How to See Live Music in NYC

*Note: This article originally written and published for the Walks of New York website.

If the streets of New York could sing, they would play a rock opera. Or maybe a Broadway musical – something grand enough and detailed enough to encompass the many layers and facets of the city’s rich musical history. As a hub for live music, New York City provides a vast variety of options for visitors looking to hear the sounds of the city. With big name acts regularly selling out the city’s two main arenas, historic theaters welcoming a plethora of modern acts, and up-and-coming musicians vying for a time slot in the city’s smaller clubs, there’s a venue for every music fan. But with almost too many options, how do you decide what show to see? We’ve put together this guide to Live Music in NYC to help you sniff out the best venues when you come for a visit. It doesn’t matter if you want to catch the next big thing in the Lower East Side or take in a Kanye West show at Madison Square Garden, this guide will tell you where to go to enjoy whatever type of music tickles your fancy.

All That Jazz

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Outside the Blue Note Jazz Club.

New York jazz clubs historically played a significant role in the development of modern jazz by providing venues for some of the biggest names in the genre. Today the city still hosts an incredible lineup of small clubs packed with talent. The Village Vanguard in the West Village may be the best option for the jazz fanatics looking to see a classic-feeling gig in NYC, as this historic club has played host to some of the genre’s legends, including Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and more. This small theater just celebrated its 80th anniversary and offers nightly performances for only $25 plus a one drink minimum. Seating is on a first-come, first serve basis, so be sure to arrive early.

Insider tip: With smaller clubs, you may be required to buy a certain number of (alcoholic) drinks during the show, especially if the club offers a free show. Standard minimums are usually two drinks. You can often work around it, but remember that the arts in New York are funded by people who love them, like yourself, so if you don’t want to drink ask how you might contribute money otherwise. Often if the club serves food you can swap that to meet your requirement.

The Blue Note, one of the New York’s most popular music venues, brings some of today’s top jazz performers to the small stage, creating that up close and personal vibe only found at the best live music gigs. With performances held every night, and a Sunday brunch special, this may be your best option for ‘dinner and a live show.’ You can find the same intimate vibe at a number of small venues throughout the city, including Birdland, a jazz club that boasts “The Jazz Corner of the World;” The Iridium, a Midtown West club that still dominates the city’s jazz scene; and Smoke, a club on the Upper West Side that has held onto that, well, ‘smoky’ jazz vibe of the old days (Smoke is a personal favorite of ours. Prices are a little steep with the food and drink minimum, but the ambiance is incomparable).

If it’s big names and big jazz you’re looking for in your NYC music gigs, be sure to check out some of New York’s larger venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, an indoor amphitheater overlooking Columbus Circle and the southwest corner of Central Park. With three rooms to choose from, the Rose Theater, which holds 1,233, the Appel Room, with 483 seats, and the Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, with 140 seats, you can have your pick of the experience.

Gospel Word
Christian Gospel music can be traced back as early as the 17th century, stemming from the oral traditions of African Americans. As the music evolved, it became a full spiritual experience. We recently created a phenomenal list of specific churches where you can see gospel performances, but you can also catch a show at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and The Apollo.

Did you know: Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater is one of the most historically significant in the entire city. It has hosted performances by artists including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, and more. Aside from the stars it hosts, the Apollo also runs a legendary Amateur Night where stars have been born and more than a few outsized egos put firmly in their places.

Latin Moves
Among the live music bars in NYC, perhaps the best to go to if you want ample room to dance along to the band are the Latin music clubs. The most famous of these is in Manhattan’s SoHo district – SOBs has hosted latin legends including Marc Antony, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz & Eddie Palmieri, and today offers concerts by popular world music artists. The club has a full restaurant, bar, and dance floor, so whether you want to cut a rug or just kick back and watch the action, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself.

If you’re looking to really immerse yourself in the dancing, Club Cache, located on 39th street just off of Times Square, offers weekly latin and bachata nights, with free bachata classes at 8 p.m. It’s famous for its salsa dancing Thursday, with live bands playing for the hundreds of people who stop by. Other popular spots for latin dancing and live music include Copacabana New York and Iguana New York.

