One For The Road: How To Be A Music Tour Manager

One For The Road: How To Be A Music Tour Manager

Writer: Mark Workman, 2013
Publisher: Road Crew Books
List Price: $13.49 (€9.85)

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I am sure you have come across all those DIY books that describe from a simple task to an entire profession in an attempt to pass the experience of an already successful person to anyone interested. Until now, I hadn’t seen anything music-related DIY book apart from the usual learn to play the X music instrument. So, having One For The Road: How To Be A Music Tour Manager in an arm’s reach was definitely intriguing.

First of all, this is intended to be a fitting reading for anyone who is thinking or even already taking the baby steps of becoming a music manager. Still, this book has also a lot of stuff to learn, even if you haven’t made such a career choice. I mean, being involved in a Metal webzine and having such an insight can be a real eye-opener to take a glimpse behind the scenes and really understand how things are working in the background. So, Mark Workman (who by the way is a veteran tour manager) has put together a really easy to read manual/book to give a head start to anyone who is ready to get dirty, managing a Metal band. One of the things that I really liked reading in One For The Road: How To Be A Music Tour Manager is the emphasis on the making-money aspect of this profession and before start complaining that this has nothing to do with the spirit of Metal, consider that if there is no money/profit in the pockets of the musicians, then there will be no Metal to worship. Especially nowadays when the profit from selling albums is steadily reaching the number zero, so you can imagine how important is the role of the tour manager that, as Mark clearly explains, has to take care of almost everything, especially if a young band is involved. I think everyone of us knows that a young band does not think much about the economics when playing music, so there has to be someone working on their benefit. In fact, there are a ton (and then some more) cases when a young band was manipulated by the life-sucking horde of managers, label representatives etc and made nothing, even though its albums had big selling numbers and nowadays are considered masterpieces.

The book is foreworded by TESTAMENT’s Alex Skolnick who also happened to be a victim of one of Mark’s mistakes (yes, he admits that he has made some) while the band was on the road, but I won’t spill the beans here, so you have just to read it. The book has no photos and that could be a turn-off for the potential reader, but you have always to keep in mind that this is an actual guide. Yeah, Mark is giving the chapter and verse of how to take care of almost everything when you’re planning to get on the road with a young band. After all, dealing with an already successful band could not be the subject of this book, since if one is in such position, then he most probably has done many tours of duties and has learned the hard way how things are running. Because a young manager is destined to make mistakes but at least after having read this, he will most probably avoid doing those already tackled by the experienced manager.

The language is extremely easy to ready and understand, so it feels like you are getting a private lesson by a friend who has been doing this stuff for a really long time. There are even spreadsheets giving a visual example of how a tour manager should organize the to-do lists while he is battling his way working with a young band. There are clear directions of how to start building connections in the music business (there are even instructions about setting up an email account), how to get prepared to get on the road and – of course – what to do and what to do not when you are on the tour (both in the US and in Europe). At the same time, this can be the book’s Achilles Heel since the writing is instructional and rarely becomes entertaining, so I guess more stories from Mark’s experience would be in order. On the other hand, this would jeopardize the purpose of this book which is nothing else than supporting the young tour manager (this has to be clear as a starlit sky).

I think whoever is involved in the music industry (be it just a journalist-wannabe) can really benefit from this book, especially after reading the chapters his profession is involved. Honestly, I’d love to see many tour managers reading this book because maybe there will be light at the end of this dark tunnel and the bands we love will continue to exist while enduring all the economics hits taken from the degrading music market. In any case, this is a must-read for everyone who is considering becoming part of this grinding called 'music business' by learning how things should run in order to make a living out of it.

+Pros Extremely easy to read and to follow instructions that do not sugarcoat anything. You can actually start making virtual plans to manage a band and organize your work before even doing the real thing.

-Cons This book has a specific target group, so it is not a fun-to-read book, at least for the most part of it. So, be clear with your expectations before making an investment.