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What is Tour Security?

January 1, 2024

Touring brings immense risks. As artists globetrot to perform for hordes of frenzied fans, extensive security is paramount. This guide covers the multifaceted world of concert security, unpacking its objectives, evolution, threat management, access controls, travel logistics, crowd strategies and VIP protections. Gain invaluable insights into the tireless efforts shielding stars on the road from harm.

Quick Answer: Tour security is the professional protection of touring musicians, crews, and fans from threats like violence, theft, stalking, and disasters through venue perimeter control, crowd monitoring, restricted access, and emergency planning.

Defining Tour Security and its Objectives

Core Purpose and Goals

Tour security plays a vital role in protecting a touring band, its crew members, equipment and the attending audience. The core goals revolve around safeguarding everyone involved from potential harm and dodgy or illegal activities.

At its essence, tour security aims to maintain safety by controlling access to restricted areas, quickly responding to any incidents, and proactively taking steps to prevent injuries, violence, stalking, thieving or other threats from arising. They help ensure that a gig or event goes smoothly without disruption.

The priorities of a tour security team are manifold. They must secure the perimeter of venues, monitor entrances and exits, check credentials, confiscate prohibited items, eject unruly punters if needed, and coordinate with local security and coppers. Tour security also safeguards the band and crew members at hotels, during transit between cities, and at off-venue events.

In short, tour security personnel take on significant responsibilities for keeping things orderly and minimising risks, so performers and fans alike can enjoy the shows safely. Their presence establishes a sense of protection that allows everyone to have peace of mind.

Maintaining Safety and Order

A key aspect of tour security involves maintaining safety and order at venues and events. This entails taking proactive and preventive measures to avoid injuries, violence, thieving and other concerning incidents.

Crowd control is a major responsibility, as security must manage punter entry, movement and behaviour within a venue. This includes monitoring for alcohol/drug intoxication, ejecting problematic persons, setting punter limits in certain areas and intervening to de-escalate any rows before they turn violent. Maintaining order among large, energetic crowds in GA floors and mosh pits is especially crucial.

Security personnel also enforce rules regarding prohibited items, such as weapons, fireworks, bottles, recording devices and laser pointers. They may utilise searches and screenings to confiscate these objects upon entry. This prevents dangerous situations from arising within the crowds.

Additionally, security teams monitor for stalkers, trespassers, or anyone else deemed a potential threat to the band and crew. They ensure these individuals cannot gain access to backstage or other restricted VIP zones. Such protective measures are essential for some high-profile touring acts.

Overall, tour security oversees and secures the premises so fans can safely enjoy the show without worrying about thieving, assaults, harassment and other unpleasantries. Their oversight maintains order and minimises risks.


Securing the Venue and Event

Delivering comprehensive security for a touring gig or event requires securing the full venue and closely coordinating with the on-site security team.

Security directors develop extensive plans for securing venues and establishing access control protocols. This includes placing security personnel at parking areas, box office ticket lines, lobby entrances, GA floor access points, VIP/backstage areas, and the outside perimeter. Staff check credentials and implement screening procedures at key ingress spots.

Once inside, security teams monitor crowds and high-traffic zones like merchandise stands, loos and concession areas. Roaming personnel address problems as needed while ongoing communication keeps all staff updated. Additional venue security may also be hired to reinforce the premises.

Close collaboration with the venue’s existing security and operations team is vital for an integrated approach. Touring security and local staff coordinate duties, communications, emergency plans and other protocols. Shared oversight enhances protection across the facility’s public and back-of-house areas.

Securing a venue/event entails fortifying all boundaries to create protective perimeters around attendees and the touring personnel. This requires extensive planning and liaising to make the event as safe as possible. Comprehensive security measures both deter issues and allow rapid response if any arise. Ultimately, vigilant venue security is key for smooth and protected gig productions.

History and Evolution of Tour Security

Early Rock Concerts and Festivals

In the early days of rock music, informal security arrangements arose organically at gigs and festivals in the 1960s/1970s. As massive crowds gathered for Woodstock, Isle of Wight and other landmark events, basic security was needed but remained loose and unregulated.

Some venues employed their own bouncers or staff as ad-hoc security, with mixed results. Confrontational tactics and excessive force sometimes created additional bother within the freewheeling audiences. Without formal training or oversight, security personnel did what they deemed necessary to control events, often quite aggressively.

