How to Make a Stage Plot/Input List for Your Band

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If your band tours, you need a stage plot. Even if you don’t tour, you’ll be making the lives of club owners, bookers, and live-sound engineers easier in your home town by sending them an accurate stage plot and input list well in advance of your show.

What is a stage plot?

A stage plot is a graphic representation that illustrates your band’s setup when you perform live, your placement on stage, what gear you use, and some other helpful information. Be sure to include:

* A basic visual that shows where each member is positioned on stage.

* The names of each member and what instruments they play.

* How many mics, DIs, monitors, and cables (XLRs or 1/4 inch) you’ll need the venue to provide.

* What sound gear (DIs, mics, etc), if any, you’ll be providing.

* Whether or not bass and keyboard amplifiers have balanced outputs. Will they be mic’d or run direct?

* Where the amps will be placed in relation to the players.

Providing a stage plot will make your load-in, setup, and soundcheck experience quick and efficient. The sound person won’t have to do any last minute scrambling, either. You both want to save your energy for the show!

How do I create a stage plot?

If you want to go really fancy, check out Stage Plot Pro (for Mac users). They have a free 30-day trial with unlimited features if you’d like to play around.

If you just need something free and easy, check out FreeStagePlots.com. You won’t be able to make it look all neat and pretty, but it’ll do the trick. Also, if you need to write in technical or logistical details, you can always print the graphic you create, write the info on that page, scan THAT, and save the new image as your go-to stage plot.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to draw your stage plot last-minute (hopefully NOT on a napkin!), you can use the following symbols to make things clear:

* Use a series of circles to stand for the drum set

* Microphones are denoted by an X inside of a circle

* Amps are rectangles

* Stage wedges are triangles

* Keyboards, guitars, basses, DJ stations,… you might need to use some of your grade-school doodling skills.

If you can’t create a stage plot, at least send the venue an informal input list.

How many people, amps, instruments, mics, and DIs? How are they interrelated?

For instance:

Dave- Standard 2-tom drum kit. Mic for kick. Mic for snare/hat. One overhead. Vocal mic on boom stand. Monitor to his left. 

Janet- acoustic & electric guitar. stands front center stage. Vocal mic on boom stand. Guitar amp to the left of drum monitor. Also, DI for acoustic guitar.

Peter- electric bass. stands stage left. boom mic for vocals. bass rig sits rear stage left, has balanced out. 

Alice- 2 keyboards, both going into single keyboard amp with balanced out. Also one vocal mic on boom stand that doubles as trumpet microphone.

So what do I do with my stage plot/input list?

Email it to the booker, promoter, or talent-buyer the moment your gig is confirmed. Also, ask them if you can get the contact info for the live-sound engineer and send it to them. The booker may also send you an email or contract with lots more information about the gig. The sound person’s contact info might be on there too. Be sure to check.

Then, show up, have fun, put on a great show, and sell some music!

-Chris R. at CD Baby

P.S. Just to show some examples, here are some stage plots I found on Google.

 

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  • guessed

    isn't the free Google Sketchup a good tool for stage plots? many objects are provided, you don't need to but can make it 3D, even.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. Seems like that'd be a good option, too.

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  • Thank you for writing this!! It is amazing how many bands can't even send me a proper tech rider let alone a stage plot.

    Dear bands – send me this if you play for me. It makes everyone's lives easier and only takes a few minutes from your end. You can use the same stage plot or tech rider for every show you play. It is 1 hour of your time super well invested.

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  • Mike

    Chris – a couple friendly corrections on FreeStagePlots.com

    You can use the "Notes" text box to add a quick note anywhere on the stage plot. The Notes field at the top of the page is meant to hold any technical or production notes for the FOH engineer. No need to scan your handwritten notes back in as you suggest in the article.

    Thanks!
    info@freestageplots.com

    • Cool. Thanks for those corrections.

  • Etobin

    I need your help picess

  • Marie

    I downloaded Stage Plot Pro, but there’s no information on what to do next. I’m at a loss…

  • It took me a bit to figure out. This might help too: http://www.jonmanna.com/2011/02/18/use-stage-plot

    Basically, you select the instrument and drag it to the location. But I do remember there being difficulty erasing positions/instruments once you've moved on to the next instrument.

  • Gellerimages

    Thanks, this was great.

  • Jessica Brantowden

    I’m helping organize a festival and this just made my life SO much easier.. Thanks a TON.

  • Glad you found it! Have fun with your festival planning.

    @ChrisRobley

  • I found this website, works pretty good too, http://www.mystageplan.com

    • Chaz

      Not free. No big deal, but you should mention when you’re linking a paid service.

  • RinkDinkman

    Great except never “email it to the booker…”

    Never email anything to “the booker” or “a booker.”

    There is no such thing as a booker. It’s a called a Talent Buyer.

    If you want to be an amateur, keep using this word booker which has somehow crept into the business lexicon. Google “booker” and you’ll see it was a great TV show.

    • Sabastian

      You mad, brah?

      • RinkDinkman

        No, just smarter than you.

  • Kent

    Great.

  • Curlyqueues

    I use StagePlot Guru for iPad! It is free and the upgraded Pro Version is amazing. Best graphics, and its really super professional looking. And it just has a ton of cool features.. They just released a new version https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stageplot-guru-for-ipad/id843432883?mt=8

  • Cool. Thanks for sharing.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Carlos Sanchez

    I found this basic freebie to be useful http://www.bosstweedbackline.com/stage-designer/ However, IE11 won’t let you hide the gear boxes when you’re done and ready to save as a PDF. Google Chrome will, BUT you will have to drag the gear multiple times as trial/error to actually get it the way you want on print preview. With IE11, the symbols stayed where you dragged it to, not in Chrome. I finally got a decent basic one. ROCK ON!