Live entertainment is a very organized and time-sensitive industry.
There is no room for delays or errors, especially for the transcontinental, large-scale concert tours with magical performances on giant stage installations.
There is a lot of gear that travels the world with artists. This includes sound equipment, jumbo video screens, lights, and hundreds of metal pieces – all items that are bulky and delicate at the same time.
What makes it possible are the perfectly-designed production timelines by show producers and their “always on-time” logistics partners.
All freight modes involve air, ocean and road logistics. For example, Beyonce needed a fleet of more than 70 trucks and seven Boeing 747 air freighters for her Formation world tour.
Freight forwarders are mostly given 3-6 months to organize all components of concert tour transportation for a particular tour. And, logistics managers use labeling technologies to keep every single item that is being transported.
Delicate cargo, such as electronics, tools and instruments, need their custom-made steel cases for safe transportation, wrapped tightly and made to stay upright. This is one of the crucial steps because with damaged cargo, the tour crew would have to cancel shows, which impacts the entire tour schedule.
Some stage sets take a week to install. However, shows are scheduled almost back to back in short time frames. In this case, the solution is to have two exact stage setups, where one is ready to be packed up after the show, and the other one is already on the way to the next leg of the tour. Generally, two sets are used, but U2 had three sets for their 360 Degree tour. That doubles the amount of equipment to manage and usually over 100 people just to handle installation and logistics.
One of the other logistics challenges for concert tours is customs clearance.
Paperwork and other arrangements need to be done in advance to prevent delays. Damaged cargo, errors in international paperwork, and delays in customs clearance have caused artists to cancel or postpone shows because of these unnecessary delays.
Heroes behind the concert tours are logistics professionals. It is very important to work with the right companies. A smooth process simply depends on their experience level and proficiency.