CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 UPDATE MARCH 2020:
The live music business is going through changes at the moment. I’m leaving this site up as a legacy resource and the content does not reflect current events.
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. (The steps are from my book, ‘5 Steps to a Roadie Job’ – you can download and read the first chapter here.)
Step 1: Get 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.
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 three groups of crew involved in putting on a concert – the stagehands, the artist’s touring crew, and the supplier’s touring crew. Find out what you can about each role to make it easier to decide what job best suits you. The diagram below shows those various road crew jobs.
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.
- 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 On-The-Road With Touring Bands‘ for an in-depth explanation of how to get working on-the-road. You can download and read chapter 1 for free here.