People really suck sometimes. For all the beauty and awesomeness this world contains, there will always be individuals who are looking to profit at the expense of others.
While out on the road headlining his very own Time Bomb Tour, Minnesota-based emcee PROF and his tourmates used an off day yesterday (January 30) to explore the pier in Santa Cruz before their upcoming show at The Catalyst Club. It wasn’t until they returned to their parked van that they realized they’d been the victims of a robbery.
As PROF states in the video, all of their pertinent equipment was stolen, along with multiple personal items, totaling somewhere in the ballpark of $28k. Damn.
"One of the best humans on earth, our photographer Cody, lost all of his camera gear, a laptop, his passport, a hard drive with work including a yet to be release music video, and all of his personal belongings. Wonka, a dude who wouldn't steal a grape from a grocery store, lost all of his personal belongings, all of his DJ equipment, his passport, and his laptop including unreleased beats (trust me they were bangers). Meta, yet another outstanding human, lost a laptop, some personal belongings, and a rhyme book with a ton of unreleased work. Our tour manager Josh, who is the fuel behind our tours, lost his laptop with all of his work for tour, a bunch of his personal belongings, and road cash that keeps the tour afloat. And Prof lost his wireless microphone, his custom in-ear monitors, his laptop, and personal items." - GoFundMe
While PROF and his tourmates—Metasota, Finding Novyon and Willie Wonka—attempt to draw support from their fans in order to keep their tour afloat after losing all of their musical equipment as well as their road money, I thought I’d use this unfortunate circumstance as a chance to impart some wisdom.
Hindsight being 20/20, PROF and his crew learned the hard way that unfortunate circumstances terrible fucked up shit can occur at any time, and without taking the proper precautions, the effects can be devastating.
With that in mind, here are five things that every artist who's planning on hitting the road can learn from this hapless occurrence.
1. If possible, store some of your smaller valuables in a hotel room.
Of course, there are plenty of situations where this just isn’t possible—low budget tours might not afford you a room at the Double Tree every night you’re out, or maybe you do have a hotel room but check-in is delayed. But if you do have a room, even though it’s a pain to haul bags and equipment, go lock your most expensive possessions before you leave your van/vehicle unattended.
2. Be careful about sharing your exact location on social media.
I’m not saying this was the reason PROF's tour van was robbed—I'd like to think his fan base is mostly comprised of people who aren’t total dicks who commit crimes—but this is still important. Part of being an artist is being accessible on social media, but we've reached a point where anyone following an artist’s Snapchat has a decent idea of where they are anytime they’re out in public sharing content.
If that information falls into the wrong hands and you’re not near your stuff, you could easily end up gearless. This is the same reason why theft-protection services and alarm companies advise individuals and families to never post vacation photos to social media while still on vacation.
3. Backup all of your important files and any unreleased work to a cloud service.
This one is HUGE. While it sucks to lose thousands of dollars worth of equipment, it’s even worse to lose intellectual property that you spent months or maybe years conceptualizing and perfecting. In this case, hard drives full of unreleased material were lost by several of the artists on tour, and if they didn’t have their work backed up, that’s a gut-wrenching loss.
While putting your work on a cloud-based service might increase the chance it is hacked or leaked if you’re a high profile artist, for most independent artists, this still makes sense as the easiest and most cost efficient way of making sure you don’t lose priceless material.
4. Take out an insurance policy on any gear (and valuables) you're taking with you on the road.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but as someone who had their laptop stolen last year and failed to have it properly insured before the theft, I can’t stress this enough. When performing on the road, you most likely have a set-up similar to PROF’s: microphones, in-ear monitors, DJ equipment, etc...
All of those items are pretty damn expensive, and losing any one item, nevermind everything, without any sort of insurance policy in place would set anyone back, especially a struggling artist. According to their GoFundMe page, insurance will cover a portion of the items lost but, unfortunately, not all of it.
5. Look into getting a second passport to store in a safe place.
I wasn’t actually aware this was possible until I did some research on the subject, but, apparently, it’s completely legal and accepted to have two valid passports at once. In his videos, PROF mentions that several of their passports were stolen, which is a huge problem considering the Time Bomb Tour is slated to dip up into Canada.
Getting a second passport and storing it in a safe place—like a safety deposit box or a home safe—might not immediately help you if you’re on the road and your original is stolen or misplaced, but it will make getting a replacement a hell of a lot faster and easier.
You can support PROF and his tourmates by donating on their GoFundMe page.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.