The show must go on – but how far should we go

WILM Panel @ the Eurosonic Festival
Groningen, Jan.20th


Moderated by Malle Kaas, Live Sound engineer and CEO of Women In Live Music

Panel guests were: 

  • Petra Randewijk, NL – Freelance touring live sound engineer
  • Rev. Moose, US – Managing partner at Marauder and founding & emeritus executive director of NIVA and NIVF
  • Angie Rance, UK  – Agent at Earth Agency
  • Anita Richell, GER – Booker at Brighter Agency

The show must go on – but how far should we go 

– a sum up of the panel

It was our intention to discuss health vs touring life. Like what to do when you are touring and struggling with chronic conditions like IBS, diabetes, allergies, migraine, addiction? Not to speak about being pregnant and on the road! And how about bullying, stress, stigmatisme and the mental health!
But we realised that 60 minutes or more likely even a whole day wouldn’t be enough to cover this enormous and very complex topic

However, we managed to nail it down to this phrase: Bring back humanity in the live music industry – but wait, has it ever been humane?!
Well, the whole panel agreed that we need to communicate more human with each other. Perhaps start practising the ‘Complimentary sandwich’ So what is that about? Well, normally you give someone sh** and yell at them for whatever reason. But now you start off with: (e.g the production manager to the sound engineer) ‘Hey, I really liked your mix last night’ By the way could you be on time tomorrow for lobby call? And hey, cool sneakers you are wearing today!

But we all know in the heat of the moment, when we are overwhelmed, stressed out and tired it can be hard to be patient and have the resources to stay calm. So what to do when your mind is on the negative side? Well, you could be doing small things like remembering to eat even when there seems to be no time. Or go to the restroom and just sit down with your eyes closed and think of nothing for the next 5 minutes!

Or in the heat of the moment, try and take four very deep inhales. And exhale as slowly as you can – very simple exercise to calm down your body, and simultaneously give your brain some oxygen!

But what about when worse comes to worse, and we are not in a state of carrying on with our work – would we then be replaceable? Most likely not as mostly everyone in a touring crew is a key person…..but as the panel marked: Cancelling a show is expensive. Cancelling a tour is even more expensive! Something to think about ‘out there’ when hell breaks out again this summer.

Well, make sure to know your own personal limits. And hey, they might have changed post-pandemic. Both panellists and audience recognised that many of us experience getting more easily tired and exhausted than pre-pandemic.
So will we see a lot of ‘burnouts‘ again this year with people leaving the industry because of this? Hopefully not!
The great panel came up with a couple of brilliant ideas to think about for venues and festivals out there. Like having a ‘quiet room’ installed. Ideally, of course, with massage chairs, space for meditation/yoga.
However, that might be complicated for most due to costs or other limitations. But then at least have a runner on every team that offers crew who can’t leave their workstation food and water.
Claiming your space when you need a break is another thing, and should not put you in a position where you have to justify why.
The same goes when you are suffering from a chronic condition! It should be legit for you to be open about it. It should be acceptable to inform about any chronicle conditions without being discriminated in any way.

The lovely panel: Malle, Petra, Angie, Moose & Anita

The panel also came around to the woman’s uterus a lot! Yay, sorry – but we need to speak about that too! Because a big part of the population between teenage stage and a mature age do bleed on a regular basis. Some even quite heavily. Now imagine waking up on the tour bus, ‘swimming’ in your own blood. Well that’s reality for some women. Or suffering so heavily from period cramps that they can hardly speak, and just want to lay on a bathroom floor and ‘die a slow death’ but can’t because the artist is waiting 🙄 How are we going to address this issue? Well, it is definitely not easy if you are the only woman in a crew with 12 guys! 

But we need to be able to talk about it. A Danish artist recently suggested to her management that they should plan her tour around her mens cycle. Sounds maybe like a joke to some, but it’s not a bad idea.
Speaking of the purpose of the uterus. Many women both onstage and offstage experience that they have to hide their pregnancy as long as possible in order to not lose out on gigs. This also needs to be addressed!
And how about a baby on tour? Most festivals and venues don’t have facilities for breastfeeding mums or arrangements for smaller kids. But as more and more women get a foot in the tour bus we need to come up with some sustainable and functional solutions like breastfeeding rooms and kid’s corners etc. ***WILM has made a report on this matter: Motherhood combined with a career in live music

Imagine the worst stomach ache you have ever had, and you will be able to imagine how it is for many women every month

We didn’t get to speak about addiction, but ask yourself this question: ‘You see someone in the crew or the artist struggling with addiction’ What do you do?!
Now take this answer and discuss it with your colleagues.

The 10 commandments that gets you through the show:

  1. If you shout at your colleague you must praise your colleague in the next sentence
  2. Have a healthy snack in your pocket, so you can avoid low sugar and getting grumpy 
  3. Take a 5 minute power nap at the toilet, so you avoid snapping at your colleagues because you are overtired
  4. Say Hello and Goodbye to All of your colleagues, including catering, drivers, stagehands, runners etc etc.
  5. If you don’t feel like drinking, doing drugs, eating that pizza aftershow – Then don’t!
  6. Don’t think you need to be Superman/Superwoman. 
  7. If you are a pleaser, please yourself first
  8. If you stress out and feel like vomiting because of the pressure, take a Deeeep breath through the nose while you count to four. Count to eight when breathing out slowly through the mouth. Repeat 4x
  9. Speak up if you need a break or some space before you get your limits violated
  10. Go and talk to the person you like the least in the crew. Get to know that person – it is actually the fewest who are really a**holes, and that person might end up expanding your horizon in a positive way

But not least – Bring in humanity


A Big Thank you to Eurosonic Festival for having us – a special thank you to Ruud Behrens, Marcel Albers and the rest of the team behind ESNS Conference  🙌