Who’s your favourite band? Rizzle Kicks? Mumford & Sons? Or maybe you’re more of a Bon Jovi fan? Fancy landing a job that means you get paid to go to their gigs?
We might have oversold that a little bit. Sadly just attending gigs isn’t something that you can get paid for. But you could get paid to go on tour with bands and set up for their gigs, or look after them and their fans. Sounds pretty sweet doesn’t it? Well, being part of a road crew is actually hard work. We spoke to Melanie Kassis, Bon Jovi’s management assistant and VIP co-ordinator for their current European tour, to find out exactly what it’s like to tour with one of the world’s biggest bands.
“My daily routine usually starts by getting to the venue around 8am and ends when the show is over and the trucks are loaded and ready to go to the next city,” she says. “There’s no such thing as an average day at Bon Jovi. Every day is different. New stadium, new city, new people. But every day is tons of fun, being part of such a huge production never gets old for me.”
Melanie admits life on tour isn’t always easy. “Adjusting to life on the road can be hard, but the experience is worth it,” she says. “Living out of a suitcase and on a tour bus with 12 other people is a culture shock at first for anyone who hasn’t done it before.”
But she says that she loves knowing she’s helped make the show happen. “Seeing the looks on everyone’s faces when Jon and the band get on stage and start the show is the coolest thing,” she says.
And what advice does Melanie have for anyone who wants to work on music tours? “Network like crazy. And says yes to every opportunity that comes because you never know who you’ll meet.”
How to become a roadie
The days of roadies only being large hairy men who lug equipment around for bands are gone – it’s now much more diverse incorporating a range of different roles. The road crew (or roadies) are responsible for a number of things within the tour, from setting up the lights and sound, to security, stage management, and organising VIP guests – and loads more too.
One great way of becoming a roadie is to learn a skill that bands require. So if you’re interested in making the band sound great, learn about audio production – there are loads of courses for this kind of thing these days. Or if you fancy cooking for the band and their crew, do a catering course. It sounds obvious but there are loads of skilled roles in a road crew so if you train to fulfil one of them your chances of landing a job will be greatly improved. There are other skills that are useful for roadies to have too: things like foreign languages, a good knowledge of musical instruments, and a driving licence – having additional classes on it such as being able to drive a bus or having a HGV licence are a bonus.
As with any career, building experience is key. Chat to local bands and venues and see if there’s any chance you’d be able to help out at shows. This will give you a great opportunity to build up your CV, make some really useful contacts, and you’ll get the buzz of knowing that you’ve helped produce a live show. It’s also a good chance to put the skills you’ve learnt into practice in a real life situation – nothing compares to the stress and excitement of a live show. It might not be particularly cool, but doing tech for local theatre groups or community events can be another good way of getting some experience if that’s the kind of role you want in a road crew.
Find out what agencies there are in your local area that deal with road crews and sign up to find out when there are vacancies. But remember, you probably won’t get to work on the best and the biggest tours straight away – be prepared to work your way up.