Note: Re-published from 2021 – Authored by Adam WG Green.
After a few years in the security industry, the touring aspect, or concert tour security, along with the many moving parts is still largely misinterpreted, with many people, and, or companies offering services to clients, none-the-wiser to what is actually and factually required and expected of them to ensure a tour, concert, crew and its talent are adequately protected by capable and professional resources, through proactive planning, preparations, engagement and collaboration.
Security must enable a tour to operate seamlessly, protecting a group of people, and other tangible and intangible assets on the move, within various regions and countries, often unknown, is a complex dynamic operation, and multiple risks and concerns present themselves.
All key persons should be involved in the planning from the very start, to be engaged in tour decisions and to enable smooth and transparent lines of communication. A clearly identified scope of works, expectations, roles and responsibilities needs to be defined.
Remember, a tour is a profit-making business entity on the move, it is in the business to make money, artists must satisfy and increase their audience, protect their reputational image, and to operate efficiently, effectively, and professionally.
The level of protection required will depend on a number of factors, the world is full of hugely talented well known, and not so well-known artists, this may, or may not dictate the threat level.
Quality security costs money, security should be driven by the threat assessments carried out, and the proposed mitigation measures presented by priority, reducing risk to ALARP (As Low as Reasonably Practicable), however as we know, security deployment is often driven by budget in the first instance, so ask yourself, if procuring the cheapest option is the highest of priorities, above addressing risk priority, then do you really need security at all? Or is it simply a tick in the box exercise?
TOUR SECURITY & VENUE SECURITY COORDINATION
The protection of artists throughout a tour, including its crew, equipment, and other tangible and intangible assets (IT assets, wardrobe, physical and digital documents, equipment etc.) requires competent and capable resources, both in-house, and any resources procured in-country.
Usually, concert Tour Security is split into two areas of interest; Tour Security (Personal Protection, Logistics, Tour Accreditation) and Venue Security Coordination (Advanced Security, Venue Accreditation & SAD's or Supplementary Access Devices, Venue Security Oversight, Security Audits/Surveys, Risk Assessments and Secure Logistics). The latter may not be an option, see above, so will you be relying on in-country support?
Both two areas operate as two separate operations, within one dedicated business unit, and requires seamless and streamlined communications, noting that time zones will be a factor, when relaying information to relevant tour security personnel, and in-country support, this will need to be considered.
Tour Security, upon being split into two operations (Tour Security & Venue Security Coordination) should include personal protection for members of the band or artist, conducting threat assessments and mitigation of determined risks based on priority, see above. Procurement and management of secure transportation, hotel, and other venue advances will determine if a venue is appropriate for the artist(s), crew and tour personnel to stay in, perform at, or visit.
Not having both provisions can cause issues and significant additional unnecessary work, for example, if a tour only has a Personal Protective Detail, maybe because it is only a small team, who is carrying out the Venue Security Coordination? Will you procure in-country support? and as mentioned above, how will you ensure they are competent at providing the service you are seeking? after-all, you are trusting them to carry out perhaps advanced route planning, venue reconnaissance, stakeholder collaboration, procuring secure logistics, the list goes on.
Sometimes the entire crew may land in-country the day of a show, or hours before a show, or closely together, utilising your time, and ensuring you have competent and capable support in place will determine how seamless the operation runs.
Does the in-country person or company you are engaging ''factually'' offer what they are ''telling you'' they offer? Are you being led by in-country promoters and event organisers as they have their own company preference, which is often driven by budget, reward, friendships, and habit. What due diligence have you carried out? Ask yourself this;
If you are a single operator, and with the artist, you are relying on an in-country solution to support you in advance, and have the relevant information ready to present to you upon country arrival, and relay information back to you ahead of your arrival. How would you feel getting off a 13-hour flight, only to find out the in-country support mechanism has nothing prepared for you, with only what might be a few hours ahead of a show? As the single responsible person for the artist(s) safety and security, are you content with knowing your in-country support is merely a body, with no capability, competence, or experience?
