Backstage Pass: Preparing for a Concert Tour
Written By: Billy Reed of Tour Manager Info
The tour dates are booked, one of your songs is starting to go viral on social media, and the fan anticipation is palpable.
This tour is crucial for the band's success and growth.
What do you need to do to prepare for the tour?
Do we need to hire a tour manager?
Come along and take a high-level overview of what a tour manager does behind the scenes to prepare for a concert tour.
Creating a Tour Budget
Long before the lights go down and the deafening roar of the audience echoes throughout the venue, someone, somewhere, is creating a tour budget.
This is frequently a collaboration between the artist manager, business manager, and tour management.
This financial road map will help guide the rest of your decisions when preparing for a tour.
This includes earmarking funds for transportation that get you from gig to gig, the touring crew you can afford to hire, and the types of accommodation you will stay at.
One of the most essential parts of preparing for a tour is securing transportation well in advance.
Depending on the routing and budget of the tour, you might be traveling by van, bus, or plane if heading to a one-off music festival.
If you require a tour bus, start the search early.
Transportation vendors sell out earlier and earlier every year.
Give yourself at least 6 months lead time to secure a coach from a reputable vendor.
Hiring Tour Crew
For a developing artist, deciding what crew to add to your tour is a crucial step in elevating your live show.
Bringing out a qualified audio engineer is usually the first crew role added to any tour.
If the audience can’t hear your performance, that does not bode well for making fans who will want to see you again.
After that, a lighting designer will typically hop on board to help add an extra visual dimension to your live performance.
Hire Production Vendors
Using house audio and lighting is fine when you’re just starting out, but bringing out your own production makes sense after a certain point.
Navigating different house systems daily can lead to unforeseen technical issues that can impact the flow of the show day.
Adding sound and lights to a tour is a great way to increase day-to-day consistency and the quality of the production you’re putting on.
However, keep in mind that adding production adds to the overall expenses of a tour.
It’s all about finding the balance.
Booking Hotels & Travel
Now that the logistics of your tour are beginning to take shape, you will need a place to rest your weary, road-worn head.
You'll book hotels every night if you’re touring in a van.
If you’re traveling in a bus, you’ll likely be booking rooms for the bus driver and hotel rooms for the traveling party on days off.
For tours that involve air travel, it’s a good idea to employ a qualified entertainment travel agent to assist with the nuances of booking flights.
Start early on your hotel booking to avoid unforeseen conferences in town that might eat up all available hotel inventory.
Creating the Artist Rider
Now that things are coming together, you will want to build out the artist rider.
The artist rider consists of both technical and non-technical elements.
On the technical side, this will include everything that goes into making a show day happen.
This could include audio, lighting, stage requirements, etc.
On the non-technical side, this includes the hospitality rider and all dressing room requirements.
This comprehensive document should cover all needs for a successful show day.
Ordering Tour Credentials
Another crucial part of preparing for a tour is designing and ordering tour credentials.
Credentials, or tour laminates, are the lanyards you often see people wearing around their necks or dangling from their waistbands.
They are more than just collectible ornaments, as they play a vital role in helping to secure the backstage.
Before the venue doors open to the public, a security meeting occurs between the tour and the house.
During the security meeting, a pass sheet is given to the venue to showcase the tour credentials being used that day.
Tour credentials come in all different shapes, sizes, and finishes.
Once all of your documents are compiled, you can begin to advance the show with the venues.
Advancing is the process of going through a checklist and ensuring the tour and the local venue are on the same page regarding requirements for a successful show day.
This could include parking information, confirming production, hospitality, security, etc.
Advances are typically conducted via phone, e-mail, or other touring management software.
Schedule and Communication
Once you start getting replies from your advances, it will be essential to compile the information and present it in a way that’s easy for your team to access.
There are layers upon layers of logistics to coordinate and communicate, so developing systems that work for you and your team is a priority.
Properly sharing information with your team and helping them learn where to access information is integral to running a successful tour.
The Tour Begins!
Now comes the part we’ve all been waiting for going on tour.
Seeing your hard work and preparation start to pay off is immensely gratifying.
Parking is available, stagehands are there when they are supposed to be, and catering is ready on time.
The hard work is worth it when you see the audience's faces light up and start singing along to their favorite song.
For bands doing everything by themselves, adding a tour manager to their operation is a great way to help streamline road life and ensure nothing slips between the cracks.
Preparing for a concert tour is a ton of work, and if done correctly, it can lead to an excellent experience for the fans, the venue, and the performers on stage.
It’s a challenging job that requires attention to detail, thinking on your feet, and exceptional organizational skills.
A tour manager’s role, often behind the scenes, is instrumental in creating a seamless tour experience.
By entrusting a proficient tour manager with these responsibilities, bands can focus solely on delivering their best performance night after night.