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The event is held yearly but has only limited opportunity for profit, as the venue, rather than direct ticket sales incur the cost of the events. In other words the venue is slightly different than the standard concert or tour experience, because the overall support of the whole event (the County Fair) offsets the costs incurred by the label and the artist's tour systems. The Label has been actively seeking support of the community for sponsorship as well, as the opportunity for profit in this venue has historically been limited and the services and options for artists and their support team has also been limited. It is for this reason that the collective Label USA plan has always been to pepper traditional summer to and spring artist tour dates with venues such as this. In my experience this type of concert is one of the most difficult to plan and execute with big name artists as the venue often has limited resources to support artists technology and privacy. The goal of Label USA as it was expressed to me was to book and successfully promote, with effective collaboration from local support networks such as the sponsorship radio station and the fair board, a big name country star for this fair, as its expected attendance was estimated to be greater than ever before with many individuals seeking to attend the concert as the height of the event.
As an intern at Label USA I had the opportunity to be involved in at least six conferences regarding this venue. The conferences were necessary because of the number of players involved in the venue. As I later learned with a traditional concert local venue promoters do a great deal of the groundwork for many individuals venues where the fair venue is significantly different in that the label has significantly more responsibility for coordinating different aspects of the event. This particular event communications were challenged by the fact that the label held the responsibility of negotiating contracts with the fair board. To develop effective communications with this entity individuals at the label, as the representative of the artist have to pay particularly close attention to what each board member expresses as the most essential aspect of event success, be it crowd control, artists security and privacy or even electrical usage needs. In short there is a great deal to be decided and supported and even more personalities to deal with than in the case of a standard concert venue.
The weaknesses I experienced as a participant in the development of the bulk of my work as an intern, the fair concert, were limited as a result of the strength of the Label for adaptability. Any weaknesses I noticed were limited to individual communication skills and the need to constantly reiterate communication with the fair board and other concert stakeholders, including the artists, who also have individual experiences far greater than executives with different venues. In this particular situation the star sought for the venue was reluctant to commit to the tour date, as it was an additional to an already hard schedule and it was a fair venue which the artists was reluctant to play as a result of previous experiences with fair venues. Uncertainty reduction theory had to be used with regard to artists communication, when research on the actual venue was done and forwarded to the artist to ensure that she understood that the venue was very clean, high class and required only minimal adaptation for her crew. In addition the application of social penetration model theory was observed as the Label USA staff attempted to find another artist among the label that had played the venue and ask and then relate the experience to the sought artist so they might have a greater understanding of the venue and its different aspects. The further meetings should then be conducted in person to develop a better sense of the needs of the venue and the very limited alteration that would be required in the schedule of the artist, thus creating a positive social experience for the artist to associate with the venue and the schedule change. (Kalbfleisch, 1993, p. 172) a potential weakness in this situation is that not enough attention is paid to the artist with regard to schedule alterations. The stress and strain of touring is an essential challenge to any artist who chooses to do so and Labels are often integral in the development of such demands and in the later development of tour dates and meeting the artists needs while on tour. If not enough of this communication is conducted in person there is a substantial risk for the artist to feel unsupported and as if his or her time is demanded of them without concern for their needs or their potential displacement in the schedule.
Emphasis on Technology
Technology is always an issue when dealing with board discussions as many meetings include relatively large groups on both sides of the conversation and limited if any face time between individuals and groups in the decision making process, for a venue such as the upcoming county fair. The Label support team, as I observed utilized adaptive structuration theory to resolve communication conflicts. Utilizing the conference call system, and specifically a newly designed online access conference system that required the county fair board only have a single laptop with a multidirectional microphone and a speaker to run the conference was utilized. The system had fully functioning support, as we learned during the first conference call when access to the system support team was necessary because the conference call was cut short. The fair board had limited opportunity to meet, as they share space in county offices that do not always have available technology or room for the board. With this new conference system and the adaptive functioning it offered the program could be used by any single member of the fair board with a laptop at their real office, rather than forcing all the volunteer members of the board to meet at the county office during business hours this venue offered them an opportunity to meet more conveniently and with less stress. The Label USA team had only used the system in two other venue planning cases but will likely continue to see it as a strength and use it frequently in just such scenarios as they are often difficult to navigate as board systems such as these are often limited in their ability to seek appropriate technology to support group communication.
The dynamic of the experience was demonstrative of challenge as the fair board is an motile group that has some limited experience with concert venues in the past and good and bad experiences but is also dealing with a significantly larger venue with the concert as just one small but integral part of it. Using the concepts of uncertainty reduction theory was most effective for me in understanding the group communication dynamic of this series of exchanges. The fair boards to some degree must micro manage the event itself as it is ultimately responsible for the outcome. Uncertainty reduction theory assumes that people seek predictability in their worlds, that uncertainty is uncomfortable, that people seek to reduce the anxiety that accompanies uncertainty, and that they will engage in specific communication behaviors to accomplish reduced uncertainty. As a result, Uncertainty Reduction Theory suggests a focus on the reduction of anxiety triggered by uncertainty.
(Sunwolf, 2006, p. 107)
Supporting this theory then the communication team supporting this venue must make certain that each of the individual board members as well as the group as a whole have their most pressing expressed concerns with past successes and failures answered with regard to the coming venue. Each individual and the group as a whole had expressed concerns (i.e. uncertainties) about the upcoming event that needed to be researched and answered by the Label USA organizers and local concert promoters. In doing so an intern or other support staff could be highly useful. Seeking out bad press on previous fair productions and then answering specific concerns could be utilized as well as each individual member being involved in an information session among Label USA employees to determine if there is previous experience regarding this or other local fair boards that could aide in the reduction of uncertainty for this particular board with regard to rights, responsibility and capacities of the venue. The worst case scenario of this event planning situation would be for Label USA employees to be unresponsive to the uncertainty needs of board members, creating further fears of event failures and problems.
The development of an effective team with regard to special projects communication is essential. Understanding the nature of the team in other representative collaborative camps is also essential. For a label to be successful in this period of extreme…[continue]
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