Month

July 2015

How to Pre-Advance a Tour

Before beginning the advancing process, I strongly suggest taking the time to pre-advance your tour. Well, hell! I don’t even know what advancing is yet! I know, I know. In the coming weeks, this is all going to make so much more sense. More articles will become available, and you will be able to click right here (live soon), and find out exactly what advancing is.

What is the pre-advance? It is a necessary step of organization that will end up saving you time, grief, and make you a more effective communicator.

Think of it this way: pretend you have a 30 date tour, and within each and every one of those dates is a task that takes 5 minutes to complete if you don’t pre-advance. If you do pre-advance you can save yourself 2.5 hours of repeating this task. I don’t know about you, but that seems appealing to me. IE: Did I already send the shop list? Hmm, scour, scour, scour. Aha! I have! Wish I had made note of that!

The needs of your tour will dictate exactly how this looks, but for simplicities sake I’ve included a very general checklist of how to pre-advance your tour.

  • Create an advancing template. This is what you’re going to be sending out to promoters and production.

advancing-template-photo

  • Update all riders, stage plots, input lists, backline lists, and tax documents. So much can change in between tours. It is important to be working with current documents. Imagine one change on an input list. Doesn’t seem like much, right? Wrong. By sending out that incorrect input list, you’ve now created one additional task for yourself every single day of the tour. IE: You need an extra line run stage right for a second guitar cabinet. Instead of sending this along from the get-go, now you must walk to stage, find the audio personnel who needs to receive this message (who may not be around at the moment), deliver the message, and now your workflow has been interrupted. Let’s conservatively estimate this takes 10 minutes. That’s 5 hours of your precious life squandered over the course of this hypothetical 30-day tour.

How to Make a Stage Plot and Input List (coming soon)

  • File all of these documents in the same folder on your computer. This way when you are ready to advance, you aren’t opening up multiple folders, constantly looking for files. You can open one folder, select all the files, and attach them to the email. Make sure to include the artist’s name, what the file is, and what time period the file pertains to. You have to imagine the inbox of the person likely receiving these files. They are inundated on a daily basis with stage plots and input lists. Make it as easy as possible for them to find yours.

advancing-folder

  • Create a spreadsheet that is going to help you organize the status of your advances and travel arrangements. It should include when the advance was sent, when a follow up was made, if you’ve heard back, and what outstanding issues require attention. This is one of the most important parts of the pre-advance. This is the sheet you quickly glance at to figure out if a task has been completed or needs attention. I must again drive home that one size does not fit all in the advancing world. Festivals have different needs than a club show. Fly dates have different needs than a van or bus tour. Customize! Download an example here.

pre-advance-spreadsheet

  • I like to add drive times and time zone changes when I’m building my pre-advance spreadsheet. It is helpful when coordinating logistics and saves repeated visits to Google Maps. It also becomes helpful when reviewing bus quotes.
  • It is important to share the status of advancing with your crew and management. Sharing a document on Google Drive tends to do the trick. It’s not another email in the inbox, and people can log on at their leisure to check on the status of something. Doubly, it lets people know that things are being worked on, and reduces the chance of someone attending to an issue that’s already been dealt with.
  • Zero out all cash float sheets, expense reports, and income documents. Again, file these in one folder.
  • Create files and folders on your desktop that pertain to the current tour you are working on. As information and attachments come in, file them away. Deal memos, receipts, tech packs, etc. You never know when you might get stuck without wifi on site.
  • Depending on the email client you’re using, I’d suggest creating a label for the specific tour you’re working on. Less chance of missing something, and easier to find something after the fact.

The idea behind all of this is to create organization and structure for a ton of information that will begin to come your way once you actually start advancing. If you have a good framework from the get go, you will save yourself a great deal of time and frustration, along with having a more pleasant experience once you get into the thick of it.

The Balance of Endeavors

billy-head

I always return home with a certain glint in my eye. Finally! A moment to decompress and pursue the thing I’ve been wanting to pursue for however long. There it is, all the time in the world (kind of). Now what do I do with it?

Perhaps it’s a complex I have. A good complex in that I have to get my work done before I can play. If people are counting on me, I feel bad working on my own projects. That’s the way it should be, right? There is incentive at the end of the tunnel. Get this stack of things done, and then you can go and play.

Any time I try to sit down and dig into these personal projects I am weighted with the knowledge that there is something else I should be working on. I’ve battled with this for a while. Being on 24/7 is the nature of my role while I’m on tour. I’ve been conditioned. I am a workaholic. Coming off the road I find that I have to set boundaries for myself, or things start to feel icky. Actively deciding not to work, is just as important as deciding to work.

