Archive for January, 2014

Tour Managers – What Do They Do?:

Tour managers are responsible for making sure a concert tour runs smoothly. Their jobs involve looking after the tour finances, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there and generally making sure that everyone on tour is on task. Tour manager jobs often also involve dealing with the personal issues of the other people on tour and generally making sure that everyone on tour is happy.

Tour Manager Job Description:

Tour managers are in charge of the all of the business aspects of a tour. Their jobs include, but are not limited to:

  • Confirming reservations
  • Managing tour finances
  • Getting everyone to where they need to be on time
  • Dealing with promoters, venue managers, ticket agents, etc
  • Confirming show times

On larger tours, the job of tour manager might be split between a few people. For instance, there may be a tour accountant to manage the finances and someone else managing the road crew. However, there will always be a one person with the ultimate responsibility/decision making power to whom these additional managers report. 

Tour Manager as Tour “Mom” (or Dad):

In addition to a tour manager’s specific duties, there are less easy to define – but very important – aspects of the job. A tour manager is the one who needs to help manage all of the emotional ups and downs and demands of life on the road. Whether one of the musicians is feeling fed up and threatening to walk out on the tour or if the band decides they want an ice cream sundae in the middle of the night, it falls to the tour manager to try and make everyone happy again. Touring is extremely difficult work, physically and emotionally, and the tour manager needs to keep everyone on track and ready to do their jobs.

How Much Do Tour Managers Make?:

The pay for a tour manager depends very much on the size of the tour. The fee structure is normally a base salary + expenses + a p.d. (per diem – a daily stipend for incidental expenses). The profitability of the tour is a major factor in determining how much exactly a tour manager gets paid. When tour managers are just starting out and trying to build a reputation, they may take work on small tours for expenses only. On the other hand, tour managers for large, highly profitable tours be paid a generous base salary. Pay should be negotiated in advance of the tour and factored into the tour budget.

How to Find Tour Manager Jobs:

Many tour managers build a client base through word of mouth. They may start working for friends’ bands on small tours and then find new jobs on the basis of recommendations. Alternatively, tour managements companies – and sometimes crew companies – have a staff of tour managers ready for hire. The musicians’ manager, label or agent may hire the tour manager.

Should You Become a Tour Manager?:

Working as a tour manager can be a lot of fun. You get to travel extensively and see some great shows. However, it is also a great deal of responsibility. To be a good tour manager, you have to be able to calmly and coolly juggle the demands of a large group of people, as well as being able to fulfill requests that may sometimes seem unreasonable. How difficult the job is really depends on the group of people you are out on the road with. If everyone has a good working relationship, the job will be much easier than if you have to manage a group of people who have a lot of personal drama or who don’t take their jobs seriously.

As a tour manager, you also have to be able to stay out of some of excesses that can happen on tour. You are ultimately the one responsible for seeing that the tour moves from show to show without a problem, so you can’t engage in all of the partying. Of course you can have a good time, but you have to be the one to get everyone up in the morning. Although everyone is on tour to work, the tour manager is the one person who can never really take a night off.

If you are organized and think you can handle the demands of the road, however, working as a tour manager can be a fun and rewarding job.


Seven no-nonsense tips from music publicists for indie musicians.

Whatever your instrument or genre, as an independent musician, I bet you’ve probably spent time gazing at the arts section of your local newspaper or favorite music magazine and wondered, “How can I get there?” While talent, hard work, business chops, persistence, and luck have a great deal to do with it, there’s another tool that can help — a good publicist.Ready to work with a music publicist?

Basically, a publicist helps make people aware of your work, serving as your media advocate, cheerleader, advisor, and liaison. Publicists work to get their artist clients featured or reviewed in newspapers and blogs, TV shows, and magazines, helping to attract attention and create buzz on a local, national, or even international level. A PR (public relations) expert can also help an artist craft longer term strategies for publicizing their latest release or tour, and can take the lead on putting those strategies into action.

Hiring a publicist often isn’t cheap, and finding a skilled music publicist to work with — one who understands and digs your music and has availability to work with you — can be tricky as well. Plus, in the ever-evolving world of arts coverage in the media, both print and online, there are few hard and fast rules or guarantees when it comes to seeking coverage or launching a PR campaign for your latest project.

When stars align, though, a strong artist/publicist alliance at the right time can give your career a boost and be well worth the investment of energy and funds needed to make the partnership happen. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Know when to look for a publicist
One of the best indicators that it’s time to look for a music publicist is, well, having something cool to publicize. “If you have the prospect of touring and playing a good deal of exciting shows, that can be a good time to start,” says Matt Merewitz, founder of Fully Altered Media in New York City. “Even if you’re just getting the word out to local media, having press support on tour can help you build your fan base and get people to your shows.” Other apropos can include releasing an album, performing in a particularly noteworthy one-off concert, hosting a benefit for a good cause, landing an opening slot for a major act, or beyond.

