How to Buy Stage Lights (The $50,000 Mistake)

So, you want to buy some stage lights?

Where, what, and how do you even begin this process?

In this video we’re going to briefly cover the $50k mistake analogy that still applies today and how to begin finding the right solution for your lighting needs.

Often when it comes to purchasing lighting equipment, you may go to a person that already has a lighting rig and you want to get their perspective. While that is encouraged it can become a costly mistake as every rig, needs, and setup is vastly different.

Regardless of what you’re lighting, the way decide on your lights, make the purchase, big or small, can eventually cost you in the long run if not approached with some sort of plan.

The $50K Analogy

This analogy was originally created when churches had started investing in sound systems and still runs very true to the lighting aspect for any industry today.

It breaks it down to three tiers. Starting with someone asking a friend for help on what they needed to purchase to get started. This starts with a $5,000 purchase.

Then, in a couple of years, they’re not very happy with it and it didn’t perform the way they had originally hoped it would. A couple years later, they tear it out, resell it for nothing, and are looking for a new system. They know someone who is a computer professional and they know all about this type of stuff.

The computer professional recommends a new system that costs $20,000, so they invest in it and get everything set up. They find that it still doesn’t fit their needs and end up wanting to replace it after a couple of years.

Lastly, they go to a professional sound system company. The company recommends a system and it’s $25,000 investment. Normally in any situation the 3rd time is a charm. You start with something to get you going and get your feet wet. Then, you upgrade but it’s still not exactly what you had hoped for. Finally, by the third round you have found exactly what you had needed all along. Sound familiar?

Figure Out What You Need First

The point of the analogy is to figure out what you need first before investing in anything. Please, do not go out and purchase something to just get you by. It’s worth the time and investment to figure out what you need first.

So often and with so many opinions online, it can be a challenge to figure out what you need. You might see a production company uses this system and you decide you want that. Or a friend you know uses these lights and you decide you want to purchase those type of lights.

Every situation, need, lighting rig is very different. Jumping to purchase anything without really understanding what you need can definitely cost you more money in the long run.

Establish Goals for Your Purchase

So, where do you get started to help make the right purchasing decisions for your rig? Establish what is the purpose of your rig? Are you working as DJ? Hosting events? Lighting a Church or venue? Are lighting for video streaming, to an audience, or both?

What is the purpose of these lights and what exactly will you be lighting? Establish a very clear and precise description of what you will be lighting and that will help you to begin working backwards from that goal.

Now, you know that the objective and final outcome you’re looking for and that alone can give you a very clear pathway to figuring out what you need to accomplish that goal.

This allows you to start looking for products that will fit those needs and then you can start researching and reaching out to experts to ask if that will accomplish those needs.

Finding the Solution for Your Needs

Now, that you have established your main goals you have some perspective of what you’re looking for and what you are hoping to accomplish with your lighting.

With any production company, church, and venue there is a closet of “stuff” that was rarely used. That’s what I am trying to help those getting started avoid. Why is this important?

When getting started you may have a limited budget like most would. While you might not be able to afford the best piece for your setup you can still save money on buying a piece of equipment that will hold you over until you’re able to save enough to make that bigger purchase.

This is much better than spending that budget on something that isn’t even a good fit for your setup and takes away from that budget that could have been used in either saving for something better or even purchasing other pieces to help make your setup fit your needs.

At the end of the day, it’s important to know exactly what you want to accomplish with your lighting and what your needs are. From there, you can figure out what type of products will fit those needs and that will help you save money in the long run.

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