What do Beyonce, the Rolling Stones, U2, AC/DC and Woman Gaga have in widespread? All of them use one London-based specialist logistics agency to maneuver their tools around the globe.
Final yr, when Beyonce got here to the UK along with her Formation world tour it took seven Boeing 747 air freighters and a fleet of greater than 70 vehicles to get her stage set and different gear to the venues.
And that did not embody the backstage workers, musicians, performers – or Beyonce herself.
“It was the largest transfer we have ever performed,” says Martin Corr, the managing director of rock and roll transport agency Sound Strikes.
Extra companies are selecting to make use of air freight to get their items to market, from diamonds to automotive elements, despite the fact that it’s six occasions dearer than sending them by sea – and rock superstars rely on it too.
Whereas air freight makes up simply 1% of UK imports and exports when it comes to tonnage shipped, it accounts for 40% of imports and exports when it comes to their worth.
Within the UK, Heathrow Airport is the dominant participant on this commerce with £101bn price of products passing by in a yr. That is greater than the worth of products passing by the nation’s largest container ports, Felixstowe and Southampton, mixed.
Regardless of air cargo’s expense, utilizing planes as an alternative of ships cuts down dramatically on the time it takes to get items to market.
“We use Heathrow for many of our air freight. It’s near London, has nice street connections, frequent flights and capability,” says Martin Corr.
Sound Strikes – primarily based in west London near Heathrow’s cargo terminal – is without doubt one of the largest logistics companies within the music business with an annual turnover of £17m.
Over the previous 20 years they’ve labored with everybody from David Bowie and the Rolling Stones to Woman Gaga and now Beyonce.
“I left faculty with little or no , and was dwelling with my mother and father mendacity on the couch when my mum informed me to exit and get a job,” says Martin.
“Dwelling in west London, Heathrow airport was the apparent place.”
After working with a normal freight firm studying his commerce, he then moved into the specialised enterprise of shifting rock teams and their tools. In 1996 he began Sound Strikes with two colleagues.
Martin himself is an AC/DC fan, and an Angus Younger Gibson guitar signed by all of the members of the band takes satisfaction of place in his workplace.
“However no I do not play it, I by no means wished to be a musician,” he says. “I’m a freight-forwarder by and thru – it is what I do.”
Inside his warehouse, he factors out the pallets of sound tools and music merchandise able to be shipped anyplace on the earth.
“You will be in London on a Monday and doing a present in Los Angeles on a Wednesday or Thursday.
“We used to have a really seasonal enterprise that was busy as much as Christmas, after which from Easter to September with the summer time festivals, however now artists tour 12 months a yr.”
Touring is what brings within the merchandise and ticket gross sales, he says, “and that will get the blokes on the street and that is the place we are available in, we help them on the street”.
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When Beyonce arrived final yr, Sound Strikes had to make use of Doncaster and Prestwick airports slightly than Heathrow because of the London airport’s lack of flexibility.
“It was a rush to get the plane unloaded. There’s a number of attracts on an artist’s time. They nonetheless need to be seen by the general public however within the shortest potential time,” he says.
The truth that Sound Strikes could not use Heathrow for Beyonce’s tour is critical, says Nick Platts, head of cargo at Heathrow Airport.
“I keep in mind having chats with Martin over a number of days understanding how we might assist him, however we could not supply him the pliability he wanted.”
The airport is working at nearly most capability and he says there may be little room for additional development in cargo visitors.
“We’re pushing visitors away from us.
“We have to broaden and construct a 3rd runway simply to fulfill the pent-up demand that’s on the market, not to mention address future development,” he says.
Each Heathrow and Gatwick are seeing a rise within the quantity of air freight they deal with – however Gatwick’s development fee is considerably larger.
“Our booming long-haul routes have pushed an enormous cargo improve,” says Gatwick Airport’s chief government officer, Stewart Wingate.
Maybe surprisingly solely a fraction of air cargo is definitely carried in specialised air freighters. Most of it – 95% at Heathrow – is carried within the bellies of passenger plane and that may increase an airline’s revenues between 5-20%.
“Take that away and the route might not be viable,” says Heathrow’s Nick Platts.
“The rationale Heathrow is profitable shouldn’t be as a result of we’re shifting individuals – it’s as a result of we’re shifting automotive elements, Scottish salmon, blood plasma merchandise and different medicines, jewelry and treasured stones. That’s what air freight is nice for,” he says.
Again at Sound Strikes, Martin Corr is preparing for U2’s Joshua Tree tour.
“It is all deliberate and organised, they’re going to be coming into the UK by air over one weekend in July – it is a very tight schedule.”
He is eager to dispel any concept that his business is glamorous. “We do not get to hang around at backstage events or fly on non-public jets, that is not what we do.
“For us there is no such thing as a break day till the tour is over.”
Thoughts you, he does preserve one bottle of champagne in his workplace fridge.
“Effectively it would not be rock and roll with out champagne, would it not?” he laughs.
Observe Tim Bowler on Twitter @timbowlerbbc