On a larger scale, there’s no hard science about when in a career artists and bands should start working with a music publicist — though as Big Hassle’s Jim Walsh describes with a laugh, “depending on your goals, whenever you can afford one is a good time to have one.” Having booking agents and management in place before hiring a publicist is a good benchmark of career preparedness, Walsh continues, though he points out that having a publicist on your team at the right time early in a career can itself be the sparkplug that elevates you to such a level of success.

If you feel that the time may be right to approach a publicist, don’t call someone two weeks before your album drops and expect to results. Even after you and a publicist decide to work together, it can take weeks or months to write up press releases and bio materials, plan a strategy, assemble a mailing, whip your web and social media presences into shape, and get your PR campaign underway.

“Artists should start looking five to six months away from when they want to release an album,” says Merewitz. “For some publicists and publicity firms who are in demand and very busy, you might have to reserve their time eight months or even a year out.”

Approach the right people
Merewitz advises looking at artists whom you admire and want to emulate — especially when it comes to how they do business. “If you’re a jazz pianist and really like how Brad Mehldau or Chick Corea is presented publicly, try approaching their teams, or if you’re an indie artist and your favorite groups are working with publicity firms like Big Hassle, Girlie Action, or Biz3, try approaching them,” he says. “A lot of times, artist websites have links to a publicist or manager, or if you just Google the artist with the term ‘press release’ or ‘310’ or ‘212’ area codes, you’ll find out who their PR reps are.”

If searching that way doesn’t get you the results you need, simply Googling “rock publicity” or “indie publicist” can give you a host of names, Merewitz advises. “Ask them for previous press reports from other clients and contact those past clients,” he continues. “Ask if they liked working with the publicist and what results they were able to get. What were they not able to get that you were really looking for? Information like that can help you make an informed decision about whether or not someone is right for you to work with.”

When you do approach publicists, keep your initial outreach brief, professional, and focused, says Walsh. “Just send a short email with a couple sentences introducing yourself and give links to photos, bio, and music,” he says. “Then just write a couple paragraphs about what you’re looking for. It’s pretty straightforward.”

Know what to look for – and what to avoid
So you’ve been in touch with a number of publicists — how do you decide which is the right one? Among other things, Merewitz recommends making sure that anyone you hire is as passionate about music as you are. “One indicator of a good publicist is someone who is enthusiastically checking out music that’s not even by their own clients,” he says. “If they’re out their checking out stuff with the eagerness of a teenager, that’s a positive sign that they’re in it for the right reasons, and not just for a paycheck.”

As with any business, there are going to be a small number of hucksters out there, or people who call themselves publicists but have neither the experience nor the skills to give your project the visibility out need. Doing a little due diligence before handing over a check can help you avoid unnecessary pain and disappointment down the line — and asking for references or checking in with previous clients is a must.

“If someone is rude or dismissive on initial contact, be wary of that,” says Walsh. “Also be wary of publicists who seem to take a lot of clients on at a given time. They may not have the time to give each one the amount of love that they need. That’s a common issue with publicists that are successful — they may want to help and honestly think that they can, but might just have too much on their plates to do it.”

Budget realistically
To cut straight to the chase — hiring a publicist can require a significant financial investment. “A good publicist is going to charge a minimum base rate of $800 or $1,000 per month, and that can go up to $4,000 or $6,000 per month depending on what firm it is,” says Merewitz. “Firms charging fees on the higher end often have a staff with multiple publicists working on the same project at the same time — that’s more for bands that are at another level, artists who happen to be independently wealthy, or people who have an investor who is willing to give them a shot in the arm,” he continues. “Some of those firms can get that kind of dough out of people because they also represent world-famous, A-list artists. They already have relationships with most major media in the world and can trade on those names to get coverage for their lesser-known artists. It’s a leverage game.”

If you’re working out cost with a publicist, don’t be afraid to say what you can afford and negotiate. “Sometimes I work out deals where bands pay smaller monthly fees over a year-long period, which can be more manageable,” says Merewitz. “That also means that my artists have me available to help them not just with album releases, but with tour dates as well.”

When budgeting for publicity, it’s important to understand that campaigns can take three months, or often significantly longer, says Walsh — especially when you’re trying to break an act. “It’s not like when Beyoncé does something big and everybody covers it at the same time,” he says. “Things happen more slowly over a longer period of time.”