Avoid the biggest mispronunciation made by NYC tourists: SoHo stands for “South of Houston”, referring to the East to West-running thoroughfare that has long acted as a boundary between many of Lower Manhattan’s most famous neighborhoods. It is pronounced “How-ston” NOT “Hyoo-ston.” This is because, unlike the city in Texas of the same spelling, its name is a corruption of the Continental Congress delegate William Houstoun, not a homage to the American war hero Samuel Houston.

Classical Approach
We could write an entire article about classical music venues in New York, but for now we’ll just hit a few of the big ones. As a classical musician, you know you’ve made it in your career when you play at Carnegie Hall. The building, an eclectic mix of Italian Renaissance and pan-European influences, is almost as attractive as the music within, a fact that once inspired the violinist Isaac Stern to quip: “Everywhere in the world, music enhances a hall, with one exception—Carnegie Hall enhances the music.” Before designing it in the late 1800’s the architect William Burnet Tuthill (who was also an amateur musician) traveled Europe to not only collect design influences for the facade, but also to learn the secrets of creating great acoustic spaces. In the end he came up with a deceptively simple design that purposefully avoided baroque elements like frescoes and elaborate moulding that are commonplace in many theaters, but can hurt sound quality. In doing so he created a space that has been called “the crown jewel” of American concert halls.

Year round, Carnegie Hall hosts everything from symphonic performances and new age perspectives to jazz and world music played by today’s greatest musicians. It’s one of the most varied and diverse places to see live music in NYC. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to check out their website to look into discount ticket prices–they have options for general admission, students, young music enthusiasts, and more, which can help reduce your ticket price to as low as $10.

If you’re interested in catching a show, read our visitors’ guide to Carnegie Hall.
Another option that is often just as good, if lacking some of the historic cachet, is The New York Philharmonic, which has a residency at the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Plaza, and offers a number of affordable performances every week, including free Thursdays with a few members of the orchestra – one of the best experiences of free live music in New York.

Pro tip: You can catch a rehearsal for $20 the morning before a performance, if you’re looking for a cheaper option or an inside look at the preparation before a show.

Pop, Rock, Etc.
Bowery Presents, a NYC concert management company, has, for years, run the top the small- to mid-sized venues in NYC —Terminal 5, Music Hall of Williamsburg, The Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge, and Rough Trade. Catering mainly to a younger crowd, these venues are all essentially NYC live music bars that host some of pop and rock music’s biggest names,as well as amazing underground acts and up and comers.

Terminal 5 and Music Hall of Williamsburg bring in the most famous acts. If you’re looking for big name rock, hip hop, or pop acts performing in an intimate (i.e., not an arena) space these are your go to’s. The audio system at Terminal 5 is second to none but get there early if you want to actually see the performers on the stage. Unless you splurge on VIP seating, it’s standing room only and its three level, horseshoe shape makes it hard to see the stage from the back. But for ticket prices ranging from $25 to $75, the shows are almost always worth the hassle. Music Hall of Williamsburg also has an amazing audio system but is slightly more intimate and generally has a more low-key feel. If we had to choose, it would be our pick of the two.

Mercury Lounge is a more affordable option if you are looking to catch a show. It’s located in the perennially hip Lower East Side, and is one of the few clubs to survive the neighborhood’s rent hikes of recent years. Artists are often a little lesser-known, but that often works to your advantage because you can catch an amazing show by a band that is set to blow up in the next few years. And it’s all under the backdrop of the grungy music scene the LES used to dominate.

Lastly, Rough Trade is a spot to check out, even if you don’t get to see a performance. It’s a Brooklyn joint par-excellence that functions as a record store by day and a live performance hall by night, giving you the full NYC-music-scene experience in one spot. The acts tend to fall into the more eclectic spectrum, but that’s half the fun – this is music nerd heaven.

Iconic New York
New York’s cache of historic live music venues stretches far beyond its theater district and is led by its iconic Radio City Music Hall. No trip to New York is complete without at least a stop at this theater, even if you are just snapping pictures next to the neon signs floating above 6th Ave. Those who actually get to catch a show inside are in for a real treat. The venue, originally opened in 1932 and converted over the years from a live theater, to film house, and back to a stage, has always been a contender for the best-sounding venue in the city. This is because during renovations, the designers hired some of the best acousticians to create a perfect-sounding theater to compliment the Art Deco style, making your experience just as much about the place as it is about the music.
If you want to see historic theaters beyond Radio City, we suggest checking out the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side or Town Hall, a midtown theater that is also an acoustic gem.

