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 gear around the globe.
Final 12 months, when Beyonce got here to the UK together 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 employees, musicians, performers – or Beyonce herself.
“It was the largest transfer we have ever carried out,” says Martin Corr, the managing director of rock and roll transport agency Sound Strikes.
Extra corporations are selecting to make use of air freight to get their items to market, from diamonds to automobile components, despite the fact that it’s six occasions costlier 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 value of products passing by in a 12 months. 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 a substitute 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 highway connections, frequent flights and capability,” says Martin Corr.
Sound Strikes – primarily based in west London near Heathrow’s cargo terminal – is among the largest logistics corporations within the music trade 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 residing with my dad and mom mendacity on the couch when my mum instructed me to exit and get a job,” says Martin.
“Dwelling in west London, Heathrow airport was the apparent place.”
After working with a common freight firm studying his commerce, he then moved into the specialised enterprise of shifting rock teams and their gear. 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 needed 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 gear and music merchandise able to be shipped anyplace on the earth.
“You could 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 season festivals, however now artists tour 12 months a 12 months.”
Touring is what brings within the merchandise and ticket gross sales, he says, “and that will get the fellows on the highway and that is the place we are available in, we assist them on the highway”.
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When Beyonce arrived final 12 months, Sound Strikes had to make use of Doncaster and Prestwick airports moderately than Heathrow because of the London airport’s lack of flexibility.
“It was a rush to get the plane unloaded. There’s a lot 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 flexibleness he wanted.”
The airport is working at nearly most capability and he says there’s little room for additional development in cargo site visitors.
“We’re pushing site visitors away from us.
“We have to develop and construct a 3rd runway simply to fulfill the pent-up demand that’s on the market, not to mention deal with 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 charge is considerably increased.
“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 will not be viable,” says Heathrow’s Nick Platts.
“The explanation Heathrow is profitable isn’t as a result of we’re shifting individuals – it’s as a result of we’re shifting automobile components, 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 will 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 trade is glamorous. “We do not get to hang around at backstage events or fly on personal jets, that is not what we do.
“For us there is no such thing as a day without work 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, wouldn’t it?” he laughs.
Comply with Tim Bowler on Twitter @timbowlerbbc