Hi. My name is Danny and I’ve spent the last decade tour managing bands around the world. Normally I write city guides but now I’ve decided to write a how to about touring. JOIN ME. QUIT YOUR JOB. COME ALONG FOR THE RIDE. FUCKING READ THIS!!!!!!!!!
After the immense success of my previous blog post I’ve returned to help you dump your boring life and get out on the road. This is part 2 of my self help guide to becoming a tour manager. Yea, it’s hard to write, but I know it’s changing lives. How do I know? I know because people from around the globe have been contacting me and saying things like:
“We love you. Your tour management guide is already changing our meaningless lives”
“Your blog post kept me alive during all those years in captivity”
“Danny, I’m single. Please.”
“Danny. This is a plane ticket to Rio. We want you to compete for the United States of America at the Olympics.”
“Danny. Again. I am single as fuck. Please.”
I was tempted to bask in the success of that blog post but I didn’t. I told myself I needed to stay focused. Stay hungry. Stay humble, so that I can provide the tools necessary to get your ass on the road and making money.
Well… I did change things up a bit last week. I held a seminar called, “Daniel Carissimi: Secrets to Success in the Touring Industry” but there were a few… hiccups.
DC:STSITTI was held in a large conference room at a Super 8 off the 101. Things were going swimmingly until a special part of the seminar called, “If you believe the things I say, anything can happen.” I led the audience through a guided meditation intended to get their minds in a state of successful thinking. After getting them in a truly deep state of meditation and thinking super very positive I had them lay down in a line and get run over by a tour bus. It was supposed to be like a trust fall, or walking on hot coals.
Shit happens. I’m not gonna whine about it. And I refuse to let myself be tied to the past. I moved on and so should you. That failure reaffirmed my belief that this blog is the path forward for both of us. PLEASE NOTE: I’ve shelved any future seminars for the time being. If you bought tickets, I apologize they won’t be refunded but you have nothing to worry about. This blog is all you FUCKING NEED.
Right now you are probably saying to yourself, “Danny. I quit my job because of this blog and need to put food on the table. How do I make money?! What is today’s post about?!”
Today’s post will focus on how I became a tour manager and the various ways you can become a tour manager. Literally, how to find a job in tour management.
“Danny I have to know now. How did you do it? How did you manage to become a coveted member of such an exclusive industry? I love you.”
In my upcoming podcast with Alan Palomo from Neon Indian, our origins will be explained in depth but here is a brief summary.
Alan Palomo (AKA Neon Indian via Ghosthustler, via VEGA) and myself did speech and debate together in highschool, so we were getting laid ALL THE TIME. Unsurprisingly Alan was a lot cooler and introduced me to cool music. After high school we lost touch for like a year then ran into each other at a party in Austin during SXSW. I had on some SICK bootcut jeans and Alan was already balls deep in white skinny Levis.
He explained he was in a band called Ghosthustler and that it was whooping ass. I looked online after the party and it was indeed whooping ass. I was bored in college and looking for something to do in music so I fell into the role of manager. If you don’t know what a manager does don’t fret, that will be covered in a later post. In short they guide the artist’s career and organize their business shit. They’re also, by nature, generally, not always though, huge buttholes. The music industry is a butthole rich industry.
Looooong story short we just started working together and I became the de facto manager. So just responding to emails, finding money, organizing tours, social media, etc… I pursued it intensely and once he put out the Neon Indian material and that blew up, we moved to NYC. I worked as his manager there for a bit until the band got poached.
Poaching means stolen in the music industry. I got the Eduardo from the “Social Network” treatment. But ultimately that tragedy made sense because nobody should be a manager first. Managing an individual’s career means you’ve acquired enough knowledge and music industry know how, to guide individuals down an uncertain and rocky path. Tour management is a GREAT way to start because a significant portion of a band’s income is derived from touring. And if you know how that all works, then you can make them more money.
Thus, I was in NYC and out of a job in the dead of winter. And if you’ve ever been in NYC and out of a job in the dead of winter, you know it sucks huuuuuuge balls.
At that very moment of desperation a promoter friend introduced me to a guy named Rowan. Rowan and myself went to get UDON and became the best of friends. Rowan was managing a band in Australia called Boy and Bear. This band had blown the fuck up down under but was relatively unknown in America. They were coming to play SXSW in ATX and Rowan asked if I’d like to tour manage.
Things went well and I was asked to do it again. At this time I still had a minor understanding of a tour manager’s duties but I tried and got through it.
For a variety of reasons Boy and Bear never took off in America the way a lot of people thought they would. But they did take off that way in Australia. Because of this I suddenly had some credibility in that territory. Meaning, I suddenly had a resume. So when the managers of Cloud Control, an awesome and good sized band over there decided to come to America, my name got thrown in the mix. I’d say undeservedly but it happened. I took that gig and then my resume was built a bit more which snowballed into more work.
You need to figure out how to get in touch with a band. Then you need to gain credibility as a tour manager.
If there is a point you can glean out of this, it is that acquiring a job in touring is not an A, B, C process but it is also not like becoming a movie star. It’s not a rare impossibility. I’m acutely aware that a lot of chance and happenstance led to my touring career however I definitely helped move it along by taking meetings and working towards that goal. You need to figure out how to get in touch with a band. Then you need to gain credibility as a tour manager. Once you’ve done that work will fall in your lap.
Here are my 8 ways you can get on tour and begin living a more fulfilling life.
