Performers & Presenters

too long, didn’t read:
1. original content only
2. family-friendly
3. there’s a release form you need to sign
4. byo backline
5. no financial guarantees (yet)

Stage 33 Live is an independent, all-volunteer, nonprofit initiative in Bellows Falls, Vermont, that records and films original works (no covers allowed, though public domain is OK) in live performance before an audience for a broadcast variety series.

We document without much interference — but we want everyone to shine, so we’ll stage-mom just a little when we think we should. No stress. Be prepared, and have fun. It’s supposed to be fun.

We’re not a theater, club, or bar. We’re an occasional venue in a former factory that also has a couple glassblowers, a painter, a photographer, a soapmaker, and other creative economy folks. We can’t serve alcohol (without hiring a licensed caterer, which we can’t afford). We think those things are favorable in light of the meat of what we’re doing, but not everyone sees it that way.

We’re not a professional recording or film studio, but we try our hardest. We’re strong believers that there’s no substitute for a great performance. Energy beats polish every time. But polish is good too.

We think that the play-free-for-exposure mindset is unconscionable — performers and academics spend years developing craft and knowledge and to expect them to give that away is just plain wretched. That said, we aren’t able to offer any financial guarantee because we don’t have any money ourselves. However, the documentation has real value, and we encourage the participants to use it however they wish.

For established and/or touring professional headliners, we’re happy to set the entry donation to the amount that you think is appropriate, and turn over 100% of the door to you. Our expectation is that you’ll take the money so you can gas up, maybe have a sandwich. Some have surprised us by declining to take any money, preferring to help the project keep going. Some have chosen to split the door. We’re fine with any of those things.

We have 40 folding chairs, and so far that’s always been enough (we promote the shows as intimate listening events similar to a house concert). We’re pretty good at promotion, but how many people turn out is always a mystery.

We have an intimidating release form, but we have no intention of using it to screw over anybody, ever. It’s meant to cover everyone’s butts — yours and ours — by spelling out everything as completely as possible (even stuff that’ll probably never happen). And we don’t want to use the recordings in a way that you didn’t realize we might. See it at
stage33live.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ReleaseIndemnificationStage33Live.pdf

The public is welcome to attend scheduled listening event/tapings, but this is about honoring the stage rather than servicing an audience. It’s about getting the best documentation we can get of you doing your thing, and then getting that out in the world.

We also will accommodate closed sets. Touring musicians, for instance, may be contractually restricted from additional public performances if they’re playing a concert nearby.

It should be noted that nearly every presentation or performance we’ve hosted has been the result of us being contacted rather than the other way around. Don’t be shy, and don’t wait for an invitation. If you’d like to participate, drop us a line at stage33@stage33live.com.

In addition to music, informative and/or entertaining presentations, comedy, recitations or readings are all on the table. It just has to be your own original, family-friendly work. Humanities and science topics are always super-welcome along with artful words.

The recorded programming is presented in audio-only formats as well as video; the material can have a visual component, but it also needs to work without. We don’t have a projector or screen… you’re better than Powerpoint anyway. And in most cases, sessions will be in a daylit room.

We can also accommodate sit-down panels of up to seven people — six plus a moderator.

Musicians, you need to supply your own instruments and backline.

We shoot under white light; we’ll get proper stage lights someday when we can afford it.

Our equipment is decent for what we are, but if you’re looking to make a world-class recording, we heartily recommend Guilford Sound. (Verdant Studio is up for sale as Pete moves more into mixing and mastering rather than tracking, but he may still be booking time.)


A short Stage 33 Live edited-media crash course for anybody interested

The produced, edited episodes of Stage 33 Live exist in a wiggly world where diverse content collides and gets squished into a broadcast clock that conforms to the needs of radio and television. This means that long-form spoken word almost always has to be excerpted, and music sets are almost always cut into individual songs. (The advantage of this, however, is that one performance or presentation can get spread out over two or more episodes for better exposure potential.)

We also post less thoroughly groomed footage to the web.

It will take an agonizingly long time before a recorded segment is released in a produced broadcast program. The turnaround for web-posted segments is typically faster, but we can’t make any guarantees. (We’re all volunteers at Stage 33 Live, doing our best.) Consequently, Stage 33 Live isn’t a good option for promoting a specific upcoming concert or appearance, and the material should be evergreen.

The broadcast clock

We mentioned something called a Broadcast Clock. PRX, a distributor of radio content, explains it like this: “A clock is a template that stations and networks use to program on-air: when to start and end a show, where to place breaks for local announcements and underwriting, when newscasts should be inserted, etc.

Our clock is super-simple compared to some, but strict because it has to be. Ours has an optional billboard and three content segments. Broadcasters can insert news, weather, station IDs, commercials, their own underwriting acknowledgements, or whatever they need to between segments.

Each produced show contains 55 total minutes of content (a one-minute billboard and three 18-minute segments). Our segments need to accommodate our opening and closing sequences; our own sponsor and underwriter acknowledgements; and other bits that support each presentation, performance, or the program generally. This means that the absolute maximum length of an edited presentation or performance for broadcast will be maybe 16 minutes.

The podcast 99 Percent Invisible did an interesting program about Broadcast Clocks. And that raises the question: Why not just do Stage 33 Live as a podcast and leave it at that? Answer: Because we can reach a way bigger audience on broadcast outlets. As podcasting continues to explode, media consumer behavior analysts are finding that the amount of time people spend listening to podcasts is going down, even while the number of podcasts they retrieve is going up. Podcast listeners are channel-surfing. So why are radio and TV producers increasingly podcasting their broadcast content? Because despite the long odds and extra effort, doing all the things is the smart thing to do. It lets people time-shift to suit their own schedules and whims… and there’s that teensy chance of something going viral.

What this means for you

All of that boils down to there being between about 13 to 16 minutes per broadcast segment for stage-generated content. Each final produced segment will probably have more than one presenter or performer.

Music sets will normally be edited into individual songs.

Spoken word presenters should expect that only an excerpt of their material will be in the broadcast program, even if the material is shorter than 16 minutes.

That said, full presentations and performances will normally be posted to the web either as a single file or cut into multiple files.