Last night I joined many bright-eyed music industry professionals to learn…
…all about the touring industry!
Touring Career Workshop (TCW) is an organization that has held an annual event since 2011! The big event was held last night at “Soundcheck” in Nashville!
In a warehouse that houses gear for touring, we learned all about the industry and what it’s like to be a part of it! I’m not looking to get into the touring industry, but I found it very interesting to learn about what the people behind the scenes do to make events and concerts happen every day!
The night was kicked off by none other than Donnie Lewis, the tour manager for British rockstar:
I found Donnie to be very insightful about working in the music industry in general! He talked to us about resumes and told us that we should send an email prior to sending a resume or the best effort would be to get the person’s number from someone you know in the industry and text them saying “I’m your guy/girl for the job!” and ask for a 2 minute 3-way phone call with them and your mentor. Mentors are key and Donnie told us that he has four of them!
My favorite part of Donnie’s keynote speech was when he told us: “A lot of people have longevity in this business because they did the mundane things.” He proceeded to tell us a story from a few weeks ago when Peter Frampton called him at 6:30 in the morning and asked him to pick up a special kind of cat litter…for which Donnie now calls himself “the kitty litter getter” HAHA He was a good sport about it and knows that doing mundane things without complaining is the way to go!
The first session I went to was by Mark Steinwachs and was called “Getting in and Surviving the Business”. He is the head foreman Bandit Lites in Nashville and has had years of experience in the touring industry!
He went through a basic overview of how to make it in the touring world in which he highlighted points such as: “Don’t be an ass”, “Work hard”, “Shut up and listen”, “Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something”, and “Be a good hang”. A good hang is someone who can be considerate of others in the lighting/sound/tour crew and do what is asked of them. He explained that you should do what your superiors say and ask them questions about why you did it that way instead of the way you imagined it being done later on. It made a lot of sense and made me appreciate the people who make the shows happen that much more! 😀
The second session I went to was by Chris “Sully” Sullivan who works for L-ACOUSTICS.
Chris gave a detailed view into his time spent doing live sound. The main points from his discussion were to be nice to the people you work around, to have fun while you’re learning your craft, and to connect with people while you’re on the road. He said that you never know when you may need someone’s expertise and they may need yours. It’s important to use your skills to raise each other up and that’s why having contacts in the music industry is so important.
The final session I went to was a women’s panel composed of female touring professionals. This was the most enriching session to me because of their honesty about the touring experience.
They told us that the obstacle they face as women is that men will tell them “Oh honey, you don’t know how to do that.” In a male dominated industry such as touring, the ladies recommend having a strong personality and a focus on being excellent at what you do. The interesting part about the panel was when the moderator inquired about relationships on the road. One of the 3 women was married with children, but the consensus overall is that relationships are strained because of so much time spent on the road. Another woman complained that your tour crew is like your family so it’s not much of a dating pool! HAHA It’s hard to meet people on the road and weddings, holidays, and other important events are things they have to miss because of their touring schedules!
Overall, I thought the event was great and very insightful. What I enjoy the most about Nashville is how experts in the industry speak to hopefuls like me. I’ve heard so many speeches by the top professionals in the business and it’s really a humbling experience to hear them tell us how they made it. It gives light to the fact that they haven’t let the success go to their heads. It’s refreshing and kind of them to “pass the torch” and cheer us on as we embark on our own journeys!
Thank you to TCW for letting me stop by and learn a lot about touring!