As rock gigs grew in scale and popularity, venues recognised the need to handle security more intentionally. Local coppers or private security firms were brought in to supplement a venue's internal staff. However, lacking experience with huge rock audiences, they struggled to identify effective approaches. It remained experimental and reactive from event to event.

Assence, gig security originated as an informal function without defined practices. Efforts focused on basic crowd control without much strategy or forward planning around broader safety. Excessive responses also soured relations between security personnel and gig-goers during this embryonic period.

Historical Evolution of Tour Security:

EraFeaturesTypical Security MeasuresNotable Incidents
1960s/70s - Early Rock FestivalsInformal, unregulatedAd-hoc venue staff, minimal checksOvercrowding at Woodstock, violent incidents at Altamont
1980s - The Professionalisation EraIntroduction of formal training and oversightPrivate security firms, risk assessments, coordination with local policeCrowd disasters in European football stadiums highlight the need for controlled crowd management
1990s/2000s - Increased RegulationStandardisation of practices, certifications requiredBackground checks, emergency protocols, integration of security plansThe stabbing at a Monica Seles tennis match in 1993 prompts higher security awareness for individuals
2010s - Modern Sophisticated SecurityAdvanced technology, specialised teamsCCTV, K9 units, crisis response units, comprehensive risk assessmentsTerrorist threats at large events, like the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, revolutionize security strategies

Professionalisation of Security

Over subsequent decades, gig security rapidly matured into a professionalised specialty field with proper standards, training and education. The overall approach grew more strategic as well.

Specialist security companies emerged to serve the live music industry. They developed best practices for venue security, access control, crowd management, emergency protocols and other functions essential for safe gigs. Formal training programmes also arose for security personnel.

Mandatory certifications, licenses and background checks created higher barriers to entry. Security teams were increasingly staffed by skilled professionals versus random hiring of bouncers or coppers. Clear oversight procedures were established both internally and via event contracts.

The introduction of risk assessments, security plans and coordination with venues further enabled proactive planning versus reactive crisis response. Security directors conducting advance site visits became commonplace as well.

Increased regulation, litigation concerns and PR sensitivities also necessitated more judicious use of force by security personnel within crowds. Excessive aggression declined as restraint and de-escalation techniques were prioritised.

The maturation of gig security into an organised profession brought vast improvements in public safety and effective crowd management. It remains an evolving field but now has robust infrastructure for training, standards and oversight.

Modern Sophisticated Security

Today's massive arena gigs and festivals require incredibly sophisticated security operations to address intense logistical complexities and potential risks. As events scaled dramatically in size, scope and profile, security capabilities had to keep pace.

Modern tour security leverages expansive teams with specialised skills and roles. Key support infrastructure includes police liaisons, emergency medical services, crisis response units, K9 teams, CCTV monitoring and advanced communication networks. Cutting-edge screening technologies help identify threats while strict access control prevents unauthorized entry.

Rigorous protocols now safeguard against terrorism, stalkers, riots, pandemics, natural disasters and other emergencies. Customized security plans are developed for each venue and city, accounting for local regulations, building layouts and sight lines. Redundancies and contingency plans enable rapid adaptation as needed.

Delivering security at a high-profile mega tour is an enormous undertaking mirroring a small military operation. The logistics, personnel, communications and risk management applied demonstrate how far tour security has advanced beyond its informal origins. State-of-the-art capabilities provide robust protection for massive audiences.

Risk Assessment and Threat Analysis

Identifying Potential Threats

Performing robust risk assessments and threat analysis is crucial for planning effective tour security. The process involves methodically identifying potential perils that could jeopardise safety.

Security professionals evaluate venues and local conditions to detect possible threats like crazed or abusive fans, thieves, violent criminals, terrorists, protestors, and more. Unique risks at each tour stop are considered relative to the event profile, audience demographics, and recent incidents in the area.

Comprehensive threat identification examines risks within the venue such as aggressive moshing, equipment sabotage, fires, power outages or structural collapses. External perils like bomb threats, armed assaults, traffic issues and severe weather are assessed as well.

Historical data on past incidents, recent intelligence and the band's risk profile guides threat evaluation. Input from local coppers and seasoned security experts helps spot less obvious risks too. The goal is generating a detailed threat matrix encompassing all plausible scenarios that could endanger the tour.

Prioritising and Classifying Risks

With extensive risks identified, security professionals undertake analytical processes to prioritise the most dangerous and likely threats. This focuses resources on hazards requiring the greatest attention and mitigation.

Each identified threat is scored based on its probability of occurring and the estimated impact severity if it did occur. These factors allow risks to be ranked objectively from highest to lowest priority.

