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Pro Production Sessions Educate and Inspire Attendees at NAMM 2020

PLSN Staff • News • January 27, 2020

Keynote speaker and Vans Warped tour founder Kevin Lyman served as keynote speaker.

ANAHEIM, CA — The Pro Production sessions returned to NAMM for a third consecutive year. Held at the NAMM U Education Center within the Anaheim Hilton on Jan. 17-18, they were presented by Timeless Communications, publisher and producer of PLSN, FOH and Stage Directions along with the Parnelli Awards, also held Jan. 17.

With some of the leading designers, company founders and tour professionals in live entertainment production serving as speakers and panelists, the session rooms filled with attendees hungry for information. Attendees included many young, aspiring tour crew members looking for insights from the seasoned professionals on the panels.

Moderator Michael Eddy with Steve Richards and Lindsay Scola

Steve Richards, founder of Tour Support, and Lindsay Scola from the management company Friends at Work, kicked things off on Friday, Jan. 17 with a discussion on the pressures of touring and its potential impact on mental health. Tour Support, a division of LightHopeLife (www.lighthopelife.org), with a mission of providing counseling specifically for crews on the road, formed within the last year with backing from Live Nation, Friends at Work and WME along with top artists including John Legend and Steve Aoki. The discussion covered the alarming number of suicides among touring professionals (artists, crew, vendors) and the support services that help them deal with pressures both on and off the road.

Michael Eddy with Michael Buble tour maestros Dean Roney, Michael Maxson and Craig Doubet

Next on the agenda was the first of the new “On the Road With…” panel presentations. The first, “On the Road with Michael Bublé,” took and in-depth look at Michael Bublé’s 2019 tour, including the immersive sound system design that FOH engineer Craig Doubet created to let the audio move anywhere Buble moved on the tour’s unique set, which featured a massive “A” stage, thrust and more intimate “B” stage. The panel discussion included Doubet, tour manager Dean Roney (Solotech VP of Touring) and Meyer Sound’s Michael Maxson.

Silent House Productions’ Baz Halpin, Alex Reardon and Tamlyn Wright

The Pro Production focal point then shifted from audio to visual design, when three of the four design partners from Silent House discussed their groundbreaking and iconic work for some of the biggest concert tours and awards production in live entertainment over the last 10 years. Panelists included Baz Halpin, Tamlyn Wright, and Alex Reardon. (Design partner Cory FitzGerald was under the weather and unable to attend.)

The On the Road with Paul McCartney session was led by Wally Lees, Paul Becher, Mark Spring and LeRoy Bennett.

While most Pro Production seminars were located in one room on the Anaheim Hilton’s fourth floor, the program moved to the larger California Ballroom for “On the Road with Paul McCartney.” There, attendees learned about the production choices (and were treated to a few road stories) from Paul McCartney’s multi-year “Freshen Up” tour. One of the Top 10 tours of 2019 on Billboard’s year-end charts, audiences and the entertainment industry alike took notice, with a panel that included production manager (and this year’s Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award honoree) Mark Spring, production and lighting designer LeRoy Bennett, lighting director Wally Lees and video director Paul Becher.

Kevin Lyman

The Pro Production schedule on Friday, Jan. 17 concluded with the program’s keynote presentation from the Kevin Lyman, founder of the long-running (and industry-shaping) Vans Warped Tour. His session was once again standing-room only as he offered an informative and forward-thinking look at the state of the industry and the future directions he sees for young music artists, youth culture, festivals and socially-conscience brand engagements.

Sightline Design Group’s Seth Robinson and Stan Crocker

On Saturday Jan. 18, the Pro Production program featured Sightline Design Group’s Stan Crocker and Seth Robinson. They presented two sessions — first, “Everything Is for Broadcast,” which included an in-depth discussion of the challenges of designing for social media, live streams, and how to capture live shows for broadcast without hurting the live experience. They immediately followed that up with a question and answer style session dubbed “For Musicians and Managers: How to Work with Designers,” with an audience-driven discussion of the relationship between the musician and designer and how to find the right collaborative balance.

Kevin Mitchell and Michael Strickland

After that, PLSN senior writer and Parnelli writer/producer Kevin Mitchell hosted a one-on-one conversation with Michael T. Strickland, founder and chairman of Bandit Lites, who had been honored with the Parnelli Visionary Award the night before, presented by Garth Brooks and Shinedown’s Brent Smith. This up-close-and-personal conversation looked at how Strickland established an industry leading production company with more than 400 employees based in multiple locations in the U.S., Europe and Asia. It was also filled with some fun and inspirational anecdotes.

Michael Eddy leads a roundtable discussion with Gordon Droitcour and Erik Anderson of Cour Design

The Pro Production Sessions concluded with a Roundtable discussion about using designs to overcome various challenges. Creative producers Gordon Droitcour and Erik Anderson, principals of Cour Design, discussed how they work with artists providing lighting design, creative direction, and video content, among other offerings, to solve with design the challenges of today’s touring, event, and audience experiences. Droitcour and Anderson have worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, French DJ Madeon and more.

The Pro Production Sessions at NAMM, offered to NAMM attendees at no extra charge, proved once again to be an extraordinary opportunity to learn from seasoned designers, manufacturers and touring industry leaders at the top of their games. The program is slated to return for NAMM next winter. NAMM will take place once again in Anaheim, CA from 21-24, 2021.

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