Cartage is a fee paid when large music equipment must be transported to and from a recording session or a concert venue. Cartage is often paid by the “employer” or the company paying musicians for their performance.
An employer can request or specify that a musician will be responsible for the cartage or transportation of instruments, or the employer can take responsibility for transportation and specify the manner in which the instruments will be transported. When a private carrier is used, the employer may insist upon having the option of choosing the carrier. When a musician is responsible for cartage, the musician chooses the cartage company or manner in which the instrument is to be moved. Employers sometimes pay cartage bonuses to musicians to transport their own equipment. Cartage rates are assessed for each piece of equipment and for each act of transport and setup, though not when instruments and equipment are not moved between performances.
The difficulties with cartage agreements often relate to where the responsibility lies for damaged instruments, should damage be suffered in any measurable degree during the process of moving it from one place to another.
There are professional cartage companies that handle only music equipment for large bands and orchestras. Cartage companies of this type have specialized moving equipment and specially equipped vehicles for transporting large amounts of equipment and over long distance.
Cartage companies generally have printed fee schedules that clearly stated charges they assess for each type of equipment that is to be moved. Most brass instruments, small drums, and small amplifiers fall within a weight range, and fees for each piece will run between $12 and $15. Larger pieces like keyboards, tubas, string basses, drum sets, percussion setups, and individual amplifiers run somewhat more, in the range of $15 to $18 each. Extremely large equipment such as a harp, is assessed at a higher fee. A musical group with a lot of big equipment can run into cartage fees of thousands of dollars for one show.
Cartage companies pay their employees by the hour, and often request free tickets to concerts for their employees.
This article provides an overview of cartage. If you would like to submit an article about cartage or any other music-related subject, please feel free to do so here at Media Positive Radio.
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