You Need A Tour Manager

Going on Tour? Then Get A Tour Manager

Why Your Band Needs a Tour Manager

  • Posted: 01/05/2019
  • By: Jason Wilhelm
  • Photo Credit Jason Wilhelm of

I've been a promoter of live events for many years in the metal industry and I've worked with big names and underground bands alike. Upon booking a band or a tour of bands, I have always appreciated when there is a show manager or a tour manager for many reasons. Here is why your band needs one and what should be expected of them.

  1. Collect money. Play music and get paid, the main reason you are on the road, right? A show manager is the one that can work directly with the promoter or venue to ensure when the band get paid. Usually this is after the show, but a tour manager will approach the promoter or venue manager as soon as they arrive and get these finer details. It also lets the promoter know that you expect to get paid. We have all dealt with them and have seen a promoter, venue manager, or bar owner try and weasel out of paying the band. It happens all the time. Having a tour manager makes that collection process easier because they can determine when the band will get their money. Have your tour manager ask upfront, even before the band loads in, so there isn't any guessing or misunderstandings at the end of the show.
  2. One Point of Contact. Being a promoter, it is tough enough to remember all the band names, but all your band mates names as well is just frustrating at times. As a promoter, I can tell you that repeating myself to all the bands of a multi-artist show is a pain enough, but repeating that same info to the three members of band that were out having a smoke or grabbing some fast food is even more annoying. A tour manager becomes that point of contact for the promoter and can make sure to give the details once, but only has to answer questions once. Take the info back to the team, gather the questions and reach back out to the promoter. This streamlines the communication process and makes everything much smoother.
  3. Get the Schedule. Last minute change? Someone dropped off and you're up sooner than later? Going back to that one point of contact, it will make the process of rounding everyone up much smoother. Anything and everything can happen to make a schedule go from a smooth night of music to chaos and confusion. Having a tour manager will add simplicity to get communication out there and make sure everyone is informed.
  4. Professionalism. When an act shows up and has a tour manager that is able to handle the business side of things, it speaks volumes in professionalism. If your tour manager can communicate and negotiate, your tour will run a lot smoother.

They should not only take the burden of payment off the bands chest, but be willing and able to ask the needed questions. Are we getting food? What time is load in? Who is running sound? What's the WiFi password? Where is a local drug store so we can get something for our sick bassist? All important questions that can be funneled through one person for concise communication. A good tour manager will need to know the insides and out of the band and the goal for each performance on any leg of the tour. Here are a few responsibilities that the tour manager should handle:

Collect the Money! Make sure your tour manager is able to have the conversation with the promoters. For some people, a conversation about money, especially money that is owed to them, is tough. This person needs to have the drive and business sense to simply say, show me the money at the end of the night. Keep Track of Your Band Mates. After being cooped up in the van for 6 hours and this is the fourth bar scene in as many nights, it's good to stretch your legs and walk about the neighborhood, but when it is time to cover important semantics like load in times, off limit areas, and venue policies; chances are, the promoter will only cover the info once and if the band mates are not there to hear it, then how will they know? A tour manager will gather the info about the venue and relay them to everyone that is not there at the time. If there is something that needs to be relayed, then be the one stop shop of information. Know What is Needed for Sound. Again I'll harp on the word communication. The tour manager should know the stage and sound needs of each member and be able to relay that to the house sound tech. Does the drummer have track loops? Does your bassist switch to a different instrument in the middle of the set? The techs like to know of all the ins and outs of the band and stage set up, so there isn't any surprises that can mess up the groove of the show.

Now with all this said, should you go out and hire a tour manager for your 10 show west coast tour? Not necessarily. In most cases, I have seen a band member be responsible for this chore. It is a chore, so you want to consider that when deciding on who should be the tour manager. If your drummer gets angry and frustrated with the occasional monkey wrench, then maybe go with the level headed bassist. If you can afford the extra body in the van or you already need an extra tech to carry and tune equipment, then adding these responsibilities could be to your bands advantage. In any case, I hope this info helps your band in getting the most out of touring and helps build your network of playable venues so you can have many return shows.

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