The importance of backwards scheduling when organising a music show

Planning a music show requires a very precise organisation. There are a lot of elements to take into account: the venue, the date, the band, the sound system, the lights, the ticketing, the artists’ requirements…

Several tools are designed to make organising a music show a bit easier. One of them is backwards scheduling. If it can seem daunting at first, your schedule will quickly become your best friend. Wanna bet?


  1. What is backwards scheduling? 
  2. List all your tasks that need doing…
  3. Create a timeline
  4. Choose the most suitable format
  5. A tool for the whole team

1. What is backwards scheduling?

Backwards scheduling is a project management tool that helps with visualising what needs to be done before the deadline of any project – organising a music show, for instance. It does so by taking into account various inputs: duration of tasks, what precedes them, and the people in charge of each. It is a comprehensive tool that you should update as you go, step by step, rather than all at once.

2. List all the tasks that need doing…

…before the show

You should start by making a list of the various steps to be completed in order to organise your music show. If you don’t have them all in mind from the beginning, add them as you progress.

…during the show

This also applies to tasks occurring during the event! In fact, you can also create a separate schedule for  the day of the event, split into hours. It can help with:

  • Accelerating the set-up and disassembling of equipment on location;
  • Organising each stakeholder’s tasks;
  • Communicating a precise and detailed document to the field teams — they don’t need the full event planning schedule;
  • Facilitating understanding and use during specific tasks thanks to the hourly split.
    • e.g. Runners who will drive artists from their hotel to the concert venue will have the full schedule of their day in detail.

…after the show

Your schedule does not end once your event is over. Don’t forget the tasks that need to be completed after the show:

  • Collecting feedback from the audience using a questionnaire to be sent by email or shared on social media;
  • Communicating by email and on social media to make the event last a long as possible
    • Post pictures, thank the participants, organise photo competitions.
  • Sending thank you notes to your VIP guests;
  • Paying your last service providers;
  • Comparing the forecast budget to your actual expenses and analyse the difference to be more accurate for your next shows.

All of these should be included in your schedule.

3. Create a timeline

To create a great schedule, some elements need to come first:

  • Prioritising tasks and understanding what precedes each;
    • What are the tasks that need to be done first? For instance, the artists’ accommodation cannot be booked before you have set a budget;
    • What are the tasks that will last the whole duration of the project?
  • Duration of tasks;
    • In day(s) or in hour(s) ;
    • In week(s) for bigger events.

4. Choose the most suitable format

The traditional formats

Backwards scheduling can take several forms. They vary according to the project’s complexity, scope and total number of tasks. For a small show, it is absolutely possible to create your schedule as a calendar, a chronological list of tasks or even a table.

GANTT chart

When the project is more complicated, a GANTT chart can be used. This is a schedule detailing the various tasks and sub-tasks to be completed. Using this tool, we can take into account what precedes each task and therefore highlight any leeway. Many free softwares can help you design that type of schedule, a simple Google search will help you find YOUR new helper. While they are generally perfect for highly organised people, GANTT charts are not for everyone. Give it a try and find out!

5. A tool for the whole team

The schedule is first and foremost a tool for the whole team, hence the benefit of allocating task managers in a separate column of your table. Share your schedule with your team on Google Drive for example. This will foster a feeling of involvement and information will move quicker throughout your organisation. What more could we ask for?

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