TM Suzi Green launches free workshops ahead of touring return
Tour manager and health and wellbeing specialist Suzi Green has commissioned a series of resilience workshops for the international live music industry as the touring sector begins its transition back into the demands of event production.
The three free sessions, Mindfulness for Touring with Craig Ali, Healthy Boundaries with Laura Ferguson and Sleep & Jet Lag with Matt Kansy, take place on Monday 21 June, Wednesday 14 July and Wednesday 4 August, respectively. The workshops will explore a range of topics, from coping strategies for dealing with ‘heated’ moments in high-pressure situations to how to wind down naturally at the end of an intense day, rate negotiation, managing workload and effective communication, maximising the quality of your sleep and techniques to combat jet lag and shift work.
The workshops were made possible through the Culture Recovery Fund and are designed for freelance touring community, though they are open to all music professionals.
“We will all need to take our health seriously to survive long periods during busy touring schedules in the future”
A seasoned tour manager, having worked with clients including Placebo, PJ Harvey, Katie Melua and Wolf Alice, Green experienced her own debilitating episode of burn-out and left touring for a decade. “I thought my touring days were over. The industry simply didn’t work for me,” she recalls.
Since retraining in various modalities, she later returned to touring with new skills in wellbeing to the benefit of artists and crew.
“People now have the opportunity to learn how to develop better coping strategies,” says Green. “We will all need to take our health seriously to survive long periods during busy touring schedules in the future.”
Tour Managers Not Touring axed after backlash
Tour Managers Not Touring (TNT), a fundraising initiative intended to aid several famous DJs’ out-of-work tour managers, has been quietly pulled following a backlash on social media, where commentators criticised the artists’ apparent reluctance to put their hands in their own pockets.
TNT saw tour managers including Ian Hussey (Carl Cox), Tim ‘Dingo’ Price (Dubfire), Zak (Seth Troxler) and Gabriel Torres (the Martinez Brothers) selling a series of self-made mixes, along with collaborations with the artists with which they work, for a minimum of €5, with all funds going direct to the tour managers involved.
While apparently well intentioned, the idea apparently went down like a cup of cold sick in the dance music world, with electronic music industry figures such as Barker, Kornél Kovács, DVS1 and Maceo Plex tweeting their displeasure. “Please give your money to real charities and NOT to rich DJs and their staff,” wrote Plex.
The most widely shared criticism came courtesy of trance producer John Askew, who recorded a now-deleted video rant (rescued by Dutch DJ Cassy) asking why the likes of Cox, Troxler and Nicole Moudaber “aren’t they covering their tour managers’ costs and giving these mixes away for free, or charging money and giving that money to the medical services, the NHS [UK National Health Service] and every other country’s equivalent?”
“Please give your money to real charities and NOT to rich DJs”
“These are guys with multiple millions of pounds, euros, dollars in the bank,” he said, “and they’re asking the general public to keep their tour managers afloat?”
As spotted by Selector, the TNT Bandcamp page went dark shortly after, and the mixes are no longer available to buy.
Cox in turn criticised the backlash, writing on his Facebook page that he has “never seen anything blown so far out of proportion without context” and saying that idea came from the TMs.
“A group of the hardest-working tour managers out there wanted to get creative and have some fun by getting together and seeing who could actually DJ,” he says. “They asked me to support them, as they support us touring DJs week after week throughout the year. All of us did that without too much thought or hesitation through our social media channels and gave them a mix from one of our shows.
“There was no suggestion ever made that this was to cover ‘wages’ – that is simply ridiculous and I feel saddened that this has even been suggested.”
Cox’s comment, however, is at odds with tour manager Tim ‘Dingo’ Price (Dubfire), who on launching the project stated: “Our goal is to release some new and interesting content to help with the #StayHome initiative and also try and gain some financial support for us tour managers during this unfortunate time, as most of us, if not all, are not paid a salary – we are paid per show.”
It remains unclear whether the aforementioned DJs will now be coughing up to support their crew, as John Askew has suggested.
Tour Managers Not Touring release collaborative albums
A group of tour managers for some of the biggest names in dance music have launched Tour Managers Not Touring (TNT), a fundraising initiative intended to support them through the coronavirus shutdown.
