There are a few departments here at Shure that loan gear out to artists, engineers, television shows, movies, festivals… you name it. As you can imagine the Artist Relations department dabbles in this quite a bit. Typically we are trying to help out an artist traveling from overseas to tour here in the states or we find ourselves sending gear out for a band that is traveling with some guest musicians or we are simply letting a band demo some new gear before they commit to adding it to their live show. We are always happy to have Shure mics and wireless out there in various capacities and to date, have pretty much accommodated just about every request that has come our way on a professional level.
We pride ourselves on taking care of our gear, making sure it’s clean, in working order and not missing any parts. Most times, those borrowing the gear return the favor. For a recent loan to Howard Jones, I received the gear back in a seemingly cleaner state than when it originally went out (I think it was actually shinier than I remember it!). Also, it was all individually packed in a new box with additional packing materials to ensure a safe journey home. Also included were a copy of Howard’s live DVD and few CDs of his music… nice gesture, thanks guys!
So, that’s a respectable level of handling the gear we loaned to you, I could tell they appreciated the favor. Let’s talk about a few different scenarios that we stumble upon from time to time. I present to you… The Top 5 Most Irritating Things About Gear Returning From A Loan:
5. If a product has ceased functionality while in your possession or perhaps you or someone in your production forced the product into a non-working state, please let us know. It kind of sucks to just blame it on the UPS guy and the shipping process. Shure’s product line can be dropped from the top of our building and still function, so let’s not assume that a ride in a brown van is going to contribute to it being deemed in need of service. We appreciate your honesty when we are in the midst of a loan, so if your lead singer slammed the mic into the stage at the end of the show as a means of artistic expression, great, at least we know the product is coming back slightly skewed from when it left our possession.
4. Most of the product we have in our loaner stock is no older than ten years and the majority of it is within five years old. Please return the product that we loaned to you, or at least try to get within the correct decade. The purpose of the loan is not so you can upgrade your older SM57s and SM58s with new, cleaner versions. Again, we know what the product looked like when we sent it out, so when we receive older, scratched, faded and rusted mics back from you, it’s pretty apparent that you did a bit of upgrading. The gear that you borrow today will eventually be loaned out to another artist, tour or show, so we like to keep this stuff in a new-ish state. If you do want to upgrade or replace your older gear, let’s talk about that before you handpick a few of the better looking pieces from our loaner stock.
3.Have you ever tried to return a rental car with a missing spare tire, rear bumper or shift handle? You most likely would not be allowed to leave without an explanation and a replacement cost to pay. Unfortunately, we’re not standing curbside with a checklist and a critical eye as you pack up the gear and ship it back to us. If a knob got lost or broken, please let us know before you ship the gear back, or at least leave a note in the box, we don’t like surprises. When the gear originally arrived to you, you checked to make sure it was all there and in working order, please repeat this process upon it’s return. A missing antenna or power supply are still critical parts when it comes to loaning the gear out to the next artist. Can the gear function with replacement parts? Can the car still shift without the shift handle? Sure, but why should we anticipate the product will return in this state where replacement parts are a constant concern?
2. While we prefer that you use packing materials when returning gear, potentially used stage towels do not get our vote for the best solution. There’s just something dirty about a raggedy old towel taped around a wireless receiver in a beat up box. We will give you the benefit of the doubt that these are clean towels and not the ones found next to the drum riser after a show, but please understand where our minds tend to go when we receive gear packed this way AFTER a tour has wrapped up. We’ve seen some questionable “white” towels. Newspaper is a great alternative, concert t-shirts are even better. Let’s keep the dirty laundry out of the equation.
1. We understand that tape is a great identifier, especially white tape you can write on with a Sharpie. Chances are, the next person that borrows this gear from us, is going to have a whole different way of identifying mics on a stage, perhaps a different word on the tape itself, different colored tape, or no tape at all. We always assume the latter, and are left with the tedious task of removing this old, gummy tape and its residue from our gear. Again, using tape is fine, but we prefer to receive the gear back in the same clean state you received it in. We know that you wouldn’t want to receive gear from us with old tape and markings all over it that you would have to spend time cleaning up and making it all stage worthy, We think it’s a waste of time, too.
There you have it folks. Again, these are not typical situations, just some things we’ve seen that have made us bang our heads against the wall.