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How Do I Become a Tour Manager?

Tour managers may arrange promotional work on radio stations in the tour's area.
A tour manager is responsible for scheduling a band's concert performances.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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Essentially, a tour manager has the job of making sure everything runs smoothly when a band or other act is on tour, including scheduling performances and arranging transportation. An individual interested in this career won’t necessarily need any formal training or education, but a business degree or management experience may help him to prepare. Besides that, a person who wants to become a tour manager typically works to gain experience in the music industry. Understanding how the industry works and all of the details of a successful tour is essential.

An individual who wants to become a tour manager may do well to gain some experience in the music industry before pursuing this career. For example, he may act as a band manager, setting up local gigs for his clients, before moving on to tour management. Additionally, he may work as an assistant or even an intern to another band or tour manager in order to get a feel for this job. Sometimes a person may even begin this career after working in a related field. For example, an individual may first operate sound equipment or work as a promoter before becoming a tour manager.

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An individual who wants to become a tour manager will usually need contacts in the industry. Networking with others in the industry is an important part of preparing for and ensuring success in this career. It may not only help him to learn more about the business, but also help him to meet acts that need a tour manager. Sometimes an aspiring tour manager may even take a job with a music venue in order to meet bands and others in a position to hire him. Additionally, networking can turn into valuable word-of-mouth advertising that may help a budding tour manager secure his first contract as well as many others after it.

Once a person is ready to become a tour manager, he’ll need to approach bands or others in need of his services and convince them to hire him. He should have contracts drawn up and signed by his clients in order to protect himself and his business. Often, acts that have new albums or work to release in the near future plan tours for soon after their work is released. An aspiring tour manager may approach bands and other acts that meet this criterion and ask whether they have tour managers. Placing ads in entertainment publications and creating a marketing website may prove helpful as well.

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Discuss this Article

musicfreak
Post 6

My desire is to become a music tour manager. I know this will require hard work and I know it's not that easy, but I really hope to realize my dream.

I think I'm going to start working for a record label, or a management company and then I'll do my best to learn how things work. Probably working as a tour management assistant will be helpful to acquire experience.

anon331653
Post 5

I will be leaving in two weeks' time, managing a young but very smart, very driven and very professional Irish band for a tour of Ireland and the UK, followed by a Scandinavian tour and most of the main festivals later in the summer.

I agree with the above posts except the age one. This is my first hire, and I've never worked for a label or promoter. I'm 51 and part of the reason (so I was told) I was hired is because I wasn't 23, so don't believe "it won't happen" if you're 49. That statement is rubbish and reads as if it it were written by a 20 something wannabe or a 40 something never was. I do have some contacts, mainly in the U.S. -- about 30 years worth!

PeterCarr
Post 3

Getting a job as a rock and roll tour manager isn't easy. You need to work for a label or major promoter and work your way up the ladder the same way people in film and television do.

It`s not as simple as being a friend of the band. The jobs are few and far between and there`s no security. Tour managers who do make it (all the way through to retirement age) have worked in the music industry all their lives.

Start working for a label or major promoter and make your connections. Don`t start looking for a tour manager job as a career change at age 49. It won't happen. Start when you are 23 after you get you BA in Communications or as soon as you get out of high school working for a promoter as road crew.

irontoenail
Post 2

@pastanaga - Oh, I don't know, I think if you were really determined to get into the industry you could do it, even without luck or personally knowing a band.

I mean, you could try to intern with another band manager like it says on here, or even with some other aspect of the industry, like the groups who book the bands in the first place.

And I would also respectfully send out my CV and a cover letter to bands in the area, particularly ones that you like and which are newish.

Research them first, try to see what you would do better if you were helping them out.

You've definitely got to be confident to become a band tour manager though.

pastanaga
Post 1

I doubt that most bands ever actually advertise for a tour manager. They probably just try to manage themselves until the right person comes along.

So I think the most important part of this job would be charisma, since without it, you are unlikely to ever land the gig in the first place.

Luck might also play a bit part of it.

I'm sure a lot of tour managers started off as a friend of the band who happened to have the free time to help them out, and then when they got big continued doing that for pay.

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