Disaster Strikes isn’t just the name of a hardcore punk band from Boston, it’s an all too common experience when groups go on tour. Taking a bunch of creative people and putting them on the road away from their support networks can lead to all sorts of problems. Organizing group members can be a bit like herding cats, especially while maintaining a hectic touring schedule. So here are some tips from Stage and Screen on the top 5 tour disasters, and some ideas on how to deal with them to keep the show on the road.
TOUR DISASTER 1: MISPLACING A BAND MEMBER
Scottish indie band Belle and Sebastian got lots of publicity for all the wrong reasons when they left their pyjama-clad drummer stranded in a supermarket car park one night on their August 2017 US tour. Singer Stuart Murdoch says, “There used to be a system … but everybody’s got a little blasé”. The band now have a new procedure: a sign to be placed on the driver’s seat saying “SOMEONE IS OFF THE BUS”. But if you are short of signs, a buddy system will do the trick.
TOUR DISASTER 2: GEAR HELD UP AT CUSTOMS
For Tame Impala’s tour and production manager Matthew Chequer, one of the biggest challenges is transporting equipment across international borders. Incorrect paperwork or a customs agent having a bad day can cause lengthy delays. “A customs agent can open a box and point out an incorrect serial number or question a $100,000 item listed on the paperwork but not actually with the gear”. The solution is to use a specialist transportation firm, whose services leave Chequer free to concentrate on “the hundreds of other things I have to do”.
TOUR DISASTER 3: CANCELING THE SHOW
No one wants to see an event canceled. But it happens. It’s therefore essential to have a contingency plan in place to minimize adverse impacts. Jennifer Tutty, principal of Studio Legal, says problems occur by not being clear with your touring agent or the venues/promoters about what happens in various situations. These are: the show is canceled because of an event beyond your control or “act of god”; you cannot perform due to genuine personal reasons such as sickness or bereavement of family member; the venue/promoter cancels the show because of bad ticket sales or other reason; or you do a no-show because you miss your flight or otherwise fail to turn up.
Tutty says a cancellation policy should be clearly agreed in writing when you agree to do the tour so everyone knows what to expect.
TOUR DISASTER 4: ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN
The tight deadlines of a tour can mean insufficient attention paid to health and safety.
Horror stories of serious injury abound in the industry: roadies buried under a pile of speakers tumbling out of a vehicle’s doors, crew blown off lighting rigs by touching an unearthed cable; a heavily laden truck jack-knifing as the driver speeds to the next gig. Taking time to observe safety protocols can be a hassle, especially when on a tight schedule, but it’s important to always put people’s safety first and foremost.
TOUR DISASTER 5: NOT HAVING THE RIGHT INSURANCE
Seeking to save money on insurance can be costly, so it’s important to seek sound advice on what types of insurances are necessary (e.g. public liability, insurance to cover loss or damage to equipment, workers’ compensation insurance and tour-cancellation insurance).
Darren Sanicki of Sanicki Lawyers says it’s important to get advice to ensure you’re not “paying for services and coverage that are unnecessary and, therefore, a waste of money.
“Discussing the specifics of a tour with your manager, tour manager (if you have one) and a lawyer is the best way to ensure that a balance between what insurance is needed and what is covered is achieved.”
A travel management company like Stage and Screen can help overcome many of these challenges. Our services include specially negotiated luggage allowances and waivers, VIP services, freight and logistics solutions and a 24/7 dedicated after-hours team.
This information is for general guidance on matters of interest only and provided on the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal advice or other professional advice and services.