Tour Collective

What is a Tour Manager and what do they do?

As long as artists continue recording and releasing their music, there will always be live music performance and touring - locally, domestically, and internationally.

And with touring comes the need for one of the most important jobs in the live music industry - tour management.

This article will help you clarify who a tour manager is and what they do on a daily basis.

What is a Tour Manager?

Our definition of a tour manager is:

A non gender specific person who travels city to city with an artist, author, speaker, crew, or other VIP to manage their travel, income, expenses, touring personnel, media interactions, and to help facilitate anything else necessary to execute each show or event. (For the sake of this article, we’ll assume the tour manager is working with a musical artist to execute a live show)

Riley Vasquez tour manages Dude Perfect

At the most basic level, a tour manager is simply the person who handles or oversees almost every aspect of the lives and routines of musicians and bands while they are on tour. In other words, a tour manager ‘runs the show’ while the band is on the road.

Tour managers travel with the artist to ensure that the tour operates smoothly and punctually without unnecessary hiccups and problems. Tour managers typically work as independent contractors offering their services to different artists each year, but some have been known to stick with only one artist for the entirety of their career.

What are the Specific Jobs of a Tour Manager?

The tour manager handles both administrative and organizational duties, and to make sure everyone is satisfied, may even take care of the personal issues of other crew members or artists on tour.

The job of a tour manager can involve event coordination, accounting, travel and logistics coordination, operations, merchandise sales and ticketing settlement, human resources, and sometimes tour managers can even take on the role of a personal assistant. To be a good tour manager, one needs to be detail oriented, but also able to see the full vision of what the artist is trying to create.

Because a lot of the characteristics of tour manager transfer over to artist management, there are cases where the tour manager also doubles as the band manager. Often on smaller tours, the tour manager may be acting in a double role as not only a tour manager, but also a sound engineer, a driver, a merchandise manager, or other crew position.

Some specific responsibilities of a tour manager may include:

Creating a tour budget

Advancing and preparing all the details for each show

Securing and managing of all income and expenses during the tour

Overseeing other production elements like lighting, sound, publicity, and even selling of merchandise during the tour

Booking and coordinating all ground transportation, flights, hotels

Overseeing or directly handling the transportation of all VIPs and crew

Creating a security plan for each venue and public appearance

Working closely with publicists, show promoters, venue managers, ticketing agencies, etc.

Ability to solve extreme problems. Like unexpected issues that may arise during touring - (medical, security, travel, contractual)

Leading a team of varying size to execute each event

On larger or longer tours, the duties above may be shared between two or more people.

Completely outlining the specific duties of a tour manager can be near impossible as there are countless scenarios on the road that beg the tour manager's attention.

Ultimately, the job of the tour manager is to make sure that everyone, including the artist, is okay and happy while on the road. Tour management can be both fun and stressful, but can also be very rewarding as it is crucial to the success of an artist’s touring career.

In our How to be a Tour Manager online course we teach our students that though there are so many tasks a tour manager has to accomplish, there is one thing you must do first.

You have to take care of yourself before you take care of others. Just like on a plane when you put your mask on first before helping others - same concept. Your mental health is extremely important, and denying self care on the road is a recipe for a quick death to your career.

You can start our tour management course for free by clicking here.


What Does a Tour Manager Do?

Find out what a tour manager does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a tour manager.

what is a tour manager

Tour managers are responsible for the logistics of planning and executing a tour. They work with artists, bands, performers, speakers, or other individuals who need to travel from place to place while performing their craft.

Tour managers often have deep knowledge of the industry they’re working in—they know which venues are best for certain types of performances, which hotels provide the best amenities, etc. They also act as liaisons between the performers and the production team that is helping to put on the show.