For instance, a crazed fan disrupting a show may be likely but the impact is lower. Meanwhile, a terror attack is less probable but the consequences would be catastrophic. This insight informs how security resources are allocated.

Risk analysis also classifies threats by the core underlying peril, such as human/intentional dangers, natural disasters, operational risks, health hazards, and so on. This enables tailored mitigation strategies that address the root issue.

Developing Mitigation Strategies

After thoroughly analysing probable threats and priority risks, tour security professionals develop comprehensive mitigation strategies to minimise dangers. This is the culmination of the risk assessment process.

Mitigation tactics will be customised to the unique risk profile of each tour leg and venue. For example, stalker risks may require monitored restraining orders, venue lockdowns, and concealed travel routes for the band.

Emergency response protocols are crafted to address medical emergencies, fires, accidents and other scenarios. Proactive coordination with hospitals, coppers and firefighters helps here. Evacuation plans and contingency venues enable continued operations if issues occur.

Screening, searches and weapons detection helps counter armed threats. Surveillance systems provide monitoring across high-risk zones. Additional personnel can also be deployed to reinforce vulnerable areas as warranted.

Mitigation planning aims to implement reasonable security measures that reduce the odds or impact of threats actually materialising during the tour. Well-developed strategies try to neutralise dangers proactively rather than just reactively responding after the fact. This allows tours to proceed smoothly despite inevitable risks.

Major Threats Faced by Tours

Crowd-Related Dangers

Managing crowds poses significant risks that tour security must address. Thousands of excited fans packed into venues can generate hazards like mobbing the stage, fights, injuries and trampling if control is lost.

Dense General Admission crowds with nowhere to disperse their energy and excitement readily devolve into chaos. Fans may surge towards the stage despite barricades, especially for major acts. Stage diving, slam dancing and aggressive moshing also cause injuries in packed crowds.

Panic triggers like fires, power outages or perceived threats can also spark crushes as people flee in fear. Limited venue exits may lead to dangerous bottlenecks without crowd control.

Security minimises risks through barricade enforcement, crowd density limits, and extensive training for inflexible stage line protocols. Overflow zones give crowds room to disperse energy without mobbing the stage. Punters are also monitored for problematic behaviour that may spark incidents.

Theft and Property Damage

Theft of valuables and instruments is a key risk at events drawing thousands of people. Light fingered punters may spot opportunities to swipe unattended items backstage, on stage or even directly off performers.

Locker room and green room thefts are unfortunately common given the quantity of belongings left there. Special Tour Asset Protection teams are sometimes deployed to monitor and secure valuables in high-risk areas. Instruments and other critical gear may be RFID-tagged as well to help recovery if nicked.

General vandalism and property damage also poses concerns. Rowdy fans may intentionally damage venue property, destroy loos, graffiti the walls or tear up landscaping and fencing. Post-event cleanup can be extensive if punters run amok.

Stalkers, Criminals and Disruptors

Tour security also contends with risks presented by specific malicious individuals like stalkers, known criminals in the crowd, and other potential show disruptors.

Anti-stalking protections like restraining orders, travel secrecy, and sequestering the artist limit risks here. Detailed background checks help identify known troublemakers seeking event access as well. Plainclothes personnel can shadow potential issues closely once inside.

Crazed fans may also attempt to rush the stage or accost performers with deluded affection or gifting. Similarly, intoxicated or defiant punters may pick fights with those around them. Quick identification and ejection of such persons is key. Vigilance for agitators inside the crowds is important, as is responding swiftly to warning signs before trouble escalates.

Major Threats to Tours and Mitigation Strategies:

Threat CategorySpecific ThreatsMitigation Strategies
Crowd-Related DangersMosh pits, crowd surgesBarricades, crowd density limits, trained staff for emergency protocols
Theft and Property DamageEquipment theft, backstage robberiesRFID tagging of equipment, Tour Asset Protection teams, surveillance systems
Personal ThreatsStalkers, violent fansRestraining orders, travel secrecy, covert operations, background checks
Transportation RisksVehicle sabotage, travel route ambushesVetted transport services, secure transit staging areas, convoy travel
Accommodation RisksHotel security breaches, room invasionsExclusive floor reservations, coordination with hotel security, pre-sweep checks
Air Travel VulnerabilitiesAircraft security, in-flight emergenciesConfidential flight plans, vetted airlines, on-board security personnel
Venue Specific RisksAccess control breaches, backstage intrusionsHard barricades, CCTV, credential verification, security patrols

Securing the Perimeter and Venue

Access Control and Entry Points

Rigorous access control at all venue entry points is crucial for securing events. Tour security oversees ticket checkpoints, parking gates, VIP ingress and venue lobby entry to restrict access.

