Tour Managers – What Do They Do?

Posted: January 24, 2014 in Helpful Tips

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.


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