Everyone has idly wished, from time to time, that they could just be part of some celeb’s entourage. Wouldn’t that be easier than working a normal job? Just hanging out with famous people, enjoying the high life. But is being part of an entourage all it’s cracked up to be?
To answer that question, we turned to Tom Pearce, Music Business Consultant at Pearce Music Services. Here’s his insight on the matter.
Pretty boring for a lot of the time, hard work for part of the time, and adrenaline-filled excitement for the 2-3 hours of showtime. I spent nearly 20 years touring the world with a number of major artists, and for much of the time, the day-to-day life is fairly predictable: arrive, unload, set up, soundcheck, showtime, load up, and leave for the next city.
As I was always an instrument technician for the artist (in the case of Elton John) or for other band members, life was pretty easy because we could not access the stage until everything else–lights, mostly, then sound and set–had been built. With my fellow backline technicians and I turning up for work at 2 in the afternoon, it gained us the nickname of the Country Club. But from 2 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning, it was pretty much full on with only a break for supper around 6.
For the most part, your daily life is spent in a bubble, focused only around the venue and the show and then usually a “bus bunk” afterwards, but sometimes maybe a hotel room for a couple of hours for a shower and a shave before heading for an airport lounge.
I have been to pretty much every major city in the world, but rarely had the chance to see any of them (Australia being the exception as the distances between cities means that the trucks can take up to a week to arrive, whereas it only takes a couple of hours to fly the crew–lots of beach time!)
It’s hard to give an impression in only a few words. Every continent, every venue, every artist, and every tour is different. It’s a good life if you’re good enough to do the job–and not everyone is. It is also a very high-pressure, insulated life, and sometimes even those who were good at the job could not handle the life. It is not for the fainthearted, and generally also not for the married man or woman!
Not really, no. I started in the music industry when I was 17–a long time ago, now! As a studio engineer and producer in the early days, I knew the life, and as a performer in and around London in the 70s, you get a good idea of what you will be in for on a large tour with a large entourage.
Playing my first 100,000-plus seater venue came as a bit of a surprise for sure, but as you can only really see the first few rows of the audience anyway, it was easy to adjust. You can certainly ‘feel’ that there are a hell of lot of people out there!
As I have never had a traditional “day job,” I guess you could say that this was my normal job.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to earn a living from this industry from day one. I think that the danger is that the life is very protected, insulated even, and it was often hard to adjust to the more regular life between tours. Suddenly not being part of an entourage, even just for a couple of weeks, can feel very strange.
That’s an easy one to answer. I was running a studio for Jimmy Page in the early 80s when Elton came to record an album (Ice on Fire). He liked the way I worked, we got on well together, and when the album was finished, the tour started and he asked me if I would join the technical crew. No-brainer!
If I could give one piece of advice here, it is simply to do the job that is in front of you to the best of your ability, no matter how lowly or how prestigious that job is. The right people will always notice you. Networking is important–but reputation beats everything.