5 Steps To Getting Roadie Jobs, Working With Bands On Tour.

You want to get a job as a ‘roadie’ but you have no relevant experience or training. You can’t find any real information about how to get roadie jobs and you don’t see any adverts asking for people to work with bands on tour. So, you may be asking yourself, “How do I actually get started working as a roadie? How do I become a concert tour manager or guitar tech or lighting person or FOH engineer or merch seller?”

Well, as with everything, there is a simple system involved in becoming a roadie. It may not be easy, but it is simple. There are 5 steps, and  I’ve listed them here.

Step 1: What You Need To Know About The Live Music Business

Your first step is to get to know everything about how the live music business works. This is going to be vital for you as you start to get work, working for bands on tour.

Please do not skip this step – this knowledge will help you to seize more opportunities for work. You can get the information you need by reading my guide to the live music business. You can download the guide here.

Step 2: Get To Know The Various Road Crew Jobs

The live music business is made up of artist managers, booking agents, and promoters. They are involved in organising a modern music performance but it is the road crew who actually go out and set the shows up. There are in fact three separate groups of crew involved in putting on a concert – the house/local crew, the artists touring crew and the suppliers touring crew – the diagram below shows those various road crew jobs.

a diagram showing the various roadie jobs in the live music business

Roadie jobs are rarely advertised, so you will need to…

Step 3: Set Up Your Own Freelance Crew Business

Why? Well, you need to treat your career as a business. You have to become self-employed in order to work in the live production industry. There are no full-time roadie jobs. Artists tour for a set duration, employing crew as they need them, and then come off the road to take a break, hopefully to make a new album. While they are off the road the band cannot employ tour crew. But, being a self-employed freelancer means you could finish one tour and then go on to work for many different bands, tour after tour, one after another; going where the work is.

Step 4: Get Your First Work

You have started your freelance tour crew business, but may be asking yourself “how do I become a concert tour manager/ roadie crew/ touring road crew person”?

The answer is easy – networking, marketing and training. And, an example of the kind of networking you should do is – find yourself a band!

So, find the best, emerging talent in your town, area, or venue and make yourself indispensable to them.

For instance:

  • How many times do you hear bands you know complaining about house sound engineers, weird ‘feedback/howl round, bad stage sound, or inattentive bar managers? Could you help them with their sound?
  • How many times are musicians and Djs late for shows and sound checks? Could you organise schedules and reliable transport and act as their tour manager?
  • How many times do band members forget or break their instruments, and assume they are able to borrow other band’s equipment? Can you repair amps, string guitars or back-up Pro Tools sessions?

Can you see the potential here? With a little forethought (and maybe some technical ability) you can make yourself indispensable to all the ‘little’ bands and DJs in your town

Step 5: Do A Good Job And Get More Road Crew Work

After getting your first road crew work, you will need to find more work and make sure you do an even better job than last time. Getting more work will involve marketing yourself to other bands, DJs and managers, as well as to your network of roadies. Doing a good job will involve focusing on your strengths, realising your weaknesses and preparing to work on both.

Step 6 (bonus step): Repeat Step 5.

As I said, 5 steps. Fairly easy, and definitely simple. You should also read my book, ‘‘5 Steps to a Roadie Job – Get Working With On-The-Road With Touring Bands‘ for an in-depth explanation of how to get working on-the-road. You can download my 5 Steps to a Roadie Job book here. And don’t forget to grab your copy of my guide to the live music business here.

32 thoughts on “5 Steps To Getting Roadie Jobs, Working With Bands On Tour.”

  1. Hi all… I am new here and trying to find a experience for next year. I am bucking the college process that my parents want for me b/c I do not. I love music and travel. I want to take this coming year and explore and be near music while also making some money to get by and being independent and simply living. I have had many jobs and been successful in all (so I am solid as a worker) and I am very knowledgeable on guitar so maybe those skills could eventually be a guitar tech (guitar is my instrument and I know quite a lot). Anyway… I would like to know where to look for jobs if you all could help.

    1) on the road touring with a band (doing anything really and progressing based on performance)
    2) working at a venue where concerts/ shows are held again doing any type of work and just living and experiencing.

  2. I am a chef and I want to get touring jobs with bands or singer as caterer or private chef or both. Can you advise where to start. I have worked for a couple of bands in my past due to contacts which I a working on with anyone I do know, but to go a cold call way to work with bands any suggestions or guidance that anyone can offer. Thank you

    • I’m not sure where you are based, and the situation is different according to where you live. Most venues are unionised in the US, and so the venue will hire a local catering company to provide the artist’s food. Only very large, successful, touring artists have their own chefs, and they are not allowed to operate in a unionised venue (unless they are a member of that ‘local’). The situation is different in the UK and Europe; there are specialised tour catering companies who travel with the acts on-the-road. You should consult showcase-music.com for a list of European tour catering companies.

