Q&A with Chief: Basics of Tour Managing
Chief, my boss and mentor started out doing live sound and audio engineering. His first band ever recorded some 17 years ago in Vancouver, BC was Nickelback; before anyone had ever heard a song or had seen a live show. As they started to gig around town, they asked Chief to do live sound for them and as the band grew, he grew with them. Eventually he was an integral part of a large team and became their sound tech and tour manager for over 15 years. From there, Live Nation contacted him to work two of their tours for Charlie Sheen and The Voice. He has experienced tour managing from the bottom all the way to the top. There is no better person for this Q&A.
For Chief’s full bio visit: http://chiefmusicmanagement.com/about
Enjoy this Q&A on the basics of Tour Managing:
Q: What are your main responsibilities; while traveling, and once at the venue?
A: A tour manager is responsible for advancing the shows. So upon arrival you know who your main contact is, also you know what the audio, lights, rider, stage size everything that the artists needs to know about the show. Tickets sales etc. Once at the venue, you find your contact and make sure you have anything that was advanced, dressing room riders, comp tickets, stage hands, whatever you need is there. Find out where your loading in and out, how to get to and from stage and dressing rooms, where the merch is going to get set up. Then get everyone going on soundcheck. Now your job is to keep everything moving and on time and solve any issues or problems that come up. Also you need to make sure you have the press schedules getting done and meet n’ greet times and areas are all set as well. Sometimes you will need to get with security if doing an autograph signing and have this all lined up and ready to go.
Q: As someone who is just starting out and working with a new band, how valuable is it for them to learn live sound as well?
A: Well, its like anything the more you know, the more valuable you are. The chances of getting more work when you can do multiple jobs and multi tasks are huge. So the answer is it is a bit help and bonus, especially in the beginning.
Q: What are some of the biggest misconceptions young artists have about touring?
A: That it is all fun and partying. It is not…it is a lot of work, long days, no money, sitting in a van and driving, boredom, so much down time. It is a business and if you want to make it, you need to work harder than everyone else, and most musicians are in a band cause they want to play music and party… unfortunately there is way more work and responsibilities than they thought.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a Tour Manager? What are the biggest challenges for young artists while touring?
A: Keeping everyone focused and working hard. Lazy musicians are hard to work with, also once a new artists gets a little success they like to slack off, miss interviews, show up late, do their own thing, get attitude. They forget quickly where they came from and things go to their head. Keep an artists grounded and level headed when they start getting success can be very challenging at times.
Q: What are some key things to remember while preparing to go out on the road?
A: Don’t drink, don’t do drugs, eat healthy…..you are only as valuable and good as you feel. People need to know that no matter what you can be trusted and will always be the responsible one under any and all circumstances. It is a job and you are paid to do a job, not drink and party and become best friends with the artists. You wont get a lot of sleep, so you need to be as healthy as you can be to maintain a clear head and mind. No room for emotions or anger in this job.
Also , you cannot be organized enough….you need to know every detail that is happening at all times. Anytime an artists ask you anything you need to have an answer, if you don’t have an answer you tell them give me 5 min and call whoever you have to in order to get an answer. You need to communicate and share information repeatedly and constantly…always covering your ass.
Q: What do you look for in a tour manager when hiring one for your bands on your management roster?
A: Someone who is responsible, organized, great people skills, level headed, good communicator, and makes good decisions and is not a party person.
Q: As a manager what jobs can tour managers do well to make your job easier and how can they stand out?
A: Keep the band happy on the road, the crew happy, and keep things organized and not call me with every little details. Solve all the little issues, and only call me when it is important or a bigger issue.
Thanks Chief for you time and hope all of you enjoyed the read. If you have any additional questions make sure to comment or post on the Facebook or Twitter pages: