Tour managers are responsible for planning and organising the logistics (moving equipment and people) of a band, orchestra, choir or music artist on tour, and making sure that everything runs smoothly and on time.
What is the job like?
Tour managers may work for a large tour management company or for artists’ managers or agents. The tours might be in the UK or overseas, and are often organised up to three years in advance.
There are normally two kinds of job: the first is more office-based, and the second often involves being out on tour all the time. The work also varies according to the type of music on tour – classical or popular.
The work of an office-based tour manager may include:
- financial and budget management
- liaising with venues, promoters, artists and their managers/agents
- booking flights, hotels and transfers for artists and crew
- dealing with any problems that may arise before or during a tour, such as travel disruptions or artist illness
- making sure that the sound and any audio-visual systems are appropriate for each venue
The work of a manager out on tour may include:
- travelling with the artists to the venue
- managing the transportation of instruments and PA systems to and from venues and overseeing the installation on-site
- dealing with any problems or issues that arise during the tour and liaising with venue management
Office-based tour managers may work a normal office day, with evening and weekend work included whilst attending any tours. Those out on tour work very irregular hours and spend much time away from home.
Managers working on small tours in popular music may take on other roles such as roadie/driving duties or band management.
How do I get into tour management?
There is no set way to become a music tour manager. You don’t need musical ability but a real interest and enthusiasm for music is important.
Any experience of helping out at music events will be an advantage. You could help out with school/college music productions or volunteer or work at a local music festival.
You could help out with school/college music productions or volunteer or work at a local music festival.
Tour managers have usually had many years’ experience in the music industry. It may be possible to start out as a music touring assistant or administrative assistant and work your way up.
The work of a tour manager is not especially glamorous and you need a special blend of skills. Most important are fantastic organisation skills, with the ability to plan and think ahead. Whilst on tour you need to trouble-shoot and solve problems – the success of the tour depends on you. As well as good people-management skills you also need a head for business.
What training and qualifications do I need?
School subjects that would help for this career include English, maths, business studies and music.
Apprenticeships in the music industry, such as in live events and promotion, could provide a useful background for moving into tour management later on.
Level 2 or 3 college courses in business may be useful. At university relevant courses include music management, music business, music and live events management or music.
What can I earn?
There is no structured pay scale, and promotion is entirely based on merit and hard work. Salaries vary widely but can be around £25,000 - £35,000 and some very experienced tour managers earn more than this.