Thorough screening and verification of credentials occurs at perimeter gates to identify potential threats. Ticket holders may undergo searches and ID checks before entering secured zones.

Security teams also enforce prohibited item policies, confiscating anything deemed dangerous. Limiting what can be brought inside enhances safety for all. Punters may be tagged, wristbanded or otherwise marked after clearing security as well.

Ongoing perimeter patrols deter fence jumpers, trespassers and queues overflowing beyond designated areas. Numerous security layers ensure only authorized, low-risk persons can access the venue.

Perimeter Security and Partitioning

Physical security measures like fencing, barricades and partitioning provide another key safeguard for venues. This establishes highly controlled zones with limited access between each.

Outermost perimeter fencing encircles the full grounds, creating a hardened boundary against intruders. Interior barricades further divide the venue into progressively more secure areas with increasing restrictions towards the stage.

General admission zones are safely separated from more exclusive VIP, backstage and technical zones. Partitioned corridors with credential checks govern backstage access as well. This compartmentalization contains problems and disorders within specific areas.

Partitioned secure zones also facilitate crowd flow management and emergency response. Walled entry points enable controlled inflows while barricaded walkways channel punters during ingress/egress.

Coordinating With Venue Staff

Delivering comprehensive venue security requires close coordination between touring security teams and existing on-site staff. Unified operations leverage insights from both parties.

Collaborative planning optimises security plans for a venue's unique layout, existing infrastructure and personnel. Joint patrols also multiply visibility coverage across the premises.

Venue staff possess specialised knowledge critical for adapting access protocols, crowd management and emergency responses to the specific site. Their insights integrate touring security with the distinctive venue environment.

Ongoing communication links touring security with control rooms, camera surveillance teams, first responders and other venue support staff. Integrating specialty skills and resources creates a cohesive security umbrella customised to the building and event.

Ultimately effective venue security requires symbiotic teamwork between visitors and residents. Leveraging local knowledge while deploying tour-specific systems enables maximally secure and well-run events.

Securing Travel, Lodging and Transit

Protecting Ground Transportation

Ground transportation poses significant security risks for touring personnel and equipment. Robust measures are vital for securing road transit between venues.

All hired coach and minibus companies undergo thorough vetting, with drivers subject to background checks. Experienced drivers trained in defensive and evasive techniques may be mandated for some tours. Vehicles are also inspected for tracking devices or sabotage. Secure boarding areas are established at venue loading docks to prevent public access near vehicles. Departures and routes are kept confidential as well to deter potential ambushes en route. Travelling in protective convoys further minimises risks.

Parking areas at hotels and venues require 24/7 monitoring, with passes required for entry. Perimeter fencing and CCTV surveillance provide additional oversight on parked vehicles to prevent thefts, tampering or other issues.

Hotel and Accommodations Safety

Safeguarding hotel accommodations is equally important on tour. Key strategies involve seamless coordination with hotel security staff augmented by additional tour protections.

Entire hotel floors or wings may be reserved solely for the touring party, with lift access strictly controlled. Security personnel guard accommodations hallways as well. Restricted access limits potential incursions by stalkers, criminals or overzealous fans.

Sweeps using bomb-sniffing dogs and technical surveillance discovery help secure lodging areas and meeting rooms before the touring party’s arrival and during their stay. This provides ongoing vigilance against risks.

Hotels unfamiliar with music tours may require education on critical protocols like barring unauthorized deliveries, maintaining discreet booking records and preventing staff leakages about the band’s presence. This minimises PR troubles or security issues.

Securing Air Travel

Air travel introduces multiple vulnerabilities which tour security must mitigate carefully. Meticulous planning and coordination with airports and airlines enables safe passenger and cargo transport.

All airlines and aircraft undergo vetting for quality, security provisions and crew experience. Flight plans often remain confidential with boarding passes provided last-minute. Secure VIP boarding procedures are coordinated with airports as well.

Off-site baggage screening prior to airport arrival limits public exposure. Checked equipment and luggage should be monitored at all times to prevent tampering. Carry-on baggage restrictions may be waived for essential items like instruments.

