How to Become a Tour Manager in the US

Tour managers roll into high gear when musicians and other performing artists hit the road to hold concerts or live performances. These managers oversee all facets of running a successful tour, from arranging for transport to dealing with promoters. If you would like to work in the entertainment industry, and you have strong management and business skills, this is a career you should consider pursuing.

1. What Do Tour Managers Do?

The duties of tour managers include:

  • Negotiating performance fees with tour or concert organizers
  • Coordinating promotional activities, such as press interviews
  • Organizing for transport and securing accommodation for the artist/artists and the crew
  • Negotiating venue costs with venue managers
  • Conducting pre-concert visits to all scheduled venues to assess sound installations and general safety
  • Resolving any conflicts that may arise between members of the tour crew
  • Managing finances –this involves monitoring daily cash inflows and outflows
  • Updating the crew on the day’s schedule

Supervising sound technicians, sound engineers, instrument technicians and other members of the crew and ensuring everyone is doing his or her job.

2. Work Environment

Before a tour kicks off, tour managers spend time in an office environment, where they work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and often on Saturdays.

On the road, things become irregular and unpredictable. These managers are often the first to wake up and the last to catch some sleep. It is possible to work for 18 or more hours a day.

As you can guess, the job involves extensive domestic and international travel. So you should be ready to spend a lot of time without your family, especially if you’re competent enough to be hired by a top artist or music group.

3. Salary

According to CareersinMusic, tour managers in the US earn between $25,000 and $125,000 a year.

4. Entry Requirements

The entertainment industry is quite competitive, so having a solid educational background significantly enhances your chances of getting hired.

You should, therefore, start by earning a bachelor’s degree in music business or music industry management. Either of these programs should equip you with knowledge of:

  • Concert touring
  • Legal aspects of the music industry
  • Music marketing
  • Business communications
  • Artist management
  • Music industry entrepreneurship

You will also learn about audio production and other technical aspects of the profession.

Examples of universities offering a degree in music business include:

Don’t expect to walk into this job right after graduating. You also need sufficient experience. As such, you will probably start out as a tour promotions specialist and work your way up.

It is also possible to break into this profession through closely-related job such as music productive or artist manager.

5. Important Qualities

To be a competent tour manager, you need:

  • Business acumen
  • Strong coordinating and planning skills
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Strong skills in personnel management
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • A solid understanding of the entertainment industry
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • The ability to work for long hours
  • Skills in financial management
  • Good multitasking skills
  • Good marketing skills

6. Career Advancement

To heighten your career advancement prospects, you should:

  • Gain vast tour management experience
  • Join a professional association, such as the National Association of Record Industry Professionals to network and stay abreast of industry news
  • Pursue a master’s degree in music business to supplement your undergraduate knowledge.


7. Job Opportunities

The employers of tour managers include:

  • Tour management companies
  • Individual artists or music groups
  • Recording labels

With vast occupational and industry experience, you can be hired by top-selling musicians or bands as their tour manager. You could also move into self-employment and establish your own tour management company.

Finally, expect to face some competition for jobs. Because many artists are looking to maximize their income, it is common to find artists or band managers doubling up as tour managers. This means employment opportunities for tour managers are not easy to come by.

To succeed, you must put effort in developing professional networks with people who can help you secure regular gigs, such as artists’ agents, music producers and owners of recording labels.

So if you love music, and you would love to help performing artists hold smooth and profitable concerts, then with a lot of hard work you could become a tour manager.