Operations

How To Drive The Band On The Run

Posted on April 14, 2016 by - Also by this author

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Driving for a music act on tour is an exciting gig, but you must uphold stratospheric standards. One mistake on your part could cause an account to be lost forever. And you won’t be getting any encore requests. Advance planning, proper selection of chauffeurs and excellent communication skills are essential.

Music acts and entertainers rely on the best companies to serve their celebrity clients when on tour or traveling for leisure. Companies such as AJL International, Daitz Personal Logistics (DPL) and Music Express have carved out this niche market.

How They Choose Providers
Transportation brokers rely on specific factors when selecting a local ground transportation company. The fleet vehicles are most important, as artists are picky about vehicles. Substituting a fleet vehicle type without prior consent is a good way to make sure you will never be called upon again for future work.

“If I order a 15-passenger van with the rear seat removed, that’s exactly what I want,” says Matt Johnston, CEO of AJL in Dallas. “I don’t want a Turtle Top or a Van Terra or an SUV. I want a 15-passenger van.”

When Johnston doesn’t have an affiliate in a particular city, he calls the local concert promoter first for a recommendation. He then calls the best hotels in the area to ask who they recommend. He also calls the FBO where the plane is landing to see if they have a relationship with a local provider. Make sure you have relationships with all of these people if you want to be considered for this type of work.

Who To Assign
This is probably your most critical decision. You need a chauffeur thoroughly familiar with back entrances of hotels and a deep knowledge of the city. You need a chauffeur who will not become star-struck — one who will speak only when spoken to. Many artists demand absolute silence in the car while traveling.

“Artists don’t want a fan to drive them or they would just ask a fan to drive,” Johnston says. “They want a professional chauffeur. You need a chauffeur who can be trusted to remain backstage only in designated areas. Almost always, chauffeurs are allowed to watch the show from the back of the stage. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to eat the food set out for the artist and crew unless specifically invited to do so. It doesn’t mean they can walk into the arena to get a hot dog. Asking for an autograph or a photo is an absolute no-no. However, many artists will offer it, and as long as they initiate it, it is okay to accept. Chauffeurs should never attempt to talk to any of the artist’s staff for any reason except related to travel plans.

What Is A Transportation Rider?
You may be given a copy of a contract “rider.” A rider is an addendum to the master performance contract that mandates certain things be in the vehicle or certain conditions be met. For instance, The Eagles require A/C systems to be turned completely off as the cold air can affect their vocal cords before a show. Coming off the stage, they are usually sweaty and getting into a cold vehicle could easily make them sick, Johnston says. Some artists want their bottled water chilled, some want it at room temperature, and others even specify the brand of bottled water. Clients may have other requirements for clean towels or a particular food or beverage. You should read every single line item of the contract and adhere to it. Chauffeurs are routinely asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that prevents them from talking about anything seen or heard while serving the group.

Doing A Dry Run
No matter how well versed you think you might be, these types of trips require a “dry-run” either the day before or the “day of” prior to the group arriving. Bob Daitz, CEO of DPL in Naples, Fla., calls this exercise “climbing the wall and ringing the bell.” He expects subcontracted companies to do it. This includes driving out to the FBO to find out where you will enter, stage your vehicle, and load passengers. Make sure you can get out of the secured area easily and select the most logical route to the venue. The route should be free from construction zones and follow light traffic patterns with minimal signal lights.

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