You also can’t forget the titans of New York’s music scene — Madison Square Garden and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Both arenas play host to all sorts of events, but if you’re here to see your favorite superstar, most likely you’ll do so at one of these locations. If you go there are two important things to remember: first, food and drinks will be expensive, consider it part of the experience. Second, and more importantly, don’t be afraid splurge on the good seats—acoustics get a little touchy in the nosebleed seats, and when you can’t hear half of the frequencies coming from Jack White’s guitar, it can be disappointing (we’re speaking from experience on this one).

How To Ticket
With any live music venues in New York, the easiest way to score tickets is by visiting the venue’s website or Ticketmaster.com. Tickets typically go on sale a few months before the show, but depending on the artist, you can usually land tickets online through StubHub or the venue’s website right before your trip (unless you are looking for Adele tickets. She sold out pretty fast).

Avoid buying tickets from scalpers at all costs. While there are isolated instances in which this is harmless, it’s not uncommon to get forged tickets, in which case you aren’t getting into your show and you have just given away a probably-sizable chunk of money. Resale sites like StubHub.com are a little more reliable, since they will actually guarantee the validity of your tickets, but keep in mind that they make more money from the ticket you buy from them than the artist does. Today’s musicians make most of their money at live shows through ticket and merchandise sales while scalpers and resellers are taking away from that profit. This may not be a serious issue for the Taylor Swifts of the world, but for the smaller performers it can be a big hit. But if ticket price will make the difference between seeing and not seeing the show, your best friends are local coupon programs like Groupon or Living Social. Classical venues run lottery deals, and most venues will run deals and discount nights at certain times of the year. A little exploring online can usually go a long way.

Music Festival Business: The First Issue

In 2013,  I was approached by a sales rep within my company to help start a B2B publication that focused on the production of music festivals. At the time, festivals were just starting to grow into the phenomenon they are now, so we wanted to get our hands into that side of the industry before anyone else. What we came up with was a tabloid publication with vignettes of various festivals held throughout the year, interviews with organizers and sound companies involved, and tech specific features for the pro audio/ live sound members of the festival circuit.

My role, as editor, was to plan and execute all the editorial, from assigning the freelance articles, to writing my own articles. I also worked closely with the rest of my editorial team, managing the production and layout of the final copy of each issue.

While the publication is a once-a-year product now, I am still heavily involved in the planning and executing of each edition. However, of all the issues we’ve produced, the premier 2013 edition is still my favorite. Here you can access a digital copy of our first edition: MFB_09_13

Safety at Music Festivals

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Photo courtesy of SFX Entertainment.

By Kelleigh Welch

*NOTE: This article originally appeared in the August/September 2015 edition of Music Festival Business

No matter the size of a festival, producers look at their multi-day events as a community—and with anywhere between 5,000 and into the 100,000s of people flocking to a festival site daily, organizers need to plan for the same risks you would find in a town or neighborhood of the same size. However, with these festival communities packed into a smaller outdoor setting, producers are able to hone in on more specific safety and health risks that come with the festival territory, ranging from crowd control, overheating and dehydration, to drug and alcohol consumption, and prepare ahead of time for these and other potential risks.

SFX Entertainment, Inc., a leading producer of many live Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festivals in both the United States and Europe, including Mysteryland, Tomorrowland and Sensation, allocates a large chunk of its budget for each festival towards health and safety.

“Our goal at SFX is to spare no expense in order to be the best host possible when it comes to health and safety,” said SFX’s medical and safety director, Dr. Andrew Bazos. “On our grounds, we make sure the level of care is like that in an emergency care setting.”

Health and safety is also a large topic covered at the annual International Music Festival Conference in Austin, TX, with many sessions stressing the importance of preparation before a festival begins.

“Our priority at the conference is to address the safety of the festival patrons—organizers want to make sure everyone goes home in one piece,” commented Laurie Kirby, president of the IMFCON. “Panels at the conference are designed specifically for a variety of things, from harm reduction to addressing drug and alcohol abuse. We also discuss weather-related safety issues, because not only are we concerned with what people are putting into their bodies, but also the environment around them.”

Before the Event
The IMFCON suggests producers do as much as they can to protect attendees, starting with educating them about potential hazards before the festival.

“It’s really about event preparedness and communication to attendees, educating them about and making them aware of the risks and the medical services available at the festival,” Kirby said.

