A Tour Manager diary part 3

4th June 2008

I have decided to go back to one of the original sleeper bus companies and have made sure that the bus we are offered has enough space in its luggage bays for all our back line. I can get all the back line in the bays and so I will not need to hire a trailer. This will save the tour another £105 a day; £60 for the trailer and £45 extra wages for the driver to deal with pulling a trailer.

My next task is to prepare a budget. I actually prefer the term ‘list of predicted expenses’. A ‘budget’ is how much money you have allocated to spend; ask any rock band or artist manager how much they want to spend on producing the tour and they will answer “as little as possible”! So, it’s a ‘list of predicted expenses’ (LPE) until signed off and then it becomes ‘the budget’.

The importance of the LPE cannot be overstated. Touring at any level is expensive and a band from the US undertaking a club tour of Europe is going to spend a lot of money on transport, accommodation and crew wages. The income from the shows is not going to cover these expenses and a touring band is going to have to find some extra money somewhere.

The band I am working for on this tour is signed to a major record company and so can find extra money by applying to the record company for ‘tour support’. Tour support is money advanced to the act by the record company to enable the act to go off and tour. (The thinking is that the touring will help to promote the act and sell more records.)

The amount of actual money and the terms surrounding tour support are determined during the contract negotiation stages of the artist’s deal with the record company. Tour support is ‘recoupable’ i.e. the money has to be paid back to the record company from the artist’s record sales. As such there are strict controls regarding the application and granting of tour support. These vary from company to company but follow the same basic procedure. A responsible person (artist manager or Tour Manager) should prepare a list of predicted expenses, a detailed ‘activity diary’ (not just a list of the concert dates) and a breakdown of the expected income from the shows (usually not including money made from merchandising sales at concerts). This information is then submitted to the record company who will then scrutinise the figures and (hopefully) agree to grant tour support to the band.

This is why my LPE is so important. I have to figure out every conceivable expense a band may incur while touring, explain/justify each expense and present all this information to the artist management and record company in good time. Tour support has to be agreed before I can start to confirm suppliers and crew for the tour; with no tour support in place the band will not be able to pay wages and invoices from the tour.

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