Tour Manager Job Duties

A tour manager typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Coordinating with promoters, venues, and other members of the touring team to ensure that all logistical details are in place for each event
  • Managing budgets, contracts, and other legal matters related to the tour
  • Developing a detailed itinerary for each stop on the tour, including hotels, transportation options, performance venues, and other important locations
  • Making sure that the artist’s stage setup is always safe and ready to use
  • Ensuring that the artist has all necessary equipment and supplies available at all times
  • Maintaining order in the backstage area during concerts to ensure that all tasks are completed promptly and efficiently
  • Making sure that the artist is comfortable and has everything they need during the concert
  • Coordinating with security, event staff, and other personnel to ensure that the event runs smoothly and safely
  • Making sure that all equipment is loaded and unloaded from the venue in time for each event

Tour Manager Salary & Outlook

Tour managers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and type of company for which they work. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $47,000 ($22.6/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $94,500 ($45.43/hour)

The employment of tour managers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Tourism is a large industry that supports many other industries, such as transportation and lodging. As the economy grows, more people will travel domestically and internationally, which should lead to increased demand for tour managers.

Tour Manager Job Requirements

A tour manager typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Tour managers are typically required to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Many tour managers choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, tourism or a related field. These programs typically include courses in hospitality, marketing, sales, accounting and management.

Training & Experience: Tour managers typically receive on-the-job training. This training may include learning about the company’s policies and procedures, the tour routes and the technology used. Tour managers may also receive training in customer service and event planning.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not usually a requirement to become a tour guide or tour leader, but they can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for a job.

Tour Manager Skills

Tour managers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Leadership: Tour directors often have leadership skills, which can help them manage their team and ensure everyone completes their duties. Leadership skills can also help you motivate your team and inspire them to do their best. You can also use leadership skills to help your team resolve any challenges they may face.

Communication: Tour managers need excellent communication skills to relay information to their team and their clients. They often communicate with their clients by phone or email before the tour to learn about their interests and needs. They then use this information to plan the tour and create a schedule that meets everyone’s needs. Tour managers also use their communication skills to relay information to their team members, such as changes to the tour schedule or important safety information.

Organization: Tour directors need organizational skills to ensure they have all the supplies and equipment needed for their tours. They also need organizational skills to keep track of their tour’s itinerary and make sure everyone is where they need to be at the right time.

Problem-solving: Tour directors need to be able to solve problems that arise during a tour. This can include anything from finding a solution to a transportation issue to resolving a conflict between tour members. Being able to solve problems can help you keep your group happy and safe.

Customer service: Customer service skills can help you be a more effective tour guide. You can use these skills to help you provide a positive experience for your group. For example, you can use customer service skills to help you resolve any issues that may arise during the tour.

Tour Manager Work Environment

Tour managers are responsible for the overall operation of a tour, including the safety and well-being of the tour participants. They must be able to work long hours, often on call 24 hours a day, and be able to handle the stress of dealing with last-minute changes, cancellations, and other problems that can arise. Tour managers must be able to think quickly and make decisions that will minimize the impact of problems on the tour participants. They must also be able to work well under pressure and be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Tour managers must be able to communicate effectively with tour participants, tour staff, and the general public. They must also be able to work with a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Tour Manager Trends

Here are three trends influencing how tour managers work. Tour managers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of the Cultural Tourism Market

The cultural tourism market is growing rapidly, as more and more people are interested in learning about different cultures. This trend is creating opportunities for tour managers who can help organize tours that showcase the best of a particular culture.

Tour managers who are able to capitalize on this trend will be in high demand, as they will be able to create tours that appeal to a wide range of tourists. They will also need to be familiar with the latest trends in cultural tourism so that they can stay ahead of the competition.

More Focus on Experiences Over Things

As consumers become increasingly busy, they are looking for ways to have experiences rather than just buy things. This is leading to an increased focus on experiences over things, which is having a major impact on the travel industry.

Tour managers can capitalize on this trend by creating tours that focus on unique experiences rather than just visiting popular attractions. This can include things like cooking classes, hiking trails, or cultural events. In addition, tour managers can focus on providing excellent customer service to ensure that customers have a positive experience.

Greater Use of Technology in the Tour Industry

The use of technology in the tour industry is increasing at a rapid pace. This is due to the fact that technology allows tour operators to provide a better experience for their customers.

Tour managers can take advantage of this trend by becoming familiar with the latest technologies and how to use them effectively. This includes using social media to promote tours, developing mobile apps, and using video conferencing to connect with clients.

