With all the pitfalls that can affect your music career, keeping your gear safe should be high on your list of priorities. This goes for whether you’re a guitar-playing singer-songwriter, who hires session musicians online or part of a band that hits the road playing nightly gigs (or both).
The theft of musical gear is quite common and can set you back thousands of dollars. That was the case with Zolopht, a band which reportedly had over $24,000 worth of equipment stolen outside of a hotel in Houston, Texas, in July 2016. Just before their story broke, Los Igualados, a Regional Mexican band, reportedly lost over $50,000 worth of equipment and instruments, also in Houston.
Those are just a few of the known horror stories about musicians losing their actual livelihoods. With that said, here are seven tips on how to keep your gear safe while you’re ‘out there.’
Knowing what the venue will be like beforehand, as well as the security arrangements, and other logistic details can help you to plan a comfortable (and safe) entrance and exit ahead of time. In addition, you will also be able to sort out where you’re going to stay and good places to park if you have to leave your money makers in a van or trailer.
Lack of preparation is behind many incidents where music instruments, laptops, and band paraphernalia get stolen. For instance, booking a room at the last minute on the day of your show or worse, after it has ended, will leave you with little to no control over where you end up staying and if you will be able to properly secure your stuff there. Also, knowing very little about the venue could leave you vulnerable to possible blind spots that could be exploited by crooks, or increase the chances of you coming into contact with a drunken crowd.
Leaving your instruments locked up in a vehicle is not a good idea, but it is not always unavoidable. As such, you need to be strategic in how you park and where you park. For example, you could try parking in well-lit areas and close to security cameras, if you have to leave your car or trailer. Additionally, if your vehicle has a back door or window, back it up as close as possible to a wall or other fixed object that would make it difficult for someone to enter from the rear.
So you need to make a quick stop at the grocery store or drop off something at your friend’s house, and you feel you won’t be gone more than a few minutes. Well, a few minutes is all a thief needs to break into your car and remove anything of value that you might have left on the car seat in plain sight. There are many horror stories online from musicians who have been robbed of their equipment after leaving it unattended for ‘just a few minutes.’ Don’t do it.
Just as how you consider insuring your car if it gets stolen, you should also seriously contemplate insuring your instruments and equipment as well. Insurance can mean the difference between being out of work for a long time until it’s possible for you to replace your instruments and being able to get back on your feet in little to no time. In recent times, there have been a few companies that offer coverage for your instruments at reasonably competitive prices. Better to be safe than sorry.
If you have lots of musical gear, you will most likely need to make several trips or have a number of people load them into your vehicle when the show is over or when you arrive. To prevent someone slipping in and stealing something when your back is turned, have someone trustworthy do nothing but stand guard at the door until everything is put back in or taken out. It is a great idea to have a checklist, to make it easy for everything to be accounted for.
Being in familiar territory or around friends can cause you to have a false sense of security. The truth is, once you have anything of value, you could be watched by someone who’s waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Too often, people lose their valuables in surroundings where they thought they would have been safe. It is better to err on the side of suspicion and have your instruments intact than to let your guard down and be left without the ability to do what you love.
Musical instruments are not cheap. Neither is a laptop containing gigabytes or terabytes of music recordings or other important data. But protecting your gear is not limited to the threat of theft. Damage from accidents or storing your equipment in unideal environments can also set back your career. So, practice good maintenance techniques to preserve your instruments, maintain the integrity of sensitive computer components, and extend the life of high-end equipment.
It is important to follow the above tips and any other you might know of to ensure your music is never threatened. In other words, your music is your life, so protect it at all costs.