Concert tours require a lot of moving pieces, with cargo including everything from staging equipment, to lights, speakers and audio gear to the people themselves – including the superstar artists the shows simply can’t happen without.
“People don’t realize how vital the bus company is to the touring industry,” says Jeremy Maul, CEO and founder of the recently launched Dreamliner Luxury Coaches. “There’s 1,100 buses in the country, that’s it. If a bus breaks down and you’re not running your logistics properly, you gotta realize these artists have guarantees of $50,000 to $2 million per show. There’s no way an artist doesn’t make the show, under no circumstances can you allow that. Whether it’s sending an Uber to the middle of nowhere, renting a plane, getting a commercial flight, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
During COVID, Maul left the venerable Diamond Coach company, where he had opened a West Coast branch as executive vice president and expanded the company’s country-leaning clientele to rock, hip-hop and pop, to start Dreamliner. He’s worked with superstars like Beyonce and Jay-Z, Kanye West, Neil Young, Keith Richards, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and The Jonas Brothers, and is already booked for the fall/winter, with launch points from multiple parts of the U.S.
“We’re completely sold out from August on, with really big clients and taking off,” says Maul. With a short lull in December, things will kick back up through June of next year, with new buses coming online every month and plans for 22 buses to be built over the next 20 months. Luxury is in the name, so it should be no surprise that luxury is the goal when it comes to Dreamliner. Maul says he’s taking what the industry-standard coach companies do – and do very well – and elevating it for the extra boutique, high-end client.
For instance, “We spend a lot of money on our mattresses, we have Memory Foam mattresses with cooling gel, we use non allergenic pillows “ Maul says. “A typical bus company would buy a pillow from Walmart for $2, our pillows are $49 each, it’s a big difference. We don’t have a Keurig, we have an espresso, which is three times as expensive. We just try to have a different, more boutique experience. That’s really in a nutshell what my whole business model is.”
Amenities extend to the actual overall experience while traveling, as well.
“These guys are on the road day in and day out. The one thing we can try to do and think about is make the bus feel as much like their home as possible.”
While the touring industry is grappling with some labor and staffing issues with many being out of work and finding new jobs during the pandemic, Maul says coach drivers are specialized, compensated well and eager to get back on the road. Those drivers are trusted and experienced already, but there’s an extra level of care and responsibility involved in being behind the wheel.
“Relationships are everything in this business,” Maul says. “All of these people have their lives in your driver’s hands, and it’s all trust.” Technology plays a role as well.
“I can go on my computer and look at the actual bus and see how fast they’re going and what they’re doing live,” Maul says. “I can tell if a driver stomps on the gas, takes a hard turn or slams on the brakes. It’s all monitored and will give you an alert. With the dash cams, it would replay the incident right away on my phone. It’s pretty technically advanced now.”