Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
I've been tour managing bands for just under four years now. At the beginning of last year, I decided to start my own artist management company called E.J. Shannon Management. So, I have two different jobs in the music industry. I am a manager and also a tour manager. And yes, there is a big difference.
What drove you to choose your career path?
Ever since I can remember, I have always loved music. And I've always wanted a career in music. When I was younger, I got very involved in the Chicago local music scene. In 2014, when I got an offer to go on tour, it just seemed like it was the right thing to do.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I got my first job in the music industry as a merch guy for a band called Oceano. My friend got offered to play bass for them on a tour, and the band needed to rent a van. I owned a van, and my friend called me and asked if I would rent it out to the band. I said of course, as long as they brought me on the tour with them. No education is really needed to get started in the music industry.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
As a manager, a majority of my time is spent on the phone with bands and other people in the industry or answering emails. As a tour manager, my time is spent at the venues making sure everything is running smoothly and the band is happy.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
People often think that going on tour is one of the most difficult things you can do. I disagree. It's stressful, but so are lots of other jobs. Sure, there are some people that can't handle being on tour. But most people believe that only a small portion of the people that start touring are able to survive when in reality, I think most people that really want to do it find that it's not as difficult as people make it out to be.
What are your average work hours?
When I'm on tour the hours really vary. It's really a case by case basis. If I'm working for a headlining band, I could be working from 10:00 am - 1:00 am. If I'm working for a support band, the hours are usually a lot shorter. If I'm not on tour, I usually go into my office for eight hours every weekday.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Make sure you do NOT let your emails get backed up. Clear out your inbox every single day. It will make your life so much easier.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
One thing that I do differently is laminating setlists. It's totally unnecessary, but I think it is a cool thing to do.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
If you are hiring me, communicate with me and let me know what you need. I'll make it happen!
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
The worst part about being a tour manager might be when the band members are going to do something fun and you are stuck working. This can happen a lot, and it's easy to feel jealous. But you have to remember that the band is hiring you to make their lives easier. So, sometimes you need to work when they are going out and having fun.
The worst part about being a manager is having to be available all of the time. You want to work nine to five and take the weekends off, but bands expect you to be available for them whenever they need you. They have shows on the weekends, and they might need to call you after 5pm. I can't even tell you how many times I've been sleeping and I wake up to a phone call that I have to take. But that's just part of the job. I deal with this by trying to be as available as possible, and if I miss a call I always call that person back as soon as I can.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
The most enjoyable part of my job is getting to work with some of my favorite bands! It really helps when you like the band's music.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
This really varies depending on the size of the band that you are working for. At first, you might not be making very much money at all. But, if you stick with it for a few years, you can definitely make a living working in the music industry.
How do you move up in your field?
If you continue to show that you are a hard worker, it should be pretty easy to move up. Also, don't do drugs or drink too much.