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Instrument Handling at Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Performance artist’s instruments are a key part of their overall package and are often uniquely personal. From custom made guitars to other specialist equipment instruments are valuable assets that are vital to their performance. What are the considerations for artists and festival organisers when handling instruments during an event. 

Depending on the size of the music festival and how ‘big’ a musician or artist is may determine how their instruments are handled during the event. A small up-and-coming band may well keep their instruments with them at all times with the exception of drum kits which usually form part of the fixed backline. A large well-known artist will more likely have a dedicated crew to manage the transportation and handling of all instruments. It is not unusual for a guitarist to have numerous guitars with them on site which are cared for by a dedicated crew member responsible for maintenance, tuning and safe handling. 

Artist Advance and Riders. 
The artist advance and accompanying rider is an opportunity for musicians to specify what instruments they will be bring on site along with how they are being shipping and detailed instructions about handling. With hundreds of booked artists, it is essential that the festival organisers have as much detail as possible about instruments for each artist so that nothing gets mislaid or damaged.

Specialist Shipping.
There are shipping agents who specialise in the transportation of musical instruments and this is an option for well-known artists who may have a significant pieces of equipment. Some shipping agents even go as far as tagging every item with tracking technology like Bluetooth sensors so that once on site the instruments can easily be located. These specialists are very experienced in packing and handling of sensitive instruments to ensure they remain undamaged.

Having an insurance policy specifically for instruments can help ease the pain of any loss or breakages but financial compensation cannot make up for the loss of an instrument that is often a key part of their persona and style. Damage and theft does occur and instruments are still targeted by unscrupulous criminals who may attempt to gain access to secure storage areas close to the backstage area.

Festival organisers should take particular care when creating the instrument and equipment storage facilities on site. Use of professional security guards, fencing and CCTV along with strict access control should minimise any risk of theft. For artists and musicians, it's wise that any cases and boxes are clearly marked with unique identifiers making them easier to find amongst hundreds of similar looking black guitar cases for example. With good planning and logistical organisation all instruments should arrive on site undamaged, be easily identifiable and remain secure for the duration of the event. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Photo by Jeffrey Robb from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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