SPOT festival 2023 – Recognition of the live crew, Part II
In January we had a successful panel at the Festival, Eurosonic 2023 talking about Recognition of The Live Crew. Or the more eloquent: The absence of understanding and acknowledgement for the world behind the scenes.
Once again we had Promoter Emma Hestbæk from Smash!Bang!Pow! with us. Accompanied by Tobias Ljungar Sødring, Tourmanager for the Danish artist Saveus among many other great artists.
So, why is it of importance to be familiar with the world behind the scenes aka backstage?
Well, this area is often described as the ‘Wild West’ when it comes to work conditions and regulations (Any politicians would probably faint if they knew of the many self-appointed rules behind the scenes). These – not very appropriate conditions was being addressed during the lockdown where it became a reality for especially the many freelancers working backstage that the ‘Wild West’ model doesn’t work when ‘sh** hits the fan. However, not many outside of the backstage area (- that counts production, logistics and technique), knew how bad it was and in many ways still is.
This would be one of the reasons for a need of attention for this part of the live music industry
How to get some kind of regulations into the ‘wild west’ was one of points the panel was discussing, including Working conditions, Insurance policy, Cancellation fees, Sick-/maternity leave etc etc.
It would most likely require us to become better at crosstalk among the many different facets behind the scene. But how should this be realistic? The panel didn’t have an answer on how to initiate this. But one solution could be to team up with one of the already existing organisations or unions that exists. Nevertheless these seem to be exclusive to only a certain part of the live music industry, mostly for artists or venues/festivals etc.
So the big question would (probably) be how to make the more establish part of the industry interested in including the people behind the scenes that involves approximately up to 75 % of the entire live music industry.
This absence of interest leads us back to the cause for this panel: The recognition of the live crew that could be the first step towards a more proper working environment for this large part of the music industry. Something they have acknowledged in Norway, where according to the Norwegians among our audience, the union CREO, has done a successful effort to unite the many freelancers in the culture sector from behind the scenes.
To be better organised across the industry would probably have been a remedy to situations like last year!
In 2022 we experienced some sort of madness with a triple up of artists touring and events happening all across the globe – A dream scenario post-COVID – despite there not being enough gear or qualified crew anywhere and tours/festivals got cancel because of this!
This year is a bit the opposite: Many crew members across Europe were complaining about ‘empty calendars’ – a situation that probably was caused by less productions as well as many artists taking a break after touring for the past 12-18 months or simply could not afford to tour as the prices for gear and crew has gone up significant the last year combined with a lower number of audience.
Nevertheless this dramatic up and down is not healthy for the industry and an issue we can’t ignore. No artist – no show, but with no crew there won’t be any show either.
With a yearly turnover of more than 24 billion Euro globally this is one of the most important industries worldwide, meaning it also employs a big deal of people.
But with an example taken from the Danish government in May this year where the minister of culture has dedicated 30 mill. Euro to the live music sector, it appears clearly that the many thousands freelancers working backstage in production, logistics and technique are completely left out of this equation. As mentioned it is fatal if there isn’t a (competence), crew to execute the live shows. That’s a fact, but the panel (+ a lively audience) were not able (this time) to come up with an idea for a sustainable solution that could make the live music industry vital and kicking for the next decades. But nevertheless, if we could tie knots across the many work fields in the music sector, a solution could be to team up with a live event related union or interest organisation.
All images kindly ‘stolen’ from Back Lounge Music Touring and Event group
Women In Live Music (WILM) is a European non-profit organisation, founded in Jan.2018 for people working backstage in production, logistics and technique www.womeninlivemusic.eu