The Tour Manager’s Guide to Being a Tour Manager, Part VII: Advancing

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The Tour Manager's Guide - Advancing

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!!!!!!!!!

You could also go listen to me podcast if you love excellence.


Danny enters a dimly lit michelin star restaurant in the Hollywood Hills. A Maitre D’ in a crisp tuxedo greets him.

Maitri D’: Mr. Carissimi… we weren’t expecting someone of your stature this evening… back from the Caspian sea so soon?

Danny: It was fine Marco it’s just Sturgeon caviar gets old sooo fast. Anyway, I had to fly back for meetings. You know, Hollywood stuff.

Marco: Of course. Well we are currently out of Foie Gras, I hope you won’t be too disappointed.

Danny: I’m not. But your family will be when they learn you’ve lost your job. Your entire staff is fired.

Marco: But sir… Timmy is sick… I can’t lose my job.

A man in a suit motions for Danny to come over to his table.

Danny sits down across from an executive from Dreamworks and Steven Spielberg.

Executive: Well Danny we know you hate small talk because you’re so busy tour managing massive bands so we’ll get straight to it… we want to make a movie about your life.

Danny sighs and looks at his watch, it’s dead.

Danny: I’ve heard it before Tom.

Tom looks at Steven Spielberg. Steven Spielberg is terrified.

Steven: Double that. This isn’t your run of the mill tour manager story. It’s about a boy… becoming a man but… he still kinda looks like a boy. It’s about the industry. (cut off)

Tom: Just hear me out. The studio is going to make this a top priority and Steven wants to direct the film.

Danny: Are there any directors I’ve heard of available?

Steven: Let me interject here. First of all, let me say, wow. I’ve had dinner with the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama, but nothing like this. I’m a huge fan.

Danny: You had my interest Mr. Spielberg, now you have my attention.

Steven: Ok so. Charlie Kaufman wrote the script The Tour Manager and I loved it so much I tabled E.T. 2. This is mine and Dreamworks top priority we will do anything to make it happen.

Danny: (scratches nails. Sighs. Begins spreading butter on roll) What’s the budget?

Steven: (Looks at Tom the executive nervously) Officially, 400 million dollars.

Danny: Unofficially?

Danny: Look Mr. Spielberg I’ve not heard of you but I’m sure you’re just fine. I don’t know if the world needs another film about me, it’s a tired genre.

Danny begins standing up.

Tom: Danny, old friend. Come on. Hear Mr. Spielberg out. For an old friend.

Danny reluctantly sits back down.

Danny: Ok. But if I say yes we do it on my terms.

Steven: Absolutely anything you want.

Danny: Alright so. The film opens up with Danny the tour manager played by a young Keanu Reeves. He’s on a tour bus with the world’s most famous band headed for a night of gambling in Macao when the unexpected happens.

Tom: What is it Danny? What happens? (looks at Steven Spielberg with concern)

Danny: Danny learns that there’s a bomb on the tour bus and if the tour bus goes below 60 miles an hour it blows up. So the rest of the movie is Danny figuring out what to do and eventually saving the band. They’re so impressed they end up hiring him to play keyboard and the last half of the film is a concert filmed by Martin Scorsese.

Steven: So it’s the plot of Speed?

Danny: Yes.

Tom: I see 0 legal or financial issues. Audiences will love it. My only mild concern is that Keanu Reeves is in his 50s. Hiring a young Keanu Reeves would require altering the space time continuum.

Danny: I’m an ideas guy Tom. That’s for you two to figure out.

Steven: And we will.

Danny: Good. And before you do anything else research is required. How can you direct a film about tour managing if you don’t know the craft yourself Mr….. I’m sorry what’s your last name?

Steven Spielberg: Spielberg. Steven, Spielberg.

Danny: Whatever. I’d like you to start with advancing a tour.

Steven Spielberg: But how do I do that? I’m just some director.

Danny: You hollywood types think you’re so brilliant but you don’t know everything.