On-board personnel may include armed sky marshals, medics and specialised tour security to address incidents swiftly if they arise. Private chartered flights offer the highest level of air security for tours needing it. Maintaining control over all aspects of travel minimises diverse threats.

Crowd Management and Guest Security

Orderly Ingress and Egress

Ensuring smooth, orderly ingress/egress at venues is vital to prevent crowd crushes or injuries. Metered entry and exit pacing enables controlled flows into and out of events.

Ingress queues are segmented into multiple designated lanes with ample spacing to minimise crowding. Staff meter entry rates to maintain free-flowing movement. Separate faster queues may service prepaid attendees or VIPs.

Inside, channelized barricades direct punters to different areas, providing intuitive wayfinding. Overflow zones prevent lobby bottlenecks. Post-event egress is similarly directed via barricade chutes to specific exits, dispersing crowds safely.

Punters are discouraged from lingering near exits or against traffic flow. Messaging reinforces using specified lanes only. Ongoing perimeter monitoring ensures no fence hopping or unauthorized access points.

Controlling Occupancy and Density

Strict occupancy adherence is critical for safe crowd management. Capacity limits are based on floor space, venue infrastructure and egress provisions.

Staff diligently monitor all zones to prevent overcrowding. Overflow areas allow redirection from overdensity areas. Real-time crowd tracking data further informs targeted density reductions.

Sudden densities like mosh pits or stage rushes may require quickly funneling punters out. Temporary barricading can relieve pressure points. Stopping shows is a last resort if unsafe conditions arise.

Density limits empower safe enjoyment rather than risky overcrowding. Minor short-term inconveniences maintain secure crowd dynamics. Ongoing vigilance provides data to refine future capacity plans as well.

Patron Screening and Ejected Guests

Screening punters upon entry helps intercept prohibited items before they enter crowded environments. Searches act both as real deterrents and confiscation opportunities. Venues may utilize walkthrough magnetometers, hand wanding, pat downs, bag inspections or technological scanners for concealed items. Professionalism and courtesy is maintained during all searches.

Contraband seizure provides tangible proof to punters that security measures exist for their safety. Illegal and dangerous items can be intercepted before causing harm.

Punters ejected for violations are monitored in case of re-entry attempts or loitering to harass others. Their ticket privileges are revoked while coppers coordinate any further response. Hotlines allow anonymous reporting of concerns as well. Removing problematic individuals promotes safe venues. However, enforcement policies still acknowledge the PR optics of overly aggressive screening or swift ejections. Measured security balances logistics, tone and idealism delicately.

VIP and Artist Security

Secured Zones and Access

Creating highly secured zones around VIPs, artists and backstage areas is paramount for tour security. This establishes protective perimeters and controls access to sensitive locations.

Hard barricades and checkpoints strictly limit access to backstage and technical zones. Credentials are required for entry and personnel must display IDs at all times. Security patrols monitor zones diligently.

Artists may have dedicated accommodations and transit systems fully separated from even show staff. For example, private entrances, lifts and backstage hallways may be designated solely for a performer's exclusive usage.

Restricted access protocols extend to tour vehicles as well. Secure transit staging areas and airport tarmacs enable shielded movements. Only essential staff have access privileges in order to maintain confidentiality.

Personal Protection and Close Security

VIPs and headlining artists may receive personal security details for close protection during events and travel. Plainclothes bodyguards provide immediate physical security.

Close protection agents remain within arm's reach when outside secured zones. They surveil surroundings for threats while shielding their principal. Security drivers in armoured vehicles may also be employed.

Discreet radio communications enable real-time coordination between protection agents. Routes are randomised and secret to prevent ambushes or stalking. Isolation from crowds and onlookers is a key goal.

Bodyguards assigned to the artist full-time intimately understand their habits, needs and temperament. Their unobtrusive presence fosters safety without impacting operations. Extensive training prepares them for any scenario.

Securing Green Rooms and Dressing Areas

Green rooms and dressing rooms pose unique security challenges given the unpredictable visitor access. Stricter protocols help protect and isolate artists pre-show.

Posted guards restrict entry to only authorised staff with credentials. CCTV systems provide monitoring as well of all access points. Random sweeps check for planted devices or gifts.

All gifts, packages and deliveries must be strictly screened before entering dressing areas. This interdicts contraband, dangerous or objectionable items. Rubbish is removed securely after shows to deter bin diving.

Use of phone signal-blocking technologies prevents illicit transmissions or recordings from backstage areas. Windows may be blacked out as well for added privacy. Restricting access and monitoring helps secure vulnerable performers.

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