So you’re looking for a job that combines your love of music with your love of travel. Becoming a touring rock star is an obvious choice, but being able to land such a coveted job depends not only on talent but also on luck. Fortunately, there are other jobs that involve both travel and music. From managing the daily logistics for a tour to producing festivals, there are countless roles for the music and travel lover to fill, or even invent, with a little entrepreneurial creativity.
Depending on what you want to do, you will need a strong foundation of knowledge and skills in areas like management, marketing, event production, and even international legal and financial issues. Programs like the Frost School of Music’s online Master of Arts in Arts Presenting and Live Entertainment Management can help degree candidates develop this breadth of knowledge and experience, tailored to prepare them for whatever live entertainment career they pursue, wherever they pursue it.
What Is the Life of a Touring Musician Like?
The most glamorous job on the road — or the one assumed to be most glamorous — is probably that of the touring musician. People think of this job as more a fantastical lifestyle than a career, playing your heart out to adoring fans night after night, partying until dawn, meeting interesting people, and of course indulging in all of the questionable vices involved. And although the traveling musician may experience these things, the hard work is in the unglamorous details.
The life of the touring musician is grueling. Each day is loaded with a dense itinerary, starting with the hotel lobby call, followed by hours of travel, and often, concurrent interviews and performances for the press. Sound check starts mid-afternoon and lasts for hours. Then perhaps the band gets a quick break or meal (although interviews and such creep into this time as well). And finally, it’s showtime!
But the night’s work does not end there. Shows are typically followed by more interactions with press, VIPs and fans. The touring lifestyle may be fascinating, but it can also equate to 15- or 20-hour workdays, with much of the work not being that exciting.
What Other Jobs are Available in the Touring Music Industry?
In any medium- to large-sized tour, all of the details of the touring musician’s day are organized and executed by a manager (or by many). In a basic tour, bands will often bring along a tour manager or road manager. The tour manager makes sure the day’s schedule of travel, press, sound check, performance and the like stays on track. They manage daily budgets and ensure the band is paid as per contract. And they often act as “personal assistant” or “babysitter” to the band, making sure every band member’s needs are met. They may very well be the van driver, too. Tour managers do pretty much everything.
The number of staff is proportional to the size of the tour — the bigger tours have more staff. Sound engineers are often brought along. The tour manager delegates work to production and logistics coordinators and a team of assistants, drivers and others. Roadies and techs set up all the equipment and make sure it works properly. Stage managers do precisely what their title says. The larger tour crews sometimes include caterers, personal chefs and traveling dieticians.
What Are Some Jobs Outside of the Touring Music Industry?
Music label executives, managers, talent scouts, promoters, booking agents and most others in the industry generally travel throughout the year, attending festivals, trade shows and other networking opportunities. Sought-after studio producers and sound engineers are flown all over the world to add their singular sounds and skills to recording projects.
In live arts presenting, producers of traveling musical productions like symphonies or plays often tour with those productions. Music journalists travel with bands to get the inside story. Music festival organizers and production staff travel constantly to prepare and put on their festivals.
And in a more academic or educational vein, ethnomusicologists travel around the globe exploring the cultural and anthropological roots of music specific to certain areas and peoples. Altruistic teachers set up new music schools and programs in parts of the world where music education is not common.
Using your imagination, you can dream up a career that involves travel and music. Although traveling music jobs are not the most common or the easiest to land, getting one — or creating one yourself — is actually quite feasible, if you are determined enough. Of course, a good foundation of relevant education, knowledge and experience can certainly help as well.
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