With heavy hitters Primavera, Parklife, and Field Day already behind us, festival season is well and truly under way. As millions of festival-goers descend on muddy fields to enjoy their favourite artists all in one place, you might be lucky enough to be one of these artists. If so, here’s everything you need to know to prevent your gear from being lost, damaged or stolen at festivals.
Don’t leave your gear unattended
The back of a band’s tour van is one of the few places where so many high-value items are contained in such a confined space – and thieves know this too. That’s why touring musicians are so often a target.
We’re sure the last thing you want to do after unloading the van, setting up on stage, performing, and reloading the van is to unload it again when you get back to the hotel, but this is an absolute must. Even if it’s 4am and you’re running on empty, you’ll sleep better knowing your gear is locked in your room with you, as opposed to sat outside in the car park, open to potential thieves.
Coordinate loading and unloading
Given the tight schedule and generally chaotic atmosphere of festivals, it’s tempting to just ping open the van’s back doors and start hauling everything at once. However, this hasty backstage roundtrip leaves the doors wide open to prospective thieves.
For this reason, you should coordinate trips with bandmates, to ensure your gear isn’t left unattended at any point. It might seem overly cautious, but a window like this is just the opening thieves look for. Effects pedals can cost upwards of £300 and it only takes a second to stuff one into a coat pocket.
Label your gear
As you’ll know, there’s a culture of sharing knowledge and gear recommendations between musicians. Therefore, you’ll often find a lot of duplicate equipment floating around backstage at festivals – whether it’s the SP-404, RE-201 Space Echo, or a Telecaster.
For this reason, it’s important to be able to identify which is yours, and flag to other musicians what isn’t theirs. Consider personalising or labelling your gear and cases to prevent them being taken by mistake. In the event of a theft, this will also identify your equipment to the police. If nothing else, it should put an end to all those tedious disputes over whose amp cable is whose!
Prepare for rain
As much as we hope we’ll get nothing but sunshine come festival season, it’s worth having a contingency plan for the likely reality of rain, particularly in the UK. Wash-outs hit the acts as well as the attendants, except the acts come to a festival with more than tins of beans and pop-up tents – they come with thousands of pounds worth of equipment that doesn’t take kindly to water.
Keep an eye on the weather and if it’s raining, leave it as long as you can before unloading your gear from the van. Try to store it under shelter while you’re backstage and make sure all your flight cases are reasonably waterproof. Avoid leaving your gear anywhere water might collect, and stash some tarpaulin in the van with you to use in a pinch.
Be careful what you’re plugging in and out of
There are a variety of power sources for a variety of functions on a festival stage, including stage lights, special effects, visual displays, or pyrotechnics – and some of these outlets are more powerful than others. Make sure you check with the festival crew that the gear you intend to plug in can be done so safely using the power source in question. You don’t want to fry your beloved synth before you’ve even had a chance to perform.
By the same rule, check it’s safe to unplug your equipment before doing so, as a premature unplug can result in a loud bang if everything is still switched on. This might damage someone’s hearing, or even worse, a speaker.
Keep a separate record of your equipment
It’s worth photographing your instruments and noting down their serial numbers. This will give the police the best chance of tracking it down if it’s stolen, as well as the evidence to prove it’s yours if you lose it and someone else finds it.
If quite a lot of gear is stolen or lost, it’s often difficult to identify everything that’s missing, so a checklist like this can come in handy. It’ll also get the ball rolling quicker on potential insurance claims.
We recommend uploading all the information to a cloud server or keeping it in your email inbox, as this ensures you’ll be able to access it whenever it’s needed.
Specialist music insurance is a no-brainer when you’re transporting loads of high-value instruments around and playing to a crowd.
Here at Insure4Music, we’ve created modestly priced, specialist insurance for all aspects of live musical performance – from the loss, damage, or theft of your instruments and equipment (including from a tour van), to accidentally causing injury to another person or damaging property. We even offer worldwide cover if you’re playing at a festival abroad, meaning you’re protected wherever you are. Find out more about our cover and