‘Hey, ‘scuse me. How do I get a job as a roadie like you?’
Ask any tour manager, sound engineer, lighting person or backline technician about the most common question they get asked, and their reply will probably be, ‘something about how to become a roadie’.
And how do they answer? Well, after explaining that they don’t use the term ‘roadie’ to describe their role in international concert touring, most road crew will go on to say how they got started touring with bands. Actual answers will vary, but will usually involve a combination of the following statements.
They got started working with bands by:
- Being in a band a long time ago
- Knowing lots of musicians and bands a long time ago
- Studying audio engineering (probably a long time ago)
- Running sound or lights at their local bar/club years ago
- Recently being in the right place at the right time
These answers on how to become a roadie are true for them and unfortunately don’t give you a plan for starting a career working with touring bands, on-the-road.
But there is a kind of a road map (ho!), and I’ve broken it down into 5 steps that I think can be followed by anyone looking to get working as sound engineer, back line technician, touring lighting person, or whatever road crew role you are after.
The 5 steps to a roadie job are:
- Get what you need to know about the live music business
- Get to know the various road crew jobs
- Set up your own freelance crew business
- Get your first work
- Do a good job and get more road crew work
I have explained the 5 steps in detail in my book, ‘Roadie, Inc.‘.