Tour Manager Insights with Felicity Hall (Editors) 1

On Tour

Tour Manager Insights with Felicity Hall (Editors)

March 8, 2024

Words by: Factory Studios

Tour Manager of Editors, Felicity Hall, chats to us at Factory Studios about recent projects, and general insights into tour management and life on the road.

Felicity Hall has been a tour manager for the past ten years, looking after acts worldwide, include Editors and countless others, alongside her work with the GroundUp Music Festival in the role of operations director.

For those that don’t know you, can you introduce yourself, the work you do and some of the projects you’ve been involved in recently?

I’m Felicity, and I’ve been working in music for the past 10+ years. I mainly tour manage, although I run a festival in Miami which I adore and I’m heavily involved with the 3T project too. The main band I tour with is Editors, and I first got involved with Factory Studios through them. The 3T project aims to provide comprehensive training to women of colour in all aspects of touring – technical and otherwise – and this is a project I’m hugely passionate about. I also oversee logistics, hospitality, staffing, budgeting and organisation for the GroundUp Festival in Miami each year.

Can you take us through a typical day in the life for you at the moment?

There isn’t exactly a “typical” day. When I’m not physically on the road, I’m usually advancing a tour or festival – getting in touch with promoters, artists and venues, and pre-planning as much as I can do for whatever my next few projects are. I spend huge amounts of time planning logistics – booking flights, trains, working out how best to move equipment around the world and trying to anticipate what problems are likely to happen for each specific show. When I’m out on a tour, the day could hold anything. If I’m on a tour where we have a full crew, my role is to oversee everything – the more crew we have, the more everybody has a specific role, so I’m mainly there to just look after the band and fix any problems that come up. I will always do as much planning in advance as possible so that we have no surprises on show day and I’ve not got to run around sorting out what could have been done beforehand. Things always change or go wrong when you’re on tour, so I want to have as much time to dedicate to any issues which may arise on the day. If I’m doing a tour where I’m the only crew member, my day is totally different – many of the jazz tours I work on will be fly tours where we have rental backline each day so I’ll be acting as tour manager, running ground transport, making sure the rental equipment is okay and the sound engineer has the measure of the band, dealing with merchandise and also checking us in for flights and often dealing with lost luggage. Saying that, every tour is unique, and each one will look slightly different on a day to day basis.

Touring involves a lot of coordination, and from the outside it looks like the sort of project that could be filled with unknowns and lots of moving parts/goalposts. How do you manage to stay on top of everything and ensure a smooth running amongst band members, crew, venues, logistics etc?

SPREADSHEETS. I have spreadsheets for absolutely everything and they're a thing of beauty. Everything I'm doing/need to do is on a spreadsheet, and once I've confirmed travel/logistics etc, it all gets put in an app called Master Tour - I swear by this app and spend the majority of my life on it. All the bands and crew have access to this, so everybody can see exactly what we've got going on on any given day.

Being on the road for extended periods can be really demanding. How do you prioritise the well-being of the band and crew, and what strategies do you use to maintain a healthy and productive touring environment?

As much as possible, I try to ensure everybody’s got the option to have at least 8 hours a night to sleep (whether they decide to use the time to go out instead of sleeping is their call!) – so that everybody has the possibility of resting if they want. Obviously this isn’t possible all the time, but when we can’t do this I’ll take other steps to try to help – for instance if we have an early lobby call to take a flight, I’ll make sure we can check into our next hotel on arrival even if it’s early so that people can get some sleep. I’m very lucky to work with a great management company with Editors – they understand the difficulties of touring and they’re happy for us to spend the money if we need to. I’ll also always make sure we have healthy options on our riders each day. I push for fresh salads and vegetables, along with healthy meals for dinner – giving people an option that isn’t fast food makes a big difference. We always have a “quiet room” when we’re allocating dressing rooms so that people can have space to sit somewhere in peace if they need it. Lately I’ve also been trying to encourage a backstage culture of openness and acceptance – I want everybody I work with to feel as though they’re able to open up about what they want to make them feel settled, and to talk about it if they’re feeling blue, struggling emotionally, or facing problems, without fear of judgement. Once that culture starts to be accepted within bands and crew, I’ve never seen anything except huge positivity.

For grassroots musicians aspiring to tour on a larger scale, what advice would you give regarding tour management and life on the road? Any essential skills or lessons you've learned to pass on?

Learn how to say no! So many times, we feel such pressure to agree to everything so that nobody thinks badly of us for saying no, even when we know it’s the wrong thing to do. Learning how to set boundaries has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, but the more I learn about myself and what I need, the better I’ve become at this. This isn’t a job that’s easy – you need to make sure you have enough time to recharge physically and emotionally between tours and between jobs, otherwise you’ll burn out and you’ll be no good to anybody. Being on the road with people who you struggle to be around for long periods of time will leave you hating what has the potential to be an amazing experience. Being brave enough to turn down gigs or tours because you know they’re not right for you will be the strongest thing you’ll ever learn to do.

What do you think are the biggest challenges artists and the music scene faces in 2023/2024 and what action can be taken against them?

More than ever, I think the changing culture is something which is going to prove a challenge - the historic "roadie culture" is turning towards one which is more progressive, with much more of a focus on diversity and mental health, and changing a culture always means some difficulty. I think a big challenge artists are going to have is learning to navigate an ever-changing culture while making sure that they're sticking to what they believe in, yet having tolerance and understanding for people who have been working in the industry before these changes started happening.

Do you have a particularly memorable moment from this year, and what are you looking forward to next year?

Quite honestly last year was incredible. Some of the festivals we had with Editors were simply wonderful – Rock Werchter and Pinkpop were highlights - and I cried a little when I was at GroundUp festival looking at all we'd put together. Next year Editors have a show at Sportpaleis in Antwerp which at 18,000cap is the biggest headline show I've ever done, and I'm hugely excited about that. I've also got my first trip to the Caribbean with a band called Bokanté - for obvious reasons this is going to be a highlight! Mostly though, I'm looking forward to focusing on working with a whole bunch of great people for another year - the people you're surrounded with make this job what it is.

I want everybody I work with to feel as though they’re able to open up

Felicity Hall, touring manager

Tour Manager Insights with Felicity Hall (Editors)

Felicity Hall, touring manager



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