Remember, in-country support is just that, you may, or may not (likely not) know the country, venue, you are going to, you may not be familiar with the current and relevant geographical threats, the same venue you visited two years ago may have changed it’s layout, the road infrastructure may have changed, the management at the venues may have changed, the hotel you are staying at might have changed security companies, or cut back, or the rooms which were selected are inadequate because they are not on the appropriate floor, or not aligned to the preferred ingress and egress routes, all just a few factors to consider.
Staying in 5* hotels is not always the case, if you are, you will unlikely have the time to enjoy any of the facilities, so do not expect to be laying on a beach. Dining in fancy restaurants is also likely off the agenda, even when invited, as you will likely be posted to a location within, or outside of the venue, or sent, or partaking in another important task.
Flying 1st class, or on a private jet is also not as common as people proclaim or perceive (often depicted on social media by people), if flying commercial you will likely be in economy with one of several of the tours parties, and if you are lucky enough to fly in a client’s private jet, you are one of the very rare exceptions, as only the very elite of the industry have the capability to fly private for an entire tour.
Often the only person flying with the artist(s) on a private jet is the person responsible for the artist(s) immediate security and safety (inner cordon), for the purpose of this article the artist(s) Head of Security and perhaps another member of the Personal Security Detail depending on the operation, whilst the Advanced Venue Security Coordination team is likely travelling ahead.
Any downtime will likely be spent talking to any family overseas, focusing on health and wellbeing, or trying to rest, but again, depending on the length of time in-country, and how big the team is, you may not get the chance to have much downtime, and you should be ready at all times to move when summoned to do so.
What you see in the movies, or what you might be told in courses is not always factual or practical, the hours are long, the reward is minimal, the demands and expectations are high.
Close collaboration with the Tour Management, by way of face-to-face meetings (quick, concise and results driven), remember people are tired and any down-time will be spent wisely. Note, depending on the length of tour, crew will eat, sleep and breath together, not literally, people will want space, people will be tired, stressed and under pressure.
All persons within the security function must be computer literate to a high standard, advances in technology, especially since the CV-19 pandemic has meant companies have now integrated these into their standard operations, this includes video calling, real-time reporting via shared folders and much more. Daily written reporting, business unit expense documentation, and auditing is vital, as is an open-door policy for all security personal, security must be approachable, professional and discreet when discussing any tour related matters.
Respectful, non-intimidating Venue Security collaboration is paramount, all too often I have witnessed attempts at bullying, by way of opening communications with ''we are in-charge'', Venue Security Coordination must respectively scrutinize Venue Security Strategy, Emergency Response Procedures (notably a Show Stop), Security Briefing content, Standard Operating Procedures etc.
Feedback on what needs to be changed, or enhanced, needs to be done promptly via face-to-face meetings in a professional setting, inclusive of all decision-making venue management, security contracted guard force management, and any emergency services heads. Meetings must include decision makers only, not filled with bodies who only ‘’think’’ they need to be present, you do not want to hold a meeting twice, because the people in the first meeting were not the decision makers, remember, time is critical, as are results.
If you adopt the ''intimidation'' approach, this will not happen, if you do not identify the ‘’competent decision makers’’ ahead of a meeting, this will not happen.
Often the forgotten or least scrutinized vital necessity.
How rigorous are the transportation providers vetted? too often companies, individuals, are prepared to spend vast amounts on protective security, but when it comes to secure transportation, I do not mean armoured cars, I mean competent drivers, with luxury and reliable vehicles, clean and well stocked, with water and emergency equipment, have you carried out any checks on emergency kit bags? And service history?
A limo/Uber service is not the same as secure transportation, neither is a local hotel car service, no matter the quality or name of the hotel, a luxury vehicle does not mean the person operating it is competent.
