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Tour Manager

Also Known As: Road Manager

Career Description: Deals with unexpected tour situations as well as finds solutions for sound and lighting component malfunctions.

Salary: $28,000 to $127,000+

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Tour Manager Jobs

About This Music Career

A tour manager is the group's management representative while the act is on the road. He or she is responsible for handling problems that may occur while an act is traveling. Their main function is to have everyone and everything arrive where they need to be on time, regardless of the circumstances. If you enjoy live music, this is one of the best music careers available.

The road manager may work under the tour director, the group's management, or the group itself. Many times the road manager also works as the tour coordinator, where he or she is responsible for any and all problems while on the road. This may include supervising the equipment, sound, and light personnel, tour publicist, music publicist, tour photographer, musicians, security, and anyone else who is working on tour.

The road manager must make sure an act is on time to any public appearances, interviews or TV/radio spots. This is also true for making sure the act is at all rehearsals and concerts on time. Equipment must arrive on time and be set up properly; this is also the responsibility of the road manager. He or she will supervise sound, light, security checks, and act as the liaison between the act and the concert promoter.

Their responsibility will also include collecting any and all money owed to the act before and/or after the show, paying the entourage and keeping up with paying all other bills while on the road. The road manager must keep all receipts and vouchers in order to help the group, or its management, make sure that all money is accounted for.

The road manager must keep a level head no matter what happens, and if a problem arises between entourage members it is their responsibility to deal with the issue. Long road trips put a lot of stress on a tour manager and sometimes make it difficult to handle day to day tasks. Road managers must like to travel and be open to being away from home for weeks or even months at a time; most work more than twenty hours per day and they are always on call.

Depending on the popularity of the act, a road manager's salary will vary. Road managers are usually paid weekly starting anywhere from $400 per week for a touring group, and can range from $2,500 to $15,000 per week for a recording group (plus bonuses and expenses). A Tour Manager can also be paid a flat rate for each tour they complete, along with an extra pay for living expenses while on tour. When a Tour Manager is not working on the road their salary is often reduced by a percentage, in order to keep the road manager under salary with that particular group. If this is not the case some road managers may work for other groups between tours.

It is common for the road manager position to be filled by friends of an act, who are not musicians. This opportunity comes by being in the right place at the right time. Having several contacts in the business is another way to find an opportunity. Individuals who have a proven track record in road management for major tours, will have a better chance of a finding a Tour Manager position.

To advance a road manager will usually find a job with a more prestigious musical act. They may also look to become a tour coordinator or tour director for their current act. A road manager needs to show that they are reliable, responsible, and effective while on the road in order to advance beyond Tour Manager.

Education and Training

Here is the reality. VERY FEW people who work in the 'business side' of the music business get there without attending a school specializing in their trade. Simple as that. If you want to take a step in the right direction right now, we suggest you take 60 seconds and fill out the form below. You'll get an email or a call from a school like Full Sail University. It’s free, easy and we recommend it.

To become a road manager you do not need a formal education; there are road managers who have not even completed high school. More successful road managers have completed high school, and may even have a college degree in anything from business to psychology.

Experience, Skills, and Personality
Most road managers normally begin as roadies, and start as equipment personnel or tour publicists. They must be able to effectively handle any problems that arise, while working under extreme pressure. The road manager must supervise everyone in the road crew, and anyone in the union crew at some concert halls. Responsibility is the number one trait an effective road manager. The must ensure that all personnel and equipment are where they need to be, when they need to be.

Unions and Associations
There are no major associations specific to road managers.

Suggestions for Getting Started

  • Exploit any and all contacts in the business that may lead to a job opportunity.
  • Consider placing a small ad in one of the music trade publications.
  • Check trades for tour schedule and send resumes to these groups, their management, and/ or their record companies (get your record label contacts list).
  • Send your resume to the personnel department of record companies, big or small.