Interview:Tour Manager

Part 1: A Tour Manager's Responsibilities/How to Find a Tour Manager/How Much to Pay a Tour Manager

Part 2: Minimum Crew Requirements/Getting a Fair Deal From the Venue/Making Sure Your Band Is Paid Fairly

Part 3: Merchandise Matters/Cutting the Cost of a Tour/Preparing the Tour Book

Part 4: Touring in Canada/Overseas Work Permits/End of Tour Accounting




Rob Brenner: Tour Manager


Part 1: A Tour Manager's Responsibilities/How to Find a Tour Manager/How Much to Pay a Tour Manager

A veteran of 20 years of managing bands on the road, Rob Brenner has key advice on tour set-up, crew selection, ways to reduce touring costs and how to make sure that you get paid correctly. What are the main responsibilities of a tour manager?


Rob Brenner: The manager, the booking agent, and the band would agree on the dates of a rough tour schedule. Then once a tour manager is brought on he would coordinate with the booking agent on the routing of the tour. Budgets would be developed based on number of shows, expected guarantees, possible overages, and merchandise sales, on the income side. And then on the expense side you are looking at salaries, hotels, transportation, and equipment rental. If at the end of the night you are going to be doing settlement with the promoters, you will be looking through all the expenses as agreed upon by the booking agent and the promoter and seeing where you are over or under budget. You will be debating any particular points that seem unclear; looking at the box office receipts and making sure all the income and expenses are accounted for; making sure that the tour manager and the local promoter agree on those numbers and getting your money; and getting any overage if there is some. How can a band find a tour manager?


Brenner: A lot of times a band will find a tour manager through the record company or through their band manager. There's always the friends and family route, but that's a mixed blessing. You are dealing with someone that you know and trust and if they have the proper experience, then it's obviously a great situation. Certainly there are books published. Performance magazine has a big guide and I think some of the other magazines have tour managers listed. However it's a real shot in the dark when you are calling someone cold like that. If you are calling someone cold to find a tour manager you should immediately ask for a copy of his resume. Ask for a minimum of two or three contacts who could discuss his work. Then you have to judge if what he's offering you is appropriate for your band. If it's a very small band and his experience has been doing big arena tours, it doesn't sound like a good fit. If it's someone who's never heard of the band or has no interest in that kind of music, that doesn't sound like a good fit. What does a tour manager get paid?


Brenner: If it were a young band, then maybe for room and board and a few hundred bucks a friend of the band would be able willing to do that. Looking for an experienced tour manager on a mid-size tour I'd say anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 a week, depending upon the kind of venues being played, the nature of the touring, and the success of the band. Is the tour manager responsible for finding a crew?


Brenner: It gets divided up among the tour manager, the production manager, the band, and the band's manager, all of whom should have input into who goes out on a tour. If you are on a tour bus you are living with everybody on that bus, and everybody needs to be a team player and appropriately behaved, at least within the vibe of the tour. I mean if everybody's partying, then a stick-in-the-mud is not going to function well and vice versa.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4