One final note on budgeting — be sure to ask any potential publicist about extra costs that would end up being billed back to you. Mailing hundreds of CDs and press kits out to potential reviewers can cost a chunk when it comes both to printing and postage, for example, so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into up front.

Set realistic expectations
Much as every rock band may want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, it’s important to realize that, even with the best of publicists and most compelling of albums, such placement can be a long shot. “You have to be realistic about what’s going to happen and a good publicist will guide a client in that respect,” says Walsh. “Try to have clear goals and understanding about what you’re trying to achieve.”

“One of the big things artists have to realize is that there aren’t too many shots left for big publicity hits that can really break an artist,” says Merewitz. “Everything these days is more in the realm of small, incremental gains. If you hire a publicist for a campaign and get two or three reviews, a magazine profile, and two blog mentions, that may feel like a disappointment, but you have to understand that that’s the way the market is.”

Before you sign any papers or hand over any checks, be sure to have a heart to heart with your publicist so you can fully understand what kind of results to expect; having similar discussions with other artists similar to you in style and career path can also give you a good idea of what to expect when it comes to scope and scale of PR success.

Get your story straight
A publicist’s job largely boils down to selling you to the media — so giving some thought to your own personal story can help your publicist do his or her job. “If you have a compelling human interest angle, that can really help,” says Walsh. “You need your publicist to have a story to tell for the music to get written about — it’s not just about the music. That’s really important.”

Merewitz echoes the sentiment, citing Melody Gardot as a great example. “She got hit by a car and focused on music as a key to her recovery,” he says. “It’s an overnight PR success story.”

If you’re not sure where to begin thinking about your own story, Merewitz recommends a few jumping-off points. “Who have you played with? What pop gigs have you had? What kind of sideman and mentorship have you had? Have you studied with anybody notable? What circles and cliques do you run in? These all make for different angles that your publicist can work, and sometimes those angles can be strong ones.”

Stay in touch
“When a publicist and client work together, they develop a mutual alliance of trust, and it’s important to keep the communication lines open,” says Merewitz. “Don’t avoid each other. A definite sign that a publicist is not pulling his or her weight is when he or she is unresponsiveness to a client. If a publicist doesn’t get back to you within a day, chances are that person is either overworked or not getting the kind of results they want and is shirking the responsibility of talking to the artist.”

From the client’s side, responsiveness is equally important — sometimes press opportunities come through hours before a frantic journalist’s deadline, so if you wait three days to return that call from your publicist, the window for coverage may be gone.

While staying in touch is important, Walsh warns against overdoing it. “I’ve had clients who get in their own way,” he says. “They soak up my time by talking about nothing when I could be pitching them to journalists or doing something more productive. It’s important to avoid micromanaging, to not to trip yourself up, and to trust your publicist to do a good job. That can be difficult sometimes,” he adds.

Different publicists have different preferred ways of communicating their progress and results, so be sure to check in early on so you know what to expect. “It’s normal for publicists to provide reports every couple weeks, though some do it weekly,” says Walsh. For his part, Merewitz often prefers “a less formal and more conversation-based form of reporting back to clients,” which he feels allows him to deliver more nuanced updates. Regardless, make sure that you’re comfortable with the reporting structure that you agree on, and don’t be afraid to negotiate a reporting schedule that keeps you feeling thoroughly informed.

Paper Boy image via

Michael Gallant is a musician, composer, and journalist living in New York City. Music from his debut trio album Completely was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and received a five-star review from Critical Jazz, which stated: “Fresh, invigorating, progressive – there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here.” Learn more, download through iTunes, or purchase through CD Baby.

Read More
Connect to Your Target Audience With a Compelling Story
Celebrate Success – Press Releases, Artist Bios, and PR for Indie Artists
Four Keys to a Product Release PR Campaign – Employ a Winning Digital Strategy
Press Kit Posts: Advice on Press Releases, Band Bios, Publicity, and More

Read more: Are You Ready to Work With a Music Publicist? -Disc Makers’ Echoes

Artist Manager Nell Mulderry shares insights on crafting a performance contract – plus booking agents, tour managers, and your music career

Performance contract adviceWhen it comes to building a music career and keeping the gigs coming, Nell Mulderry knows how the game is played. A former head of market development for Blue Note Records, the New York-based music business veteran owns the artist management and marketing company Boss Sounds. Her projects have included managing master jazz bassist Ron Carter’s Great Big Band project, managing the career of rising artist Suzanna Choffel, and serving as point woman with Sony Legacy on its worldwide Miles Davis catalog releases.