How to Become a Tour Manager

A tour manager career can be a great way to get started in the travel industry. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about different destinations and cultures, as well as develop your people skills. As a tour manager, you’ll be responsible for planning and organizing all aspects of a trip, from booking accommodation and transportation to arranging activities and excursions.

To become a tour manager, you’ll need to have a passion for travel and be able to work effectively under pressure. You should also be organized and have excellent communication skills.

Advancement Prospects

A tour manager is responsible for the coordination and execution of all aspects of a tour, including travel, accommodation, and logistics. A tour manager may also be responsible for the safety and security of the tour group.

The tour manager position is an entry-level position, and advancement prospects are good. With experience, a tour manager may be promoted to a senior tour manager position or a position in tour operations management.

Those with experience in the tourism industry may also advance to positions such as travel agent, travel writer, or travel photographer.

Tour Manager Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we offer travelers the opportunity to explore the world with expert guidance. We’re looking for an experienced tour manager to join our team and lead our small group tours. The ideal candidate will have a passion for travel and experience leading groups of people in a variety of settings. They will be responsible for all aspects of tour management, from pre-tour planning and logistics to on-tour support and post-tour follow-up. They will also be responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of all tour participants. If you have a passion for travel and want to help others explore the world, we want to hear from you.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all touring logistics, including but not limited to: routing, travel, accommodations, hospitality, ground transportation, and load-in/load-out
  • Manage day-to-day operations of the tour, ensuring all details are accounted for and executed flawlessly
  • Serve as liaison between the artist and venue management, communicating effectively and efficiently to ensure a successful event
  • Oversee the advance process for each show, working with the local promoter and venue to confirm all production details and rider requirements have been met
  • Create and distribute daily schedules for the artist and crew, ensuring all members are aware of their responsibilities and expectations
  • Handle financial transactions related to the tour, including but not limited to: petty cash, merchandise sales, and box office receipts
  • Maintain accurate records of all expenses incurred on behalf of the tour, submitting detailed reports to the appropriate parties in a timely manner
  • Supervise and manage tour staff, including but not limited to: drivers, security, merchandisers, and sound & lighting technicians
  • Respond to emergencies and unforeseen circumstances swiftly and efficiently, making decisions in the best interest of the artist and the tour
  • Keep a positive attitude and professional demeanor at all times, promoting a healthy and productive work environment
  • Be available 24/7 while on tour, as needed
  • Perform any other duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, tourism, or related field
  • 5+ years experience working in the tourism industry, with at least 2 years in a managerial role
  • Proven leadership and team-building skills
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and customer service skills
  • Highly organized and detail oriented, with strong time management skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure and handle last-minute changes

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Working knowledge of tour-booking software
  • Fluency in more than one language
  • Experience developing and managing budgets
  • Experience arranging travel logistics

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Tour Manager

Also Called Road Manager, Concert Tour Manager

Tour managers travel with musicians and crew members on touring journeys that can span the globe and last for months. Their job is to make sure everything runs smoothly, which usually means arranging travel plans, coordinating with venues, managing money, facilitating media interactions, and scoping out local services at each tour stop.

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What does a Tour Manager do?

Tour managers take care of nearly every aspect of the lives of  musicians and  crew while on the road, providing organizational, administrative, and boots-on-the-ground support for the duration of a concert tour. They make transportation and lodging arrangements; communicate in advance with concert producers and  venue management  to coordinate load-in, sound check, and set times; convey the band's hospitality needs (backstage catering and dressing room setup); see to it that musicians and crew get to their next stop safely and on time; and ensure that the artist's rider requests are met.

The best tour managers are well-prepared for the issues and crises that sometimes arise on tour, and deal with them resourcefully and efficiently.

