I was listening to an interview with Malcolm Weldon, production manager extraordinaire, and noticed some similarities between his entry to touring and my own. You probably all know by now that I have shared how I got started in my book “Girl on the Road: How to Break into Touring from a Female Perspective”, but I thought it would be useful to share a common theme for those currently looking to break into touring.
I met Malcolm on the P!nk tour in 2019 when Vance Joy was supporting. He was the production manager. I happened across an interview with him on YouTube on the Tour Management 101 page and wanted to take a listen to hear how he got his break. He lays out in great detail exactly how he got started. The thing that most stood out for me though, was that at the beginning when he was working sound, he also had a regular day job in a grocery store. You know my big lesson is to save up money whilst working a regular job, while making contacts and learning, before jumping ship and getting on the road. This is exactly how to do it. Work a regular job but also fit in side jobs in your chosen field. Luckily regular jobs are 9 am to 5 pm and gigs are 5 pm until midnight! Whilst you may not get much sleep, you will be able to pay the bills whilst learning your craft and getting a foot in the door.
I did exactly this as well. I worked at a ticket call centre during the day and would immediately head to the rehearsal studio after I finished doing the evening shift. I was so excited to be working at this rehearsal studio that it didn’t matter that I was tired! I knew this was my way forward. Then when I started getting more shifts, it became viable to leave my regular 9 to 5 job and just work at the studio. I did need to downsize my living and expenses because it’s a fine line between being available to say yes to shifts and also having enough money for bills.. this is where you need to save, save, save whilst you have the regular job. It seems boring to do any other job unrelated to audio or backline, but trust me, it will set you up for when you need to make that leap.
There will also be no stress as to whether you get called for a sound gig or stage hand work if you’re working in a grocery store, because you know you’ll have a paycheck each week. Also, make sure you’re doing a great job at your regular job because you’re inevitably going to need time off and you’ll want them to say yes because they want to keep you at that job!!
Just remember the bigger picture, and when you see someone of Malcolm’s stature (Janet Jackson tours, P!nk tours.. can’t really get any bigger), you think, gosh how do I get there? Well, it started by working in a grocery store.