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A tour manager (or concert tour manager) is the person who helps to organize the administration for a schedule of appearances of a musical group (band) or artist at a sequence of venues (a concert tour). In general, road managers handle small to medium-sized tours, and tour managers are used on large-scale tours.
The performances on a concert tour are booked by the act's booking agent, who works with concert promoters to place the act in suitable venues and festivals in a time frame and territory agreed with the act's management. Individual concert promoters negotiate the financial, technical and hospitality requirements of the artist and make an offer to the booking agent for the show. The tour is announced and tickets put on sale when agreement is reached on the tour dates. As modern concert touring involves complex financial, legal and technical arrangements, the booking agent or artist manager hire a concert tour manager to organize the logistics. Concert tour managers are usually freelancers working on a tour-by-tour basis.
The tour manager is given the itinerary for the tour by the booking agent. Working from this itinerary, the tour manager handles the following activities.
The itinerary includes information about the potential ticket income (fees) for each show. Using this information the tour manager can produce a budget for the tour, calculating costs for crew wages, per diems, accommodation, transport, sound, lighting and video equipment, visas and work permits, rehearsals and other expenses such as booking agent commissions. Weekly reports are submitted to the business manager. Tour manager are on financial stabilities due to them being ahead of the whole tour.
Advancing is the process of contacting each promoter and venue to ensure the entire artist's technical and hospitality demands (the rider) are met and to resolve any problems the promoter or venue can foresee. The artist's rider covers catering, production (sound, lights, stagehands needed), security, general show, and legal issues. During the advancing process the tour manager checks contact names and addresses, arrival times, equipment load-in times, sound check and performance times, any supporting/opening acts, and live music curfews.
This information is collated into a "tour book" which is issued to the band and crew.
On the road
The tour manager travels with the band on the tour. The job on the road varies depending on the type and success level of the act. A tour manager's day-to-day workload can include:
Overseeing hotel departures on time
Settling accommodation bills
Overseeing travel arrangements; i.e. band and crew onto the bus or to the airport in good time
Paying per diems to the band/artist and crew
Overseeing venue arrival - double-checking hospitality and technical arrangements
Arranging up-to-date running order with venue and promoter
Overseeing promotional activities; i.e. TV, radio and press interviews at the venue or at other locations
Supervising setup operations
Supervising any support or opening acts
Ensuring venue is ready to open on time by supervising sound check times
Liaising with transport department regarding the next days' travel
Ensuring all acts perform on time and for the allotted time
Settling performance fee with promoter and collecting any due cash
Ensuring all touring equipment is re-packed and loaded back onto tour transport
Preparing band and crew schedule sheets for the next day
Overseeing band and crew on to appropriate overnight transport or to next hotel
Reporting this show's attendance figures to management and booking agent
Troubleshooting unforeseen issues and emergencies that occur
Ordering after show food for the band and crew
Preparing an accurate tour budget for the manager and business manager to approve
Doing daily tour accounting if there's no tour accountant
Preparing the tour book (itinerary) which contains information such as venue details, hotel details, promoter details, show schedule and daily travel details
Hiring the road crew (roadies)
Supervises the creation of tour backstage passes
Coordinates gear rental (sound, lights, backline) with production manager
Coordinates any visas and work permits needed for touring entourage
Deals with foreign artist tax deductions (when applicable) with business manager and promoter
Updates artist contract rider when necessary
Coordinates air, sea and land cargo when necessary
Coordinates ordering of tour supplies (guitar strings, drum sticks, batteries, etc.) when needed
Coordinates creation of show scenics such as backdrops and scrims when needed
Prepares carnets for equipment with shipping companies when necessary
Supervises creation of stage plots and input charts with stage crew when necessary and adds them to rider
Completes daily guest list for band and crew
Supports merchandiser when needed
^Waddell; Barnet; Berry (2007). This Business of Concert Promotion and Touring: A Practical Guide to Creating, Selling, Organizing, and Staging Concerts. New York: Billboard Books. p. 19.
^Reynolds (2007). The Tour Book. Boston: Cengage Learning. p. 13.
^One for the Road: How to Be a Music Tour Manager by Mark Workman