Here’s what Mulderry had to say when it comes to getting the music gigs you want and building the music career your talent deserves.

What are the basics that an up-and-coming indie artist should keep in mind when it comes to getting quality music gigs?
I heard that the great drummer Art Blakey once said about being an artist, “if you’re not appearing, you’re disappearing.” That’s the bottom line. The way the music business is structured, the live end is all-important to most artists. The talent buyers at venues are in the business of booking talent. Typically, and ideally, artists go through dedicated booking agents. That is the goal then, to ultimately attract a booking agent to represent you.

So this conversation is to cover the interim for artists striving to attain that level and become a draw. As a manager, I want to develop the artist to where we can land a committed booking agent, and the right fit. They’re doing this all day every day, whereas I’m into every aspect of the artist’s overall career, so agents are key players when building a team around any artist.

How should aspiring artists go about scouting established venues and getting a foot in the door?
Well-known venues usually book three or more months out, so you have to stay in front of the calendar. It’s competitive and it’s a supply and demand proposition. There are thousands of artists and not nearly that many venues. Go with your relationships. Where are your fellow musicians playing? Can they put in a good word for you? If you’ve got the chops, word of mouth is going to get you well on your way. Once you’ve established a connection to some venues and you fix a date and time, then you’re ready to handle the ins and outs of getting some dates on your calendar.

So you’ve nailed down a date and venue. What are the basics of a performance contract?
You want to establish the expectations on both sides. My attorney taught me that the most important thing about a contract is when you get paid, and that goes for any music contract where you’re providing services. It sounds so simple, but it’s so important! Work backwards from that. Don’t over-complicate an agreement, but think things through and communicate on the basics. Once you do, you’ll be in artist mode and able to focus on the music, which is the realm of artists and where you really want to be.

Specifically, what are some of the basics that should be in a performance contract?
What other artists are on the bill? What’s your set length? Is it a co-bill? If you’re headlining, do you have the right to approve support? What’s your band personnel? Have your stage plot and input list ready to include if you need to. Also, be sure to work out who’s responsible for what tech and gear requirements. Are you responsible for bringing all your own backline? Is the venue equipped with proper sound and lights, monitors, a sound person, and are they covering all those costs?

What about payment to you as the artist?
What’s your fee? Are you playing for a flat guarantee, or a guarantee plus backend over a certain threshold — or is it a percentage of ticket sales? This ties into the venue capacity, ticket price. Basically, you’re establishing which party will absorb the risk of the performance. When and how will you get paid? Can you get a deposit ahead of the date, and then the balance at the gig, and do you get paid before or after you play, in cash or by check?

And marketing the show?
Are you expected to promote, and in what ways? Through your own social media channels? Tour press? It’s always a good idea to coordinate with the venue, since they have an incentive to sell tickets. Ideally, the venue is the presenter and you’ve earned the support of their marketing and promotion efforts.

Are there other things an artist can ask for? Will the venue or promoter offer to cover lodging, and maybe travel costs? What about hospitality — will they feed you? If they do, it offsets your overhead. Also, find out if merch sales are allowed. Will the venue take a cut, or will they cut you a break and let you keep 100 percent of your venue sales? Little things like that all add up.

Any tips for keeping your time on the road as smooth as possible?
Get a tour manager! Seriously, tour managers run the show on the road. Let’s face it — problems crop up. If you don’t have the luxury of a tour manager, you have to think on your feet. You know, improvise! It’s the same concept as playing. Touring is a detail-oriented business and the last thing you want to do is cancel a gig. The reliability factor is critical in this business. The more you can compartmentalize the logistical stuff, the better.

Any final words of wisdom?
Always remember, as a musician you want to devote your energy to making great music, and the business will take care of itself.

Image via

Disc Makers’ regular contributor Michael Gallant’s debut trio album Completely received a four-star review from DownBeat magazine and a five-star review from Critical Jazz, which stated: “This, my friends, is the future of jazz. Fresh, invigorating, progressive — there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here.” Learn more, download now through iTunes, jam along with the new JamBandit app, or purchase through CD Baby. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Gallant or on Facebook.

Learn More
How to Get a Booking Agent to Book Your Band
Sample Performance Agreement
Tour Managers — What Do They Do?

Read More
For private events, weddings, and special performances, a performance contract is key
How Bands and Co-Writers Divide Percentage Shares in a Song
You’re in the music business, so act like a business person
Are You Ready to Work With a Music Publicist?
Tips for Surviving and Thriving on Tour

Read more: Gigging, touring, and performance contract tips – Disc Makers