Before any SFX-sponsored event, the company provides attendees with detailed information about suggested best practices while at the festival.

“Our health and safety approach starts before the event starts with public service announcements, followed by a screening at the gate,” said Bazos. “We have EMTs at the gates to make sure people are in good shape when they come to the show. It’s hard to have a good time if they are coming in a bad position, and we won’t allow anyone in who might put themselves or others in danger.”

Founder’s Entertainment, the production company behind New York’s Governors Ball, follows a similar protocol, providing attendees with information regarding drug and alcohol use, dehydration and more through social media and email blasts.

SFX and Founders also keep track of every medical incident that comes through their tents, even if it’s just a bruise or small cut, in order to prepare for those scenarios properly at future festivals. “In the practice of medicine, we make it a point to record data to better the job we do as a doctor. The more we can learn from our data, the better we can improve our coverage,” Bazos said.

“Every single person that comes through our medical tent is documented,” said Founders Entertainment co-founder Tom Russell. “On a four-hour cycle, we get a report on how many people were attended to and if there are any transports, and we share all that data with the police and Department of Health.”

At The Festival
With its main priority centered on providing a fun and safe environment for all patrons, SFX sets up multiple medical tents throughout each festival site, employed with medical professionals ready to treat anything from blisters to dehydration.

“In terms of personnel, our policy is to have an emergency medicine physician on site, equivalent to going to an emergency room,” explained Bazos. “That way, if you’ve had, for example, too much to drink, you can walk into our main medical tent and get top-notch, on-site care.”

SFX also provides a trained team of paramedics to assist in any medical emergency either at the tent or on the grounds. Many of the paramedics patrol the grounds looking for anyone showing signs of distress, so they can offer help before things get worse. “The signs and symptoms of someone not doing well are pretty obvious, even for an untrained person. Our team will do a quick medical evaluation in one of those situations and make sure the person is comfortable and oriented about what is going on,” explained Bazos.

Crowd control is also a factor in SFX’s medical plan, where injuries such as broken bones or concussions are more common. “Those injuries are generally very easy to stabilize and if they are more serious, the patient will get transported. When you put 50,000 people in a field to dance, there will be injuries, and we’re prepared for those,” Bazos said.

Founder’s Entertainment has a full safety plan set in place for its festivals, addressing all scenarios, like hurricanes, tornados or other weather-related incidents, as well as gun violence, terrorist attacks and more. A separate section within this emergency plan includes dealing with medical incidents. “We definitely put a lot of emphasis on patron safety and security. Our priority as producers is to do whatever we can to make sure everyone is having fun and is safe,” Russell said.

Dehydration is another big issue at festivals, especially during the summer months, where festivals are predominantly held in large, open fields with minimal shade. This adds extra risk for attendees, requiring producers to both provide free water refill stations at festivals and encourage everyone to stay hydrated. “Many of our shows have free filling stations, and we’re also aggressive about replenishing electrolytes and providing electrolyte gum and packets,” Bazos said.

A Rise in Drug Use?
In the past few years, music festivals, specifically those that cater to the EDM genre, have faced an increasing backlash after a rise in drug-related deaths at the events, with many related to MDMA or ecstasy. In 2014, the industry saw one person die from drug-related causes at the Las Vegas Electric Daisy Carnival and six at the Future Music Festival Asia, while more than 20 people were rushed to the hospital for drug overdoses at the Mad Decent Block Party Music Festival in early August 2014. Many members of the festival industry argue that drug use, and the unfortunate consequences that stem from it, have always been an issue at large festival events, but the rise in drug-related deaths has caused them to address the issue more.

While festival producers cannot control the decisions that attendees make, Kirby said, education and communication are the best ways to keep festival attendees informed about potential risks. “It’s nothing new (drug use and overdoses),” said Kirby. “I will say that the drugs out there are getting more concentrated and more dangerous, and with that, the stakes are higher. People on site are buying drugs and they might not know what they’re getting into, but that’s not just at music festivals. We need to build an awareness of what people are putting into their bodies.”

In 2013, Electric Zoo, one of New York City’s largest annual EDM festivals (presented by Made Event), cancelled its final day after two drug-related deaths. Acknowledging its decision, Made Event has increased its prefestival education, requiring all ticket holders to watch a PSA on drug use, and the event had drug-sniffing dogs on site during the 2014 edition of the event.

