When running theatrical shows as a technician, sometimes I am asked to play pre-show music. However, I am at a loss as to how I should determine the playback level of such music.
What I've been doing is just setting the level before the house opens to a comfortable volume, but I always find that once people start being seated the music is quickly lost to crowd noise.
Obviously I have to raise the volume on the music as people come in. The problem is, I often have other things to do before the show that take me away from the control booth, sometimes for most of the seating period.
Is there a rule of thumb or other sort of principle that I can use to set the level once before the house is opened to a volume that is not uncomfortably loud to the first few audience members, but will still be "present" once the theatre is almost full of people and crowd noise?
Or do I just have to find the time to go back and adjust the level every few minutes?