There are various types of tour managers, and most of them have their own unique ways of approaching live music productions. Some lean towards being the office types, others hands-on, others act as hybrid types working the office and live grind.
There are common misconception about most tour-managers. Usually they are not hired by the artist, but by the management or live / booking agency. Their main goal isn’t to keep the artists happy and buzzing. They have to ensure a hastle-free production flow while dealing with all the local difficulties and problems that may arise. They are the ones who have to report to the office.
Tour managers work hard on establishing great conditions for everyone involved, and even run the extra mile in certain cases. On the other hand, they can also play hardball, only working on the utmost necessary production schemes.
Obviously, as a musician on tour, it’s a good idea to navigate yourself towards the good side of the tour-manager. He or she can fight important fights for you and the band, coming through when negotiating with venues and local promoters.
Here are some pointers on charming the tour-manager and keeping them on your side:
Prioritize and bundle requests
An immensely important factor when dealing with tour-managers is prioritizing and bundling any form of requests you and the band have. There’s hardly anything more annoying than getting torn out of tasks by a constant flow of miniature requests.
This can be collecting or updating the guestlist, any culinary wishes or info on the venue. Also – be sure to check the tourbook / itinerary before asking for any info on the venue, hotel or people involved.
Most info is already out there, and double-triple questions can be nerv-wrecking for anyone involved.
Be a punctual punk
On tour there is hardly any room for dragging negative personal habits and inclinations into the process. Of course we’re talking about musicians here, but a professional production has certain rules that have to apply so things work smoothly.
No matter how punctual you may be in your personal life – make sure you get that to an all time high when engaging in a tour. Bus call, Ge-In’s or curfew aren’t estimates to be gently brushed, but hard facts that have to be adhered to.
Next to the pragmatical side of organizing a group of several people, this is the first gesture of mutual respect and has a great effect on the whole tour.
Even if shows run well and spirits are high, disrespecting the necessity of punctuality can be an absolute deal-breaker. That will literally break any positive live-spirit.
Just be on time, always. Simple as that.
Don’t turn nagging into a teamsport
Things don’t always run smoothly for everyone on tour. The more people involved, the greater the spread of attitudes and workmodes.
Chances are also high, that some people may align for certain opinions.
A really important factor when dealing with critique is making it accessible to all parties involved in the issue. This means sharing the argument in a well tempered and professional manner, without turning it into a teamsport.
If hard feelings stay canned in and locked within small groups within tour, the tendency of blowing up a minor issue grows in the course of the trip. You might sense an argument rising and especially sides forming within a travel party. Try to split it up while promoting open discourse.
Respect the routines
A great thing about knowledgeable live crews is the ability to adapt to new situations and styles. They are so secure about their own groove, that they can easily and without involving any form of ego engage in new ideas and routines.
Respecting the routines of others without imposing your own “it has to be done this way” form of working is a vital component of great live work.
Even if you disagree with various elements within the tour manager’s routine, try no to compare it to other tours and styles.
Have some faith, even if a production team is new to you, and try to go with the flow. If push comesto shove, you can always articulate your concern. But make sure you run with the game for a while, so in the end you can engage in an intelligent discourse.
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