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Do you know your chain of command in a gig environment?

Ever been at a gig and seen a load of people wondering around and not really know what they do? They are probably a lot more important than you think!

Here's a short guide of who's who!

First things first - In a 'session' capacity, everyone works for the artist! Top dog. Head Honcho. Billy Big B...You get it.

On a touring gig, the next in command is likely to be the Tour Manager or Production Manager, given the size of the project you are on. I will do a separate post about these dudes, as it is a BIG remit!

The artist's day-to-day manager may also make an appearance from time to time, but for all things non-musical and gig related your first port of call should be the TM.

If you have any worries music related, your first port of call is likely the Musical Director.(We chatted about this in a previous post - jump there if you are curious what an MD is and what they look for when hiring musicians!) If they need to then delegate your issues elsewhere, then so be it.

Other people who will be around on a gig or likely to show up will be:

The Promoter & Rep: These are the people who run the shows; The bigger the promoter, the more people you are likely to encounter. Promoters are essentially middle men between venues and booking agents and will negotiate with the booking agent about ticket splits or fees. The promoter's rep will be responsible for all things practical on the show day on and off stage and ensuring the smooth running of the show. Eg. Purchasing and setting up the band's rider, Towels for showering, food buyouts, sticking to soundcheck times and running order etc.

Booking Agent: The booking agent will work for the artist and be responsible for booking and routing the tour. They will be responsible for negotiating the best deal for the artist, working closely with the promoter to ensure the smooth running of the entire live proceedings. Having an agent will allow you to play bigger and better shows, take the responsibility off your shoulders allowing you to focus on the gig itself, be able to secure good support slots if they work for other bigger or prominent artists.

Merchandise Manager: Often bands will tour with their own merch person responsible for overseeing any hired hands who may be working on the show. They will be responsible for all merch money generated, taking it to the bank, and ensuring reports and stocks are accurate. This is a big job, as merchandise is where tours can make the majority of their income.

Publisher: The band or artist's publishers may turn up – These are the people who are responsible for the commercial exploitation of the artist's musical works. They will be responsible for collecting all royalty generated income and search to find placement opportunities for the band or artist, including sync to TV, Film, Advertising and Gaming.

Label: If the artist is signed to a major, there will likely be a big team behind them, including A&R's, Marketing, PR etc. All of these people can potentially be seen at shows. The most common would be the A&R who is part of the division responsible for talent scouting and the artistic and creative development of the artist.

Crew: Needless to say you should know your touring/gigging crew already, however, the different departments on the road will likely include Front of House (what the audience hears), Monitors (what you hear), Lighting & SFX and Backline Techs (the guys who look after the instruments, instrument changes, tuning guitars, setting up mic placements, loading in & out etc).

There will also be local crew in most venues – these guys will also be helping with load in / load out, so be nice or they may throw your gear around...well, more than they do already! On bigger production shows, there may be carpenters, electricians, riggers, stylists etc.

Venue Manager / Security / Bar Staff: Self explanatory

Other bands or support acts. (Curious how to get a support slot? Go to the bottom to see how you can learn how to land one!)

On a touring gig - Bus Driver: Treat him/her with respect – they will be your best mate on a tour and responsible for your safety and comfort.

It is important to differentiate between these different roles, as everyone will be busy and stressed enough within their own fields to burden them with something not really in their remit.

If you do all of these things, you will gain the respect of the team whose links will span far into the music industry and with them so will your name. Your reputation in this game is your worth...and therefore your business and your product.

More on that soon...


Curious how to get a support slot for bigger artists? The Touring Musician's Survival Guide has all the answers! - a complete guide of what to expect, to watch out for, to maintain, to do, to learn...all with the aims of making you a more well rounded, equipped and employable musician in today's industry - OUT NOW!

Written by musicians for musicians.

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