- I don’t suggest majoring in anything music industry related in college. Schools like Berklee and Belmont are… well how do I put this… kind of a scam. And if you are there already and reading this I’m not saying you’ve wasted your time. There are things you can get out of that situation like learning a lot about masters, and publishing, and the not fun but very beneficial sides of the music business. BUT, most people I know in music didn’t do any of that stuff. They majored in like business or a liberal art, became a more well rounded individual then got an internship and moved parlayed that into work.
- Which brings me to my next tip, intern at a management company, or booking agency during college. Let me make it clear that I find the practice and culture of unpaid internships shitty. My opinion is that if you want work done and can’t afford the labor, well sorry dickbag, you have to do it yourself. Unfortunately this is not how music works. Music companies run off interns. In college I had an internship with Warp Records. It was dumb but one interesting thing came out of it. Amidst the Neon Indian explosion I got a call from a dude that worked at Warp asking if I was interesting in managing !!! (pronounced chick chick chick). He’d seen that I was managing, they needed a manager, and it went from there. I didn’t get the job because they were like twice my age and I was woefully unprepared for the position but at least it was an introduction. And had I been tour managing at the time I would have used that to try and get a job. I’ve heard this story a few times. Try a large company like Red Light Management or Mick Management. Make friends with them, then make them aware your intention is to be a tour manager and you will be astonished with what they contact you for later on. Just know that they have a revolving door of interns at these job and do not care about you.
- Email a band that has just started to get attention. That’s right. Get online and look up some up and coming indie blog, on a popular playlist, band and email them. Their contact will be somewhere. Explain what you’d like to do and why you would be good and say you will do the first tour at cost. Do not do it for free or spend any money, but do it for the cost of living and food. So like free room, travel, and $20 a day for food. That is if you have to like realllly start at the bottom but try and go a bit bigger. $500 a week for your first touring gig is reasonable.
- Start at another position. Tour management is not the only job on tour. I will devote another post to what other jobs you can have on tour but there are a lot and some are easier to get into initially. Tour management is a fuck ton of responsibility. Merch isn’t really. It’s also a crucial skill on tour. Contact a band and say you will sell their merch. Sell them on the fact that while they are walking around meeting fans, or setting up and playing, OR GETTIN LAID, you can be at the booth safeguarding the merch and increasing sales… and also getting laid. If they tell you they can’t afford a merch person offer the following deal, “Let me sell merch for $100 a day.” They go, “we can’t afford to eat, much less pay you.” Go, “Ok. How about this… I sell your merch and get 15% of sales. If you don’t sell anything, fine… I don’t make anything. But if you do then I get a little cash. AND because the deal incentivizes me to work (maybe don’t use such large words) you will sell more merch.” This pitch normally works. Once you are on tour doing merch you can make friends and meet other bands and more easily work your way up to tour manager. You can also do this by mixing sound or being a tech.
- Become part of a mailing list like BOBNET. Bobnet is a mailing list for touring jobs. They send out emails filled with shit like, “English band needs tour manager for 4 week North American tour. Must have clean record and passport.” That means they need a tour manager that hasn’t been to jail, recently, and can go between Canada and the U.S.A. You send in your resume and apply for the job. The only drawback here is you need touring experience to get on the list. I think like at least 2 tours or something. Although, it’s not like rocket science. Fudge ur resume a bit to get on the list then make it more truthful once actually applying to tours. And do not lie on your resume to bands or managers because this is a tiny industry and you will get caught. Then you will get hung upside down and beaten with a bamboo stick stick until whatever buzz band you fucked with is satisfied.
- Work at a venue. As we say in Texas, “How you gonna know how to tour manage if you ain’t know how the venue work son?!” Pick a good venue that has bands you like coming through. If you need suggestions hit me up on twitter. Get a job there even working the door. Or onstage rolling cables. You will meet people.
- Be cool. Touring is mostly hanging out with people and bands just want to have a team around them that they trust that they get along with. It’s a family. And everyone wants to have a cool family. My family is cool. My dad wears New Balances and mows the lawn ALL THE FUCKING TIME. WHAT DOES YOUR PU$$Y DAD DO?
- Once you are on tour, treat everyone opening band or headlining band with respect. Become friends with the crew of the other bands. Many times while on tour with a larger artist I’ve taken their tour manager aside and said, “Hey, I like all of you, if you ever need someone, let me know.” And if I’ve done my job right and they’ve seen that, then you get a call. Conversely this works with baby bands. Because baby bands will often times become big ole bands. Make them happy by doing things like this, “Hey I know I’m supposed to only give y’all $10 bucks but… I took another $20 out of our budget. That should be enough to get you a big pizza. I also brought over 6 beers from our hospitality.” BOOM. You just made friends 4 life. When they get big they’ll go, “Hey, despite that tour bus meditation stunt… Danny is pretty darn cool. Let’s hire him.”
Ok that’s it for now. That is how I got into tour managing and some suggestions on how you can as well. Next week we will discuss the different types of jobs on tour, how to get into those, how much they pay, and tons of other stuff to help save you from another day at your shit job, in your shit house, in your shit city, on top of your shit significant other. By the time I’m done with you, you’ll be shitting on all that and dating a supermodel; I guarantee it. And if you aren’t… Um… I gotta go.
If any of this sounds good. Read on. Every week I will explain a little more and eventually you will have a good idea of how to do this. Eventually I’d like it to be a little book. Wouldn’t you like that too? OK. OK. I’ll see you next week. If you like this. Follow me on twitter. If you want to pour acid on my dumb face or send me anthrax, don’t. Just go here and send me hate mail.