If any of you reading this are responsible for a company’s corporate security strategy, managing Executive Protection, Journey Management and Technical Surveillance Countermeasure (TSCM) awareness for overseas travel, appropriate transport for employees during overseas travel is often at the top of the agenda, after appropriately secured and vetted accommodation.
In this part of the world, (GCC) Road Traffic Accidents (RTA’s) are one of the most common causes of fatalities, with increases depending on the time of the year (Ramadan) or in times of adverse weather conditions (sudden sandstorms, which can occur without any prior warning, or rain).
Most limo drivers are former Uber drivers, which means they may have knowledge of roads, but only when using an application on a phone, if they are looking at a phone, who is watching the road? They also lack capability, the training, professionalism, or the demeanour required.
In this region, and in many others, many drivers need to be reminded they are not security, and are not to partake in the opening of doors for an artist unless instructed to do so, drivers are drivers, they are employed to operate a vehicle, which is a very important task.
Knowledge of the roads is key, but so are advanced driving techniques, an understanding of how the locals drive, accompanied with the utmost professionalism, with clear command of English.
The artist(s), crew, and you, need to be where you need to be, safely, without complications and added stress, when I say added stress, this can pile up when perhaps on a multi-leg world tour, as mentioned above, the last thing you need is to be involved in an unavoidable collision, a driver taking the wrong route, or arriving late for a pick-up as he was sleeping in the back of the vehicle with his feet on the back seats, having just eaten his lunch inside the vehicle.
Secure logistics is about making sure time and money is not wasted between locations, therefore security work closely with the tour management, personal assistants, marketing teams and transport coordinators, to prepare, organize and facilitate each day’s schedule ahead of time, you must focus on proactive planning, not reactive, undoubtedly, a scenario may arise that requires a reactive action, such as a change in venue, a deviation in the artists plans, illness, or an issue with a flight or other form of transport, regardless, these are all considerations you will need to take into account to facilitate a proactive response.
Advances conducted by the Venue Security Coordination Team, will ensure security and drivers are familiar with any environment the artist(s) attend, to ensure safe and timely movement of persons, this includes the briefing of drivers, and dry runs, for seamless ingress and egress to and from a venue, when do they lock and unlock the doors? Where do they park? Do they have appropriate passes? Will the driver be moved on by hotel concierge because their boss was not aware you were coming due to poor relationship building? Etc.
The Coronavirus has had, and in some cases continues to have, a significant impact on the live music industry, touring came to a halt, as did live concerts in many countries, and in some cases that is still the case.
Many tours now require a dedicated CV-19 auditor, to manage the compliance of measures that a tour must have in place, prior to commencing, and whilst ongoing, not only for peace of mind, but for insurance and compliance purposes.
This person must enforce CV-19 safety protocols, training, and awareness must be given to all persons on tour, liaising with any CV-19 Venue POC, monitoring compliance in all backstage areas, disinfection, social distancing, liaising with the emergency services, and abiding by local and national guidelines, and other information related to preventing the spread of any virus, and in turn apply risk mitigation measures.
Many of these roles have been scooped up by people who have no prior touring, or event experience, meaning that they are ill-equipped to understand the huge number of moving parts within a tour, rendering the position meaningless.
This highlights the importance, that you must not only carry out due-diligence on the persons and company you entrust to secure your tour, but also other touring staff such as this new role who has a critical place in mitigating the risk of a CV-19 outbreak, and exposing you to reputational damage, liability cases and impacting your business (tour) continuity.
Remember if a band member, or the artist falls sick, and in forced to quarantine, or hospitalised, that is likely money and time lost, flying a replacement security operative into country might be manageable, but how reasonable is it to replace the main artist or band member due to this?
Ultimately, we all have a responsibility and apart to play in risk mitigation, from the top down.
Please do reach out if you require any support, or would like to have a discreet conversation.
If you are visiting the region, and require resources whom are specialists in providing this level of service above, please get in touch with me, and I shall introduce you.