Touring Management in Asia – Some basics
If 20 years ago, someone would have told me that I will be involved in touring management and bring band for touring in Asia, I would not have believed you !
Lot of people tend to idealise that touring in Asia or somewhere a bit exotic with a band is like being in a never ending party. Let me stop you straight and bring you back to reality.
While it’s fun and I do encourage people to give a try, it’s by far to be more serious that you think. In this post I will talk about my recent experience in touring management for I Wear* Experiment and DeerMX.
The tour consisted of 15 gigs across Japan, Korea, China, HK, and Malaysia spread on nearly 3 weeks.
A serious aspect you should not forget regarding touring management in Asia:
As a band/artist you will play in a different cities in various countries of the Asian continent, distance between cities can be huge.. It involves taking a large number of flights within a short period of time. Unlike in Europe where you can tour with a van, in Asia, it’s almost impossible and therefore you will be forced to take several flights.
Some numbers about the 3 weeks tour:
- Number of flights taken: 5
- Number of long distance bus taken (Japan and Korea): 4
- Number of long distance train taken (mostly in China): 3
What does it imply of touring in Asia:
- Crossing several timezones
- Facing possible delays or cancellation with flights
- Facing possible loss or delay with your luggages
- Facing different type of weather (from very hot to cold)
- Possible need of visa based on the country you are touring
- Different variations in terms of cost of living (some countries might be more expensive than others)
- Different type of organisation depending the promoter in the country you are visiting
- Culture and language barer
- Visa (some countries request visa)
If you want to be serious about touring management and a happy and long lasting relation with the band and crew, always make sure to get a complete itinerary before departure with all the right information such as:
- Hotel address,
- Promoters details (promoter and tech in charge during the night)
- Route from airport to hotel (back and forth)
- Contact person waiting for us at airport
- Route from hotel to venue back and forth
- Type of transport between airport and hotel and hotel and venue.
- Catering (is there any food places near the hotel or venue)
Beside, those “touring management basic information”, I tend to do also the following:
- Contact the promoters a few days before and get a feel of how their marketing efforts are evolving (it might give you a tips if there will be lot of not much audience..)
- Contact the promoters to re-confirm who will be the contact point for our Sound Engineer, who will be in charge of selling the merch at the show
- Contact the promoters to know if there will be any press activities that request the presence of the band (I always try to avoid any press activities on the day of arrival of the band, mostly because they tend to be more tired after any flight travel).
Note: as you notice: having a trustful relationship with the promoter is key.
Touring management, what is it about on a day to day ?
A day as a Tour Manager means that you are the first wake up and the last going to bed. My mission was to clearly maintain a good harmony within the band/crew while travelling and ensure they reach each destination smoothly. Keep in mind that when a band tour for 3 weeks, and see each other every day it’s very important that each of them find their comfort zone and have time for themselves outside of the band. Ideal situation but it’s not always possible for budget reason, it’s make sure that each member of the tour have their own bedroom. I clearly saw some difference of behaviour among the tour group when they were staying in a tiny Air BNB (and consequently more stress, tiredness) and when all of them had their own room. Another hint: get always some activities (sightseeing..) during their free time available.
It’s also important to give them(the band/crew) a day before, the plan of the next day with all relevant information such as:
- Breakfast/lunch/dinner time
- Gathering time for commute to Airport
- Flight schedule of the day
- Time of arrival in the country visited
- Time of arrival at the hotel
But also on the show day:
- Who is leaving first for the venue (Soundcheck/Light Engineer) and when
- When Artist need to be ready to leave the hotel
- Soundcheck time
- Activities between soundcheck time and show time (there could be several hours to kill, have a plan in mind)
- Place to eat and what time
- Show time (length define in advance)
- Press/meet&greet time
- Time to go back to hotel
Touring management is not only to stick to the list of points described above, but instead find your own way of organising logistic aspects and activities for a band touring in a region that can be unfamiliar for the band. Set the expectation with the band properly. It’s crucial they understand that despite all your efforts, unexpected events or even delays may occurs. It’s very important you find your place within the band and crew and be recognised as the “expert” in your field. Your main goal is to ensure the band and the crew to be at the best of their game and make sure all side-activities, travels are done smoothly. Finally, by knowing the personality of each members of the band and crew might help you to monitor who s the one that may need more attention.
Of course, there will be some hic-cups that can occurred and can’t hardly be anticipated. I guess it’s all about thinking rationally and use your common sense when such event happened.
If you want to know how was the 3 weeks tour in Asia with I Wear* Experiment and Deer Mx. Overall, it went very well, both bands were prepared to tour. We faced one serious issue when touring in China and we lost member with all the gears just few hours before the show. He got the wrong address of the venue, you add to that the difficulty to communicate. It took us few hours to be able to spot him with all the gears (he was at one corner in the city with all the gears and were facing some difficulty to use Internet, and of course he was not able to use google map..).
Did we go on panic mode ? No we were not. We were obviously anxious and concerned. Thanks to the help of the local promoter and some coordinated research done by the crew of the band, we manage to locate roughly his location. Finally, we manage to get in touch with the lost member and provide him the right location of the venue. Shortly after, we saw him arriving at the venue just 30 min before the show time in a local rickshaw with all the missing gears on the rooftop of the rickshaw. How epic is that ? The band missed their slot window for soundcheck, they just had time to go on stage and perform. Was the show impacted ? Not at all, it went very well, great audience !