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What does a Road Manager do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A road manager makes sure all the details of a musical band’s tour are in order, including the itinerary, equipment, venues and support staff. Whether the band is traveling by air or motor vehicle—the two most common modes of travel for bands on tour—her job is to ensure the experience is organized and on schedule. She may be required to oversee one or two tours a year, or the band may be on a tour that lasts for months at a time.

From the time the tour schedule is finalized, a road manager is normally expected to be involved in every detail at each venue. She is generally in charge of making travel arrangements and confirming lodging and food for the group. If the equipment and instruments are traveling with the band, she is often expected to help load and unload the cargo on trucks or buses. In the event the goods will be transported by plane, a road manager is usually expected to confirm the flights, times and destinations.

Around two weeks before the scheduled event, a road manager typically contacts the concert promoter to finalize details. She normally confirms times and dates for set-ups and sound checks and gets a schematic of the stage and lighting. If opening acts are scheduled, she confirms their appearance.

If the tour involves traveling in bus or vehicle caravans, the road manager is typically required to keep the motorcade on schedule and the passengers content. She customarily moves among the performers and support personnel to make sure there is harmony among the ranks and dissipates any seeds of unrest. If there are any mechanical problems with the vehicles, she is generally expected to have resources to handle them such, as auto clubs or contacts on the route that can provide local referrals.

Once the band and road manager arrive at their destination, the manager is typically expected to physically inspect the area in which the band will perform and check the condition of the dressing rooms and the entrance and exit points for the band. She generally checks the sound and lighting for quality and dependability and confirms the band’s preferences with the respective technical engineers. If props or scenery are needed for the performance, she confirms the details with the stage manager.

As the concert gets underway, the stage manager typically compares the ticket sales receipts with the number of attendees to confirm the numbers match. At the conclusion of the event, the stage manager normally collects payment for the performance. She is generally expected to settle all hotel and service bills before the band resumes travel.

There are normally no educational requirements for this position. Making contacts in the music industry is generally advisable for aspiring road managers. Good organizational skills are a plus. The ability to communicate well with a wide range of personality types is highly preferred.

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