Musicians using a concert teleprompter is more common than you would think.
Musicians have a lot of lyrics and songs to memorize. Naturally, when they’re on stage they can’t mess up. However, they merely use the concert teleprompter to jog their memory—they’re not staring at it the entire performance:) The prompter also can act as a set list. We’ve supplied concert teleprompters for Sting, Liza Minnelli, Metallica, Snoop Dogg, Rufus Wainwright, and T-Bone Burnett. A concert teleprompter is also known as a “word wedge”, or sometimes called a “stage teleprompter”.
Kpop superstar Taeyang (from Big Bang) came to San Francisco for an MTV concert right before Thanksgiving. We were hired to provide a concert teleprompter and operator for his event.
This was a particular challenge since the lyrics were mostly in Korean. We’ve prompted in many other languages, but Korean is new to our team. I searched Craigslist and found local Korean translator, Yano Rhee. Luckily, he had a degree in film and had worked in AV companies before transitioning to the medical field. Yano recently worked with the survivors of the Asiana SFO crash. When I interviewed him, I learned he had a musical background—the electric bass—and was excited by the challenge. We met the day before the concert to go over the teleprompter software, and then rehearse with the band.
Moving the Concert Teleprompter
Right before we left for the night, I was requested to move the teleprompter equipment from it’s initial location. Normally, the prompter sits low on the stage between the musicians and the fans. However, since this was being recorded and broadcast by MTV, cameras positioned behind Taeyang would see the concert teleprompter too. Since I have a background in grip and rigging, a quick trip to the local expendables store, JCX, was all that was needed.
The next morning I hung the monitor from the stage speakers near the ceiling. Taeyang agreed with the exact placement, since it was a balance of seeing his lyrics, and appeasing the MTV cameras. Running cables through the curtain was done well before the other stage crew got in, so there was no work interference.
There’s a reason behind the particular joy I have in using a concert teleprompter: I used to perform in bands on saxophone, so I miss the synergy that comes from working together on something live that causes my feet to tap along to the music. The first concert that I ever did teleprompting for was Liza Minnelli. What a rush to be part of that ensemble! Even though I was not playing an instrument, I was keeping time and being in sync with the musicians, so the familiar thrill came back.
It was no different with Taeyang, even though I was not personally teleprompting his lyrics for the concert. Yano had that honor. I loved the crowd and performance and learned quite a bit about the K-pop fanbase and industry.
It was an honor to work with Taeyang, his fans, his team from YG, the great crew from Oceanwatch, Yano, MTV, the staff at Bimbo’s 365, and the local stage technicians.