A tour manager (or concert tour manager) is the person who helps to organize the administration for a schedule of appearances of a musical group (band) or artist at a sequence of venues (a concert tour). In general, road managers handle small to medium-sized tours, and tour managers are used on large-scale tours.
The performances on a concert tour are booked by the act’s booking agent, who works with concert promoters to place the act in suitable venues and festivals in a time frame and territory agreed with the act’s management. Individual concert promoters negotiate the financial, technical and hospitality requirements of the artist and make an offer to the booking agent for the show. The tour is announced and tickets put on sale when agreement is reached on the tour dates. As modern concert touring involves complex financial, legal and technical arrangements, the booking agent or artist manager hire a concert tour manager to organize the logistics. Concert tour managers are usually freelancers working on a tour-by-tour basis.
The tour manager is given the itinerary for the tour by the booking agent. Working from this itinerary, the tour manager handles the following activities.
The itinerary includes information about the potential ticket income (fees) for each show. Using this information the tour manager can produce a budget for the tour, calculating costs for crew wages, per diems, accommodation, transport, sound, lighting and video equipment, visas and work permits, rehearsals and other expenses such as booking agent commissions. Weekly reports are submitted to the business manager.
Advancing is the process of contacting each promoter and venue to ensure the entire artist's technical and hospitality demands (the rider) are met and to resolve any problems the promoter or venue can foresee. The artist's rider covers catering, production (sound, lights, stagehands needed), security, general show, and legal issues. During the advancing process the tour manager checks contact names and addresses, arrival times, equipment load-in times, sound check and performance times, any supporting/opening acts, and live music curfews.
This information is collated into a "tour book" which is issued to the band and crew.
On the road
The tour manager travels with the band on the tour. The job on the road varies depending on the type and success level of the act. A tour manager's day-to-day workload can include:
- 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 the band/artist and 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 setup operations
- Supervising any support or opening acts
- Ensuring venue is ready to open on time by supervising sound check times
- Liaising 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 overnight transport or to next hotel
- Reporting this show's attendance figures to management and booking agent
- Troubleshooting unforeseen issues and emergencies that occur
- Waddell; Barnet; Berry (2007). This Business of Concert Promotion and Touring: A Practical Guide to Creating, Selling, Organizing, and Staging Concerts. New York: Billboard Books. p. 19.
- Reynolds (2007). The Tour Book. Boston: Cengage Learning. p. 13.