyone.

In a word, Basecamp completely rocks!

Debbie Cavalier is the Dean of Continuing Education at Berklee College of Music. A prolific author, she has penned more than 100 music method books and arrangements. Debbie is also an award-winning children's musician with "Debbie and Friends" including a 2008 Parents' Choice Approved Award. For more information, please visit http://www.debbieandfriends.net


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Published: 09/14/2008

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