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Top 5 tour disasters and how to prevent them

HomeNews hubIndustry insightsTop 5 tour disasters and how to prevent them

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 headstrong people and putting them on the road away from their support networks can lead to all sorts of problems. A band manager once said organising his group’s members was like herding cats and they should all be microchipped.

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”.

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: Cancelling the show

No one wants to see an event cancelled. But it happens. It’s therefore essential to have a contingency plan in place to minimise 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 cancelled 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 therefore be clearly agreed in writing when you agree to do the tour.

Tour disaster 4: Accidents will happen

The tight deadlines of a tour mean that often insufficient attention is paid to health and safety.
Horror stories of serious injury are rife in the industry: roadies buried under a pile of speakers that tumble out when they open a vehicle’s doors, sparkies blown off lighting rigs by touching an unearthed cable; a heavily laden truck jack-knifing as the driver speeds to the next gig.
Whatever the myriad pressures of being on tour, 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.


Written by Roger Balch