Feature by: Mark Steinwachs
Feature photo courtesy of Andrea Behrends
Video courtesy of GoPro

Mark Steinwachs spent 12 years on the road touring with all forms of music and theater acts and is now the General Manager at Bandit Lites, an industry leader in concert lighting production.

As we get into March and another set of spring and summer tours are gearing up, I wanted to take a few minutes to pass along some things that bands, managers, and crew new to touring need to remember.

Always be ready to spend more than you thought: Touring costs money. From fuel, to food, to hotels, to your crew, local crew, broken instruments, broken down vehicles, and all things in between, you better have cash or a credit card close by.

Pay your crew: Guess what, when you start out your crew will probably make more than you do. The business of doing business as it were. The upside to this is your days are nowhere near as long and you making it big is way better than theirs.

Be upfront: Don’t try to hide things or tell silly half-truths to make yourself look bigger than you are. In this day and age you’ll be found out and it will make things worse in the long run. If you plan on loading in at 2:00 p.m. every day to save money on stagehands, don’t tell your crew you are shooting for noon load-ins and then come up with excuses for why you are loading in later every day. If you know that you will only have four stagehands instead of eight, tell the crew the night before. It’s okay. I would always rather know the night before a gig than walking into a gig and getting blindsided.

Don’t skimp on the little things: Take care of your people (including yourselves). I don’t mean five-star hotels and filet mignon every day, but get more than one room for everyone to shower in, and instead of one McDonald’s cheeseburger per person, maybe get two or three for each. Long days = hungry people. Oh yeah, never, ever, ever get generic Mtn. Dew. Ever.

It will be okay: Even on your worst days, things will work out. They always do. Basically because your crew won’t let you fail. When everything goes wrong and you still get through the show, then it’s time for a beer (better make sure you have more than one for each person), forget the crap that happened, and move on to the next show. Shortly thereafter you will look back and have a laugh. The hardest days bring you the closest together.

You aren’t a Popstar yet: If this is your first tour, or second, or third, or maybe even more, remember, you aren’t a Popstar. Don’t try to play the diva. Suck it up, get out there, do your show, and kick the crowd’s ass. Just because you have a crew doesn’t mean you are better than them. Rule number one: Don’t be an ass.

If you need it, you need it: If your tour needs something, then make sure you get it. By this I mean power, or certain pieces of gear, or food you aren’t allergic to. Choose these battles wisely, because normally what you need costs money. Need is different than want (even if it’s really really, want).

Showers: I don’t care the situation—you always give your guys the option to shower. At the venue, in a hotel, or at a truck stop (actually most have very nice showers), find a place for your crew to get clean. If you “don’t have time” for them to grab showers, you are doing something wrong.

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