We frequently hear the question from new events or longstanding events with new entertainment directors, why do I need to provide backline, shouldn’t the artist carry their own gear? To help clear the air, we’d like to explain what backline is, why it is sometimes necessary to provide it, and why the artists’ needs may change from the time the agent accepts the offer to the time the show begins.
Generally, backline consists of amplifiers and drum kits. It can include other instruments, such as bass guitars, keyboards, percussion instruments, etc. Cowbell anyone?
Isn’t the artist responsible for carrying backline with them? Generally, yes. However, it is impractical/impossible to carry so much gear on fly dates. Thus, if you book an act knowing it will be a fly date, the artist’s agent will consider the cost of backline in negotiations, or the venue/fair/festival will need to provide backline. Regardless of who pays for backline, it’s a good business practice to have a list of local providers in case of emergency (i.e. the new tour manager forgot to book backline). Also, talk to your REG agent about the kind of backline needs for any fly date acts you’re booking because that will affect your bottom line.
Finally, you negotiated over backline and agreed to provide it, so why did the act end up bringing it? Backline needs can change based on routing. At the time the offer was confirmed, it may have been a fly date, but the artist’s agent is constantly looking to surround fly dates with more shows. If the agent can build enough routed dates, management will change the logistics from flights to driving with all necessary gear in tow.
If your backline questions were not answered, please contact your REG agent with your concerns.