Breaking the spell: When show control fails

2008, Orlando. It is four minutes before I go on stage for a local company’s holiday party. The planner approaches me backstage. The CEO would be traveling that day, and his flight had been moved up. He is presenting awards after my show, and in order to make his new travel schedule, they need me to cut from 45 minutes to 20 minutes.

The music control system I was using at the time was the MP3 Tech developed specifically for performers. But, in order to reliably cut cues and edit out material you needed a computer. I did not have a computer (and was going on in, by now, three minutes).

That meant that during the show I had to manually skip cues with the remote; find ways to keep the momentum of the show moving at those points, and count button pushes (to track how many cues I was moving past), without having any certainty of the track I was on, and while (trying) to make it all invisible and seamless for the audience.

It was a frustrating experience.

When a roomful of strangers is knit together into an audience, when they find themselves in sync, a kind of magic happens. For those moments the rest of the world falls away; politics, financial stress, insecurity, it all vanishes and for those few sacred minutes of a captivating performance nothing exists but what is happening on stage.

That is the gift that we, as live entertainers, give the world. It is a gift it needs now as much as ever.

Nothing can break that spell, or hold back the degree to which it enchants, quite like technical glitches. They jolt an audience out of the moment and for those few seconds — when a performer with divided focus keeps fumbling with a button that won’t fire a cue — everything comes crashing back and we have to fight harder to put them back under our spell.

Your show is the product of years of your life. It likely represents thousands of hours cultivating multiple layers of skills. You deserve to be able to give it, and the people who are paying you to share it, your full focus — as free as you can be from the distraction and stress that comes when show support technology fails.

We’ve been there. That is why we are passionate about doing everything we can so that you have bulletproof, seamlessly simple tools that allow you to focus on what you do best.

We’ll see you at showtime.

P.S. Experienced an epic tech fail (or a hundred)? Share your stories in the comments.

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