Tour managers create day sheets that detail each day's schedule and  distribute them  to the band and crew. If there are media engagements planned—such as a record store appearance, a radio station visit, or an interview—the tour manager is responsible for making sure everyone is where they need to be.  Perhaps most importantly, the tour manager manages the tour's finances, keeping a close eye on the money that comes in and out to ensure everything stays within the tour accountant's budget.  When a problem arises, whether it's due to a dispute with a promoter , a passport emergency, guest list gaffes, or the artist's own bad behavior, it's the tour manager's job to resolve the issue and restore peace. In some cases, tour managers work closely with a tour publicist to ensure attendance of the shows, and those who work on smaller tours might take on additional duties, such as overseeing production elements like lighting and sound or working the merch table.

At a Glance

Some tour managers start out as musicians  or concert techs ; others have experience as festival staff , booking agents , promoters , or live sound engineers , or in similar live-music roles. With experience, connections, and a reputation for good work, tour managers can advance to better-paying jobs with more prominent bands and artists, or join the ranks of a record label or concert promotion company. They can also go into other aspects of management, becoming an artist manager ,  venue manager , artist relations manager , or company manager to an orchestra.

Tour management is typically freelance work, although the most experienced tour managers may be able to snag in-house positions at record labels.  It's vital that aspiring tour managers have proven experience living on the road and managing a creative undertaking.  As with many live music gigs, g etting hired as a tour manager is often a matter of word-of-mouth referrals.   To get started, some tour managers do the work for little or no pay with a friend's band.

  • Schedule management
  • Personnel management
  • Experience touring
  • Proactive communication skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Multitasking and organization

Tour managers must be excellent multitaskers with terrific time management and organizational skills. Being proactive and making the most of downtime (e.g., while traveling between tour stops) is extremely important to staying on top of work. The best tour managers are well-prepared for the issues and crises that sometimes arise on tour, and deal with them resourcefully and efficiently. They  should also be capable of handling interpersonal conflicts—which occur frequently on tour—with grace.

It's easy to forget that managing a tour means going on tour oneself. Just like the musicians and crew members they manage, tour managers spend hours riding in cars, buses, and/or planes, work long days that continue well into the night, and sleep in hotels and motels in unfamiliar cities. They also enjoy all the benefits of going on tour: paid travel, free concerts, and new experiences and opportunities around every corner. It's  vitally important for a tour manager's long-term success and well-being that he or she enjoys life on the road, highs and lows alike.

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What Does a Tour Manager Do?

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A tour manager is a person who runs the show when a band is on tour. Tour managers are responsible for making sure a concert tour runs smoothly. Their jobs involve looking after the tour finances, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be—and generally making sure that everyone on tour is on task.

Tour manager jobs often also involve dealing with the personal issues of the other people on the tour and generally making sure that everyone on tour is happy.

What Does a Music Tour Manager Do?

On a small indie tour, the tour manager may be the same person as the band manager. Tour managers may double as the driver or be a road crew member. They may even be the most responsible member of the band who is good with organization and management duties.

A tour manager may have started as a friend of the band who was along for the ride. These kinds of tour managers often take on a workhorse, everyman kind of role, reacting to whatever comes up, solving problems, and putting out fires.

However, on big-budget tours, the role of tour manager is a lot more formal. There may be a team of people in place running the tour, and the tour manager's job and responsibilities become more defined. For instance, if there is a full road crew in place, the tour manager makes sure they are doing their job and are where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there. ­But, on well-financed concert tours, they don't have to look after the gear themselves. These tour managers act more as supervisors to the team working for the band.

Indie Tour Managers vs. Big Budget Tour Managers

Like many jobs in the music industry, there is a big divide between the work done by tour managers on smaller tours and tour managers on big-budget tours. But here are a few of the basic aspects of the job, which encompass most of the behind the scenes business of a tour.

These responsibilities can include:

  • Confirming Reservations;
  • Managing Tour Finances;
  • Getting everyone to where they need to be on time;
  • Dealing with promoters , venue managers, ticket agents, and the like;
  • Confirming Show Times.

On larger tours, the job of tour manager might be split between a few people. For instance, there may be a tour accountant to manage the finances and someone else managing the road crew. But there will always be one person with the ultimate responsibility and decision-making power to whom these additional managers report.