An outgrowth of prioritizing my work load lends fatigue to my brain when it does comes time to work on personal projects. My brain cells are slouching, haphazardly sitting on the curb looking up at me like, “Seriously, dude? You want us to do what right now? We’ve been working all day!

I am so used to having my days filled with structure. At home I try to organize myself with activities and environments that are conducive to productivity. With this being said, I don’t want to be busy for the sake of being busy. I want to occupy my time with things that I enjoy and make me better in some capacity. Free time often feels insurmountable, but I’ve reached a point where I am better able to control that feeling.

I’ve been enjoying working on my blog as of late. I came into this undertaking with the misguided notion that this would somehow be my golden ticket to supplementing my income while I’m off the road. I’ve since tossed that notion and am focusing on the act of writing and taking photos for my personal enjoyment. If that does not exist first, I am doomed from the onset. Things are still relatively new and fresh around here, so I am glad I’ve caught myself before getting too far along on that misguided path.

I have two areas of focus that I’d like to better explore here in the coming weeks and months:

  • Planning, documenting, and sharing my journey to Colombia.
  • Putting together a free online curriculum for those interested about different aspects of the touring industry.

To think of looking back a year from now, at a site filled with information and resources is something that encourages me, and makes me want to keep at it. Thanks for reading along.

Let the good juju flow.

Natchez Trace Parkway

natchez-trace-parkwayThe air sticky; the cicadian croon floating.
A white tail swish-swishing amongst the farmer’s bounty; life teeming underfoot.
Hay bales stoic in quiet observation.
Beams of light; incandesced, pouring through the canopy.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is one of my favorite day trips right outside of Nashville. It is a 444-mile expanse of roadway that stretches from Tennessee, all the way down to Mississippi through Alabama. Lots of farm land, lots of curves, and lots of fresh air. Plan accordingly and gas up before embarking. There is a welcomed shortage of advertisements and amenities along this stretch.

natchez-trace-road-signSomewhere along Tennessee Highway 13 South. I am so curious about the stories and lives of local residents.

Opening for The Rolling Stones

 

st-paul-and-the-broken-bones-rolling-stones-buffalo-7-11-15

The scene: Exit airport. Sitting alone at the bus stop shortly after 9pm, near Five Points in Nashville, eating my to-go slice of pizza with a thousand yard stare; gently placed back into my human fish tank by some otherworldly hand. Did that just happen? Am I dreaming? No one will believe me.

I’m still processing.

Opening for The Rolling Stones, hands down, is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had working as a tour manager. To be able to do it not once, but twice, is something I will never forget. Being able to share it with a group of individuals I’ve been through so much with, in such a brief span of time, is nothing short of incredible.

Watching the Stones crew work was an experience all in itself. The crème de la crème of road crews; no egos, and nothing to prove. Only presence, demeanor, and flow.

The above photo was taken moments before The Rolling Stones appeared in the tunnel for a photo-op. Rock n’ roll icons, mere feet away. A fun time to be a fly on the wall.

I can only imagine what will happen next.

Colombia, I’ve purchased my ticket.

I’m not exactly sure where my love affair with Latin America began. In high school and college, I was a deplorable Spanish student, begrudgingly dragging myself to class, doing the absolute minimum to receive credit for the foreign language class I was forced to take. Oh, you idiot!

My mind instantly cuts to the real-life scene of being on a remote roadside, knowing exactly what I want to ask, and having no idea how to ask it. The benevolent floating head of my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Taliercio, somewhere on the horizon, sullenly shaking his head at me. Despite my lack of Spanish skills, my desire to return outweighs the anxiety of roadside abandonment.

billy-reed-peru-lake-titicaca-2

Lake Titicaca, Peru.

I visited South America for the first time in 2012. I spent three weeks in the Southeastern corner of Peru, stomping along the well traveled Gringo Trail. It was an experience that stuck with me, and only increased my curiosity for what the rest of the continent has to offer. I knew upon leaving, that I would one day return.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a wall map of the United States. I would look at that map before I had ever traveled, and day dream about what visiting these different places might be like. 8 years of touring later, I can look at that same wall map and recall memories from these once unknown places. (49 states so far!)

The same mentality inspired me to purchased a wall map of South America. I can’t tell you the countless nights I’ve stayed up, simply looking at the map, running my finger over routes and mispronouncing town names. It’s an itch that has steadily grown with the inability to scratch. Finally, I scratch.

Earlier this week, I purchased my ticket to Bogotá, Colombia. It’s a first step towards refining some ideas that have been boiling their way to the top. I will be in the country August 15th – September 6th. Only a month away, it will be here before I know it.

Do you have friends or family in Colombia? Experience there? Resources worth reaching out to? I’m happy to follow up on any and all. I’m very much in the planning stages right now, and any lead is a good lead. I’m excited to share in this process. You can contact me at needforreed@gmail.com.