The needy artist: Equipment and wares

gig equipment
Photo of gig equipment/Indie Art South

I have memories of doing book tours, and some of those memories aren’t the stuff sweet dreams are made of.  Even though I had a traditional publisher, if I was speaking at a small event, it was up to me to transport books, bio materials, and any other handouts related to my work.

I quickly learned the importance of transport, a matter I’d never thought about as a budding writer.

I remember doing an event in my home city where finding downtown parking is like trying to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It was drizzling rain, and I had about four blocks to walk. Carrying those books was no easy feat, and worse, I had to make sure they didn’t get wet. Fortunately, I had taken a large plastic garbage bag along for the ride, and it at least kept my wares dry. I remember thinking how crazy I must have looked as I tried to hang onto my umbrella as coastal breeze attacked my umbrella and those books in a box enclosed in a big green trash bag. I had my large purse slung over my shoulder on top of all that.

You learn pretty quickly you need equipment for your equipment. There are many packaging suppliers who offer carts and such, but I usually find the most useful items from music supply companies.

My musician daughter purchased a roll cart that’s more than earned its keep. I urged her to do it because in the early days of her music business, I was one of her roadies. I got tired of helping carry those big speakers up ramps and on occasion, stairs.

Tote bags—big tote bags—are also handy for carrying brochures, giveaway items like download cards or pens and such, and bottles of water. In Florida, you always need multiple bottles of water when you are doing an event.

If you’re transporting crafts, don’t overlook home supply stores. Tools and carts you’d normally find in a handyman workshop can sometimes solve the problem of moving your wares from car to event.

Some of our favorite places to purchase accessories are Home Depot, George’s Music, and Musician’s Friend. When I need something, I always check websites to see if something will be on sale or if there’s a coupon. Even if you’re not a musician, music supply companies may have accessories you can use.

There’s also sometimes a need for food. That led us to pick up a small insulated bag about the size of a six-pack tote. I can’t tell you how many times my daughters have packed food in that bag when they had a late gig out of town but wanted to drive home afterwards instead of staying in a hotel. Taking food also keeps them from having to hit up a fast food place late at night and obviously it saves money too.

Clear plastic containers that will load onto the roll cart, or a hand truck, are also handy for carrying cords, cables, batteries, hand tools—all the things needed for a gig or display.

If you’re struggling with transport, consider your options and go shopping. One good thing about music supply companies is that once you buy something, they’ll send you a catalog. Thumbing through that catalog can save you time and aggravation.

Be sure to save receipts for tax time. If you use something for producing revenue, you can usually deduct it.

Long ago when I was young and aimed at becoming a writer, I envisioned sitting in an ivory tower while writing amazing literature. I didn’t envision fighting an umbrella, an oversized purse, and two dozen books in a box in a trash bag. The good thing is I ended up doing what I love and finally I realized you only learn the nuts and bolts of a profession once you’ve actually done it.

(KBD/April 19, 2017)

*No rewards, benefits, or perks of any kind are derived from my mention of the suppliers in the article or from the website links.

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