Tour Manager As Tour Mom (or Dad)

In addition to a tour manager's specific duties, there are less easy to define but very important aspects of the job. A tour manager is the one who needs to help manage all of the emotional ups and downs and demands of life on the road. It falls to the tour manager to try to make everyone happy. Whether one of the musicians is feeling fed up and threatening to walk out on tour, or if the band decides they want an ice cream sundae in the middle of the night. Touring is extremely difficult work. It is physically and emotionally draining, and the tour manager needs to keep everyone on track, healthy, happy, and ready to do their jobs.

Salaries for Tour Managers Vary

The pay for a tour manager depends very much on the size of the tour. The fee structure is normally a base salary plus expenses and a daily stipend for incidental expenses. The profitability of the tour is a major factor in determining how much exactly a tour manager gets paid. When tour managers are just starting and trying to build a reputation, they may take work on small tours for expenses only. But tour managers for large, highly profitable tours are paid a generous base salary. Pay should be negotiated in advance of the tour and factored into the tour budget.

How to Find Tour Manager Jobs

Many tour managers build a client base through word of mouth. They may start working for friends' bands on small tours and then find new jobs from recommendations. Alternatively, tour management companies, and sometimes crew companies, have a staff of tour managers ready for hire. The musicians' manager , the publishing label , or the band's agent may hire the tour manager.

There are a lot of perks to being a tour manager. You get to travel extensively and see some great shows. However, it is also a great deal of responsibility. To be a good tour manager, you have to be able to calmly, and cooly juggles the demands of a large group of people. As well, as being able to fulfill requests that may sometimes seem unreasonable. The difficulty of the job always depends on the group of people you are with on the road.

As a tour manager, you are ultimately the one responsible for seeing that the tour moves from show to show without a problem. So, you can't engage in most of the partying that typically happens on the road. Although everyone is on tour to work, the tour manager is the one person who can never really take a night off.

If you are organized and think you can handle the demands of the road, however, working as a tour manager can be a fun and rewarding job.

what is a tour manager

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Tour Manager

Career Overview

A Tour Manager manages transportation, scheduling, and the financial aspects of an artist’s time on the road.

Alternate Titles

Road Manager, Concert Tour Manager

Avg. Salary

Salary Range

$46K – $71K 1

Table of Contents

Career Description

Career outlook, career path, experience & skills, education & training, additional resources.

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How To Become a Tour Manager

People also ask.

What is the role of a tour manager?

What education is needed to become a tour manager?

Do tour managers make a lot of money?

The job of a Tour Manager is to make sure that life on the road runs smoothly for everyone involved. This means getting the band safely to venues and hotels, managing money coming in and money going out, and dealing with Promoters , Ticket Service Directors and Venue Managers .

Tour Manager David Norman says that his “day consists of moving the artist and the band from city to city. Along with my Travel Agent, Tour Coordinator , Tour Bus Driver , Tour Publicist , booking flights, ground, hotels, etc. Doing day sheets (info on what your day will be like including departure times, showtimes, soundcheck times, travel after the show, etc.)”

Tour Managers also work with Band Directors , Travel Agents, Band Members, Sound and Lighting Techs , Instrument Techs ( Guitar Technicians , etc.), Sound Engineers , Tour Bus Drivers , Tour Coordinators , Production Managers , Tour Accountants, Advance Person , Festival Directors and the Road Crew .

A tour manager is the logistical backbone of an artist’s tour, overseeing all aspects of planning, coordination, and execution to make sure everything runs smoothly. This includes organizing transportation, accommodations, budgeting, negotiations with venues, and schedules for the touring party. And the touring party often includes musicians, crew members, and support staff. Many times, a tour manager will stand in as one of the band members.

On average, Tour Managers earn approximately $54,300 annually. The average salary range for Tour Managers runs from $46,000 to $71,000.

Tour Managers are paid week-by-week, and payment varies based on the tour budget, the length of the tour, the stature of the band, etc. Usually, a Tour Manager gets a base salary, plus expenses (meals, for example), and sometimes a per diem for incidental expenses that come up on the road.