With the fate of the 2020 Ibiza season in the balance, TNT – which includes TMs Ian Hussey (Carl Cox), Tim ‘Dingo’ Price (Dubfire), Zak (Seth Troxler) and Gabriel Torres (the Martinez Brothers) – are selling a series of self-made mixes, along with collaborations with the artists with which they work, for a minimum of €5, with all funds going direct to the tour managers involved.
The first release, The Sofa Sessions, is available to purchase on Bandcamp now, with more planned for the weeks ahead.
“It’s an interesting concept to explore the sound of the tour managers in comparison to the sound of the DJs we work with”
“The tour managers in our scene are like one big dysfunctional family,” says Price, whose contribution is a 57-minute mix called ‘The Hour After the After Hour’. A lot of tour managers play themselves and have great musical taste. So we thought this would be a great way to come together, and an interesting concept to explore the sound of the tour managers in comparison to the sound of the DJs we work with.
“Our goal is to release some new and interesting content to help with the #StayHome initiative and also try and gain some financial support for us tour managers during this unfortunate time, as most of us, if not all, are not paid a salary – we are paid per show. This project is being done out of love of music, our scene and the people involved in it.”
How I learned to stop worrying
I have no idea what the traditional route into this job is to be honest, but after speaking to a few colleagues we all have similar stories of how we fell into being tour managers. I had no aspirations for any particular job when I was growing up, which is why when I look back at where I came from and where I am now, I always think: how the hell did this happen again?
Back in the late 90s, some of my friends were in a band called Earthtone9 and I helped them out. ‘Helping out’ evolved into driving the van, setting up the backline, selling merch and other general duties. All for the princely sum of a bag of crisps and a Ginsters Cornish pasty, no money involved! I did it because I liked doing it and I had absolutely no idea that this could actually be a proper full-time job. I did it for fun and to hang out with my mates. When they could afford to pay me, I think it was £25 a day – and that felt like quite a sum, considering that I started on nothing.
I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and generally made it up as I went along, based on what I thought was the right thing to do. Along the way I met my first real TM and that’s when I realised that I had a lot to learn. Thankfully, that guy was very generous with his time and advice, and it certainly set me on a better path.
It felt like being told off by my old headmaster, but was always followed up with good advice and the unspoken knowledge that I wouldn’t make that same mistake again – damn right I didn’t.
There came a moment when I was offered a job working for another band called Lostprophets who where just about to take off. We didn’t really know that at the time, but it happened for them. So within a year we had gone from playing 500-capacity rooms to selling out Brixton Academy.
This was to be a turning point in my life for so many reasons, back then and in recent times as well. The band signed to a big record label with a huge management company and I personally thought that that was it for me and that they would bring someone else in with more experience to take over.
To this day, I need to thank the people at that management company for being so very patient with me. Especially HM Wollman and Tony DiCioccio from Q Prime. Mistakes on my part (there where quite a few) were met with not a raised voice, but with a stern reproach. It felt like being told off by my old headmaster, but was always followed up with good advice and the unspoken knowledge that I wouldn’t make that same mistake again – damn right I didn’t.
I didn’t want to let band, management or myself down, so I basically spent from 2000-2003 being very stressed and worrying about every little thing. I worried that at some point someone would call me out for the guy who was just winging it day by day, which is how it sometimes felt. It’s hard to put it into words when you ride a wave like that, with no real experience of how to deal with it.
Once the cycle was finished I took some time for myself.
For some reason I decided to go travelling around the world because clearly spending the last few years zipping across the world wasn’t enough. Talk about stretching my soul too thin. I should have just stayed at home and enjoyed being still for a while – something that I appreciate more than ever these days once a tour has finished.
After a few months of relentless travelling, I had a moment of clarity in Sydney. I stayed still for two weeks and tried to put it all into perspective. That was a major turning point for me and when I came back home I knew that this was going to be my life. Since then, I have gone on to work for quite well known rock/metal bands: Funeral for a Friend, Bullet for my Valentine, Mastodon and Of Mice & Men, and I’m currently the tour manager for the Swedish band Ghost, who I’ve been with since 2013.
My route into the business is such a unique experience, I think, as it doesn’t happen like that for a lot of people. It’s also something that I will carry with me and that has helped shape the TM that I am today. It wasn’t planned by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m so glad it happened the way it did.
Fifteen years later and I still love my job and certainly do not worry about things as much as I used to.