Production Manager

 12 July 2012

Production managers have overall responsibility for managing the logistics of live events.

Extensive experience in live events is essential.
Extensive experience in live events is essential.

What is the job like?

Production make sure that everything happens at the right time, to the highest standards.

The work involves:

  • Assembling a team of technical and management staff to ensure the success of the event
  • Attending meetings with artists, sound and lighting specialists, and other staff to include the artistic director to plan every aspect of the concerts/gigs
  • Operating strictly within the allocated budget, and managing finances
  • Ensuring that health and safety legislation is closely followed
  • Dealing with any problems that may arise, and liaising closely with the stage manager and tour manager
  • Scheduling media interviews and dealing with fans where appropriate
  • Handling VIP/complementary ticket allocation and seating

Production managers travel around the country or overseas during live tours. The working hours can be irregular and involve evening and weekend work.

How do I get into production management?

Production management is a career where extensive experience in live events is essential.

Production managers will have worked in one or more relevant roles, including tour management, stage management, a technical position in sound or lighting or events management. Alternatively they might have a music business background in promotions or merchandising.

Extensive experience in live events is essential.

Either way it usually takes many years to reach this position. An extensive knowledge of music is also vital. The ability to speak another language is helpful if you are touring abroad.

You will also need the right personality for this work:

  • very well-organised and able to remain calm and clear-headed at all times
  • good at managing both people and finances, and willing to accept considerable responsibility
  • a good communicator, both verbally and in writing.
  • Stamina is essential in this career, as your workload will be heavy and tight deadlines must be met
  • An understanding of the technical aspects of the production is also expected.

Any experience you can get of organising events will be helpful, and if this includes live music then all the better. Find out if your school music department needs help with concerts or events, and there are may be events in your local community you could participate in.

Any sort of experience, such as helping backstage at a local theatre, or assisting with the organisation of musical events and gigs is a good idea. This will also help you make contacts, which could help you to progress within this competitive industry. If you decide to go to college or university, then also offer to help with live events whilst you are there.

Work experience in a live music venue or theatre will also help give you valuable skills and experience. Employers often prefer young people to be aged 18 or over due to insurance requirements.

What training and qualifications do I need?

Apprenticeships offering training in live events could provide relevant experience for a future career as a production manager. Look at the creative apprenticeship website for opportunities in Technical Theatre and Live Events. You could also send a CV and covering letter to live events venues in your area asking about possible apprenticeships.

Academic entry qualifications for apprenticeships can vary, although most employers will look for a good standard of English and Maths at GCSE. Relevant experience and enthusiasm are also important.

School qualifications including English maths, science, electronics, drama/theatre studies and music at GCSE, AS and A level are all relevant for production management work.

Possible courses include:

  • BTEC Level 2 Business Studies
    Entry is usually with 2 GCSE (A-D) passes or equivalent.
  • BTEC Level 3 Business Studies
    Entry with 4 GCSE (A-C) passes or equivalent.
  • Other relevant BTEC courses could include Music/ Music Technology, Electrical/Electronic Engineering or Performing Arts.
  • Degree courses in Music Industry Management or Music Production
    Look at the UCAS website for a list of possible courses. Technical theatre courses are also relevant. You might also consider a more general degree, perhaps in business studies, which may offer the opportunity for an industrial placement, possibly in live music.
    Entry to degree courses is with a minimum of two A levels or equivalent (such as a BTEC Level 3) and a proven interest in the chosen subject. Some courses require 3 A levels or equivalent.

What can I earn?

Production managers for live events are often freelance, and may be recruited on a daily basis. For a small event a production manager could expect to earn £250 a day, and for a larger event such as a festival earnings in the region of £300-£500 a day could be expected. At the very top earnings for very prestigious events might reach around £700 a day or more.

A typical starting weekly wage for an intermediate apprentice outside London could be £104 per week. In London the starting wage might be between £120 and £150 per week. This could increase to around £170 per week during the apprenticeship.

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