Bazos says age makes a big difference as well when it comes to drug use, as older attendees tend to be more aware of the decisions they make. SFX offers both 18-plus and 21-plus shows, depending on the situation. “I think older people are more aware of their limits in everything, and that means sun exposure, dancing, drinking, etcetera. Everyone makes mistakes and you think as a kid you can do whatever and be fine. Like everything in life, you learn to take care of yourself over time,” Bazos said.

Members of the EDM community are also taking matters into their own hands when it comes to safety, such as with the volunteer organization DanceSafe (www.dancesafe.org), which focuses on promoting health and safety within the EDM community. Launched in 1998, Dance Safe started its efforts towards promoting healthy partying within the underground EDM circuit, but has expanded in recent years with the growing popularity of the genre. The organization has a large focus on drug use, and offers educational services and drug checking services at events, with the purpose of providing people with the resources and information necessary to prevent a potentially harmful situation. Missi Wooldridge, Executive Director of DanceSafe, said that an open dialogue needs to be created to promote safe decisions, versus ignoring or prohibiting the use at all.

“When we do really open our eyes, no matter what we do, people are still going to use substances. We want to create a safe space for young people to come and ask about health and safety,” said Wooldridge. “One of the biggest barriers is implementing drug education and services into the festival community. There’s not a lot of educational resources for people, and that’s a big issue.”

Wooldridge said there is an influx of drugs coming through in recent years that are more potent, or a mix of various substances, causing more problems for users. This, in turn, requires more education on safe usage and drug testing so if someone chooses to make a poor decision, they aren’t aware of what they are putting into his or her body.

“There’s a lack of knowledge with these new substances, and there’s no regulation. The big problem is they are taking something that’s actually something else, and the effects and dosages might be completely different than what they expected,” Wooldridge said.

Protecting Hearing at Festivals
One of the less-addressed medical issues at festivals is that of hearing loss, a common side effect of any live concert event where attendees or employees are exposed to higher sound levels for a long period of time. While many festival promoters are not directly addressing this for employees and patrons, numerous companies in the audio industry are producing new gear to help preserve hearing without compromising the quality of the music.

Among those companies is Ultimate Ears, which caters to musicians with its line of custom in-ear monitors, as well as special earplugs for crews to help preserve hearing.

“Hearing conservation is based on an eight-hour exposure; if you’re working 16 hours a day at a festival, already you’re at a higher probability for long-term damage,” said Mike Dias, sales director at Ultimate Ears Pro.

After extended exposure to loud sound, or even short-term exposure to extremely loud sound, the ear mechanism protects itself with a sort of compression. Given 16 or more hours of rest, Dias explains, the ear can start to rehabilitate itself. However, constant exposure to harmful sound levels (typically 85 dB SPL or higher) can cause more permanent damage. Ultimate Ears encourages performing musicians to be aware of this danger, and designed custom earplugs with an attenuation of 26 dB without
reportedly compromising the quality of sound.

“Whenever someone says ‘earplugs,’ you think of those foamies and you think of it ruining the entire experience,” Dias said. “It sounds like you’re underwater and if you go to a festival, you don’t want to put a barrier on the sound. We offer musician-grade earplugs, one version that are custom-made to the ear, and then a universal earplug that has a linear attenuation that you can pop in and experience the music at a show at a lower volume level (without distorting the sound).

“If you are working at a music festival, it’s absolutely critical to have your ear plugs in. These don’t block anything or interfere with your work; they just block the level of exposure that can be damaging over time,” Dias added.

Understanding that hearing loss prevention is an important consideration for any concert event, festival organizers are aware that more attention needs to go towards it. “We certainly make earplugs available for free,” said Bazos. “There might be a fashion statement against it, but I think it’s a problem that should be addressed more. Overexposure to loud music is a problem in general, and that’s a topic that definitely needs to be explored.”

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All That Jazz

By Kelleigh Welch

The original article in Pro Sound News.

The original article in Pro Sound News.

Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2015 edition of Pro Sound News.

At 4 p.m., the hall is empty. Everything is ready for the big night—the orchestra’s stands  are perfectly arranged under the stage, the microphones are cleaned to add a little sparkle, her elaborate costumes are neatly arranged backstage—all just waiting for the show to start. The crew is expected at 5:30; the plan is to hold a brief rehearsal, let the musicians settle in, and practice a few numbers with Tony before the doors open.