  3. I’m a photographer and artist but I’m also an amazing cook. I’d love to combine my skills and work for touring bands, I can do miraculous meals with a micro, toaster oven or a portable grill, and a double eyed hot plate. And there are always paper plates, lol. In short be inventive and creative even though most buses don’t have room for kitchens, some do and some artists have RV’s that certainly have a smaller version of the kitchen comforts.

    I live in Florence, Alabama, an old school Capitol of the music industry, Home to the infamous Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound recording studios. Home to Gary Nichols and John Paul White of the Civil Wars as well as the Swampers and the likes of Hood and Max Russell, and many other notable musicians. I have written and interviewed, as well as reviewed independent artist before they hit the big time circuit for a music magazine. So to say I’m discreet, trustworthy and loyal to the private lives of others is an understatement and a golden rule for me personally.

    I would love a shot (pun intended) to photograph the artist on the road and prepare some delish cooking for them along the way. That would be a dream job for this Southern girl. Seems my skills could be a triple threat of sorts to have, the journey documented in photographs, cd cover art that’s a bit more personal to the band, and feeding them with great food.

    But the question is I guess what would be my best approach when contacting the powers that be?

  4. What positions in a road crew are most needed in the industry right now, like which positions have the least amount people available to hire?

    • Bands eiter design their own merch, or need help doing it, and so a decent website and Google/Facebook ads campaign would drive bands to your services. Or research the merch companies (such as Bravado) who may be looking for graphic designers.

  5. My one dream is to photograph TSO.. Trans-siberian Orchestra… during the concert… OMG.. I do not know who to approach? Any ideas.

  6. Hello i am an ex-truck driver.i have driven all across the country Canada included.I would love to be a part of the Transportaion.I just have a regular license now.No CDL.And i also am a good mechanic with all my own tools.Would love to work with someone.

  7. Do they need chefs? I guess all people need to eat, but in prac do the roadies crew including some people who organize/cook food for them?

    • Buses are not that big to make a kitchen out of them…and most bands tour in a van for quite a bit before they can afford the bus. So unless you cook at home and bring it to them before their load-in… idk. would really depend on them. I ve seen food catered, but never seen a touring chef… even though I d LOVE that 😉

  8. i would love to work with eco and the bunnyman but i dont no who to contact to work on touring with them as i would love to work with oll sorts of bands thanks

  9. Is there any formula to how big/popular a band has to be/ how much you can expect to earn working for them so that you can be off while that band is off and not have to seek out another band on tour? Basically just follow around your band, but without having to worry about running out of money haha.
    Additionally, how does payment work? Is it a yearly salary type of thing or more like a commission deal, like based on how many shows you work?

    • There is no set rate for touring concert technician work. ‘Baby bands’ will pay what they are able. Bands that have record company deals will have to also budget for their tour crew – accepted rates of pay would start at $150 a day, going up to $500 a day. Salary rates are negotiable, and depend on your experience and how recommended you are.
      I would say that you should not fixate on the ‘how much’ for now – concentrate on establishing your worth to people who want to hire you.

  10. Do you have to have any educational experience, like college? If so would u let me know what u could major in to get yourself here?

    • I would recommend learning about sound – how a sound system works, and how instruments make noise – to help you get work as touring road crew. You can go to college, or read books. Te important thing is that you have an understanding of what you are dealing with.

  11. Honestly it’s easier if you join a local iatse union you can stay on tour with lot of artist make more consistent money

    • Very true Tim…as an IATSE member since the eighties I would concur! Concerts, tours, film & television , live theater. Andy ,yes your steps are a good start but the pay may be hard to live on …therefore join your local I.A.T.S.E. and follow the five steps…rinse & repeat!!!

  12. Isn’t it harder to be a roadie and have a small savings account? You’re self-employed, so nobody pays for your plane tickets, food, or hotel rooms. Isn’t it expensive to keep touring with bands? I’d really want to get into the touring atmosphere while I’m still young, then I’d like to settle down and work in a studio. Do you think it’s a good plan? Do most bands stick with the same roadies?

    • How did you go from being part of the I.A.T.S.E. local union to going on tour? I’ve also heard this route being somewhat common since you should already be familiar with the technical know hows once you’re in the union but the transition to be apart of the tour seems like a mystery

  13. Great guide! Just got home from a Twenty One Pilots concert and I would do anything to be able to work on the road. Work with inspiering people and have a rodie/crew family. Help out where its needed and work myself up!

    Have u worked on tours?

    • Elina,

      I have worked on many tours, and I’m hoping other people like you are going to take over now. Follow the advice in the post and you will start working on the road – hundreds of us already do it, there is no reason why you cant too!

      • That’s funny, I also got the idea after a Twenty One Pilots concert!
        Andy, do you think it’s possible to pick out a specific band and work only for them, just for one tour, without any experience?

  14. Apologies for the lack of comments here – I used to use another way for you to leave comments and that does not appear to work any more. Pity, as there were some good questions and answers here. Anyway, please leave a comment or question here and I, or a member of our community, will get back to you.
    Cheers, Andy.

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