As the CEO of Event 360 and a Tour Manager for numerous artists, I have worked on my fair share of events. I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Before I tell you about what I learned as a Tour Manager, let’s start with the backstory. I got my start in the entertainment industry in 1981, working a job in security while attending college in Seattle. The first time I ever worked a live show—which was the first time I had ever been to a concert—was The Rolling Stones show at the Kingdome in Seattle. They took one look at me and said, “You’re a big guy, down to the front stage barricade!” I slowly began to work more and more local shows in the area as security. This eventually led to my first touring experience with a show on the Jackson’s Victory Tour in 1984. Ten of us traveled around the entire USA, living on tour buses and overseeing all aspects of security for the massive tour.
When I got home from the tour, I remember my mom asking me, “If you had one place you would move to after all that travel, where would you go?” I responded with an enthusiastic “Denver!” It was just my luck because about three months later, the security company I was working for asked me to move to Colorado and open an office for them in Denver. There I further immersed myself in the business, providing security for Red Rocks Amphitheater, McNichols Sports Arena, The Rainbow Music Hall, and Mile High Stadium. If there was a show in town, the company I was working for handled their security.
After four years in Denver, I was offered my first tour job as the Venue Security Director for George Michael’s Faith Tour, and from there I was off to the races. I worked for several bands in security positions over the next few years including Cinderella, Madonna, Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Metallica, Genesis, and Phil Collins. It was during my first tour with Phil that I started the shift into the Tour Management field. Our Tour Manager at the time did what we call “a runner” and just up and left the tour in the middle of it. Rather than bringing someone completely new in, we split his duties between myself and two other people. After this, I came back as an Assistant Tour Manager on a Phil Collins and AC/DC Tour. I continued to grow in that position until eventually I became the Tour Manager for several Phil Collins and Genesis Tours, along with stepping into the role of Tour Manger for AC/DC which I continue to do on an as-needed basis even now. During this period, I also managed a tour for Ozzy Osbourne. With all that said, the link between artist security and tour management are closely tied—what I learned doing security set me up for success as a Tour Manager. To this day, I still remain active in the security field, providing Stadium Security oversight for the past 7 years.
The role of Tour Manager can take on many different responsibilities, depending on which band you are working for. The basic duties are oversight of everything as it relates to day-to-day touring activities for the band, including arranging hotels, flights, transportation, interviews, meet and greets, family coordination, meals and activities. In many cases, the Tour Manger is heavily involved with budgets and business operations, working closely with band management, the production team, agents and promoters. The role of a Tour Manager is tough—you are on call 24/7 for anything your client may need. It carries a lot of weight to keep artists happy and ready to go entertain night after night. All of my experience has taught me lessons that I carry with me today.
Here are five things I learned as a Tour Manager:
- Organization is critical for success. You are planning and leading the day-to-day for between 5-25 adults, so if you are not organized you are out of luck. Making organization a priority in the event world is crucial when you are managing a multitude of moving pieces in a short amount of time.
- Patience is a virtue. As fun as touring can be, living together with a group of people for months at a time can be very difficult. There will be times when you have had enough and just want some alone time. Taking moments, no matter how small, to take care of yourself will help you stay patient and work well with your coworkers on-event.
- Flexibility is needed to pivot. No matter how well you plan things out, something will always go wrong. At that point, flexibility to find a solution is key in executing a successful event or show. Staying adaptable and ready for anything goes hand– in– hand with staying organized and patient while sorting out a solution.
- Creativity is important. Solutions will not always be easy to discern. I remember being on the AC/DC tour and we were flying from Berlin to Sweden for a show the same day, and we had cut our arrival time pretty close to show time as we were not spending the night in the show city. We had boarded the plane and were preparing to taxi when I got word that the plane had an issue—double redundant sensors had gone off so the plane couldn’t fly. We had 60,000 people waiting in a stadium for a show. As we were trying to sort out the timing of a new possible departure with the broker, I saw a much smaller jet landing. It was not big enough for all of us, but could get the band there. We had asked the broker if any other aircraft was available earlier and nothing was available quickly enough. I gave them the tail number of the plane that landed, they contacted the operator, and thirty minutes later they had turned the plane around to fly us into Sweden just in time for the show. Thinking on my toes and finding creative, out-of-the-box solutions are both necessary as unanticipated problems arise.
- Always take responsibility. As a Tour Manager, I am at the top of the tour party. If something goes wrong, I have to be ready to accept responsibility. I have worked with the same assistant for years when I’m on tour. We work great together, and I trust him completely, but I will always verify all operations and aspects of decisions with him. Same with travel agents, brokers, and all aspects I am in charge of, because when something isn’t right my clients aren’t going to complain to those folks, they will come to me. Hours are spent verifying, double checking, communicating with several providers every day, sometimes all in one city and sometimes in three cites, states, or countries apart, but spending that time is always worth it.
I have learned a lot of things since entering the events and entertainment industry in 1981 that apply to any event industry professional whether you work in sports, music, runs, walks, or fundraisers. Being a Tour Manager has taught me to be a jack-of-all-trades and is what prepared me to be well-equipped to handle any and all challenges I meet with creative solutions.
President and co-founder, Tim Brockman brings more than 20 years in the event operations industry to Event 360. In addition to leading the team that has planned and executed some of the country’s most successful fundraising events, he has managed events for international performing artists including Phil Collins, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne and Genesis.