It’s the final night of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s four-night residency at Radio City Music Hall. Tom Young, the long-time production manager for Bennett, invited me to the historic hall before the show to see the set up and talk about working with the two platinum performers on their unexpected collaboration. With only the occasional patter of  footsteps of a venue employee, Young and I saw the silent side of the legendary room—the Art Deco walls echoing back tales of past performers that had passed through—as we dug into just how he helped bring the performance to life each night.

“Radio City—it’s probably my favorite music hall,” Young said, who, as a native of the New York City area, holds extra affection for the 6,000-seat venue. “I was actually a design  consultant when they did the renovations because I had mixed here so much.”

With an age difference of 60 years, the pairing of famous crooner Tony Bennett and pop superstar Lady Gaga might seem an unlikely match, but with her classical training, Gaga really stepped out and showed her versatility in Cheek to Cheek, the jazz album she and Bennett recorded together and released back in September, 2014. As a longtime fan of Gaga, I’ve known her talents from trolling the Internet for underground, acoustic performances, but with Cheek to Cheek, she’s able to really showcase her abilities front and center—breaking herself away from that meat-dress image she created back in 2010. Now on tour, it comes as no surprise that for the New York City stop, Bennett (a native of Astoria, the northern neighborhood in Queens), and Gaga (of New York City’s Upper West Side), would choose Radio City. Acknowledging the setlist of songs that relied on the acoustics of a room, Young said Radio City’s performance hall is capable of supporting that need.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at the 2015 Grammy Awards

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at the 2015 Grammy Awards

“The room is so responsive—you can hear everything, even the grooves on the cymbals; that’s my favorite,” Young explained. “My goal is to capture a good performance. I have a lot of experience and I know that every room has its own personality.”

“Tony does this one number a cappella with no mics at all, and the room really helps make that impact even stronger. Tony owns the art of intimacy—it’s like he’s performing just for you,” Young added.

The stage set up for the Cheek to Cheek tour is fairly minimal. For reinforcement, the tour relies on each venue’s house system, so for the Radio City performances, they used a QSC-powered JBL VerTec line array system (which Young was instrumental in adding to the venue during the redesign). Young controlled the PA with a Yamaha PM5D console, while monitor engineer Jimmy Corbin manned the monitors on a DiGiCo SD7.

“The show is really all about the music. We fly sidefills but don’t use wedges for the main stage. Tony’s coming from a singing background and is very comfortable matching to the house PA,” said Young.

Working with Bennett and Gaga’s show also requires careful mixing with the three live bands. Young explained that the tour has three separate show sets, labeled A, B, and C, which are chosen based on the venue. The A show (used at Radio City, Hollywood Bowl in LA, and the Royal Albert Hall in London) includes a quartet on stage right for Tony, a quintet on stage right for Gaga, and a 38-piece orchestra that rises up on the elevator platform at the front of the stage. Show B, which is the most common of the shows, has an extra 13 musicians added to the mix. Show C eliminates the orchestra all together.

“I’ve been doing this orchestra thing for a long time; I know the music and its sensitivity,” said Young. “The challenge is knowing which mics should be on at various times.”

Young has partnered with Bennett for a number of years, and because of this close relationship, Young said, Bennett trusts him with the sound at each show. “He has a lot confidence in what I do,” Young said.

While Corbin has worked with Lady Gaga before, Young noted it is his first time working with the 29-year-old artist. Gaga, known for her eccentric outfits and catchy pop music, took a big turn in her career by partnering with Tony Bennett for Cheek to Cheek, which allowed her to show another side of her talents.

“This is a new genre for her and she’s done really well with it. She’s a legit singer, and you can see it through her performances,” Young said. Of course, even with a change in genre, it wouldn’t be a Lady Gaga show without seven costume changes.

For wireless microphones, both Tony and Gaga use Sennheiser SKM 5200 transmitters with Neumann KK 105 S capsules. Occasionally, Young said, he also uses DPA and Shure microphones when needed.

At the end of the day, Young said his main goal was to make sure everything sounded perfect for the audience.

“Your biggest comparison is trying to make the live show sound as good as the record,” he said, “but what’s gratifying about the live performance is that you have an immediate response from the people and performers.”