What is Concert Tour Management?
The idea of using a band/concert tour manager is to make sure the tour is running smoothly, all band and crew are happy, performance revenue is being collected and tour-related bills are being paid. The following is a brief guide to the work you should expect from the concert tour manager you work with.
A band tour manager is basically the person who takes care of booking all the accommodation, transport, equipment and crew involved with the tour. They travel with the band on the road, dealing with all the day-to day problems as they arise. They also act as accountant; producing budgets, picking up cash for performances and paying suppliers and other expenses as the tour progresses. On very large tours the role of band tour manager may be split between 3 or 4 different people; for instance tour manager, production manager, production assistant and tour accountant (s). Tour managers are usually freelance and are paid by the artiste or artiste’s management company from the tour funds. They work on a daily or weekly rate. The tour usually pays for the tour manager’s accommodation, travel, communication costs and other expenses. As a general rule, tour managers do not book or arrange the shows. This is the job of the booking agent working in conjunction with promoters. The band tour manager will be contacted by the management, usually during or after the booking of the show (s). (In certain cases the management may consult the tour manager about the suitability of certain venues or whether it is possible to reach certain cities in the time allocated etc.) The tour manager’s job really begins once the dates have been booked. Here at Teklenburg Sound Engineering I will take the date sheet supplied by the booking agent and work on the following areas, budget, advancing and on-the-road.
You have a list of dates and the fees (income) from each show. Great, but how much is it going to cost you to do those shows? At the very least you are going to need transport to and from the gig and maybe somewhere to stay if the show is a great distance away. Before agreeing to under-taking the tour, the artiste’s management should have a look at the costs involved. The tour manager will be called on for this as they usually have more experience. The booking agent should have given the manager a list of the fees the band will receive on the tour. The person responsible for the budget should then subtract figures for likely expenses. When compiling a budget or list of possible expenses I use the following main categories: WAGES, PER DIEMS*, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT, SOUND, LIGHTING, BACK LINE, PRODUCTION, REHEARSALS and OTHER EXPENSES**
* Per Diems is a daily amount paid to touring crew to cover living expenses, food etc. From the Latin ‘for the day’. Apparently.
** Other expenses would include any foreign artist taxation, management commission and agents commission.
The responsibility of the tour manager is to present the costs as he or she perceives them and to offer solutions if the costs are too great. The income minus the expenses will give either the profit or loss (shortfall) for the tour.
Once a budget/ list of predicted expenses has been agreed, the band tour manager will then start to ‘advance’ the shows. Advancing is the process of contacting each promoter and venue to ensure the entire artiste’s technical and hospitality demands will be met and to resolve any problems the promoter or venue can foresee. The tour manager will also ask about contact names and addresses, arrival times, equipment load in times, sound check and performance times, any supporting/opening acts and finally what time all live music has to be finished by. Common problems are incorrect venue addresses, limited physical access to venues (i.e. lots of stairs to hump gear up!), clashing sporting or other musical events, sound level limits and insufficient or inappropriate technical equipment. Good tour managers will have an encyclopaedic knowledge of these problems and be able to anticipate them and/or advise the touring party well ahead of time.
By anticipating these problems the tour manager will save the tour both time and money.
On The Road
Once the advancing has been done and the tour manager has all the appropriate venue information, contact details and times he or she will usually produce the tour itinerary. The itinerary details all the information for the tour, in a day-by -day format and is issued to all touring personnel as well as to related offices, friends and family. The tour manager will then travel with the act on the tour. The job on the road varies enormously depending on the type and success level of the act.
The following items are definitely part of a band tour manager’s day-to-day workload:
- Overseeing hotel departures on time
- Settling accommodation bills
- Overseeing travel arrangements i.e. band and crew onto the bus or to the airport in good time
- Paying per diems to band & crew
- Overseeing venue arrival – double checking hospitality and technical arrangements
- Arranging up to date running order with venue and promoter
- Overseeing promotional activities i.e. TV, radio and press interviews at the venue or at other locations
- Supervising any support or opening acts
- Ensuring venue is ready to open on time by supervising sound check times
- Liasing with transport department regarding the next days’ travel
- Ensuring all acts perform on time and for the allotted time
- Settling performance fee with promoter and collecting any due cash
- Ensuring all touring equipment is re-packed and loaded back onto tour transport
- Preparing band and crew schedule sheets for the next day
- Overseeing band and crew on to appropriate over night transport or to next hotel
- Reporting this show’s attendance figures to management and booking agent
Live Sound Engineering
What does a live sound engineer do?
live sound engineer controls the sound levels of all instruments and vocals during a concert. He or she adjusts the gain and volume levels as needed, and adds effects, to ensure that all instruments and vocals sound good together. He or she uses an audio mixing board to combine the input from all microphones on the stage. This is called front of house (FOH) mixer.To get a good live mix, the engineer must have the technical knowledge to use the sound equipment. Basic knowledge of acoustics is also needed. Most importantly, the live sound engineer must be a creative person with a good ear for music.
The sound engineer’s job begins before the audience arrives for the show. Once all instruments, microphones, and other equipment are set up, the engineer completes a sound check. The band plays during a sound check and the engineer mixes the sound. Different mixes are created during the sound check.
The FOH mixer creates the sound that is sent to the loudspeakers for the audience to hear. Band members also need to hear themselves playing. Plus, each band member may want to hear a different mix. The drummer may want to hear more drums and bass in the mix, while the vocalist may want the vocals and guitar turned up.These custom mixes are sent to the band members’ monitors. Monitors can be small speakers placed on the stage in front of each player, or earphones placed in a band member’s ear. The audience does not hear these monitor mixes. Monitor mixes can be sent from the FOH mixer, or from an monitor mixer placed on stage, so the monitor sound engineer has a good eye contact with the musicians.
The audio engineer can also add different effects during the mixing process. Effects such as compression, reverb, chorus, and other digital effects can be used to alter the sound. If effects were used during the original recording process, the live sound engineer may want to duplicate those effects. This will help the engineer achieve a live sound that is as close to the recording as possible.
An additional mixer may also be used if the live performance is being recorded. The live sound engineer may take on the role of recording engineer. He or she may also delegate this job to another engineer who specializes in recording.
When the show begins, the audience mix may need to be adjusted. When the sound check was completed, the concert hall was empty. When the concert hall is full of people, the acoustics of the room will change. The live sound engineer will adjust the sound mix as needed throughout the show.