One great job that requires travel is a roadie for a band. If you're unfamiliar with what a roadie is than you probably aren't that cool anyway, so go back and find a different travel job. If, however you are a technically minded person and into the music scene than you should be a roadie. Below you will find out what it is like to be a roadie, how to get experience and resources for roadie jobs.
There are some downsides to being a roadie that you should know before making any life changing decisions. Most importantly there can be a lot of travel involved. This you should already know and if you aren't cool with that, then you shouldn't even be on this website.
Depending on the size of the tour, positions can include audio mixer, lighting technician, rigger, cameraman, projections, stage technician.
These jobs can be very difficult. You will work long hours and do lots of lifting. You work with performers who can also be very demanding and need everything perfect. Difficult? Perhaps, but nothing a few beers can't wipe away.
You won't always be making big bucks, nor will you always be traveling in style. Be ready to eat gas station food and sleep on the road while driving through the night to get to a 6am load-in.
The bonus to being a roadie is that you get to do a job that is cool. Besides getting to travel with a band, you live and work with cool people everyday. It is very rewarding work to be an integral part of a show which you are proud of.
You can also get a very good representation of what it's like to be a professional roadie with this book by Karl Kuenning, Roadie: A True Story (at least the parts I remember). It basically goes through his professional history as a roadie.
Many Roadies and other traveling AV techs are independent contractors, making anywhere from $200 - $400 per day. Tour manager's, for example, make anywhere from $1500 - $2000 per week. Naturally, the bigger tours have the better crews who are then making more money then this. They also get per dieme's and travel pay.
As an independent contractor you are also responsible for your own insurance, and paying uncle sam. It is a small price to pay for a job you (hopefully) enjoy.
One quick way to jump start the technical side of becoming a roadie is to attend a technical college or classes on Audio Visual and theater production. Most Universities have these classes within their Communications program. You can also find these at major Tech school universities like Full Sail.
Advice about trade schools: going to classes will get you the basic info on cables, signal flow and technique. It can be good for networking as well since your classmates will hopefully be working in the biz.
Producers and managers who hire production crew are also aware that certain universities are notorious for sending out under experienced students, making them think they are gods gift to the industry. Remember, even after attending technical classes, you still have learning to do. Be humble. You don't know everything. Nor will you ever.
When selling yourself always remember that experience trumps education. Education is simply a tool to help you jump start the process.
How to apply?
Be honest about your experience. If you have none, then consider working for free to help build your Roadiemé. (Roadie + Résumé, a word I invented)
You can find a handful of roadie crew websites online if you know where to look. (Hint: Travel Droppings.com)
Roadie.net - Really cool resource. Looking at the photos makes me want to get back on the road.
Roadie Jobs - An obvious title for an obvious website for roadie jobs.
Back Stage Jobs - They have some touring jobs posted. You won't find Bon Jovi here, but you will find some work.
If you are low on experience you need other traits to make up for it. Ideal traits to be a roadie include confidence, a willingness to learn, humility and not being an overall douche. Being a douche is something you can do openly after you are successful.
Most importantly, you will need the real world experience to put on your Roadiemè. Find local bands and ask if they need a roadie. If they don't need a roadie, then perhaps they know of a band who does. You can go to Craigslist, but if you aren't one of the first 10 people who apply, then don't expect a call back.
After landing your first few roadie gigs, a couple career paths are possible.
A) Over time the band becomes huge and starts traveling the world sleeping in 5 star hotels partying like rock stars.
B) The band becomes moderately popular and opens for tours or bands regionally.
C) You work very hard for peanuts to gain experience while networking with other bands and eventually sell your skills to other tours around the USA and the world.
D) You go back to school, get a real degree and become a doctor, make lots of money and pay to attend the shows you would have otherwise gotten paid to work.
Becoming a roadie requires a lot of hard work, but it is obtainable and will allow you to work your way around the world.
The world is too amazing not to share. Contact Mike
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