What’s the difference between an AV Company and a Production Company

February 22, 2023

Av Company and Production Company

When I was a young stage manager, just starting out, I had the pleasure of working with Winston Morgan. Winston was one of the leaders in the stage management community across Canada who spent considerable time mentoring and educating young stage management professionals.

Winston wrote the book on stage management for the arts. His book S.M.A.R.T.S is still a staple every emerging stage management professional should read. The first passage of his book has one saying that I often repeat to myself;

• You can have a good show with a good Stage Manager
• You can have a bad show with a good Stage Manager
• You can never have a good show with a bad Stage Manager

I have always taken this passage to mean that you need a good leader, partner or crew to help you achieve anything good. It is the basis of our philosophy of Do Good Work with Good People.

How do you get the right people on your team to ensure you will have a good show? First, you must understand what those people do and how they integrate with your objectives and goals.

When considering what production partner you want to entrust with your next event, knowing the difference between an AV company and a Production Company will be critical to having a good show, to take Morgan’s passage above into context, you can’t have a good show without the right partner.

AV Production and Production Campany

What’s the difference between an AV Company and a Production Company?

An AV Company and a Production company are two very different business models. They approach the servicing of events in very different ways. So if we think of this area as a spectrum, on one end, you have companies that have a lot of products to service clients, and on the other end, you have companies that offer services. 

AV companies are on the product end of the spectrum. Their businesses depend on a model of regularly renting out equipment in their inventory. They are an excellent solution for getting the materials and labour required to execute your event. They measure internal success by equipment usage, inventory control, efficiency, and pricing. 

On the other hand, on the other extreme of the spectrum, a Production company is a business model that sells time, brain power and creativity. A typical production company will sell its teams time to creatively problem solve for a client, manage resources and be strategic with a client’s production objectives.

Picking the right partner

The first step to knowing what partner is right for you and your event team is understanding your objectives and what you need a partner to do. For example, are you looking for someone to supply materials and labour? On the other hand, do you need someone to design a stage program for your annual conference? Figuring out where your needs are on the spectrum will help greatly in finding the right partner.

It can get confusing…..

As I mentioned above, we see this as a spectrum. There are tons of really great AV companies that offer the services of a production company. But, equally, many production companies also offer equipment rentals as part of their business. Here are a few ways you can help determine where your potential partner sits on this spectrum.

Determine your needs first. Finding the right partner starts with you, as Rupal likes to say. “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else” (can I get an amen!). Understanding what types of partners (supply vs services) you need to help achieve your event goals is a critical first step.

Ask the potential partner if they own a large inventory. The larger the inventory, the more they sit on the AV company side of the spectrum.

See past the marketing speak. Every AV company and production company will market their creativity, how impactful things are when you use them etc. Instead, ask what their core services are. 

When I was interviewing for a large organization many years ago, they were marketing themselves as a global production company. However, I had always known them as a large AV supplier, so I asked one critical question to help me understand where they were on the spectrum. 

“Would you ever do an event where none of your inventory was on the show?”

Their answer was telling. The Vice President of event production laughed out loud and said, “Of course not; that is how we make money” That was a concise sign that this was an AV rental company, not a production company. 

Knowing the difference between an AV Company that supplies materials and labour and a Production company that offers services is important in determining the right fit for your event.

Understanding how these Tewa types of companies work and where they sit on that spectrum will allow you to find the right fit for you and your team to pull off that memorable experience for your attendees.

We create Exceptional Production Experiences by gathering the right people and resources, paired with meaningful design and elevated production value. Because when experienced planners get pulled into the day-to-day of their event production, taking care of their stakeholders and audiences becomes impossible. At Byrne Production Services, we direct the technical production of each event using our Production Framework™ so you can be free to focus on the event experience.

Getting started on an Exceptional Production Experience is easy.

Book an exploration meeting with us, let us create a customized plan, then let’s work on creating something exceptional together.

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