Imagine… You’re coasting down the highway with your friends, wind whisking over your face, on your way to the concert you’ve been anticipating for months. The tickets were pricey, but you know it’s going to be worth it. After all, everyone says this artist puts on a great show with lasers, acrobats, fire-shooting costumes, smoke machines…the works.
Though it will be a magical night, it takes a lot more than magic to prepare for the show. You might be in awe of the musicians, their performance, the lightshow, but you might not realize just how many people it takes to put on a production of this scale. Sure, there are stagehands, lighting people and sound people, but moving them all to each new venue is a job for a highly-specialized, full-service transportation and logistics company (or companies).
Entertainment logistics companies carry all of the technical equipment used during a specific show to and from each location. Depending on the size of the performance, and the amount of equipment, productions seek out carriers ranging from a few moving trucks, to a large heavy-duty fleet. Once the equipment arrives safely, it's usually up to the same company to unload and set everything up. This means anything from installing lighting systems, to building the stage itself. In some cases – like on film and television productions – these entertainment logistics companies could be setting up full “prop” houses in remote locations, carrying expensive vehicles to the shoots, even handling live animals is a possibility.
These carriers are responsible for making sure everything stays safe in transit to a new location and after the job is done. Though professionals in this field are often paid by the day, they generally make around $30 hourly, which is a higher pay on average than logistics workers in other industries. However, it is a small compensation for a highly demanding and unpredictable job.
Many sub-industries exist under the entertainment blanket. As mentioned previously, entertainment means more than just concerts (though concerts do play a huge role in the business). Aside from live music, “entertainment” also includes television, film and music videography, among other similar areas.
This means that each sub-category runs into obstacles specific to itself. The Super Bowl provides completely different challenges than a movie shoot in the deserts of Arizona. Some shows require extremely fast setup and break-down (like the Super Bowl), while others are dragged out over the course of weeks – even months.
But what all of these events have in common is that a team of professional drivers is responsible for safely delivering what each event needs. As a carrier in this industry, you have to be prepared to handle an expansive range of obstacles, and be able to operate a wide variety of equipment, as no two shows are identical in their set up. These entertainment logistics staff members have to be knowledgeable on not just the logistics side of the job, but also on the industries they serve.
Like all professional drivers, entertainment freight carriers work long hours, driving day and night to keep up with the often fast-paced schedule of the entertainment industry. Unique to entertainment drivers, though, is that their routes aren’t necessarily optimized for efficiency and productivity, they’re drawn up to zig-zag all over the country and internationally. Wherever the next show is, that’s the next destination. No time for unscheduled breaks, or wrong turns, because it could cost the whole show.
“All of the equipment must arrive on time - the show must go on, there are no excuses! Bad weather, mechanical breakdowns, etc, must all be factored in when planning a concert schedule,” says Gary Falldin, Trimble Director of Solutions. “Good drivers are the key to get all the equipment to a tour location safely and on time. Extra care is given to only hire the best drivers, which can be challenging at a time when the industry is dealing with an 80,000 driver shortage.” It’s often a very draining and thankless job with a lot of responsibility. But if you ask who has been thankful, there’s one celebrity that would say “ME!”
Which is why we are so thankful to Miss Americana herself, Taylor Swift for her recent show of appreciation to her transportation staff. As her ‘Eras’ tour comes to a close in the US, Swift has generously awarded $100,000 bonuses to the drivers who have carried all of her concert equipment from one venue to another; a reward many drivers couldn’t imagine receiving in their wildest dreams.
For Swift, it was a small act of kindness, but to the drivers and the transportation industry, this was a generous gesture that recognized the good work carriers and their professional drivers do. She has shone a light on a humble and hardworking community and we at Trimble join Ms. Swift in celebrating the previously-unsung drivers and logistics professionals. Ms. Swift, the transportation industry thanks you, and hopes you continue to support. Maybe this is the beginning of OUR… love story?