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The Business of Backline Rental for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Every music festival relies heavily on the army of companies that provide rental of backline equipment to them every year. What can festival organisers expect when dealing with a a backline rental company and how have they fared during the coronavirus pandemic to be ready for what looks like being a busy festival season in 2022.


Music festival organisers never buy or own backline equipment because of numerous reasons. The equipment is expensive to buy and is deemed an unnecessary investment when it is only used for 3 or 4 days each year. The equipment also needs to be replaced and updated on a regular basis and this is where the backline rental supplier industry comes into play. 

The Backline. 
Depending on who you ask the backline can mean many different things but for music festivals it mostly refers to the amplification equipment and speaker enclosures used on their stages. In addition to this is the electronic equipment and technology required to install this which can include the cabling plus mixing and control decks. Backline supplier companies will often also supply a wide variety of instruments and DJ equipment too.

Backline Technicians. 
Whilst some artists and festival organisers have their own technicians and sound engineers most backline suppliers also provide suitably qualified technical support personnel for the installation and set-up of any equipment supplied. Using the supplier's technical staff can save time and money because their staff are knowledgeable about the equipment being used. In additional they are used to working directly with artists, musicians and the artist's own preferred sound engineers.

Current Market.  
With much of the backline rental market dormant since early 2020 it is important that any backline suppliers can give assurances about the maintenance and up keep of their equipment. How has it been stored and looked after for example. With little business many suppliers have not invested in new equipment so obtaining the latest technology may prove difficult. With some suppliers going out of business it would also be wise for festival organisers to book their backline equipment as early in the season as possible.

Music Festival Specifications. 
Every performance artist is asked for their technical specifications as part of their advance and these are compiled by organisers into a list of backline requirements with some artists requesting specific brand and models of backline equipment. Festival organisers prefer to rent form a reliable backline supplier who can provide the necessary equipment that satisfies the majority of artist’s requests. This ensures that the same or similar backline set up can be used for multiple artist's sets and makes the sound engineers job easier when doing sound checks for multiple artists.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics including comprehensive technical specification management. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Andre Moura from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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