The income of tour managers vary widely depending on things like the size and popularity of the artists they work with, the length and scale of the tour, and their level of experience and expertise. Tour managers, especially those just starting out or managing indie acts, usually make enough to get by. But you should’t expect to get rich by being a tour manager. If you’re up for the responsibility and living life on the road, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career.

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Tour Managers have a lot of responsibility, and not a lot of days off. Norman says, “I generally work at least 8 – 9 months out of the year. I’m a workaholic and need projects to keep me motivated.”

The best way to advance in this career is to have a handle on several different aspects of touring so that you can work in varying capacities. Norman says that “when I was coming up, my mentor advised me to learn EVERYTHING about touring, so I did. I can tour manage, production manage, [do] tour accounting, Promoter Rep, etc. Learning all of these different things will make your phone ring with more jobs over being just one dimensional.

“For example, this year I was the Tour Manager/Tour Accountant for John Legend (finished in February after 5 ½ years touring with him). Then I filled in as Tour Manager for a one-off date for Aaron Neville and then was Tour Director for the Brit Floyd tour and then Production Manager for Prince.

“In two weeks, I’ll go out as Tour Accountant for Avicii (filling in for a friend) and then I go out with One Direction as Promoter Rep August – October.” Advancement also comes from experience and building connections; most Tour Managers start with smaller, lesser-known bands before hitting the road with Grammy-winning, millionaire Rock Stars .

Like so many music industry careers, networking and word-of-mouth recommendations are the best way to get a job as a Tour Manager. Many Tour Managers start off by working with a friend’s band or in another music industry career.

UK-based Tour Manager Bob Slayer says, “There are so many ways to get into a career in music but like any creative field most of them involve working for next to nothing for quite a while, this is because a lot of people want to follow this path, so if you won’t work for nothing there are plenty of other people who will and they will get the breaks.

“If you have some aptitude for what you do then there comes a time where the experience and knowledge you have picked up working endless free or low paid hours begin to make you a scarcer, more valuable commodity.

“Back in 2002/2003, I was trying to get into music journalism. I was reviewing bands for a bunch of fanzines and just starting to get the odd bit of work from magazines. I interviewed a band by email – Electric Eel Shock, a Japanese band who were touring America at the time.

One of the questions I asked them was “Do you have any plans to come to the UK?” and this was the only one they answered! ‘You get gig; we come.’ And so I did.

“A few weeks later they came and stopped on my floor and did a few gigs around London. They blew a few people away and were asked to support a couple of larger bands.

The band then, impressed with what I had set up, invited me to go back to [the] USA with them and to SXSW. There I set up an interview with MTV for them and managed to get the head Booker from Roskilde Festival in Denmark to come see them live.

“She immediately booked them to headline a stage… This sealed it and they asked me to be their Manager . This I did for the next 6 years solid as well as tour managing and also acting as Agent in some territories.

I still work with them and just set up a European tour with them. Working and touring with Electric Eel Shock led to working with a number of other artists such as The Bloodhound Gang, Public Enemy, MC Devvo, etc.”

  • Start at the bottom. Get experience in different facets of the live music industry.
  • Network. Get the word out that you’re available to work as a Tour Manager.
  • Be willing to work for free or very little.
  • Brush up your budgeting skills.
  • Stay responsible and don’t get sucked into partying! You’re the one who needs to see that everyone gets to the next location safely and on time.

Norman, like many Tour Managers, started off as a musician himself. This experience gave him an understanding of what tour life was like, and what band members would need from their Tour Manager. He also has experience as a recording studio Sound Engineer and Mixer.

After working with the S.O.S. Band on an album, they asked him to come along on tour with them as a Front-of-House Engineer and Tour Manager. In general, Tour Managers have experience in one or more music industry careers before heading out with a band. Skill-wise, they must be able to handle finances, stay on schedule and handle all kinds of people with varying temperaments.

Working as Tour Manager isn’t for everybody. Norman says this is a good career for “someone who’s patient, is proactive instead of reactive and is a forward-thinker and can multitask!”

”Learn everything you can,” Norman says. “Read everything you can and above all, find a mentor to help guide you. College would be great to learn people and life skills.” Although higher education isn’t a requirement, an understanding of finance and budgeting is.

