What is a Tour Manager?
A tour manager, also known as a TM, is the person in charge of everything that happens on tour. They handle accounting, logistics, scheduling, and booking before a tour starts and once they’re out on the road. If anyone on tour has a question, the person that has the answer 99% of the time is the tour manager.
Skills Required to be a Tour Manager
Many skills are important for tour management, but the most essential skills are organization and attention to detail. It’s in the Tour Manager’s best interest to learn about the people they’re on tour with, both crew and artist, as they play a crucial role in everything that happens in their team’s day-to-day lives on the road.
They must be able to multitask and problem solve because issues arise and will need addressing on the fly. They’re the face of the tour to the venue staff and security, so good people skills and being polite are a must. But they also must be able to put their foot down to ensure essential tasks get completed correctly and on time when required.
Advancing Shows as a Tour Manager
Advancing a show is the most critical part of a tour manager’s job. It’s something unique to upper-level tour personnel and involves a lot of cooperation. In the months and weeks leading up to a tour, the tour manager (along with other people like the production manager) will be in close communication with the venue staff to ensure the tour’s needs are covered.
Setting up catering, mapping out the venue for the best set up, and where busses will park are all on the table for discussion. The rider will let the venue staff know the tour’s specific needs, but it’s up to the tour manager and the venue staff to develop solutions to accommodations that aren’t possible. Most of this communication is done by email at first, and then eventually, it turns into phone calls.
Daily Tasks of a Tour Manager
As soon as they wake up, the first thing a tour manager does is access the venue. They meet up with venue managers and coordinators and spend time walking through the venue and finalizing the decisions for where everything will be set up, like catering and dressing rooms. They hang day sheets and signs to map out the venue for the rest of the people on tour. With the venue staff’s help, the tour manager will review ticket counts and ensure they address all the items on the rider.
Additionally, they help oversee that load in goes according to plan and take time to deal with any issues. The tour manager spends soundcheck on stage with the artist; this way, they’re there to help fix problems. If the artist is having a meet and greet, it’s the tour manager‘s job to make sure it doesn’t run too long. They’re also responsible for having a security meeting with the venue staff discussing credentials and anything that happens during the show (like stage diving or the artist inviting fans on stage) that security would need to know.
The tour manager walks the band to and from the stage and uses the show time to finish settling the show with the venue. Once the show is over, it’s time for the band to party with their guests, so the tour manager must be prepared to coordinate the after-party, following whatever the artist requests. They make sure all the drivers have directions to the next venue, that their crew was showered and fed, and they go to sleep to rinse and repeat the next day.
Tour Manager Tips
- Get to really know your crew and especially your artists (create personnel forms!)
- Use different tones/faces to deliver important messages to people.
- Your vibe is what you’re portraying to this entire tour, so if you need a minute, take one.
- The fans don’t care that A, B, and C happened today. This show needs to go perfectly because that’s what they came to see.
- Stay ahead of yourself by adding information to spreadsheets/documents as soon as you get it, even if the show is six months away.
- Never be in the venue on your own, and two people should always be in the office.
- Have an open-door policy with your office to create a better relationship with your crew.