‘The Tour Book’ – review in Performing Musician magazine

The tour diary will continue, in the meantime here is a great review of ‘The Tour Book’ in Performing Musican magazine (published by Sound On Sound publishers).

“While the record industry is in terminal (and some might say justified) decline, the live touring industry is flourishing. Whereas as few decades ago touring was regarded as a loss leader to promote the real money-making product of the record, live touring and its ancillaries in the form of T-shirts, memorabilia and the rest can add up to a jolly good thing for acts. Not only that, most musicians actually enjoy playing to real live audiences.

If you’re not the best thing in music, what’s the best alternative? For many, it’s working as part of the tour crew. You get to live the rock & roll lifestyle, see the world, meet interesting people and get paid very well, right? Well, only up to a point.

The fact is that touring is not just a case of chucking the gear in a van and setting off for a venue whose sole method of promotion may be fly posting in the most insalubrious areas of a town. Tour planning and organisation is a complex, multifaceted, multitasking project that means long hours, no sleep, bad food and working conditions and little job security. If you’re a failed, would-be rock hero, look elsewhere for fulfilment.

So where do you look for the real gen on touring in all its forms? Right here with The Tour Book. Author Andy Reynolds has nearly two decades of work in all aspects of touring, from FOH mixing to full blown Tour Manager, and has seen and done it all.

This book is not a ‘How to make grillions/have a career in/behind the scenes in touring’ book; it’s all those and a lot more, looking at just about every facet of touring, promotion, marketing and the rest, the way the top guys do it – and also chock full of what not to do as well. You’ll actually save a lot of money from the information presented herein.

(The Tour Book) starts off with an overview of the industry, which is flourishing as never before – live performance revenues of $14.4 billion in 2005 were an 11 percent increase over the previous year, and obviously not to be sniffed at. Andy shows how the ‘60’sera package tours (where bands really didn’t know what they were doing and got ripped of mercilessly by promoters) evolved through good managers and promoters (the Stones and Led Zep were amongst the leaders in the field) through the ‘70s and ‘80s, where the touring industry came of age and into today’s multi-billion pound industry.

Each chapter presents priceless information on all aspects of touring: ‘The Industry’ describes in detail all the progenitors, and who exactly does what: Managers, Promoters, Agents, Reps, Marketing, Crews, Security, Audio, Backline, Lighting and Catering folks (insult the latter at your peril!).

The chapter on ‘Contracts and Riders’ features specimen documents showing details of everything required to help a tour run smoothly, by showing what is expected of everyone for each venue and tour. Part II deals with how to get your music on the road.

‘Getting On Stage: The Basics And Preparation For The Show’ takes the project from initial rehearsals and rehearsal venues to the stage itself, creating a show and dealing with any problems as they occur. Once again, this chapter is full of examples from the author’s experience.

The chapter on equipment is a master class on live sound engineering in itself, with a general overview of sound for mixing engineers, stage hand signals, a basic guide to PA mixing and care of instruments (including vocals, which should be required reading for all performers) – and , most importantly, your ears.

The chapter ‘At The Show’ is the biggest in the book (90-plus pages), written in the form of two show diaries chronicling everything that happens through the day, problems that might occur and how they are dealt with, all in superlative detail.

The last few chapters deal with the business end of things: ‘How To Get The Shows’ looks at targeting venues and bookers, doubling up, playing for free, and radio and TV gigs (and how to get them). ‘Getting Paid’ deals with fees, percentages, ticket pricing, merchandising, licensing deals, PRS and sponsorship, while the ‘Marketing’ section gives you all the info on personal contacts, press releases, online marketing and databases. There’s an advanced information chapter on budget and advances, and that’s only the second section of the book.

Part III looks at working in the industry, looking at life on the road with all it’s pros and cons, and how to gain work and keep it – more essential material to keep your career on track over the decades – while Part IV looks at the future of the (live) music industry and how it will evolve.

Finally there’s an epilogue, which is a true story from the author’s own experience of what can go wrong on a tour. I could go on at length about all the goodies contained here; suffice to say it’s the definitive guide to all aspects of live work and touring. As the author presciently points out, the principle explained here are applicable to any kind of act, from full-blown international rock tours to cabaret, cruise gigs, folk and classical artists. A smooth-running tour or live concert is the same regardless of the type of idiom you are dealing with. Clearly written, informative and enlightening, this should be the Bible for all live crews, tour managers and anyone involved with live gigs.”

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