You don’t necessarily need a formal education, but a degree in music business or a related field can help. The more important thing is getting experience, being passionate about the artists and tours you manage. It can help to first go on tours as a different member of the tour crew, like the road crew, merch crew, or just general support crew.

There are no unions for Tour Managers, although UK-based Tour Manager Bob Slayer recommends the Music Managers Forum for those interested in artist management.

This site has some useful insight into the business of being a Tour Manager .

What skills do you need to be a Tour Manager?

To be successful, Tour Managers need skills in time management, interpersonal communication, budgeting and finance. They must be able to solve issues on the fly, deal with all kinds of people, and ensure everyone’s having a good time.

Most Tour Managers know the music industry inside-and-out, having worked in some other capacity before getting into tour management. It can be helpful to have an understanding of live concert sound, performance gear, and musical instruments.

What education do you need to be a Tour Manager?

Majoring in Music Business or Music Industry Studies as an undergraduate can be helpful for aspiring Tour Managers. However, many Tour Managers get all the education they need through working in various music industry roles such as live sound, venue management, and performance. These positions help them get to know what life on the road is like.

What they haven’t already learned, they learn on the road.

Who goes on tour with an artist?

Touring is big business and therefore all kinds of people go on tour along with an artist. Some people you might find on the tour bus include the Tour Manager, Production Manager , Roadies / Stagehands , Tour Bus Driver , Guitar Tech , Lighting Tech , Background Singers , musicians, and the people selling shirts, tote bags, and other memorabilia at the merch tent.

What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?

Bob Slayer says, “Get whatever experience under your belt. Bands always need to get to gigs, if you want to make yourself indispensable, buy yourself a van and offer yourself for free, or for expenses, or cheaply to bands. Maybe you don’t always want to tour but it will give you an insight into the goings-on of bands and you should be able to go from there into other areas.

“One fan of Electric Eel Shock used to come to all their gigs and so when I couldn’t tour manage them for a while I asked him if, in return for us taking him to the gigs, he would do some production. He said yes and became their Tour Manager for a while. Another fan got Electric Eel Shock a feature in his local newspaper.

“I encouraged him to do some more and he got us features in several other local newspapers on the tour. I introduced him to other bands he could also help out and within a year he packed in his job and started a PR company.”

What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?

Slayer: “Being a dick!”

Norman: “Thinking that it’s all glamorous and so easy. It’s definitely NOT. Also, people who think they know it all. I learn stuff each and every day from people who know less than me, to people who have much more knowledge and wisdom than myself.”

What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?

Slayer: “What the feck am I doing?”

Norman: “Do you think this would be right for me based on my personality?”

What is one thing I should have asked which I didn’t?

Norman: “I’ll have to think on that one. GREAT QUESTION!”

If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?

Slayer: ‘I am far from successful—but I am happy!”

Norman: “Diligence.”

Extra Credit: The Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Slayer: “There was a time when this was a polarizing question. You were in one camp or the other. There have been many other this band vs. that band. But I think it is hard to say anything other than both.”

Norman: “Beatles. The Rolling Stones are SOOOOOOO overrated.”


David Norman & Bob Slayer

David Norman  is a veteran Tour Manager who has worked as a musician, Recording Engineer and Mixer, Tour Accountant, and Production Manager. From 2008-2014 he worked as the Tour Manager/Tour Accountant for John Legend and recently worked with Prince on his European/UK tour. Norman has worked with stars like Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Toni Braxton, Arcade Fire, Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Green Day, and They Might Be Giants.

He has been profiled on Roadies of Color United , FOH Online , and Billboard .

Bob Slayer is a Tour Manager in the UK, where he has worked with Snoop Dogg, Electric Eel Shock, Iggy & the Stooges, Public Enemy, The Bloodhound Gang, and the Magic Numbers. In addition to his work with live music, he also now works with Comedians. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every year since 2008 and is himself an award-winning Comedian.

  • 1 . "Tour Manager Salaries" . published: Dec 22, 2019. retrieved on: Nov 7, 2019

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