Steven Spielberg: Tell me Danny, I’ll do anything.

Danny: Ok here’s the deal. How to advance a tour. When a band books a tour and sets the dates it’s your responsibility to give and receive information from the venue. There are all sorts of details you have to know. What time does the venue close? Do they have crew that can work all day or are they part of a labor union? Where are you supposed to load in with the gear?

Steven Spielberg: I don’t know…

Danny: Exactly. First step is getting information from your team. You are going to need the:

  1. Band members names
  2. What they play
  3. The hospitality they want backstage. (tell them to give you one wish list and one that is practical. Then ask them if they’d like more money and food or booze, We will get to that later). Any other preferences they have at the venue.

Next, contact the FOH or sound person and ask for an updated copy of the stage plot and input list. A stage plot is a blueprint of the stage. It tells the people working at the venue where everyone will be. So the venue will know where to put the microphones and such. I’ve included an example below. If you have no FOH ask for this from management.

An input list is a list of where all the wires and stuff go onstage. Where the band needs cables for the microphones etc… As a tour manager you don’t necessarily need to know this all that well but you need to make sure you have a copy and it works.

Stage setup

Next you are going to figure out what kind of vehicle you and the other bands are driving. This is muy importante.

You’re going to take all of the information you’ve gathered and put it into microsoft word and spruce it up.

On the first page you’re going to have a big cool photo of the band with a tagline like “AC/DC Fall Tour 2016 Advance” Below that you will have an introductory paragraph like:

Hello!

My name is Danny and I tour manage AC/DC. Nice to meet you, we are looking forward to the tour. Inside here you will find all relevant information for the band. Please read through carefully. My FOH is attached for tech questions. Please send your house specs over (what kind of sound system the venue has). When you are done please fill out the attached excel sheet and send back to me. That will answer all of my questions. Look forward to the show.

Your contact info

Your FOH contact info

Best,

-Danny

Below that you will have a table of contents like:

  1. Merch
  2. Transportation
  3. Credentials
  4. Hospitality
  5. Settlement
  6. Stage Plot and Input List

In the merch section you will remind them that you need a well lit area with good foot traffic and that you are or are not providing a merchandise seller.

Let them know what everyone is driving in. Bus, Bus with a trailer, van, sleigh pulled by golden retrievers, whatever.

Stipulate whether you will be bringing your own credentials or not. Every venue can provide them but it’s way better if you do it yourself.

Let them know how you’d like to settle. Settling means how you want to be paid. Cash, check, gold bars. Sky’s the limit. Ask the manager how they want this done. If they don’t they’re idiots and should be fired.

Then outline what the band wants on their hospitality and do not skip the details!!! This requires a response from them. You must figure out what the budget is. If it’s a small show and $100 you need to pick and choose. Which is why you asked the band earlier. You see, some bands don’t give a shit about the snacks they want $$$$ or a bigger buy out. I find it’s good to go booze, water, some snacks, and then put everything towards more money.

  • Fruit Tray
  • Fresh blood
  • Cured meats
  • Cheese
  • Water
  • Towels
  • Moonshine
  • Cutlery, plates, napkins, cups, mixers (the details)

Next you will have a copy of the stage plot and input list. The last page will say Thank you.

You will send this in with a sheet like the below. This is for them to fill out. Once they’ve sent this back you file this in a folder in your email and open it up the day before. Review and go from there. You will also send over financial documents like a W2 or W8. Take the house specs they send back and give it to your sound folks.

Steven Spielberg: That’s how I advance a show?

Me: That’s it. Now be at my house for yoga tomorrow @ 6 AM. And bring me a juice.

Steven Spielberg: Anything.

Danny throws a smoke bomb on the ground. When it clears, he’s still there but his food has arrived.


If you liked this and want to know more about tour managing or how bands make music their career, check out my damn podcast! It comes out every Wednesday and features guests like RAC, Neon Indian, and more.

Love,

-Danny

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