What do you want to become?
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Career Overview: Manages financial aspects of touring, including budgeting, reconciling show settlements, and negotiating band, crew, and vendor deals.
Career Salary Range: $35,000 to $175,000+
Become a Tour Coordinator
Tour Coordinator Cate Decker says, “I’m a Tour Coordinator at a business management firm, which means we are responsible for the financial aspect of our clients’ touring businesses. In a typical week, we are building tour budgets, negotiating band, crew and other vendor deals, processing payroll and bill pay, training Tour Managers, reconciling show settlements and petty cash, and securing insurance to mitigate risk on the road. In essence, we quantify our clients’ touring decisions before they hit the road and then prepare budget-to-actual reporting post-tour. We are in constant communication with everyone that is a part of our client’s world: Managers, Agents, Attorneys, employees, Vendor Representatives, family.”
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As in many music industry roles, Tour Coordinators usually kick off their career working as an Intern. After this, Decker says, “it will be natural for the first job to be an Assistant. The career path opportunities are great. While it’s not a clearly defined trajectory, what you’ll learn as a Tour Coordinator could serve you well in a business management firm, management company or agency.”
Education & Training
In terms of education, Decker says, “I’d recommend both a strong business and music industry background. Anything that provides you with well-rounded experience will be a benefit. In the business management world, an Accounting and/or Finance degree is preferred and depending on your career path, a CPA may be required.”
Experience & Skills
“As a Tour Coordinator, music industry experience is a must,” Decker says. “Learning the lingo and being able to effectively communicate with all parties is valuable.” Working as an Intern is key, as it will help those new to the industry gain experience. Decker says, “I graduated from Elon University in North Carolina with a degree in Business. My friends and I were constantly going to concerts in the area and a friend told me about a record label that was a couple miles from campus. I interned at Yep Roc Records/Red Eye Distribution my junior year of college and fell in love with what goes into these artists putting on a show each night. It wasn’t just about liking the music anymore. I wanted to know the ins and outs of the business. At Yep Roc, a lot of my responsibilities had to do with promo: sending out promo packets to radio, preparing posters for each date of the tour and distributing to venues. In talking with my internship coordinator at Yep Roc, he recommended that I intern that summer in the industry in a bigger city. Nashville it was and I obtained a few internships and moved there for three months. At Sony Music Nashville I was a Digital Media Intern, cataloging the press the artists received that week. We also worked CMA Fest and assisted with one of Miranda Lambert’s album campaigns. I really got to see the behind-the-scenes of promo at a major label.
Dualtone Records was my favorite internship. I was given a developmental artist that was headed out on one of their first tours. My job was to reach out to local press in each city and try and obtain features, interviews or adds to the local concert calendar. This was where I learned a lot about the hustle. I bet we received less than a 5% response rate on those emails. But through that work, I was able to grow the local and national media list. Once I graduated college, I drove myself back to Nashville with the hope of landing a job in the industry. I was lucky enough to start working at KCA Artists, a boutique agency in town, within a couple weeks. The position was an Agent Assist/Office Manager role. I had never worked on the agency side of things and I have to thank this company for taking a chance on me. This position taught me how to book a show, the importance of building authentic relationships and how to be a day-to-day manager. Working with smaller artists who don’t have a large team around them gave me a lot of hands-on experience with booking travel, advancing dates and day sheets. Around this time, I also started taking on clients of my own, updating websites, creating e-blasts, and booking tours. I recommend that anyone starting out reach out to developing artists to see how they can pitch in. It typically won’t pay, but the experience is priceless and you’re able to hopefully positively impact an artist’s career and life. It’s quite fulfilling.”
“The ideal Tour Coordinator is extremely organized, good with numbers, a self-starter, multi-tasker and quick learner, able to work diligently with a sense of urgency, able to build authentic relationships and communicate effectively and be able to problem solve quickly. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either,” Decker says.
Decker says, “A typical day for me is about 10 hours or so in the office and we do work the occasional night or weekend, depending on the needs of our clients. Because shows typically occur on nights and weekends, it is natural that is when the issues arise. We will also attend shows to support our roster or look at new acts.”
Most Tour Coordinators work their way up the ladder, gaining experience that usually begins with an internship. Decker says, “I was able to find success by interning first because my college major was not directly associated with the industry, so I highly recommend interning at a few different companies.” As has been previously mentioned, Decker’s internship history gave her the experience necessary to take on her own developmental clients — another great way to start building job experience and a clientele.
Tour Coordinators are salaried employees. What they make annually can vary greatly, depending on the level of clientele with whom they work.
Unions, Groups, Social Media, and Associations
“There are not any specific groups for Tour Coordinators,” Decker says. “I’ve found my network contains a lot of Managers and day-to-day Managers as well as Tour Managers or crew. That’s who I tend to deal with most on a daily basis. Nashville has some great industry groups: Young Entertainment Professionals, SOLID, and Leadership Music to name a few.”
- “Intern, intern, intern. Whether that’s at a company or for a developing artist, no experience is too small.
- Grow your network authentically. Most of the mentors I have I did not seek out. These relationships developed over time through earning trust and working hard.
- Apply to as many entry-level jobs as you can. Don’t limit yourself to solely an agency, management firm or the sector of the business you want to end up in. Being well-rounded makes you a valuable utility player at any company.
- Go to shows. As one of my friend’s moms says, ‘You never know who you’ll meet.’ Get involved with your local music community.”
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Jump in. No project, task, or artist should be too small. This is where you learn the most. And if you don’t know where to start, just ask. Most people are willing to share what they’ve learned. Just like someone once shared (and continues to share) with me.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“It’s impossible to know everything right away. I’m about five years into my career and still learning every day. Take the time to observe, learn, and listen to what the more experienced co-workers around you have to say.”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“Wow, great question. I think Tour Coordinator can be a vague title and people are surprised to learn that for me it has to do with the financial side of the music industry.”
What is one thing I should have asked which I didn’t?
“I think careers in business management aren’t frequently discussed as an option for Accounting/Finance degrees, or Business degrees. Unless you specifically seek it out at a college that specializes in music, most people aren’t aware it’s a career path.”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
Extra Credit: The Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Cate Decker is a Tour Coordinator at Tri Star Sports and Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based firm whose clients include Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Meghan Trainor, Mat Kearney, O-Town and Jule Vera. Over the course of her career, Decker has also worked with Matthew Mayfield, Della Mae, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The SteelDrivers, Billy Joe Shaver, and Peter Rowan, among others.