Books

Book Review: “One For The Road: How To Be A Music Tour Manager”

Let me start by saying that if I had this book in my possession twenty-five years ago I would definitely be in a different place right now in my life and I certainly could have been a much better asset for the bands I managed.  Not that I have any regrets, but instead of watching “Almost Famous” and just wondering how one goes about getting on the road with the band, this book actually gives you a step by step guide.  Mark Workman lays out such a comprehensive strategy to becoming a working tour manager that if one has the will, Workman provides the way.

Mark Workman has been a successful tour manager and lighting designer in the music business since 1983. His list of past and present clients includes Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Machine Head, Danzig, Mudvayne, Dio, Queens of the Stone Age, Devildriver, Soulfly, Sepultura and many others.

As a lighting designer, Mark Workman has designed high-impact lighting performances for many music tours, including the infamous Clash of the Titans (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Alice In Chains, & Suicidal Tendencies) in 1990/1991 and American Carnage 2010 (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax & Testament), as well as for many music videos and live DVDs such as Machine Head’sElegies DVD filmed at Brixton Academy in London, Megadeth’s Rust In Peace Live DVD shot at the Hollywood Palladium, and Testament’s Dark Roots of Thrash Live DVD shot at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY.

“One For The Road: How To Be A Music Tour Manager” starts of  with a very strong endorsement by Alex Skolnick of Testament, of which Mark Workman was the lighting director then later manager.  These are the topics that the book explores:

Part 1 tells you how I got started as a tour manager and why I wrote this book.
Part 2 teaches you how to organize a concert tour and:
create a complete and accurate tour budget;
hire the best road crew;
lease the right tour bus and safest driver;
book hotels and air travel the right way;
create a proper backstage pass system and where to get it made;
deal with foreign artist tax for your band;
apply for overseas visas and work permits for your entourage;
create a tour book and the vital information it should contain;
coordinate trucking and air cargo;
Introduction
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hire sound and lighting systems for your tour;
understand tour riders and contracts;
prepare ATA carnets and equipment manifests;
get backdrops, scrims and stage sets made;
prepare your tour accounting and a lot more.
Part 3 shows you how to get organized and properly advance each show and:
what you should know about stage plots and input charts;
preparing your pre-advance package;
making a proper advance sheet;
how to advance each show;
advancing your cash requirements and much more.
Part 4 guides you through an entire show day and shows you:
what it takes to be a tour manager running a music tour;
the mechanics of how to do press, meet-and-greets, and in-stores;
the proper way to do your guest list each day;
the right way to handle venue security;
how to do your daily tour accounting correctly;
how to do your show settlement each night;
important information about merchandising, foreign currencies, and more.
Part 5 shows you how to:
promote yourself so you can build your successful career;
find your first job as a tour manager;
and the road hazards to avoid.

That list speaks volumes, but the content definitely backs it up.  Add to that Workman’s writing style that is very smooth, humorous at times, and easy to understand, and you have one hell of a how to guide.  The promise of a series of these books is very enticing and long overdue.  It would not be surprising to see Berklee School of Music or The Musicians Institute making this book, or eventually the series, part of their curriculum…it’s that good.

If you want to get into the music business, are in the music business already, or are like me, and just fascinated with the music business, you will find this to be a treasured find.

Mark Workman is also a former boxing writer whose feature articles have appeared on BoxingScene and Fox Sports.

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