updated Thu, 25 May 2017 11:08:50 -0700
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What is a roadie?
A roadie is someone who works for an artist on tour. One of the road crew, including tour managers, production managers, stage managers, front of house or monitor engineers, guitar, bass, keyboard or drum technicians (techs), lighting designers, pyrotechnicians, security/bodyguards, truck drivers, merchandise crew and caterers, and more.
The term "Roadie" used to conjure up an image of a large, probably smelly, usually hairy, and possibly drunk man hauling road cases and groupies around. Nowadays, while these types are still to be found, the road crew are usually skilled or specialized technicians, and many are female. They still work very hard, for long hours, and are often underpaid because labels and management don't always see it as a real job.
Life on the road can be gruelling. Living on a bus with 10 or more other crew and musicians is cramped with little privacy. It can get unpleasant if hygiene isn't a priority for everyone. Days are long, with much mental and physical exertion. Being away from home for extended periods is normal, and there is lots of travelling. Make sure you collect the air miles!
It is not a glamorous job. A roadie is there to make the shows happen, make the band sound / look good and ideally not even be noticed by the audience during the concert. Most of the hard work is in preparation, especially for tour, production and stage managers.
Only when you reach the top of your game can you pick and choose your gigs. Most of your work will come from musicians and other crew you meet along the way, so don't be arrogant or unpleasant. Play nice! Staying on top of changing technology can be challenging, but it is important to stay up to date and relevant, especially in audio and lighting.
Road crew quotes:
"Listen to the stage manager and get on stage when they tell you to. No one has time for the rock star bullshit. None of the techs backstage care if you're David Bowie or the milkman. When you act like a jerk, they are completely unimpressed with the infantile display that you might think comes with your dubious status. They were there hours before you building the stage, and they will be there hours after you leave tearing it down. They should get your salary, and you should get theirs."
-- Henry Rollins
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